This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday 30 September 2018

Pope Francis makes an infallible joke

Theologians, canon lawyers, professors, journalists, Jesuits, and Catholics worldwide are currently trying to get to grips with Pope Francis's latest claim that he is the Devil. Should this be interpreted as an infallible statement? Or at least part of the Catholic Magisterium? Well, if not, does it have the "ex aeroplane" authority of an in-flight declaration? Or maybe it's just a load of Scalfaris, and never happened at all?

You see the problem. If some of the Pope's statements are deemed to be jokes, how are we to tell which they are? Is Amoris Laetitia just one big joke? Or is it just the footnotes? Will it be necessary for Cardinal Burke to issue another Dubium along the lines of: "Are you really the Devil, Holy Father?" Was the appointment of Cardinal Cupich ("the world's nastiest cardinal") a joke that was accidentally taken seriously?

"From now on, if I'm wearing the balloon hat, I'm joking, otherwise I'm being Magisterial."

Fortunately, Catholics are asked to respect the views of the Pope, but do not need to agree with them unless they bear the authority of the Magisterium. Unlike many of the Pope's utterances, the "I am the Devil" claim does not contradict the teachings of previous Popes: on the other hand, Catholics are still not obliged to believe this new doctrine.

So, please let us have no more queues of people at Confession saying "Father, the Pope says he's the Devil, but I cannot believe this teaching. I think he's just a very naughty pope."

A red nose indicates a Magisterial statement where the "infallibility" button has not been pushed.

We are looking forward to hearing jokes from Pope Francis along the lines of "A cardinal, a bishop and a seminarian went into a bar." If the papal balloon-hat is not being worn, this means that the event actually happened (and Archbishop Viganò has all the details).

Thursday 27 September 2018

The Spreadsheet from Hell

The World Cup of Bad Hymns has started, and here are the groupings for the first round. Apologies if your favourite bad hymn isn't there: one or two couldn't be found on the Internet, and one or two came in too late.
Hymn Author Group
God's Spirit is in my heart Alan Dale 2
This little guiding light of mine anon 1
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? anon 12
Kumbayah anon 10
Christ be our light Bernadette Farrell 13
Bind us together, Lord Bob Gillman 15
If I were a butterfly Brian Howard 5
I Just Wanna Be A Sheep Brian M. Howard 14
The love I have for You, my Lord Carey Landry 16
Forever Chris Tomlin 4
Walk in the Light Damian Lundy 3
I, the Lord of sea and sky Daniel Schutte 1
City of God Daniel Schutte 7
Come to the Table of Plenty Daniel Schutte 16
Jesus take me as I am Dave Bryant 11
Now we remain David Haas 2
You are Mine David Haas 6
Sing a New Church Delores Dufner 6
I saw the grass, I saw the trees Estelle White 8
Autumn days when the grass is jewelled Estelle White 15
Moses, I know you're the man Estelle White 14
Cheep! said the sparrow on the chimney top Estelle White 16
Deep within my heart, I feel voices whispering to me Frank Andersen 7
God of concrete Frederick R.C. Clarke 9
O mother, I could weep for mirth Frederick W. Faber 5
Shine, Jesus, Shine Graham Kendrick 10
Lay Down Your Head, Lord Jesus Christ Graham Maule 2
Journeys ended, journeys begun Gregory Norbet 14
This little light of mine Harry Dixon Loes 4
The Baker Woman Hubert J. Richards 8
I am the Living Bread Ifeanyichukwu Eze 7
Eat this bread Jacques Berthier 11
I love you with the love of the Lord Jim Gilbert 16
This is My Body, Broken for you Jimmy Owens 4
One bread, one body John Foley 12
I watch the sunrise John Glynn 13
There are hundreds of sparrows John Gowans 13
Jesus Christ is waiting John L. Bell 3
Enemy of apathy John L. Bell and Graham Maule 14
Gift of finest wheat John Michael Talbot 1
Come back to me with all your heart John Michael Talbot 12
Amazing Grace John Newton 10
I love to tell the story Katherine Hankey 11
Precious Body, Precious Blood Laurence Rosania 9
Our God reigns Leonard E. Smith 3
Gloria (clap clap) Martin Anderson 12
As the deer pants Martin Nystrom 11
Let us build a house where love can dwell Marty Haugen 5
Gather us in Marty Haugen 6
Springs of water, bless the Lord Marty Haugen 15
Who is the alien Mary Louise Bringle 9
Follow me Michael Cocket 10
The world is full of smelly feet Michael Forster 8
On eagle's wings Michael Joncas 4
Alleluia Ch-Ch Paul Inwood 15
They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love Peter Scholtes 8
Jesus Christ the apple tree R.H. 9
Here we are, all together, as we sing our song, joyfully Ray Repp 7
Make me a channel of your peace Sebastian Temple 6
Go, the Mass is ended Sister Marie Lydia Pereira 3
Colours of day Sue McClellan 1
Caterpillar, caterpillar Susan Sayers 5
I am the Bread of Life Suzanne Toolan 13
Lord of the Dance Sydney Carter 2

I have had a sheltered life, and only know about half of these masterpieces.

Addendum: It turns out that "Let us build a house" and "All are welcome" are the same hymn, so I have deleted the latter, and replaced it with "Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"

Enough said.

Friday 21 September 2018

The Dictator Apostle

Jerusalem, A.D. 33. Ecclesiam reports.

I've just been reading "The Dictator Apostle" by Marcus Antonius, alias the historian Henry the Sire-enian, who is very critical of Jorgas Iscarglio, one of the 12 Apostles.

Many people, notably St Stephen of Walford, keeper of the piano keys, would claim that Iscarglio, as an apostle, is beyond criticism. After all, he was appointed by Jesus Himself and given authority to cast out evil spirits (e.g. Jesuits) and to cure diseases. However, the reality suggests that somehow the St Galilee Mafia fixed it for Jorgas to get the job, and his Apostleship will lead to disaster.

Blasphemous picture of Francis

He's not the Messiah, he's just a very naughty apostle.

Criticisms of Iscarglio, the "Argentinian" apostle, centre on his aggressive and dictatorial nature, his dodgy financial transactions (involving an unexplained donation of 30 pieces of silver), his attempts to rewrite Christian teaching on marriage, his refusal to discuss doctrine with his dubious colleagues, even his encouragement of Cardinal Maccabees the serial sex-criminal.

Like his Master, Jorgas consorts with publicans and sinners, but unlike Him he tells them "Keep it up, you're doing a grand job. Who am I to judge?" When one notorious sinner, Bono the Tuneless, came to see him, explaining that he was pro-abortion, and was backed by a very dodgy group, Iscarglio merely replied, "U2?"

Attempts are already being made to declare Jorgas a saint.

Henry the Sire-enian believes it will end badly for Jorgas, and he may be right.

Friday 14 September 2018

The World Cup of Bad Hymns - nominations requested

As a distraction from all the other problems in the world, we have something a little different.

On Monday 24th September the 2018 World Cup of Bad Hymns will begin. This will be organised by a sequence of Twitter polls, one per day, on a knock-out basis, with as many rounds as are needed.

Badness may be defined any way you wish, either by stupid lyrics, bad theology (since people of all Christian denominations may take part, we won't get agreement here), or even by an appalling tune. Nominations for the competition close on September 23rd.

These are the entrants so far. You may nominate more bad hymns, either by commenting on this blog, or by replying to the tweet that announces the World Cup.

hymn board

Anything that makes you shudder...

Alleluia Ch-Ch (Paul Inwood)

Autumn days when the grass is jewelled (Estelle White)

Bind us together, Lord (Bob Gillman)

Christ be our light (Bernadette Farrell)

Colours of day (Sue McClellan)

Deep within my heart, I feel voices whispering to me (Fr Frank Andersen) 

Enemy of apathy (John L. Bell and Graham Maule)

Follow me (Michael Cocket)

Go, the Mass is ended (Sister Marie Lydia Pereira)

God's Spirit is in my heart (Alan Dale)

I saw the grass, I saw the trees (Estelle White)

I, the Lord of sea and sky (Daniel Schutte)  

I watch the sunrise (Glynn)

If I were a butterfly (Brian Howard)

Jesus Christ the apple tree (R.H.) 

Journeys ended, journeys begun (Gregory Norbet)

Kumbayah (anon)

Lord of the Dance (Sidney Carter)

Moses, I know you're the man (Estelle White)
On eagle's wings (Michael Joncas)  

Our God reigns (Leonard E. Smith)  

Shine, Jesus, Shine (Kendrick)

Walk in the Light (Damian Lundy)

hand waving in church

"The next hymn is ... so put your hand up if you want to leave."

Addendum: We'd better stick to English language hymns (and Christian ones) to avoid strange songs from people worshipping Klingon gods.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Serener Francis in racism and sexism row

Critics of the superstar sportsman, His Serene Highness Pope Francis the First and Last, have been accused of racism and sexism, after they objected to the way he screamed at the judges in his latest tournament.

Serener Francis apparently indulged in one of his famous meltdowns, accusing his judges of being LITERALLY SATAN. "How dare you criticise me and my bishops?" he asked, throwing his zucchetto on the floor and stamping on it. "You cannot be serious. Only the Great Accuser would wish for our bishops to be brought to book for their misdeeds!"

Pope Francis liquid lunch

Serener Francis has a humble (liquid) dinner with some despised members of society.

Tennis commentators such as Massie "the Prof" Faggioli, Aussie "clueless" Ivereigh and Tommy "Blocker" Rosica were quick to rush to the support of the serene superstar, winner of the St Gallen all-comers championship in 2013.

"Obviously it's racism, as he comes from the Southern Hemisphere," said one.

"People want to replace him by a white male, like, er, Cardinal Sarah," said another.

"Serene Francis is just what the Church needs - see my book Serener Francis - The Great Screamer, only 20p from any charity shop" said a third.

Although he has won many tournaments, Serener Francis has not always had things his own way. In the Dubia tournament of 2016 he dropped five match points to Ray Burke, the American seed, and has never forgiven him for this.

However, on the whole, Serener Francis has been greatly praised for his humble attitude to life - unlike Ray Burke, who served luxury profiteroles at his birthday party (£1.50 for 12), the Serene Pontiff chose to celebrate by inviting a humble group of homeless people, journalists, cameramen, and yes-men to eat a plate of Grande Scandalo Italian pasta in front of the cameras.

Hilary White cartoon

A typical sexist racist cartoon about Serener Francis.

As for whether Serener Francis will be disciplined for his latest outburst, it seems unlikely. If all else fails he can declare infallibly that nothing his bishops have done is contrary to Catholic teaching. In which case we are in deep trouble.

Sunday 9 September 2018

Spadaro wins prestigious satire prize

Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ has been awarded the prestigious Vatican II Prize for Catholic Satire, named after the congress that spawned more parodies of Catholic teaching and liturgy than any before.

Open to God, cover

"I laughed until I cried" - emeritus Pope Benedict VI.

The hysterically funny blurb for the book makes it clear that it will be a bundle of laughs from start to finish:

[Pope Francis] has turned the Catholic Church upside-down, flung open the windows of the Vatican and purged the Augean stables of corruption, simony, nepotism and financial skulduggery. ... Where there are trouble spots in the world, he goes and invariably people say his visits change everything. ... Unlike his predecessor, he does not sit down in a room in the Vatican and write learned books. ... He likes being asked questions and finds it easy to respond. ... The Franciscan revolution is under way and in spite of his vehement critics the revolution will roll on and new horizons will be opened for the one and a half billion Catholics in the world today.

Raymond Cardinal Burke is one who agrees that Pope Francis likes being asked questions and finds it easy to respond. Another is Archbishop Viganò. Both assured me that this was not satire but a perfectly true description of the Pope's reactions to questions, whether on doctrine or on his own record.

Henry "Marcantonio Colonna" Sire, on the other hand, merely commented "This satricial book makes Eccles's blog look like Holy Writ in comparision."

silly Napier tweet

Cardinal "Foxy" Napier was highly commended for comparing Francis to Jesus.

Previous winners of the satire prize include Austen Ivereigh, for his biography Pope Francis, the great Redeemer, Fr James Martin SJ for his wonderful works explaining that homosexual relationships were best conducted on bridges, and Prof. Tina Beattie for her book comparing the Mass to an act of homosexual intercourse (a theme now taken up by Fr Rosica).

silly Rosica tweet

A good try, Rosie, but this is just unhinged, rather than proper satire.

Satire about Pope Francis is nowadays as common as heresy from a Jesuit, but Spadaro's book goes further than any before, explaining how the Holy Father can walk on water, travel in time, leap high buildings, cure diseases simply by touching people, slay dragons, glow in the dark, and turn people to stone merely by staring at them.

Superman pope

Very cruel satire on Pope Francis.

Anyway, the final word must go to Fr Spadaro himself. "I am delighted that my book has won this prestigious Vatican II Prize," he said. "The first thing I shall do is to hold a wild celebration party with some of my closest friends."

Spadaro party

"Let's get legless!"

Sunday 2 September 2018

How to brush off a papal scandal

This is the latest instalment in our long-running series "How to be a good pope", intended especially for those of our readers who one day get a tap on the shoulder, and a "Congratulations, Cardinal Imbroglio, here are the keys to Heaven, the Vatican Bank, and Cardinal Cocainepusher's apartment. Now, have a nice day!"

It may happen one day that you are taking a little holiday in Ireland, when a scandal breaks. Archbishop Figaro, whom you never liked, has produced a testimony which, if true, would require your instant resignation.

Pope and McCarrick

"The seminarian was just resting in my bed, Frank."

The central allegation concern a chap called "Uncle Fred", who is one of your best mates, but has been caught with his vestments down. Your predecessor had slapped his wrists and prescribed a regime of cold showers and no contact with vulnerable people, but you decided to kiss him better and restore him to the sybaritic luxury that we expect of a Prince of the Church. Oops!

Your first step is to say nothing. This worked very well for the Dubia, and the jury is still out on whether Amorous Letitia is heretical or not - and you're not going to tell them! It also worked when you took the side of Boozelager against Feasting in the Order of Malt wars.

So what you say is: "I think the statement speaks for itself." This is good Jesuit-speak, as it can be interpreted both ways: either as a confession "It's a fair cop", or, if you can wriggle out of it, as "I ain't done nuffin'." Also try saying "Read that statement attentively and make your own judgment," which should muddy the waters enough for you to escape.

Pope waxwork

Remember, they will only carry you out of the Vatican feet first!

Next, send in the attack poodles! There are lots of nonentities who owe you a favour, like Austin Powers, author of "Pope Frank, the saviour of the universe"; or Fr Rosie from the Satan Lite Corporation; you can rely on Fr Jim LGBTSJ to muddy the waters by confusing celibacy, chastity, and continence; Professor Beans will also blunder in with some choice theologian's insults. Now there's no use in denying anything in Archbishop Figaro's testimony. What the poodles must do is to bite Figaro in the ankles (metaphorically). Call him a terrorist, an extreme right-winger, fomenter of a crude putsch - why he must be LITERALLY HITLER.

Hmm, a day has passed, and that didn't work. Everyone is still expecting something from you. Send in the clowns! Soupy Supich will explain that you have FAR MORE IMPORTANT issues to deal with than mass homosexual rape - such as climate change and migrants. It's true that in your encyclical LOADA SH'T you did explain that we Catholics should no longer worry about Good and Evil, but Environmental issues instead. Oh, and ask Soupy to play the RACE CARD. What race are you? Oh, the same as Figaro? Well it doesn't matter, play it anyway.

Cheshire Cat

Alice goes down a rabbit hole and meets the Supich Cat.

Oh look, Cardinal Maradona's back from counting the money hidden under his bed. He's worried because a journalist has been looking too closely into activities in his seminaries. Time for a sacking! No, not Maradona!! He's just complained that he's the victim of a 'hit man' who practises media harassment. Well, at least it wasn't sexual harassment, as in the seminaries! Get the journalist sacked!

It may be time for you to intervene, finally. No, you fool, not by answering Figaro's allegations! Pull yourself together, you'll end up answering the Dubia if you don't get a grip. So this is what you do:

Pope bans plastics

Clutching at straws?

Remember to update the catechism on this very subject:

66666. Recourse to the use of plastic straws for the purpose of legitimate drinking, following a period of thirst, was long considered an appropriate response to the needs of the individual, and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of transferring liquids to one's mouth.

Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the value of the drink is not lost even if it is consumed by alternative methods. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of tilting glasses in order for their contents to fall out. Lastly, more effective systems of drinking have been developed, which ensure the due nourishment of thirsty citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively destroy the environment.

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “plastic straws are inadmissible because they are an attack on the inviolability and dignity of nature”, and she works with determination for their abolition worldwide.

Yes, that should work. Another good way of diverting attention is to play the "Where's Wuerly?" game.

Where's Wally?

Where's Wuerly?

One of your more embattled cardinals, Donna Wuerl, is expecting a knock on the door from the FBI. Make him disappear! As Baroness Orgy put it in The Scarlet Nincompoop: Is he in Heaven, is he in Hell? That demmed elusive Donna Wuerl! (Spoiler: he's in Rome, but won't be when they come looking for him!).

Well, that's all gone VERY WELL INDEED. By Sunday the crisis will be over. Ask Austin Powers. Ask Mickens Mouse. Ask Elizabeth Scalia the Pollyanna-chorus... Nothing to see here, let's move on.