Still, we have the last eight, and a cracking set of cardinals they are. Looking for drugs, homosexual affairs, embezzlement, or simply persistent and dangerous heresy? Well you won't find them here, just eight papabile princes of the church. (Thank you for writing these comments for me, Fr Spadaro.)
So the draw is as follows:
1. Walter Kasper v Oscar Maradiaga.
RESULT: 64-36. Oscar "The cash of God" Maradiaga played well, but the veteran player Wally Kasper, with a lifetime of heretical experience to call on, won through fairly easily.
2. Reinhard Marx v Luis Tagle.
RESULT: 79-21. Class and experience win over Yoof-ful ambition as Rhino Marx crushes Chico the hipster to reach the semi-finals.
3. Blase Cupich v Godfried Danneels.
RESULT: 65-35. The glory days of the Sankt Gallen Mafia are over as "Godless" Danneels drops out, beaten by Cupich, the expert on rabbit holes and great pal of Fr James Martin LGBTSJ.
4. Francesco Coccopalmerio v Joseph Tobin.
RESULT: 69-31. We say "Nighty-night, baby" to Joe Tobin, as Cardinal Cocco snatches the last semi-final place (C will not be asked to take a drugs test).
As usual, MAY THE WORST MAN WIN!
Fans are already getting very excited at the prospect of the final round of this competition, which begins on February 5th. Remember that some of the cardinals have been training for months, taking advice from such experts in Catholicism as Professor Massimo Faggioli, Fr Thomas Rosica, Fr James Martin LGBTSJ, and Fr Dan Horan of Babylon.
From the street outside Eccles towers we hear all-night cries of "Nighty-night, baby!" and "Who wants some cocaine?" competing with "The money was resting in my account before being moved on" and some humble finger-snapping dances. The eight "barmy armies" (fan clubs) are out in force, but only one cardinal can ultimately win. We are ready to release the Smoke of Satan from the Vatican chimneys when we know who that is!
UPDATE: the semi-finals are:
1. Blase Cupich v Walter Kasper.
RESULT: 50.4-49.6. Every vote counted, and in the end Cupich goes to the abuse summit confident of his place in the final. Wally fought back hard, with attacks on Müller's explanation of Catholic teaching, but in the end sheer vileness triumphed over a lifetime devoted to heresy.
2. Francesco Coccopalmerio v Reinhard Marx.
RESULT: 39-61. Knowing that Pope Francis was cheering him on, Rhino easily crushed the man with the lampshade on his head, and he goes into the final. This week's abuse summit will be an opportunity for the two finalists to show their talents before next week's FINAL.
Now, boys, I want a clean fight! Cupich and Marx discuss their prospects in the final.
UPDATE: the third place playoff:
Francesco Coccopalmerio v Walter Kasper.
RESULT: 28-72. The veteran Kasper won this easily. Cocco's one well-known moment of extreme vice wasn't enough for him to make much impact on a man whose whole life has been devoted to destroying the Catholic Church. Bronze medal for Wally!
The FINAL: Blase Cupich v Reinhard Marx.
RESULT: 61-39. In the end a crushing victory for the Chicago boy: Pope Francis's backing at the abuse summit clearly helped to swing it for him. Marx's own performance was lacklustre, and it almost seems that he didn't want the trophy.
Finally, the medallists.