This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday 30 August 2019

The Two Popes

A new film "The Two Popes" about Pope Benedict XVI and Jorge Bergoglio (as he was then), is soon to be released. As it will soon be available on the notoriously Catholic-friendly channel Netflix, we know that it will be completely true to the facts, and sympathetic to these two holy gentlemen.

Hopkins and Pryce

Hannibal Lecter stars as Pope Benedict, Elliot Carver as Jorge Bergoglio.

The plot (loosely based on Austen Ivereigh's pot-boiler Pope Francis, the Great Redeemer) begins with Cardinal Bergoglio paying a humble visit to Pope Benedict in order to reassure him that, when he (PB) decides to retire, he (CB) will be ready to step in and correct all the mistakes that he (PB) has made, as well as the mistakes of all the other popes (P, L, ..., J23, P6, JP1, JP2) who came before him.


Nasty old-fashioned rigid Pope, no longer required.

Benedict offers Bergoglio some liver cooked with fava beans, and a nice glass of chianti, but the cardinal humbly declines the offer and explains his plans to use an encoder obtained by his henchman, cyberterrorist Henry Gupta, to provoke war between China and the UK.

I'm sorry, Austen, we're deleting that bit. You seem to have got the plot confused with The Silence of the Lambs and Tomorrow never dies.

Anyway, more details will be available later, but it seems that the main theological discussion concerns the Beatles, and Bergoglio asks the Pope whether he knows their famous song Emma Bonino. He doesn't.

Other hard-hitting plot lines involve a criticism of Bergoglio's shoes (made from the finest Argentine Amoorish Leatheria), and a general realization from all the characters involved that Pope Benedict is BAD and Jorge Bergoglio is GOOD.


A humble modern cardinal, who would never dream of being Pope.

Monday 26 August 2019

Let battle commence!

Here's the draw for the World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists (with the word "journalist" being interpreted rather loosely in some cases). Conveniently, we stopped at 32 nominees, some of whom I had never heard of before; at least they all seem to be scribblers of one kind or another. We start with eight groups of four, from which the top two (decided by a Twitter poll) go through to the next round. Then a similar round to reach the quarter-final knockout stage. Gosh, this is exciting.

Podium of bad cardinals

Remember the World Cup of Bad Cardinals? Cupich; Marx; Kasper.

Journaliste Extraordinaire Round 1 Round 2
John Allen Jr 3 -
Tina Beattie 3 2
Liz Bruenig 6 4
Elena Curti 1 -
Dean Dettloff 8 3
Massimo Faggioli 5 3
Simcha Fisher 3 -
David Gibson 1 -
Dawn Eden Goldstein 2 1
Daniel Horan 4 1
Austen Ivereigh 8 4
Christopher Lamb 7 4
Basil Loftus 8 -
Matt Malone 5 -
James Martin 4 2
Joshua McElwee 4 -
Robert Mickens 7 3
Jeff Mirius 7 -
Jonathan Morris 4 -
Mike O'Loughlin 5 -
Catherine Pepinster 1 2
Philip Pullella 2 -
Thomas Reese 8 -
Ronald Rolheiser 6 -
Thomas Rosica 6 3
Alexander Santora 7 -
Mark Shea 1 1
Antonio Spadaro 3 1
Dario Viganò 2 -
Stephen Walford 5 4
Michael Sean Winters 2 2
Phyllis Zagano 6 -
Podium of bad hymn-writers

And the Bad Hymns? Lord of the Dance; Gather us in; Shine, Jesus, Shine.

Whoever wins is guaranteed the approval of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Tablet and the National Catholic Reporter. Oh, and Father John Zuhlsdorf*.

*I made that bit up.

Of course "bad" can mean whatever you like it to mean - anything from "irritating" through to "wrong on almost every issue". Some - but not all - of the above nominees are really quite pleasant people.

Saturday 24 August 2019

Satan complains, "I really exist."

The Father of Lies - no, I don't mean a certain New York Jesuit - is an avid reader of this blog (it is part of the eternal torment to which he is condemned); now we are privileged to be the first to publish a statement from him, furiously denying the claims of Fr Arturo Sosa SJ, the Big Cheese of the Jesuits, that he is merely a "symbolic reality".

"After all I've done for mankind, and this includes the Jesuits, in leading them into eternal damnation, it is a great insult to be labelled a mere 'personification of evil'. Think of all I've achieved in the past - tempting Adam and Eve, prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, making Job's life a misery, the Temptations in the Wilderness, perverting Judas Iscariot (a nice innocent lad until he met me)... Then there's all the influence I've had since then, most recently on my good friends Hitler, Stalin and Mao. Oh and Tony Blair. You'd expect some sort of gratitude, but No! I am reduced to a mere abstraction!"

Satan and Job

"Here's me, smiting Job with boils."

As usual, Mr Satan is not telling the whole story. It is part of the job description of Top Jesuit that you should issue heresy on a regular basis: in Sosa's case, he started well by saying that we could not trust Jesus's words because they weren't spoken into a tape-recorder, and besides, all contemporary videos were made using Betamax not VHS, so are now impossible to watch. Following this up with a denial of the reality of Satan has won Sosa praise from Jesuits worldwide, and guarantees him a second term as president of the Jesuits when the elections come.

Arturo Sosa in plain clothes

A Venezuelan football player (with tape-recorder) gives a Sosa impersonation.

Mr Satan has promised to put Sosa straight on his misconceptions: "I'm expecting to see him soon - we have plenty of Jesuits down here, so he won't feel out of place - and then I can show him which of us is a symbolic reality!"

Friday 23 August 2019

Cardinal Pell accused of witchcraft

See also The Crimes of Cardinal Pell and the Case against Cardinal Pell.

Following the conviction of Cardinal Pell on the basis of totally unbelievable testimony, the Victorian Kangaroo Court of Appeal has confirmed the verdict by a majority of 2 to 1; that is, Anne Ferguson and Chris Maxwell believed him guilty "beyond all reasonable doubt", while Mark Weinberg disagreed, writing a mere 200 pages expressing one or two reasonable doubts.

The three judges

Spot the man with the functioning brain (R)

The arguments of Ferguson and Maxwell, if accepted, actually imply that Cardinal Pell was guilty of practising witchcraft, or possibly miracles (useful when his cause for canonization comes up).

* Your Eminence, you are accused of bilocation, in that your corporal body was standing outside the cathedral talking to dozens of people, at the same time as it was in the sacristy.

* Cardinal Pell, you are accused of bewitching your vestments, so that you could expose yourself under several layers of heavy clothing, while at the same time attacking your victim.

* Pell, you must have been aided by demons, as the above could only have been managed by someone with four hands.

* Pell, you rotter, you cast a forgetfulness spell, so that the victim did not remember anything of the event until 20 years later, and could not even remember when the events happened, and thereby made it impossible for you to call witnesses to prove that nothing happened.

Mr Bean sleeping

A key witness against Cardinal Pell. Oh, sorry, there weren't any.

* Pell, you complete and utter swine, your real offence is that you are a Catholic, and speak out against same-sex marriage and abortion, which are the pillars of Australian society.

* Pell, you will be damned eternally, because you noticed that the Vatican Bank had been up to some extremely dodgy transactions. Don't expect Pope Francis to help you, therefore!

With all this in mind, we indict Pell on charges of witchcraft, and sentence him to be burnt at the stake.

And this is the reasoned verdict of us, Mad Annie and Bonkers Chris. WEINBERG, WILL YOU SHUT UP?

Phew, Annie, I think we got away with it. Fancy a few tinnies to celebrate?

Monday 19 August 2019

The World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists

After the World Cups of Bad Hymns (won by "Lord of the Dance") and Bad Cardinals (Blase Cupich), it is time for the World Cup of Bad Catholic Journalists. The nominations so far are as follows, and before we start in about two weeks from now, we welcome other suggestions. (16 would be a more convenient number than 11, but we'll find a fair way to cope, however many we end up with.)
John Allen Jr
Tina Beattie
Massimo Faggioli
Austen Ivereigh
Christopher Lamb
James Martin
Robert Mickens
Thomas Reese
Thomas Rosica
Antonio Spadaro
Michael Sean Winters
(I'm sure I've missed someone obvious...)

As will be seen, "journalist" can be interpreted rather loosely. Apart from scribbling, most of the people above turn an honest penny by other means as well: boring lectures, trashy biographies, LGBT campaigning, plagiarism, or even - in some cases - moonlighting as Catholic priests!

Here are several qualities you might want to consider when casting your vote:

Martin, devil

Good taste...

Austen bomb

Familiarity with the Bible...

Rosica Wuerl

Knowing all the right people...

Mickens rat

Devotion to the Pope...

Massi drivel

The ability to decide which bits of Catholicism are in fashion this week...

Spadaro 2+2=5

Top marks in logic!

Some ground rules: the nominees don't need to be English-speaking, but some of their contributions must be accessible to the English-speaking world. There are no doubt numerous bad Catholic journalists writing in obscure Amazon dialects, but they must remain in obscurity for the purposes of this World Cup - they will get their moment of glory when the Amazonis Laetitia synod starts. The nominees must at least claim to be Catholic, whatever your private opinion of them ("Who am I to judge?") Bishops and above will not count as journalists, even if they send out monthly letters explaining how wonderful they are.

Nominations can be made by adding a comment to this blog, or by replying to my advert on Twitter.

In all things the infallible decision of the umpire (me) is final.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Catholic found in Poland

It turns out that rumours that the Catholic Church had become extinct - like the Anglican Church - were slightly exaggerated: a rare member of the species Homo Catholicus has been sighted in Poland. Jakub Baryła, a 15-year old boy, was observed in Plock, holding up a crucifix and making characteristic cries of Salve Regina in the face of the local Gay Pride Bore-athon.

Jakub Baryła

A rare sighting of a Catholic.

Said David Attenborough, the veteran expert on endangered species, "Unfortunately, no Catholic priests or bishops have been sighted (unless they were taking part in the march); moreover, we need a breeding pair of Catholics if the species is to continue. Still, there is some hope that further sightings of Catholics will be possible, if climate change has not wiped them all out."

Jakub Baryła under arrest

Police take the Catholic to a sanctuary.

Attempts to find Catholics elsewhere have so far proved inconclusive. For example, scientists are divided over which of the Pontifex Bergoglionis and the Burkeus Raymondus is truly a subspecies of Homo Catholicus (their calls are totally different). Most people agree that the Blaseus Cupichus cannot be regarded as any form of Catholic.

Dolan at parade

Dolanus Crassissimus, sighted at a "gay" parade, but clearly not a Catholic.

Saturday 10 August 2019

The Dean of Norwich defends herself

The (Anglican) Dean of Norwich, her Holiness the Very Reverend, Sacred and Venerable Minerva Mouse, has defended herself against criticism that installing a helter-skelter into Norwich cathedral was irreverent, blasphemous, bonkers, and Satanic (you choose).

Minnie Mouse

Dean Mouse stands outside her magnificent cathedral.

"In a very real sense - and I know that Bishop Duck agrees with me - spiralling downhill very quickly is a metaphor for the modern Anglican church. But let us not forget the immortal words of Mother Julian of Norwich, author of Rotations of Divine Love, even if she was a Catholic, and therefore a bit too God-obsessed:

He showed me a great tower, ringed with a steep helix, lying in the nave of a cathedral, as it seemed. I looked upon it with the eye of my understanding, and thought, 'What may this be?' And it was answered generally thus, 'It is all that Man will worship in the future.' I marvelled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothingness. And I was answered in my understanding: 'It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it.'

All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. WHEEEEEEE!!!"

Donald Duck

Bishop Duck gives the Blessing.

A survey of members of the Church of England produced the following results:

1. Only 30% believed in God (falling to 5% when it came to the clergy).

2. Only 20% realised that Churches were the House of God, rather than simply funfairs with better architecture.

3. When asked who was the Son of God, only 10% said Jesus. Other responses included Mohammed, Richard Dawkins, and Stephen Fry.

Norwich cathedral (the ancient one) has long been appreciated as a place for religion-lite fun, as the following picture of a dignified prelate shows.

bishop jumping on custard

Bishop of Norwich jumps on a tray of custard (yes, really).

Meanwhile, Dean Mouse has put up a small shed near the old cathedral in which Christian worship can take place. "There will only be room for two or three people at a time, but that should easily be enough!" she explained.

However, as one commentator put it: "I came a long way to see this church, and there wasn't even a coconut shy or dodgem cars! How do they think they will attract pilgrims?"

very small church

The new Norwich cathedral.

Monday 5 August 2019

Pope Francis re-applies for his job

In line with the brilliant strategy adopted by Archbishop Paglia for reorganizing the pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in order to hide the fact that Amoris Laetitia is inconsistent with Familiaris Consortio and Veritatis Splendor - sack the president and professors, and make the latter re-apply for their jobs - it has been agreed that natural justice demands a similar purge throughout the Catholic Church.


"You're all fired!"

The first step in this reorganization is for Pope Francis to re-apply for the job of Pope. He has been asked to send in a CV and two testimonials - probably they will be from Austen Ivereigh and Stephen Walford - saying that he is the most suitable person for the job, and an all-round decent guy who is humble, merciful, non-rigid, reliably infallible, and not at all bossy.

The St Gallen Mafia is a little weakened at present, what with the loss of Danneels and Murphy-O'Connor, but old Wally Kasper is still doddering along on two brain cells, and new recruits are already presenting themselves, such as Marx, Cupich, and Maradiaga. The St Gallen Mafiosi can be relied upon to do what they can to make sure that Pope Francis is reappointed; if they succeed, the traditional white smoke will be replaced by the burning of strange Amazonian plants, ordered in by Cardinal Coccopalmerio.

But the purge does not end there. Many priests, bishops and cardinals considered unsuitable for their jobs will also be moved on to other ministries.

Victor Borge

Paglia will go back to his career as a comedian and pianist.

A full list of the sacked staff is not yet available, and will depend on who replaces Pope Francis, should he be unsuccessful in his job application. Fearing that Sarah, Burke, or even Müller will get the top job, some of the more dodgy priests in just-about-good-standing-I-suppose are looking for alternative jobs. Will Fr James Martin become a ballet dancer? Will Bishop Arnold open a hairdressing salon? You read it here first.

Spadaro tweet

Fr Spadaro is expected to retrain as a Maths teacher.

Friday 2 August 2019

No halo for G.K. Chesterton

The Madness of Peter Doyle, by Saint G.K. Chesterton.

Father Brown always used to say that the strangest case he ever came across was that involving the unaccountable behaviour of a Catholic bishop called Doyle. He encountered that eccentric cleric on a visit to Northampton, an obscure midland town which had mysteriously been designated the seat of a Catholic bishop. Equally mysteriously, Pope Benedict had chosen one Peter Doyle as its bishop, having watched a documentary called "Father Ted", and somehow having been led to believe that young Peter was the son of the devout Mrs Doyle.

Mrs Doyle

Bishop Doyle's mother.

Thus, Father Brown was strolling through the streets of Northampton when his attention was attracted by cries of "We want Gilbert!" and "Down with Doyle!" A large crowd had gathered outside the bishop's house, and Father Brown entered, to observe an elderly cleric jumping up and down on the photograph of a large jovial man and screaming "WE HATES CHESTERTON! WE HATES HIM! WE HATES HIM!"

"I think, sir," said Father Brown, "that I would like to hear why you hate Mr Chesterton. Many people have spoken out in favour of his canonization, which is considered less controversial than those of Oscar Romero and Pope Whose-turn-is-it-this-week of Vatican II."

Quest conference

Bishop Doyle is happier speaking with James Martin at conferences on LGBT issues.

"First, there is no local cult," said the bishop, gulping down a handful of REES-MOGADON tablets ("guaranteed to bring total calm").

"Not even in Beaconsfield, where one can find the grave of Chesterton, which attracts pilgrims on a regular basis?" asked Father Brown. "Just seventy miles from here."

Evidently Bishop Doyle had not heard of Beaconsfield, for he continued his enumeration of the apparent defects in the character of Mr Chesterton.

GKC pilgrimage

Definitely not a pilgrimage. Just a chance meeting at GKC's grave.

"There is no pattern of personal spirituality," continued the bishop.

Father Brown choked slightly, thinking of "Orthodoxy", "The Everlasting Man", "Heretics", "Eugenics and other evils," "St Francis of Assisi", "St Thomas Aquinas", and numerous other writings of spiritual nourishment, as well as G.K.C.'s more personal proselyting on behalf of the Church.

"You are going to play the anti-semitism card next, are you not?" he said. "The man who was condemning the Nazi persecution of Jews as early as 1934. The friend of Weizmann. The encourager of Zionism."

The bishop stared at Father Brown in dismay, as if he might be regretting the huge blunder that he had made.

"I am a priest, Bishop Doyle," said Brown, "and I am ready to hear your confession."

However, things did not conclude as Father Brown had been expecting. Getting to his feet again, Bishop Doyle resumed jumping up and down on the photograph of Chesterton, shouting, "WE HATES HIM! WE HATES HIM! WE WAS RIGHT! WE WAS RIGHT! NASTY NASTY CHESTERTON! WE DOESN'T WANT HIM TO BE A SAINT! WE DOESN'T! WE DOESN'T!"

photo of GKC

The actual photo upon which the famous jump of Bishop Doyle took place.

As Father Brown freely admitted later, this was not one of his most successful cases.