This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Welcome to Pagan Voices!

My dear friend Austen Ivereigh and I have decided to start a new organization, Pagan Voices. The object of our team will be to improve the Pagan Church's representation in the media, above all in news programmes and debates. Expect to see us on many radio and television programmes in future, where we are certain to make a big impression on bishops and broadcasters alike.

Pachamama logo

Our new logo, the pregnant Pachamama idol.

The founding of our organization is a direct response to the bad publicity that the recent Pachamama Synod received in the Catholic media - many people labelling it as "pagan" without fully understanding the spiritual nourishment obtainable from pagan beliefs. Austen and I meet regularly to say prayers to the great Mother Earth Goddess, to kiss the soil, and to talk to the trees. Today my colleague received an offer of £10 million from a Nigerian who wants to borrow his bank account. If that doesn't prove that Pachamama answers our prayers, then I'm just a useless lump of wood drifting down the Tiber!

So far we have not yet received an answer from Pope Francis to our request that he become a sponsor of Pagan Voices. Although he was present when Our Lady Pachamama was honoured, we fear that he may use the same excuse that Jeremy Corbyn did when spotted participating in a wreath-laying ceremony for terrorists: "I was present, but I don’t think I was actually involved."

Paganism with Pope Francis

Pope Francis is not yet a fully-confirmed member of our Church.

Still, Austen has already begun work on the third and last volume of his Pope Francis trilogy, "Pope Francis, the great pagan," which should be out in time for Christmas 2020.

That's it really. If anyone wants to become a "Pagan Voices" spokesman, contact Austen, and he will book you onto his classes, where you will learn to speak in a deep mystical voice, throwing out all the standard catchphrases abour Mother Nature, Laudato Si', and the Great Pregnant Earth Goddess who will give birth to new Redeemer (or so Austen tells me).

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Joe Bidet is denied Communion

It is reported that Senator Joe Bidet, best known to British readers as the man who was so desperate that he plagiarised the speeches of Neil Kinnock (silver medallist in the General Elections of 1987, 1992, forced to resign from the European Commission in 1999) has been denied Communion a second time - this time by Fr James Martin LGBTSJ.

Said Fr Jim, "Obviously Joe's passionate support for abortion, which after all is only the mass murder of children in the womb, would not be enough for him to be considered as bringing scandal on Church, promoting evil, and in an way making him the sort of person who needs to repent of his evil ways before presenting himself for Communion. No, his conduct is far worse in that he was seen using a plastic straw, in clear contravention of the teaching in Laudato Si' by my dear friend Pope Francis."

Biden groping

Joe Bidet consoles himself by chewing on a young lady's hair.

Bidet himself is shocked at his rejection by Sunny Jim, and was said tonight to be considering his position. Could he really stand for the Presidency of the United States, in competition with such holy figures as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, when he had been publicly declared - by one of the leading Catholic teachers of our generation - to be living in a state of sin? So what if Bernie sleeps in a coffin and drinks the blood of virgins, or Elizabeth likes to scalp passers-by? Compared with Joe's plastic sins, these are trivial hobbies.

Martin's latest rubbish

James Martin himself is hoping to build bridges to Bidet: he has been praying hard to Pachamama that Joe's heart will be softened and that he will destroy his vast collection of plastic straws (in an ecologically sound manner). We can but hope that Bidet will do this, and be welcomed back as a Catholic in good standing. And nuts to the dead kids.

Monday 28 October 2019

What ho, James!

With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse.

Regular readers of these chronicles will know that six years ago, my Uncle Cormac, tired of seeing me lounging around all day, said "Bergie! It's time you got a proper job, so we're arranging for you to become Pope. You'll enjoy it - the Cardinals Club is just like the Drones Club."

Unfortunately being Pope isn't just a matter of saying prayers and looking humble, although that's part of it, and I kept getting into scrapes. For example, my Aunt Dahlia, who used to run a lady's magazine called Milady's Boudoir, asked me to dash off a piece on "How to be a great lover". Since I am Pope, I gave it a Latin title, Amoris Laetitia, and cobbled together a few tips from the works of D.H. Lawrence, Casanova, and Bingo Little's wife Rosie M. Banks, the writer of romantic novels.

However, the critics panned it. Indeed old "Beau Brummell" Burke of the Cardinals Club got together with some mates to send me some thorny questions about the article. Luckily the letter was taken away by "Sniffer" Cocco, who said something about dropping a line, although I hadn't really thought of him as a great letter-writer.

Pope and Martin

James takes charge.

Recently my luck changed, and James entered my employment, as manservant, valet, spiritual adviser, and physical trainer. The story starts with another of my failed literary ventures, which was originally intended as a jolly children's story about a water-rat, a mole, a badger and a toad, until I realised that this had already been done. So I threw half the pages away and renamed the rest Laudato Si'.

Some time after the publication of Laudato Si', I got a call from "Baldy" Baldisseri of the Cardinals Club explaining that he was organizing a synod, and perhaps I would like to attend. "We're all dressing as Amazonians, but you can come as you are, Bergie, if you don't have a costume. Bring a bottle!"

At that time, James and I were having a slight disagreement. James had been trying to add a touch of colour to my usual white suit - "A rainbow cummerbund would suit you very well, sir, and show that you are hoping to build bridges." However, on this occasion I asserted my authority, and James retired in high dudgeon, telling me that "He who fights and runs away will live to fight another day. Demosthenes."

I had never heard of his pal Demosthenes: probably he's one of those New York Jesuits that James knows intimately. Still, I had won that round.

Pope and Martin again

Bergie and James discuss Demosthenes.

Anyway, I went along to Baldy's synod, and was slightly surprised to see everyone bowing to an ugly-looking wooden statue. James was there serving drinks, and I asked him what the statue was. "I could not say, sir," he replied. "Mr Ivereigh is telling people that it is Our Lady of the Amazon, but he also maintains that it represents Miss Madeline Bassett. Her disciples believe that the stars are God's daisy chain, that rabbits are gnomes in attendance on the Fairy Queen, and that every time a fairy blows its wee nose a baby is born."

"Is that really orthodox Catholic doctrine, James? I'm a bit rusty on it."

"I fear not, sir, although it is one of the aims of the synod to get these teachings accepted as infallible by the Church."

"Hey, I know all about this. When I took over from Uncle Ben, he told me, 'You are allowed to make infallible statements, Bergie, but you're such a numbskull that I really wouldn't advise it.'"

"Quite so, sir."

Pachamama wild

The cabaret.

I thoroughly enjoyed the party, but the next day, when James shimmered in with the papers, I could see that I was in a dreadful fix, and it would need all James's ingenuity to help me extricate myself. The headlines read:



OHHH, MY BRAIN HURTS. (Austen Ivereigh for Crux.)

To be continued (?)

Saturday 26 October 2019

Sherlock Holmes and the Pachamama affair

I have described elsewhere how my friend Sherlock Holmes had on an earlier occasion been consulted by the Holy Father in order to track down the mysterious Marcantonio Colonna. One October day we were summoned again to the the papal presence in order to investigate the Crime of the Century.

Lavender Hill mob

"Right, Zuhlsdorf and Voris will keep us covered, while Donnelly and Taylor Marshall knock off the idols. We'll meet at the Tiber."

After offering us a humble glass of indigenous Amazon water, Pope Francis explained the problem to us. "Mr Holmes, only you can help us. Last night thieves broke into the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, removed four idols of the Blessed Pachamama (here the Holy Father knelt down and kissed the ground) and threw them into the Tiber."

At this point I was so shocked that I sipped at my indigenous drink and immediately felt a sharp pain in my tongue. Removing the piranha fish that had been swimming in the glass of Amazon water, I coughed a few times, and listened while the Successor of St Peter gave us our instructions.

"Do you not have replacement idols?" asked Holmes. "I saw traces of Brazilian sawdust on the floor when I came in, which suggest that an idol-making factory is somewhere nearby. I have written a monograph classifying six hundred varieties of sawdust, and these fragments clearly came from the deadly Hummes tree of Brazil."

"Oh yes, we have a whole shed full of the idols," explained Francis. "We shall be sending one to every parish in the world. But it is important for the prestige of the Synod that we recover the missing idols and place them in St Peter's Basilica."

Pachamama idol

Coming soon to every Catholic church!

We went into the garden, and I remarked to Holmes, "That's a very strange-looking garden-gnome standing on top of the compost-heap. Or is it another pagan idol?"

"I think not, Watson," replied my friend. "One can see that it is moving its lips."

As we approached, we could hear the gnome talking to himself. "Hail Pachamama, Our Lady of the Tiber! Those fascist, alt-right, racist, anti-semitic, Hitlerite, conservative, neo-Nazi, fascist, Brexiting, cat-torturing, thieving, baby-snatching, Telegraph-reading, criminal fascists have committed the Worst Crime in the World! But I will be avenged on the whole pack of you, or my name isn't Austen Ivereigh the Caped Crusader!"

We promptly turned round and walked away.

diving suit

Massimo Faggioli joins the hunt for the missing idols.

Holmes and I went down to the Tiber bridge from which Pachamama had received her early bath - now renamed St Pachamama's Bridge - and looked for clues. Would the idols have sunk into the mud, or would they be drifting out to sea, like a small flotilla, wending their way back to the shores of South America? There were no clues, and the crime seemed to be motiveless. What Catholic could possibly object to the demotion of the Trinity, the Virgin Mary and the saints, and their replacement by a smelly old lump of wood? Only the worst extremist Genghis Khan-following fascist sedevacantists, as little Austen might put it.

bowing to Pachamama

Bowing to Pachamama. Catholic worship at its best.

After a detailed search of the neighbourhood, Holmes and I finally stumbled across a quaint Italian shop, which advertised "LITURGICAL SUPPLIES. Puppets, statuettes, idols, and dolls. All your Catholic needs supplied here." Disguising ourselves as indigenous Amazonians (those feathers really tickled), we went in and asked to see something "spiritually nourishing". There, sitting on a shelf, were four muddy idols, which were clearly the missing Pachamamas.

"I do not wish my name to appear in this case," said Holmes. "Let us alert Inspector Ploddo of the Flying Squad, and allow him to take the credit for this discovery."

And so it was. Following Inspector Ploddo's advice, the Pachamama idols appeared in a place of honour in St Peter's, the following Sunday. Inspector Ploddo was there, ready to arrest anyone seen trying to liberate them. Indeed, the Holy Father had organized a "Bring your own idol for blessing" service, to which I took along my own ten-foot statue of Moloch.


Blessed by Pope Francis.

Holmes was not present. Bored by the whole affair, he had retired to his chamber to inject himself with another 7 per cent solution of Coccopalmerio.

Saturday 19 October 2019

Mordor Synod going well so far

After two weeks of the long-awaited Mordor Synod, Pope Saruman ("the man in white") has declared himself "very happy" with the development of doctrine that has been taking place.

Saruman had invited various religious leaders from the wilds of Mordor, where Catholic priests are almost unknown, to take part and let the Church benefit from the spiritual wisdom of the orcs.


Pope Saruman with his "stang".

Debate is still going on about the ordination of orcs, who at least have never been known to marry, and the question of genociding elves remains open.

In an ecumenical service in Rome, Pope Saruman led a ceremony of devotion to a strange idol, positively identified by Austen Wormtongue as St Peter, although malicious commentators have identified it as the infamous Gollumama.


Gollumama, or possibly St Peter the fisherman.

Some critics, such as Cardinal Gandalf and Fr Odo Baggins, have condemned the Synod in outspoken language, saying, "By and large, all things considered, a devotion to Sauron may be seen as inconsistent with some Catholic beliefs, and, although we would not go so far as saying that it was in any way wrong, we would ask Catholics to regard it with a certain amount of suspicion. On the other hand... In a very real sense..." That's telling them!

Meanwhile, Fr James Radagast SJ has come to the conclusion that Gollumama is "probably gay", and so he is delighted with the devotions.


Mordor. The future inspiration for the Catholic Church?

Monday 14 October 2019

Giving advice to St John Henry Newman

A revised version of an old post, to celebrate the canonization of JHN.

As a change from "Bad hymns," we like to invite in some older hymn-writers, to tell them where they went wrong. Today we welcome St John Henry Newman, author of hymns such as Lead, kindly Light, and Praise to the Holiest in the height, which are hardly ever sung in really hip churches these days. Now, why is that?


St John Henry Newman - where did he go wrong?

E: Welcome, John, and congratulations on your Canonization - I was really rooting for you. Now, your first hymn starts:

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.
Not very snappy, is it? I suppose you never used to play the guitar, did you? Or shake the tambourine?

JHN: That's true, Eccles, I did try to introduce these to the Birmingham Oratory, but the traddies wouldn't have it. So how can I bring my hymn up to date?

E: Well, taking the tune of Walk in the Light, how about rewriting it as:

Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead, lead, Kindly Li-ight,
Lead on, as I'm far from home!

Holmes and Watson

Watson, the night is dark and we are far from home.

JHN: Yes, I think that would work. So Verse 2 could be:

Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
Keep, keep Thou my fee-eet,
One step's the right thing for me!
E: You're learning quickly, John. This is the sort of hymn that Catholic congregations are singing these days. None of your flowery language!

JHN: Can we do something about Praise to the Holiest in the height, Eccles? It comes from my poem The Dream of Gerontius.


Gerontius, catching up on some sleep.

E: Gerontius? I suppose it's too late to give him a more with-it name? The Dream of Dave, maybe? Well, let's see how it starts:

Praise to the Holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise;
In all His words most wonderful,
Most sure in all His ways.
E: I think the problem here, John, is that there are at least four different ideas in that verse. And later on you get very involved in sin and redemption, and all that sort of Jesus-stuff, whereas modern congregations should be singing about how happy they are.

JHN: Yes, I think I'm getting the hang of this now. Could I use the tune of "Follow me, follow me?"

When we're up in the heights, or we feel a little blue,
Oh we like to praise our holy holy Friend,
For He sorted us out, yes He did, for me and you,
So we're saved, yes we're saved, and that's the end. 

Chorus: Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, 
praise the holy holy Lord... (ad libitum)

up in the heights

When we're up in the heights, or we feel a little blue...

E: Very good, John. You got through the main points of your hymn much more quickly that time, didn't you?

JHN: Thanks for your wise advice, Eccles. Now I see how real hymn-writers work.

E: Oh, by the way this "Cor ad cor loquitur" motto is a bit rigid. How about "Cor, strike a kindly light"?

Saturday 12 October 2019

Newman was my kind of Catholic

A guest contribution from Christopher Lambchop of the Tablet.

There is little doubt that celebrity saint John Henry Newman would have been an ardent Remainer. So says Fr Ignatius Harrison of the Birmingham Oratory, and his wise words are backed by Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, who is still recovering in hospital from the removal of his spine.

Of course we cannot be sure exactly how Newman would have resolved the current crisis. Would he have campaigned for a second referendum? A simple dropping of Article 50? Or perhaps he would have asked for another 20-year extension? We can never be entirely certain, although scholars who have read his writings are sure that he was crying out to be ruled by such giants as Juncker, Verhofstadt, Von der Leyen, and Barnier.

Lambchop and Shari Lewis

Christopher Lambchop with an unknown lady (probably Tina Beattie)

Likewise, we can tell from his Apologia pro Greta sua, that Newman would have supported the Extinction Rebellion's current campaign to shut down the world's cities. It is known that he never flew in an aeroplane, and there are accounts of his gluing himself to hot air balloons in an attempt to bring people closer to God. As he said in 1895 "We have only 12 years in which to save the world," and his words are as true now as they ever were. When we see our heroes engage in interpretive dance moves in order to help our planet survive, we know that John Henry Newman is looking down and wishing he was there.

Vestments worn by St John Henry Newman.

Moving on to Catholic issues, a subject we tend to avoid in the Tablet, we know that Newman would have enjoyed the current Amazonis Laetitia summit. Not just for the opportunity to stick feathers in his hair and worship pagan fertility idols, but also for the new doctrine that it promotes - notably the ordination of women as deacons (sha-women joining the sha-men). A pioneer in every way, Newman records in his writings how he used to confess his sins to the trees in Oxford, and listen to the wisdom of the wisteria.

On the wider scene, Newman was a keen feminist, a promoter of LGBT issues (history records that he never married), and in short, a typical Tablet reader. Modernism was his creed, as we know from his famous letter to Pope Pius IX, which begins "Get with the programme, baby-oh. This infallibility wheeze is a great opportunity for you to rewrite Catholic doctrine."

Pope Pius IX

"Newman made me a modernist."

Yes, Newman was definitely my type of Catholic.

Will this do? Actually, he seems to have been a bit of a old fogey, and rather a stuffed shirt, but we'd better not say that. Chris.

Thursday 10 October 2019

How to be an atheist pope

Many of the articles on this blog have given advice on "How to be a good pope", but one or two of my readers (i.e., about half of them) have complained that, being atheists, they did not find the advice very useful. Obviously, being female is not a bar to occupying the chair of Peter (or as Father James Martin puts it, the chair of Mary Magdalene), especially since we now need to create female popes in order to please the indigenous tribes of the Amazon (I hope I've got that right). But is atheism a bar?

Pope Joan

The papacy - now open to women and atheists!

Ask any priest, and he will tell you that the job is really quite easy. Most weeks you only work on Sundays, and if you need to preach a homily, then there are plenty of good books from which you can borrow, with titles such as The Reverend Ebenezer Drone's Victorian Sermons on Habakkuk, The Jesuit Book of LGBT-friendly Homilies, and Cardinal Sarah's latest epic, Why don't you all just SHUT UP?*

*Subtitled And that includes you, Francis.

Try not to mention sky fairies and invisible friends, as that's a bit of a give-away that you're not as devout as people thought.

Sartoria per Eccles

The Eccles shop will also provide you with fashionable clothes to wear.

Then, you get to listen to confessions, and that must surely be more entertaining than watching television: once in a while you will get an axe-murderer or a grave-robber, even if most of the time it is "I took the last chocolate from the box" or "I groaned when I read Austen Ivereigh's latest comments."

But do you need to believe? Well, technically not, if you don't mind telling lies. If you don't believe in Hell, or if you think Jesus was not God when He was on Earth, then there is no need to mention it to anyone, as it might affect your chances of promotion (well, it used to, until Vatican II brought us the Age of Aquarius, etc.)

Marx on a tractor

Stealing tractors is all in a day's work for top atheist Cardinal Marx.

Many priests, bishops, and cardinals have realised that they have a job for life, and if they want a career where they can talk to people without being interrupted, then joining the Church is easier than becoming a politician or an actor. No need for elections, no times when you are "resting" between jobs.

The downside to all this is that you may feel you are being a little dishonest, saying "I believe..." when you don't. Also, if you think Richard Dawkins's latest book My head is bigger than God's is a miracle of theological brilliance, then don't read the book when you think someone might be watching.

Pope and scalfari

What can possibly go wrong?

So suppose that promotion has come your way, and you are now the Pope. You may still feel the need to confide in someone, to tell them that you don't really believe a word of it. Should you infallibly and ex cathedra declare, "THERE IS NO GOD"? No, this might cause problems, and even popes can get sacked for being too silly. No, pick a friendly journalist, preferable one who is 105 years old, deaf, blind, unable to work a tape recorder, and known to have a vivid imagination. Tell him. Then, if he spills the beans, you can get your friends to deny it.

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Amazonian pagans complain about the synod

Although Catholics as a whole have been very supportive of the Amazon synod, which started this week (where have you been, Eccles?) some disquiet has been expressed by the Amazonian pagans who were invited to take part.

Pope and Amazonians

Can the Amazonians trust Pope Francis not to be too Catholic?

Said a spokesman, known to his friends as Wise Spirit of Yucca, "We were promised a synod fully compatible with our beliefs, but elements of traditional Catholicism keep creeping in. For example, the Big Chief Pappafranco, who was expected to dress in traditional warpaint and feathers, keeps insisting on wearing a white gown. We can only described this as 'rigid'."

Worzel Gummidge

A synod participant, who listens to the wisdom of the crows.

His colleague, Holy Earth mother Kapok, added, "The Catholics also showed themselves totally unable to get into the spirit of idol worship that is the basis of our culture. It is true that they politely bowed down to our fertility symbols, including the naked wooden idol Austeniveri, but their own idols are totally blasphemous - they wear clothes, for one thing, and have been given the names of western imperialists such as Peter and Paul."


A wooden idol, possibly St Peter.

In a desperate attempt to save the Synod, Pope Francis has agreed to appease the spirits of Mother Earth, to talk to the trees, and to listen to any questions ("Dubia") they may have to ask him. Which is more than his cardinals have managed to accomplish.


Pachermanna, the Amazonian god. Why no place in Catholic liturgy?

LATE NEWS: A Catholic baptism goes horribly wrong, when it is discovered that the font was filled with piranha fish.

Cardinal Hummes agrees to conduct a human sacrifice, in honour of the wise spirits of the swamp, just as soon as Archbishop Viganò hands himself in.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Eccles has a papal audience

So I took part in a Tablet competition, and won first prize.

Put the following qualities of Pope Francis in order of importance:

Humility, Politeness, Orthodoxy, Spirituality, Good temper, Respect for tradition, Inability to bear grudges, Mercy.

The first prize was a 10-second audience with the Holy Father (the second prize, a 30-minute audience, was won by Fr James Martin SJ).

Pope and Fr Jim

"Drone... drone... LGBTSJ... building bridges... rainbow underwear... the Bible is wrong... don't you think I look a bit like a priest... pride... Mary Magdalene was a lesbian... I'm transitioning next year... change the catechism... gay fashion show in the Sistine chapel... shall we do some Ignatian yoga now?"

The audience involved turning up in St Peter's Square on a Wednesday morning and listening to a Bible reading and a papal homily, first in Italian, then translated into other important languages (this week it was Orcish, Klingon, DA-LEK, and Anglo-Saxon). Then the Holy Father would come round and greet people personally.

Pope and Ivereigh

At last I was treading in the steps of Austen Ivereigh!

Pope and Greta

And Greta Thunberg!

I didn't have a book to sell, or a political campaign to wage, so I took along a printed copy of this lovely blog for the Pope's edification, with the pieces on "How to be a Good Pope" highlighted.

He was approaching. Ten seconds with Michael Voris, ten seconds with Jacob Rees-Mogg, ten seconds with Cardinal Burke (only joking!), and he was in front of me!

What do you say to a Pope when you meet him? "You is not saved, only I is saved"? "Any answers to the Dubia yet?" "Sarah for Pope!"? I chickened out and said simply "Hello, how's the Poping going? Does it pay well?"

And then Pope Francis, successor to St Peter, and big cheese of the Catholic Church, deigned to give a personal message to me, a humble blogger. "SHUT UP, ECCLES!" he said, and I knew I had made a hit with him.