This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Zen and the art of being a good pope

Yes, this is another in our series "How to be a good pope," designed to provide useful advice to any of our readers who might suddenly be told "You've just been elected to the Chair of St Peter. Put on this white coat, get out on the balcony, and smile as if you really meant it."

Now sometimes you get pestered by unwanted visitors. Obviously, there are visitors that you welcome with open arms, such as little gnomes writing biographies of you, or LGBT Jesuits wanting to build bridges. But there are others that you definitely mustn't see.

Cardinal Zen

Hide and seek in the Vatican.

One such is Cardinal Tao, the 94-year-old Chinese cardinal, who has walked all the way from Hong Kong to discuss with you the appointment of bishops in his own country. You thought you had it all sewn up: President Xi Jinandtonic was to send you lots of money, and you would let him chooses his pet thugs as bishops. After all, what's wrong with having thugs as bishops, or even cardinals? In the United States it is quite normal.

But Tao refuses to be silent. Luckily he is only going to be around for four days and you have many places you can hide: behind the sofa, under the bed, in the cupboard under the stairs, in the toilet. As Baroness Orczy put it:
They seek him here, they seek him there. 
Those Chinese seek him everywhere. 
Is he in Heaven or is he in Hell? 
That demned elusive Popernel.

Scarlet pimpernel

The scarlet Popernel.

You could even try removing your papal robes, dressing as a gardener, and slipping out unnoticed. A much more important Man than you was once mistaken for a gardener!

But there is another cloud on the horizon. Cardinal Billabong from Australia has escaped from prison, and he's come to check your tax returns! Unlike Tao, he has very good eyesight, and you won't be able to elude him so easily.

Hmm... this one could be tricky. If I get any good ideas I'll let you know.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Becciu gets the sack

The phone rang. "Headmaster wants to see you, Eminence," said Gonzalo Aemilius, the Pope's personal secretary. "Better stick some books down the back of your cassock, you're in for a caning."

Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, cautiously entered the Pope's study, known colloquially as the Awful Office. Was the Headmaster going to tick him off for recommending Ruth Bader Ginsburg for canonization on the advice of James Martin, Massimo Faggioli, and several others who had the Pope's ear? Or was it something else?

Pope and Becciu

"No, Cardinal, I really can't accept your cheque while people are watching."

"I have here a letter from the Count of Monte Ballarat," said the Pope. "In fact it's really Cardinal Pell, the man imprisoned in the Château Wallaby for fifteen years on trumped-up charges. He has now escaped and is starting to take revenge on the people who betrayed him. I'll Becciu weren't expecting that! (Joke!)"

"But why does he use the alias 'Count of Monte Ballarat'?" asked Becciu.

"He knows very well that my secretary has orders to tear up all letters from cardinals on sight. We don't want any more Dubia slipping through! Now, Pell was looking into the finances of the Vatican before he was sent away, and has laid some very severe charges against you."

Cardinal Pell laughing

Cardinal Pell is deeply grieved by the downfall of Becciu.

"Does he know about my private company Vatican Embezzlement Inc.?"

"More than that. He has been following the money, and knows that it is wholly owned by Becciu Slushfunds, which in turn is a shadow company that sends money to Becciu Investments, and this in turn funnels its profits into Becciu Laundries and Dry Cleaning. It seems that all you launder is money..."

"It's just accounting, Holy Headmaster, you wouldn't understand it."


Suspicious going-on in the Vatican laundry.

"I'll have to do something about this you know. Apparently all the newspapers have been carrying the story for over a year, except the ones I read: La Civiltà Cattolica, The National Catholic Reporter, America, the Tablet and the Beano. You're FIRED!"

"You mean...?"

"Hand over your red hat and your key to the Cardinals' washroom. Cardinal Cocainepusher wants me to tell you that you're not invited to any more Saturday night parties. Gammarelli's will no longer be giving you a staff discount."

"Can I keep my email business, sending messages to gullible people offering them a million euros if they let me use their bank account?"

"Yes, no problem, Giovanni. And don't worry - I'm going to commission a full report on the whole affair, but it's in a queue after the McCarrick report, so you're all right for ten years or so."


"Just one thing though... the Count of Monte Ballarat says that there are more people he wants to expose, including FATHER BIG, himself. Do you think he knows about that money we've been getting from Soros and Xi Jinping?"

Sunday 20 September 2020

Death of a Saint

Once in a while someone dies who is instantly recognised as a saintly being by our spiritual leaders. A few months ago it was George Floyd, the violent drug-crazed robber. His virtues were recognised by Fr James Martin, who instantly awarded him a place in Heaven.

Jimbo tweet

Well, I've tried praying to St George the Floyd in Heaven, but I keep getting the "number unobtainable" message. So maybe I am not spiritual enough to appreciate his saintliness.

Then, a day or two ago, we said farewell to top lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg, without whom many kids now dead through abortion might have been given a chance to live. Now, there are lots of good reasons why I should not comment adversely on the dear departed.

  1. De mortuis nil nisi bonum, attributed to Chilon of Sparta (600 BC), although he said it in Greek. This rather limits what we can say about anyone in history. Judas Iscariot knew how to make a quick buck (=30 pieces of silver), Henry VIII was a great musician, Hitler a promising painter. Ruth hardly ever tortured kittens.
  2. Judge not that ye be not judged. Awkward this one, as dear Ruth made a living out of judging people. Anyway, we can comment on her activities without judging her.

Chilon of Sparta

Chilon of Sparta - I have nothing but good to say of him.

Now, a lot of people have decided to go for the "Praise Ruth" option. Governor Mike Huckabee, who is an amusing Southern Baptist, and so slightly saved, and whose most irritating habit is to torment people with his electric bass guitar, goes for the "respectful memory" option - but then Baptists don't canonize people - reflecting on her friendship with the late Justice Scalia.

But it is impossible to know the ultimate destination of La Ginsburg until Fr Jim has pronounced. Since she was a Democrat, we know he will support her, as pro-life issues must always come second to party loyalty - except when Republicans do it, eh, Jim?

"May her memory be a blessing."

Apparently dear Ruth was also described a "champion of LGBTQ rights on the bench". There we must draw the line, since if the LGBTQ people wish to exercise their rights, a bed is surely far more appropriate than a park bench. But what do I know?

Anyway, that's enough spiritual nourishment for now. RIP, Ruth, and RIP all the unborn kids being torn to pieces before they have a chance to grow up and become lawyers.

Saturday 12 September 2020

The Book of Covidicus, Chapter 7: The rule of Six

Continued from Chapter 6.

1. In the ninth month of the year, the plague continued to rage, or, more accurately, to be slightly peeved.

2. For, although there were some new sick people, the Angel of Death had dropped his mighty scythe and now slew just one or two with his less mighty sword of cardboard.

"I need a holiday."

3. And Bo-sis spake, saying, "Let us talk once more to the people of EU-gypt about the issue of Brexodus. For, although we have left, there is more to be decided."

4. Thus he ordered his servant David the Frosty to meet with Michael Bar-nier in a form of mortal combat known as negotiation.

5. But Bar-nier was exceeding wrathful, for David the Frosty wished to take away all the fish for which the children of Bri-tain hungered.

6. This would force the Pharaoh, Ursula of Lebanon, to feed her five thousand people on just five loaves and two fishes.

An exclusive picture of the EU-gypt fishing quota.

7. Moreover, Bo-sis was forced to reconsider the Backstab, or the Irishite Question, wherein the trade in milk and honey with the Irishites was to be governed.

8. For, as is recorded elsewhere, whenever Bo-sis was getting close to the answer, the Irishites secretly changed the Question.

9. However, the plague had not gone away, and the Angel of Death spake again unto Bo-sis, saying "Coo-eee, I am still here!"

10. Thus Bo-sis took decisive action, and appointed an army known as the Marshals of Covid, who were to patrol the streets shouting at passers-by the mighty words "KEEP THY DISTANCE!"

"This street ain't big enough for the two of us."

11. Also, because Bo-sis and his servant Matthew, of the trible of Hanoch, liked to speak in slogans, they created a new one: "HANDS - FACE - SPACE - THE FINAL FRONT EAR", although none knew what it meant exactly.

12. Then Matthew of Hanoch counted up the number of his friends, and it came to five (if he counted the ones who did not really like him).

13. Thus he gave an order, known as the Rule of Six, saying that no party should consist of more than six people.

14. And all the people were angered by this, except for the Libdemites, who said "A party of six people? We have been practising this for years!"

Continued in Chapter 8.

Saturday 5 September 2020

How to be a good pagan pope

This is of course the latest instalment in our series "How to be a good pope", providing essential advice for anyone expecting to be launched into the Chair of St Peter. (However, be warned, Pope Francis is taking the 93+ years of Leo XIII and Benedict XVI as a challenge, and has lots of exciting plans for making the Catholic Church unrecognizable in the next ten years...)

Pope Leo XIII

"Thank you for sending me the idol of Pachamama. I have thrown it into the Tiber."

It's been a frustrating summer, and you haven't been able to hold your usual audiences in front of great crowds, nor to take aeroplane trips (your usual opportunity for inventing new doctrine). True, you had another chat with Scalfari, who at 96 is even older than Benedict and Leo, even if he does make everything up from memory. But it turned out to be a bit of a non-event.

You were so desperate for company that you were reduced to allowing Austen Ivereigh to interview you - somehow he misunderstood your groans of "Let me sleep!" when he phoned you up at 3 a.m., and he is going to call the resulting book "Let us dream!" (Memo: remind Austen to brush up his Italian.) More on that some other time.

Francis/Ivereigh drivel

No, seriously...

Well, you amused yourself a little by tinkering with the Italian liturgy. The bits quoted from the Bible always looked wrong to you, so you were happy to rewrite them in the way Jesus would have put things if he'd been as wise as you. But this is merely trolling the traditionalists, so you need something bigger to keep yourself in the public eye.

Got it! For the next month we're going to celebrate the Jubilee for the Earth, the Season of Creation. That is, paganism. Here are a couple of wise things you might preach. Don't mention Jesus, sin, redemption, Heaven, Hell, or any of that stuff. It just confuses people.

Francis tweet 1

What's that strange voice I hear?

Listen carefully, folks, that's the voice of creation speaking. Forget all that nonsense about being masters of creation - rewriting Genesis is next on your list - and remember that we are all spiders in a web, not just your friend Tony Spidero.

Francis tweet 2

I got rhythm...

Speak out about the rhythms of creation. You may go down in history as the rhythmical pope, which is better than the web-bound pope. However, be warned: one of your likely successors, Cardinal Taggle-Waggle, is already putting in a claim to be the most rhythmical pope, and his dance moves are better than yours.

Tagle and Francis

"I got rhythm AND I got music."

Anyway, keep muttering about the Rhythms of the Earth, the Jubilee of Creation, the Season of the Voice, the Voice of the Season, the Creation of Rhythm, and the Jubilee of the Season of Creation of the Rhythms of the Voice of the Earth... and that will keep people in a state of confusion until your next encyclical gets written.