This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Learning to Prey - a guide for everyone

Already they're calling the Book of the Century - Fr James "Jimbo" Martin LGBTQSJ has another blockbuster in press. You can tell the quality of it by the celebrity endorsements on the cover:

Blase Cupich, world's worst cardinal, and avoider of rabbit holes that may contain awkward rabbits: This should be the ideal handbook for anyone wishing to influence vulnerable people. They may have been brought up as Catholics, but their gut feeling is for the "Seamless Trousers" approach to the faith: you can't be pro-life unless you support the venerable Joseph Biden and the blessed Kamala Harris. We need to encourage this version of Catholicism.

Mr Muscle joins in.

Robert Barron, body-builder, part-time bishop, "Word on Fire" managing director, and friend of Uncle Wilt Gregory: The book takes a very sensitive approach to the formation of LGBT Catholics. Many teenagers wonder whether they are really heterosexual: indeed, seeing photos of Alexandra Occasional-Cortex flashing her teeth can put young boys off women for life. Fr Jim knows that these boys should be encouraged to "come out" as Jesuits. But "preying" isn't the right word, I prefer "encouraging young people to recognise their tendency to do whatever they want, and accept it as something to celebrate."

But no endorsement from Joe Tobin? What went wrong?

We have not yet read the book, but we do hope that Fr James will explain how to persuade people to accept reinterpretations of scripture. It's scandalous that vulnerable Catholics should rely on old-fashioned readings of the Bible as handed down by the Church for 2000 years. What they need is a nice friendly uncle to sit down with them and explain that the Bible means something entirely different in the 21st Century. I'm hoping to get some tips on this - when I knock on doors offering to tell people about how Jesus learned his job from a Canaanite woman and entrusted the Church to Mary Magdalene, they just throw rotten fruit at me.

Would it help if I dressed up as a sexy priest?

Friday, 30 October 2020

Eight bad churches... and two very bad cardinals

We're reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup of Ugly Churches - where "ugly" can be interpreted loosely as "I wish I hadn't seen this picture." Here is the draw for the knockout stages, and this post will be updated to record how things go (we start the Twitter vote on Monday).


1. Newman Hall, Holy Spirit, Berkeley (USA) v Maria, Koenigin des Friedens, Velbert-Neviges (Germany)

Torture chamber meets demolition site.


2. Kappal Matha Church, Tirunelveli (India) v Parroquia Santa Monica, Rivas-Vaciamadrid (Spain)

Aeroplane meets gun battery.


3. St Francis de Sales, Norton Shores, Michigan (USA) v Rosa Aufblasbare Kirche, Vreden (GER)

Sauron's castle meets bouncy castle.


4. Eglise Sainte Bernadette du Banlay (France) v Our Lady of the Rosary of the Philippines, Madrid (Spain)

Hippopotamus meets carpark.

QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS

Newman Hall, Holy Spirit, Berkeley 54.2 - Maria, Koenigin des Friedens, Velbert-Neviges 45.8

Kappal Matha Church, Tirunelveli 44.3 - Parroquia Santa Monica, Rivas-Vaciamadrid 55.7

St Francis de Sales, Norton Shores, Michigan 63.8 - Rosa Aufblasbare Kirche, Vreden 36.2

Eglise Sainte Bernadette du Banlay 78.9 - Our Lady of the Rosary of the Philippines, Madrid 21.1

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS

Newman Hall, Holy Spirit, Berkeley 35.4 - St Francis de Sales, Norton Shores, Michigan 64.6

Parroquia Santa Monica, Rivas-Vaciamadrid 27.5 - Eglise Sainte Bernadette du Banlay 72.5

THIRD PLACE PLAYOFF

Newman Hall, Holy Spirit, Berkeley 70.7 - Parroquia Santa Monica, Rivas-Vaciamadrid 29.3

FINAL

St Francis de Sales, Norton Shores, Michigan 50.8 - Eglise Sainte Bernadette du Banlay 49.2


Meanwhile, here are some other things to think about: Cardinal Marx (officially the world's 2nd worst cardinal), rejects a beautiful altar in favour of a piece of junk.

Your Eminence, we did advise you not to sit on it.

And someone who will surely be a strong contender in the 2021 World Cup of Bad Cardinals, Uncle Wilt, or Wilton Gregory, who seems to have been given a red hat because he hates Donald Trump even more than Pope Francis does.

Uncle Ted and his protegé.

Anyone seen that McCarrick report yet?

Saturday, 24 October 2020

How to scandalize the Catholic Church

Yes, it's another in our long-running series on "How to be a good pope," designed for those lucky readers who may one day have to decide whether to trade as Pius XIII, Benedict XVII, Francis II, or George-Ringo I.

Well, I say lucky. Some people are naturally suited to the position of pope, being holy, meek, pure in spirit, merciful, and an expert at dealing with cardinals who are dodgy financiers or drug-takers. Others, like yourself, got into the job by accident, when your flustered careers adviser ticked the box marked "PAPA" by mistake for "PORTERO" on the sheet of recommended jobs for you. You could have had a great life as a caretaker/janitor, sitting in the entrance to an office-block, smoking, reading the paper, and slapping intruders, but it was not to be. You ended up as Pope, and you only rarely get the chance to slap anyone.

"I love you very much." Well, everyone except Burke, Schneider, Sarah, Viganò... and Donald Trump.

Anyway, you're stuck with the job, and you have certain beliefs that can't really be described as "Catholic": Marxism is great, give communion to anyone who wants it, being divorced and remarried is just fine, abortion is nothing to be bothered about, everyone will go to Heaven (or more likely nobody will as you don't believe in it), this Pachamama cult sounds like fun, ...

So what do you do? You speak out. Not ex cathedra, since if you tried that be sure that your throne would act as a divine ejector-seat and you would disappear, never to be seen again. No, you can give interviews to 108-year-old journalists known for making things up from memory, you can fraternize with Marxists and abortionists - after all Jesus also met sinners, and perhaps He too used to slap them on the back and say "You're doing a grand job, carry on!" You can write encyclicals and apostolic exhortations, and people will just nod wisely and say "It's OK, it's just the Pope's personal opinion" and tap their heads significantly. It's rather disappointing really, you were hoping to hit the headlines worldwide.

But one day you get to release a video on which you're talking about homosexual relationships and all Hell breaks loose (if you'll pardon the expression).

At last! The publicity you've always wanted!

What's the problem with civil unions for homosexual couples, you wonder. One of your favourite Catholics, Joe Biden (who, like you, doesn't believe much of that Christianity stuff) actually "married" two men at his home in Delaware. Joe is a Good Catholic, but for you his main attraction is that he hates Donald Trump nearly as much as you do.

I forgot to mention that en route to becoming Pope you became a Jesuit: so you know the funny handshakes, and you were trained in the ancient Jesuit art of Mumbo Jumbo - saying things that can be intepreted in more than one way. Your friend and mentor Fr James Martin LGBTSJ gave you the Martin translation of the Bible. In it you found the following text, where all was made clear:

1. So Lot said, "O Lord, what can I do to stop you destroying the Cities of the Plain?"

2. And the Lord God answered, "Tell them to introduce a programme of civil partnerships in order to regularize their relationships."

3. And it was so.

The text goes on to say how Sodom and Gomorrah became known worldwide as a centre where gay couples could meet and practise Ignatian yoga.

Modelled on one of the gay bath-houses in the Cities of the Plain.

How did you get into this situation? Well, curiously, it was all Parolin's fault. He came to you, saying, "You know that dodgy deal we've got with China, where they are allowed to appoint their own bishops and torture all the Catholics? Well, we're about to renew it. How can we bury the news?"

"Hold my Boese Lager, Pietro, I think I know how to grab a few headlines..."

The rest is history. The Pope changes Catholic teaching. Jesus, the apostles, doctors of the Church, and 265 previous popes got it all wrong. "Can priests get into civil unions now? Asking for a friend, you understand," says Fr Jim.

Oh dear, don't you wish you were a simple janitor?

And now Alexander Tschugguel demands clarity - the one thing you must never ask of a Jesuit!

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Pope Francis is saved

"Well yes, I have been saved... but in my case it was such a close-run thing that I thought I had better keep quiet about it."

Sir Alec Douglas-Home, British Prime Minister.

A saved person.

The wondrous encyclical Fratelli Tutti contains a passage of Good News (or maybe Very Bad News). It is not buried in a footnote, and has even been advertised on the Pope's Twitter account, so we have to believe it is meant seriously.

We need to develop the awareness that nowadays we are either all saved together or no one is saved.

Well, on this blog we have always taken the viewpoint that You is not saved, only I is saved, but now we must revise our ideas. So I sent a Dubium to Pope Francis and by return of post I got an invitation to the Vatican to talk to the Holy Father.

Eccles: Your popeness, from the context, "saved" could mean several things:

1. Redeemed from the consequences of our sin, and permitted to dwell in Heaven eternally with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

This is the sort of thing a pope should be discussing, but from the context, it may also mean:

2. Saved from the great evils that beset mankind, of which climate change is obviously the worst, as it can lead to hot days, cold days, rain, drought, and dull cloudy days with sunny intervals possibly with fog on high ground take care and have a nice day.

Francis: Ha ha ha ha ha! Take that clown away.

Eccles (struggling in the arms of the Swiss Guard): Assuming that you were talking about religion, Holy Father, then we have two choices here:

(a) We are all unsaved. Which means that Jesus was wasting His time. This seems unlikely.

(b) We are all saved. Good news.

Pope Francis welcomes Eccles.

(Francis threatens me with a Papa-slappa gesture.)

Eccles: I suppose that being saved just means that you get eternal life. For you and me, Holy Father, it means a cushy abode in Heaven. For others, like Zen and Viganò, it may mean eternal life, but stewing in the Lake of Fire in Hell.

At this point the door was slammed on me and I was thrown out into the street. However, by good fortune I met Professor Richard Dawkins the celebrity atheist, author of "Why I am too grown-up to believe in God, and where He got it all wrong," who had come with some Dubia for Pope Francis.

Eccles: Dicky! What would being saved mean to you, if it were possible?

Dawkins: Well the Bible speaks of a land of milk and honey, and it is not far wrong. We atheists live entirely on honey, and Paradise for me would be populated by brilliant atheists, such as Grayling, Fry, John Lennon, etc., all feasting eternally on honey.

Eccles: Sounds like Hell to me.

At this point the Swiss guard gave me the "blow on the head" of peace, and I knew no more.

When I woke up I found myself in Mass, and, my head a bit hazy, it seemed that the Gospel passage went something like this:

They handed him a denarius and he said, "Whose head is this? Whose name?" "Pachamama's" they replied.

But I may have imagined it.

Yes, I must have imagined it.

Friday, 16 October 2020

The Book of Covidicus, Chapter 8: Blood, Sweat and Tiers

Continued from Chapter 7.

1. Then two prophets came unto Bosis, their names being Witty and Valiant.

2. And they spake out unto him, saying "Beware the second wave!"

3. For Bosis had led the children of Bri-tain out of the land of EU-gypt, so that the sea divided them, but now it seemed that a second wave might still engulf them.

Bo-sis feareth the second wave.

4. And Witty and Valiant continued to prophesy, saying "Beware an Exponential Growth," which is how prophets say "We know not what will happen next but it could be very bad."

5. And the news came from a distant land that Donald the trumpet-player, whose hair was orange, had also been stricken down by the plague.

6. But Donald took to his bed and consumed a blessed potion known as a-spi-rin, by which he was miraculously healed in a few hours. Although his hair was still orange.

7. Then Bo-sis decided that the best way to fight the plague was to send out letters known as proper gander, that the children of Bri-tain might be encouraged.

No man understandeth Bo-sis.

8. He shouted out great words of power, "BUILD BACK BETTER," which was also the cry of many other leaders who knew not what to do.

9. Peradventure Bo-sis wished them to build walls to protect against the second wave, or become body-builders to make their backs better? No man could say what the words meant.

10. But the fruitful mind of Bo-sis was able to devise other means of combatting the plague, and he decreed that all taverns must shut at the tenth hour.

11. He ordered that the people must cease their revels, go back to their dwellings, wash their hands seventy times seven times, brush their teeth, say their prayers, and go to their beds.

12. And it was so.

13. But his enemy Keir, chief of the Labourites, was also a man with a brilliant mind, and he proposed what he called a Circuit Breaker.

14. For the children of Bri-tain had been going round in circles for many weeks, like unto the chicken that hath lost its head, and it was time to break this circuit by putting everyone to sleep for two weeks.

15. But this did not come to pass.

16. Then Boris attempted to cheer the children of Bri-tain, many of whom were no longer able to work, by another letter of proper gander.

Bosis encourageth Fatima to go to the land of Cyber.

17. For there was a surplus of dancers in the land, since all the nurses and doctors had given up their work to make pictures of themselves dancing, which they showed on the tube of You.

18. But all the people sang the song of Bo-sis and felt much better:
Hands, face, space, 
Build, back, better, 
Rethink, reskill, reboot.

19. Still, in spite of all these signs of true leadership, Bo-sis was unable to stop the plague.

20. And he spake out saying "I have nothing to offer ye except blood, sweat and tiers."

21. Thus he divided Bri-tain into three parts, known as tiers.

22. To the first tier he said "Ye shall live and prosper." To the second "Ye shall be very ill." And to the third "Ye shall die."

23. And all the people rejoiced, except perhaps those in the third tier.

Continued in Chapter 9.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

When Francis met George

We are lucky to have overheard some of the conversation between Cardinal Pell and Pope Francis on the occasion of the big man's recent visit to the Vatican.

Francis: How nice to see you, George. I've been going through some hard times recently: you really can't imagine how bad things have been.

"Nobody knows the troubles I've seen, George."

Pell: I'm so sorry, Holy Father. They say you've suffered a lot lately.

Francis: Yes, I was locked down in the Vatican for several months, and forbidden to take any flights abroad. My Pachamama dolls were confiscated and thrown in the river. Even Austen Ivereigh was forbidden to visit.

Pell: Ah well, every cloud has a silver lining. Still, it must be hard to bear isolation for a long period of time.

Francis: What's worse, people have been making up so many lies about me! You can't imagine what it's like having people hurling insults at you on a daily basis!

Pell: Still, it must have been a comfort to know that people were praying for you to leave the Vatican.

Francis: Maybe, but what can one do when hack journalists are writing books with titles like "The Rise and Fall of Pope Francis" and "Fallen: the inside story of the trial and conviction of Pope Francis"? I don't even have any convictions!

Just take the money and run, Louise.

Pell: So I've heard. Yes, it must be tough. Still prayer can be a great comfort.

Francis: Prayer? I never thought of that. I spent the whole time writing my memoirs. And it does look as though I am going to have a new best-seller on my hands. I've called it Fratelli Tutti.

Pell: Great, pulp fiction always sells well! Now, about your bank account...

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Farrell goes up, Parolin goes down

From the Secret Diary of Pope Francis, age 83¾.

Today I decided to reward my friend Kevin Farrell by giving him a new job. He is already Camerlengo, which means that he has the job of deciding whether the Pope is dead, and he is very good at it, since he phones me up every day to check. On his visits to Rome he taps me on the head with a small hammer to see whether I am still alive, and he has only got it wrong twice!

"It's not easy being wonderful, you know, Tom."

Kevin is very good at oversights, for example he says he lived with my ex-friend Ted McCarrick for several years without ever noticing that he was a degenerate pervert who molested seminarians. When screams came from Ted's apartment, Kev thought it was the air conditioning!

So I have asked my friend His Eminence Cardinal Farrell (to give him his correct title, which still makes people laugh) to take on oversight of various financial contracts that the Vatican engages in. Formally, he is to be the president of the Commission for Reserved Matters, and one of his missions is to ensure transparency. "I've seen through your financial dealings for years, Holy Father!" he tells me, so I know he's the right man for the job. But I wish he'd put that little hammer away.

How I knew Kev was going to be my new best friend.

Recently I've had to tell my ex-friend Giovanni Becciu that he should pack a suitcase and flee to a new job in Venezuela, where there is no extradition treaty. Now to my great sadness I am having to let another good friend go, Pietro Parolin. Pete was on the council overseeing IOR, the Institute for the Works of Religion (Istituto per le Opere di Religione), which is a code phrase for the Vatican Bank!

This may be the wrong IOR.

Memo: why don't we just call it the Vatican Bank? You don't get HSBC, Bank of America or Credit Agricole pretending to be spiritually nourishing organizations, do you?

Anyway, I've broken with Parolin now, and he is definitely on my list of ex-friends. He was doing so well - he says the Chinese love him, and when they appoint 100 new communist cardinals (any time now), they'll all be voting for him as the next Pope. Over my dead body! (Or at least over my sleeping body if Kev gets it wrong...) But people say that Pete is too much of an Eminence Grise, and it's time to take him down a peg.

Well, dear diary, that's all I've got time for now, I must dash off and put in an appearance at the grand Tutti Frutti celebration party...

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Pope wins Nobel prize for Boredom

It's the season for awarding Nobel prizes (Roger Penrose got one for his work on Black Holes Matter), and, as was widely expected, Pope Francis has been awarded the Nobel prize for Boredom, on account of his encyclical Tutti Frutti, as everyone is calling it.

This is what it's all about.

The prize-winning work is said to draw on the writings of such renowned theologians as Karl Marx, Maximilien Robespierre, John Lennon, Meghan Markle, and Greta Thunberg, with lots of citations of the humblest pope in history (Pope F*****s). To get some flavour of it, pick three words at random from the word cloud above, and form them into a sentence. Bonus marks if you spot anything to do with religion, such as "God", "Jesus" or "Sin".

So we dipped in and got "world", "people" and "dignity". Our message to you all is "The dignity of the people of the world." Or possibly "Dignity from the world of people." You can probably find both phrases somewhere in Tutti Frutti.

Useful advice on putting duvets into covers!

Of course, not everyone is an admirer of this masterpiece. We have heard two criticisms:

1. The title "Fratelli tutti" is sexist, and so no self-respecting womyn should read the encyclical. Sigh... we know what's in it... just a catalogue of ways that Catholics are encouraged to oppress womyn. Pope Francis thinks that all womyn are good for is putting duvets into covers! Come on, sisters, let's go to the Vatican and have a sit in! Bring your duvets!

2. Pope Francis doesn't like the death penalty. So Catholic teaching has changed. Next week, Catholic teaching on abortion, homosexuality, drug orgies, embezzling money, and framing Australian cardinals may also be changing. Do let us know your suggestions!

Prof. Massimo Faggioli, top gelato Catholic, distributing copies of Tutti Frutti.

So, nothing new, and a worthy recipient of the Nobel Prize for Boredom.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Amy is the wrong sort of Catholic

So, RIP Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, the one who ate broken bottles, killed rats with her teeth, wore barbed wire next to the skin, and was strongly suspected of turning into a werewolf at the time of the full moon (as P.G. Wodehouse would have put it). Who can possibly replace you?

Well, it would have to be a lawyer, and other good boxes to tick are (1) being female or possibly gender-fluid, (2) being black or at least not white, (3) being a socialist, anarchist, or at least a liberal, (4) having no perceptible religion that might influence how you live your life, although atheism would of course be optimal.

So who do they get to replace Aunt Ruth? Amy Coney Barrett! She ticks Box 1, but not the others.

The most evil family in the world?

Problem 1. She is a Catholic.

Solution 1: No problem really. After all, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are Catholics! It's just a label, which may attract some voters. You don't have to make a religion of it! Just turn up at church once a year for a photo-opportunity with a bishop. Otherwise, you can campaign on LGBT issues and push abortion to limits that even King Herod would have been embarrassed about.

Problem 2. Oh, but she does make a religion of it. She's strongly pro-life.

Solution 2. Awkward.

Problem 3. Still, you can't be pro-life unless you follow the "seamless garment" philosophy. You won't catch her adopting kids, especially not black kids; I don't imagine she does anything charitable. Not like Joe Biden who gave 3 dollars to charity last year, even if it was tax-deductible. And I'll bet she would abort a Downs kid without thinking - what a hypocrite, eh?

Solution 3. Actually, she's adopted two black Haitians and has a Downs kid.

Problem 4. Gotcha! Cultural imperialism. I'll bet she chains the black kids up at night and sends them into the fields to pick cotton during the day time. And a Downs kid! What a sadist! She just likes to see him suffer.

Slavery. Or sadism. Or racism. Or something.

Solution 4. No, they seem to be a happy well-balanced family. No drug addicts, no mysterious money from Ukraine.

Problem 5. Well, she's obviously a white supremacist then. Don't worry, we'll find something against her. Probably she touched someone inappropriately 30 years ago.

Solution 5. Like Biden did last week, you mean?

No, no, no! Biden is a Democrat. He can do no wrong! Amy is a Republican, and so EVIL EVIL EVIL.