This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Who would call the pope a heretic?

With apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"But, Holmes, why should anyone shout 'Pope, you are a heretic!' at Pope Francis?" I asked the great detective.

"A very good question, Watson" replied my friend, strumming a few bars of "Mary, did you know?" on his Becciu fiddle ("it prefers used notes").

Orthodox priest

"Πάπα, είσαι αιρετικός."

I refer, of course, to the scandalous events of December xxxx, when Pope Francis made a journey to Greece. Initially the Athenians were very disappointed, complaining "The Thessalonians and Corinthians got St Paul, but all we get is Pope Francis." Still, his minders assured the Greeks that soon Francis would be a saint, and probably regarded even more highly than Paul, since he spent so much time correcting him.

"It could, of course, be that old chestnut about Filioque" I suggested. "But surely nobody really gets excited about this nowadays? We're all expecting Francis to rewrite the creed soon, anyway, to include something about Mohammed, Luther, Henry VIII, and the Spirit of Vatican II."

"No, Watson," replied my friend. "But have you thought that the very hairy man could be a Catholic in disguise? Alexander Tschugguel, maybe? Or Father Z? Perhaps Dr Joseph Shaw? Even Cardinal Burke?"

I stared at the photograph of the generously-bearded man, but could not recognise anyone I knew. I also had other doubts.

Pope at Lesbos

Pope Francis will write an epistle to the Lesbians, on the advice of Fr James Martin SJ.

"But why would a Catholic want to call the pope a heretic?" I demanded. "Francis leads a very 'orthodox' life, as far as I know. His Amoris Laetitia is admired worldwide as a totally new approach to morality; his collection of Pachamama idols has enriched Catholic worship immeasurably; his changes to the Lord's Prayer have made it much more friendly."

"It is strange, indeed," agreed Holmes. "Indeed his Traditionis Custodes has brought joy to so many people - or at least to the ones who really matter. One might say that he is the most popular pope since the Borgialios, er, Borgias."

"Could the bearded man be Austen Ivereigh?" I suggested. "Trying to get some more material for his nineteenth book about Pope Francis? Since everyone in the Catholic Church - even the bishops - has now decided to ignore everything Francis says, the little scribbler must be running out of exciting material."

Holmes looked at me with amazement. "Watson, my friend!" he exclaimed. "Sometimes you surprise me!"

Not to be continued.


  1. "December xxxx"
    should actually be December MMXXI.

    What you wrote is "December 10 10 10 10".

  2. “Mrs HUDSON !!!”

    “You are now a Cardinal !!!”

  3. Dr Watson:

    Eager to test my theory, I borrowed a time machine from my colleague Dr Banner, and travelled back to the time and place of the incident.

    I crept up on the fake priest and at an opportune moment I seized his beard and pulled hard...

    I know what you are thinking, dear reader: "Ow, ow, ow," shouted the poor priest. Ha, ha, ha. The beard was real!

    Well, no. The beard came off easily…

    "Pope Benedict!" I exclaimed. "What in the world are YOU doing here?"

    Later Benedict explained everything to me over beers at an outdoor restaurant.
    "You see, etiquette inhibits me from confronting Pope Francis openly back in Rome. Then when I heard that he was going to visit Greece, I had a cunning plan…"

  4. Oh Athenians! Have you forgotten already? St Paul DID visit you. And you were fascinated by him. You said in your best Koine Greek, "What is this spermologos, this babbler trying to tell us?" Your top intellectuals asked him,"What is this new teaching of yours?" And you meant it as a compliment. As St Luke points out, in those days you couldn't get enough new teaching.

    So St Paul explained his new teaching to you, with reference to a local idol, and quoting Greek writers. And when he had finished you said , "Tell us more!" Really, one would have thought that Pope Francis would be right up your street.

  5. Did he actually say 'Pope, you are a hairy tick'? Well, he might have bad eyesight...

  6. Hairy? That would be rich coming from the bearded priest...unless.. the beard was indeed a disguise, and concealed a clean-shaven man!

    Therefore the mystery man is clean-shaven.
    Austen Ivereigh is clean-shaven.
    Ergo, the mystery man IS Austen Ivereigh!
    (Logic ain't what it used to be.)

    Alternative scenario:

    ...the beard came off easily…

    Watson: Austen!!! So it WAS you!
    Austen: Yes!! And I would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for you meddling tecs!
    Watson: You better pray that Pope Francis is feeling merciful today…