This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 15 May 2022

A good pope deals with China

Yes, it's another in that interminable series "How to be a good pope", intended as useful advice for those readers who will be ending up in the hot seat (Alitalia seat 1A, usually; sometimes, the Popemobile).

The story so far. You, Pope Fred I, are sitting at breakfast eating your ecumenical Quaker oats, when in comes the great Gonzo Aemilius, your personal secretary (typing speed only 3 words per minute, unfortunately) with some bad news.

"Holy Father, they've arrested one of your cardinals. Guess who?"

A tricky question: you think of Cardinals Betya, Maradona, Cocainepalm, ... which one is it? To your surprise it is Cardinal Tao of Hong Kong, an old friend whom you have been trying to avoid for the last 9 years.

"Fine, fine," you say, but you realise that some official reaction is required on your part. An official Vatican statement. Nothing too strong, as it might upset the deal you made which allows China to appoint its own priests from the ranks of the People's Secret Police. So no abusive words like "rigid" or "traditionalist", which in any case you save for members of your own flock.

"I know, let's have a synod," you propose. That solves most things. Will the Catholic Church declare itself "concerned" by these developments. Or will it get really tough and make a statement with words such as "anxious", "worried", "miffed", "upset" or even - almost a declaration of war - "ill at ease" or "fretful"?

We have designed the logo already!

No, there isn't time for a synod, and anyway, it would require a synod on synods to set it up. You get the press office to make the weakest statement possible. "We have heard that Cardinal Tao has been incarcerated in a rat-filled dungeon, awaiting torture by the Chinese Inquisition (proprietor, Xi-who-must-be-obeyed). If he is not released within the next 40 years, we shall be - if not actually disgruntled, far from being gruntled.*"

* Stolen from P.G. Wodehouse.

Your anger has no bounds. You cancel your lunchtime Chinese takeaway order of numbers 23 and 94 (sweet and sour bat, with Fauci noodles), and open a tin of Max Beans instead. That's telling them!

Sometimes a humble meal is the only answer.


  1. Max Beans!!.. Still only 57 Varieties? I recall no additions in 70 years. Some body is not even trying.

    1. The Germaine German17 May 2022 at 18:37

      Indeed! There have been far more genders produced just in the past two years!

  2. Lady Jane Perdue15 May 2022 at 22:48

    Just knew we could count on our Eccles to supply the ulterior motive.
    "Xi who must be obeyed" is Rumpole's defense of good Cardinal Zen.

  3. I didn't expect the Chinese Inquisition! *

    * Stolen (adapted) from...