This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Friday 21 June 2024

How to conduct a trial for schism

This is another in our long-running series on "How to be a good Pope", which is read regularly by Pope Francis and his likely successors, Cardinals Cupich, Roche and Fernández (surely, Sarah, Burke and Müller ?) for useful advice.

In fact, if you think YOU may be the next pope but three, it's probably a good move to keep up to date with this series.

Francis and Vigano

All good friends, really!

Some time in your papacy you may find someone who disagrees violently with you - even though you are the Holy Father and infallible in everything you say. Even half-remembered chats to Scalfari (RIP) and ex-aeroplana pronouncements on long flights are infallible. As is calling homosexuals "Massimo Faggiolis" (my Italian is not great but I think this means "Big Beans", which is a well-known term of abuse).

Luckily, the Catholic Church has a remedy for dissidents, an extrajudicial criminal trial for schism.

"Extrajudicial" is an interesting word. I think it means "sentence first, verdict afterwards", as the Queen of Hearts (also infallible) says in "Alice in Wonderland". It certainly doesn't mean a nice public trial, with you and your adversary - let's call him Archbishop Vinegar, so that nobody will think I'm talking about a real person - getting into the witness box and being insulted by men in silly wigs (or whatever the equivalent of the English system is).

Alastair Sim

"Just answer the question, Mr Francis."

Vinegar's accusations are many and varied. Some of the most hurtful are that you pull the wings off butterflies and kick lovable fluffy kittens. Good grief, if a pope can't do that, then who can?

Of course you do have many real skeletons in your cupboard, some of which Vinegar has managed to find. Others are well-known to any knowledgeable Catholic - your fondness for protecting unsavoury characters such as that dreadful painter Marko the Ripper, for example. No chance of his being subject to an extrajudicial criminal trial! He knows too much...

Anyway, after Vinegar's trial, or rather, before it, comes the sentence. You have checked with your advisers, and we no longer use the rack or the iron maiden - well, except at the wildest of Cardinal Cocoa's drug orgies - and all you can really do is excommunicate him. What an anti-climax!

Comfy chair

Archbishop Vinegar will not be expecting this either.

Nothing to do with the above (or is it?), but the AI program Copilot kindly produced a picture of the famous Annibale Bugsbunni, to whom we all owe so much. It would be a pity not to use it here.


What's up, Holy Father?


  1. Where will they find a Catholic in the Vatican to excommunicate him .

  2. Nobody expects the Pope Francis inquisition! As long as they stick to the official script that is...

  3. Lots of Trembling With Anti-Traditional Suffering people in the Vatican. Also a lot of Synodality, Hearings, Interrogations and Theology combined (I'm stretching the abbreviations, but so is the Papal Office Occupier...)

  4. Perhaps AB Vinegar will appear in court if he retains Rumpole as barrister for defense.

  5. If this trial is not synodal, it should be stopped !!