This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Defending an unpopular pope

Most of my readers have never been pope, and probably only one or two ever will be, so you don't realise how difficult the job of a pope is. You probably think that it just involves sitting around in Rome eating pasta, going to Mass, and occasionally saying something about Catholic doctrine. And the latter ought to be easy enough, as just about every issue under the sun has been discussed by previous popes, so you don't have to say anything original, although you can of course rephrase things in your own words. On no account try to change any of the doctrine - only a complete fool would do that, eh?

Pope John XXII

A pope.

However, popes do occasionally get accused of heresy. Let's look at the case of Pope John XXII, who has been in the news a lot lately, as he was accused of heresy. It all began when an old warlock called Kasperus Insanus persuaded him to hold a General Synod on the subject of Death.

The burning question of the early 14th century was whether those who died in the faith saw the presence of God before the Last Judgement. The traddies said "yes, of course", and the liberals "no". After a heated synod, the pope produced an Apostolic Exhortation A Morte Laetitia ("Happiness from Death"), which ignored the decisions of the synod and expressed his own view ("no") although it was subtly buried in a footnote that could be interpreted in several different ways.

Cardinal Farrell (blind)

Cardinal Caffara said that only a blind person could fail to find A Morte Laetitia confusing.

Of course, there were cardinals who did not like the idea that Church doctrine was being fudged, so they issued some dubia - questions to the pope along the lines of "Did you really mean to say that?" - "Would you like to try again with that one?" - and "Are you out of your mind?"

For many years the pope refused to answer these questions, responding only in insults and threats. He had many allies, for, on realising that the wise and good had refused to come to his A Morte Laetitia party, he followed the advice of Matthew 22, and went out into the streets and invited the weak, the feeble-minded and the crazy, instead. And he made them all cardinals.

Charles Scicluna

Archbishop Charles Scicluna jumps into the debate.

And some particularly foolish bishops in Malta, hoping that they too might become cardinals, rushed to teach the new doctrine; indeed they went further and said that everyone who felt at peace with God was saved - no matter what sins they had committed or intended to commit in future.

In addition, the pope relied on his servants Spadaro the Wormtongue, Austen the Catholic Vicious, and Rosica the Blockhead to insult those who questioned his heresy, to accuse them of dissent, and of course to fawn over him and lick his boots. However, the war was not one-sided. Learned scribes with Latin names such as Mundabor, Rorate Caeli, and Vox Cantoris waded into the attack. They were joined by an army of canon lawyers and even ordinary Catholics who asked "Well? When do we get to see the presence of God?"

Of course, in the end, the pope backed down and admitted that he was wrong on the issue of admission of the saved to the Divine Presence.

They all lived happily ever after

And so...

However, I still have to tell you why we should have warm feelings towards Pope John XXII. All right, he was arrogant, bad-tempered, fond of insulting the Curia, priests, deacons, parish secretaries, and even ordinary faithful Catholics. His discussion of coprophagy would make a nun blush. Still, he is said to have written the prayer Anima Christi, which is said on many occasions, and can even be used as a hymn if you get fed up with "Bind us together" and "Our God reigns" and want something intelligent instead. It begins:

Soul of my Saviour sanctify my breast, 
Body of Christ, be thou my saving guest, 
Blood of my Saviour, bathe me in thy tide, 
Wash me with waters gushing from thy side.
So three cheers for the pope!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Anti-religious extremism among tsars

The government has announced an enquiry into anti-religious extremism among tsars (or should that be "czars"?) These are people with no particular qualities - although often they seem to have had peerages thrown at them - appointed to look into matters of concern to the prime minister and her (or his) cronies.

Tsar Nicholas II

A traditional tsar - not radicalised.

Thus we had Alan Sugar (for American readers, think of Donald Trump, only without the charm and diplomatic skills) as Enterprise Tsar, Mary Portas (the "queen of shops") as High-street Tsar, and so on. However, many people are worried about the radicalisation and anti-religious extremism shown by Louise Casey, the Integration Tsar.

Louise Casey

A modern tsar - is the chamber-pot on her head a symbol of radicalism?

Thus the government is expected to appoint a new Integration Tsar, whose job it will be to help the old one adapt to life in modern Britain, where a significant number of people are religious and do not want bossy time-servers telling them what they are allowed to believe.

For example, Tsarina Casey decided that (in her opinion) Catholic schools should not be allowed to teach that same-sex marriage is wrong - well, the party line is that it is not so much wrong, as impossible. Try telling Churchill, Thatcher or even Theresa May (a few years ago) that a man wanted to "marry" another man, and the jaw would drop, a "you're joking" would form on the lips, and - in the case of the first two - a strict memo would be issued asking that all nutters be henceforth sent packing by the doorman.

We don't have a lot of time for Mr Mohammed on this blog, but we understand that his views on same-sex "marriage" were similar to those of Christ's - only with added torture and mutilation. Well, we have to accept these different nuances in the interests of equality and diversity.

ecumenical matter

An all-purpose attempt to find common ground between religions.

The new Integration Tsarina will not be expected to wear a chamber-pot on her head, but she will be charged with investigating organizations that have a problem accepting Christian teaching. These may include the National Secular Society (approx. 5 members), the British Humanist Association (3 members, or 4 if you count the hamster), the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Ranting and Screaming (oh, at least 2), the Tony Flannery Support Group (1 member), the Friends of Tina Beattie (500 online members, of which 495 are traddy sockpuppets) and the Jesuits (far too many). We wish the new tsarina well.

Tsarina Alexandra

The new Integration Tsarina.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

World leaders come to the aid of the Vatican

Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have led the world in offering a reassuring hand to the Vatican, as the storm-clouds of war gather over it. A climate of fear threatens Rome, but the politicians' joint message to Pope Francis is the need for the Catholic Church to make peace in this time of turbulence.

Apologies for the clichéd prose style - I'm hoping for a job with Crux.

Reports have come in that other world leaders hoping for Nobel Peace Prizes - Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad - even Meryl Streep - are also offering to intervene before the pope "goes nuclear".

Cardinal Müller on a horse

Cardinal Müller (R) - found his horse's head in his bed.

Latest reports indicate that Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has been made an offer he couldn't refuse. After originally offering to help the pope with those five terribly difficult dubia questions, he has now done what is known in theological circles as a "reverse ferret" and claimed that Amoris Laetitia is “very clear” in its teaching, everyone understands what it means, no need to ask the pope any questions, move along there please, ...

Said Syria's Bashar al-Assad, "Our intelligence reports indicated that Pope Francis has been stockpiling Sarin nerve gas, and is prepared to use it on the four cardinals (and indeed their numerous supporters). As a humanitarian I want to make sure we never get to that stage."

Pope and aeroplane

Wacko, chaps! Off to blitz the jolly old dissidents!

Vladimir Putin added, "Owing to a misunderstanding of how the Order of Malta functions, it appears that the Vatican is planning a major invasion of Malta, led by Generalissimo Spadaro of the pope's own Wormtongue Division (the 'old innumerates'). We want to bring the parties involved back to the conference table, to see whether the 'von Boeselager affair' can be settled without bloodshed."


The Vatican's Doomsday Clock approaches midnight.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Do students of Christianity need a trigger warning?

The normally rather saved Professor Stephen Bullivant has written that students of Christianity need a trigger warning, because they may see distressing images. We asked a few students for their opinions.

girl facepalm

Bernadette Snowflake, studying Christianity, Human Flourishing and Liberation Theology, University of Roehampton.

Oh definitely. Although, I'm not too bothered about images of crucifixion, torture, decapitation, rape, and martyrdom: after all, I can see these things on the BBC children's programmes every day. Did you watch their latest dramatisation of Pride and Prejudice? I thought the bit where Mr Collins was eaten by a crocodile was really meaningful and relevant - all right, it was only implied in Jane Austen's novel, but seeing the animal chewing his vital organs one by one was really artistically necessary. And my baby brother liked it too.

Pride and Prejudice

The Bennet sisters cheering on the crocodile.

No, what triggers me is the general homophobia, transphobia, femininophobia, and brutality in the New Testament. Who does this character Christ think he is, choosing male disciples? Also, my friend Rebecca is vegan and has a gluten allergy, so she literally threw up when she read about 5,000 wicked people gorging themselves on bread and fish.

Lastly, someone mentioned Heaven and Hell. I've been to Luton, so the idea of Hell doesn't frighten me, but some of my friends found the whole idea very unpleasant. And, anyway, I'm sure Pope Francis has told us that Hell doesn't exist.

I wish I'd taken a less stressful degree course, now. Perhaps Professor Spadaro's Advanced Logic Course?

man facepalm

Austen Allegro, studying Church History and Marxist Studies, Jesuit University of Little Snoring.

Church History is a fascinating subject, and largely consists of people shouting "heretic" at each other, after which the winner gets to burn, decapitate, or torture the loser. But this is perfectly normal human behaviour, and in my family we had no scruples about feeding Auntie Alice to the dogs when we caught her wearing a mantilla at Mass.

However, things have definitely turned nasty these days. I need a trigger warning when I see the name of Cardinal Burke - a man whose actions are more shocking than those of all the Tudor monarchs combined. The way he and his accomplices asked the pope "What rules are we playing by these days, Holy Father?" reminds me of the worst excesses of Hitler. Or Donald Trump. Or Nigel Farage.

I want my Mummy!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Synod to decide what 2+2 is

Following a violent disagreement in the Vatican about what exactly 2+2 adds up to, Pope Francis has decided to call an Extraordinary Synod to help define (or more probably, "develop") Catholic doctrine on the subject.

Spadaro 2+2 tweet

#Father #Spadaro makes #a #hash of his #arithmetic. Now, about that expenses claim, Father...

Of course, this is not a new question. The famous "Kasper proposal" was that 1+1+1 should equal 2, at least in the context of marriage, provided the numbers had been properly accompanied and allowed to discern that their consciences were really telling them to do whatever they pleased.

Four (or was it five?) cardinals, including Raymond Burke, have already entered the debate, proposing five or six dubia for the Pope to answer:

1. What is 2+2? Is the doctrine expressed in Pope Henry IV part 2's encyclical Numerorum Morsus ("Number crunching") that 2+2 equals 4 still valid?

underground sign

A subtle attempt to persuade the faithful of Westminster.

2. If a hen and a half lays an egg and a half in a day and a half, how long would it take a hen to lay ten and a half eggs?

3. How many beans make five?

4. Antonio Spadaro can dig a pit in six hours, Blase Cupich takes twelve, and Joe Tobin takes eighteen. How long would it take them together to dig a pit large enough to bury them all? Can we try it?

5. What is 10+10? Is it 100 or 101? (Sorry, the pope doesn't answer binary questions.)

6. How long, O Lord, how long?

Spadaro and 4 fingers

"How many fingers am I holding up? Yes, five."

Pope Francis has reacted furiously, and is said to be boiling with rage and questioning the mental health of anyone who asks for clarification about the new Catholic arithmetic. Having failed with his recent attempt to invade Malta in order to get his own back at Cardinal Burke obtain justice for the sacked health minister Albrecht von Lagerlout, the pope is seriously considering a nuclear strike on the USA, in the hope of annoying both Trump and Burke.

Meanwhile, here is the EcclespollTM prediction of the result of the Synod on 2+2.

60%: the answer is 5 (merciful, liberated Catholics).
20%: the answer is anything you want it to be (Jesuits).
19%: the answer is 4 (nasty, rigid, traditional Satanically-inspired Catholics).
1%: DRINK!

Fr Jack

Probably the only reasonable reaction to Fr Spadaro.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

A training course for new popes

Scene: the Vatican. Pope Francis is addressing a few selected younger cardinals. All the usual suspects are there: Schönbörn, Cupich, Farrell, Tagle, Marx, etc., but, surprisingly not Sarah, Burke or Pell. Francis speaks.

Welcome to the training course for new popes. Of course I fully expect to carry on for another 15 years, until I have totally rewritten the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount; however, accidents will happen, and I may have to retire to Avignon instead. Alternatively, Burke says that if he can find four doctors, he will have me sectioned.

So it seems best to prepare my likely successor (chosen from a list prepared by Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor of the St Gallen Mafia) so that he can hit the ground running and my legacy can be passed on to future generations. When I took over from Pope Benedict, I was given no training at all, because he considered that I was the least likely person to be elected (well, after Kasper); thus he refused to explain the job to me. Which may explain why my pontificate has been totally unlike any other.

Benedict and Francis

"Perhaps you can give me a few tips, while we have our picnic?"

By the way, don't worry about Fr Spadaro, who you will see sitting in the corner making "Vroom, vroom" noises. He knows that I speak much more fluently when I am on an aeroplane, so he is trying to recreate the atmosphere for me.

Now, when you get up in the morning, it is always recommended to recite a little mantra to motivate yourself for the day's work. Some of the old-fashioned popes used to say things such as "Thy Will be done", but we've moved on since then and my favourite one is "I'm the pope, and I don't have to give reasons for any of my decisions." Sometimes I vary this by shouting "Exterminate! Exterminate!

Scorsese and Francis

Yes, my movie's called "The Last Temptation of Pope Francis".

Now, you will probably be daunted by all the Catholic teaching that has accumulated over the last few thousand years. The Bible, the deliberations of various Synods and Councils, encyclicals from previous popes, the Catechism of the Church... how can I possibly keep up with all this, you ask.

It's not necessary. As long as you regard my own humble offerings, such as Laudato Si', and (of course) Amoris Laetitia, as Holy Writ, then the rest can be binned.

Still, you don't want to be caught out too easily, so here is a copy of the Jesuit Guide to Obfuscation, or How to say "It's a nice day today" in such a way that nobody knows whether it's sunny or stormy. The only time you need to be completely clear about what you're saying is when you insult people - and apparently there are still 1 or 2 Catholics out there that I haven't yet got round to defaming.

very large book

The new edition of the Pope Francis book of insults (now with "rigidity" and "coprophilia") is invaluable.

Now, I want you to split up into small groups and discuss ways of making Cardinal Burke's life a misery. We'll assemble again in half an hour and try out some of the best suggestions.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Catholics of the Year

The Anglican "Cranmer" blog awards a title of most inspirational (British) Christian of the Year, and this year it seems to have been combined with the Great British Bake-off, as the worthy winner is the cake-maker (or non-maker) Daniel McArthur. Other highly-commended people who have from time-to-time been mentioned on this blog are Fr Ray Blake, Dr Timothy Stanley and Sir James MacMillan.

So it seems only appropriate to award a "Catholic of the Year" title to someone who has inspired the most spiritual nourishment on this blog. The winner should probably be Pope Francis, but to avoid cries of "Is the pope actually Catholic?" we need to look further afield.

Spadaro sings for the pope

"Old Man Francis, he don't say nothing, he must know something..."

We reluctantly eliminated Cardinal Dolan at the swimsuit round (well, just before it, thank goodness), although the judges inadvertently allowed Fr James Martin SJ to compete in his mankini. Two of them are still in intensive care, as a result.

Cardinal Kasper continued to score highly, but he was disqualified for having an unfair advantage (being as mad as a hatter). Moreover, Fr Rosica refused to return his entry form, simply screaming "you're blocked" at our staff.

Dolan dances

Cardinal Dolan rehearses for the finals of COTY.

Of the British entrants, Prof. Tina Beattie was a bit quiet this year, although probably still very active in the "human flourishing" business, and Austen Ivereigh - in spite of a promising meltdown in December - did not put up a consistently nutty performance throughout the year. Others, such as Vincent Nichols, who can normally be relied upon to do something interesting, just didn't seem to be trying this year.

Three promising newcomers are the new American cardinals, Cupich, Farrell and Tobin, and we expect them to be strong entrants for the "Catholic of the Year" title next year. It just goes to show that a mere nobody may one day end up as pope...

Cupich laughs like a drain

Cardinal Cupich shows how senior churchmen behave with dignity.

We haven't yet blogged about him, but Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane is a strong tip for spiritually nourishing entertainment in 2017. Apart from his intemperate remarks about the four cardinals, he has found a novel use for churches in his diocese - naughtiness. Why isn't this man also a cardinal?

scandal in Brisbane

There are worse pictures around, but this is a family blog.

So the three finalists turned out to be
1. Fr Antonio Spadaro SJ, the Tolkien scholar;
2. Fr James Martin SJ, the Biblical scholar; and
3. The late Fr Jack Hackett (probably SJ), the most famous Catholic to die in 2016.

It was impossible to choose between them, so let's finish off with a few iconic souvenirs of 2016.

Trump and Farage

Pope Francis closes the "Door of Mercy" as the Jubilee Year of Revenge begins.

Robbis Williams

Fr Williams shows how to stay healthy after giving the Sign of Peace.

Scene from a Fu Manchu film

A South American bishop explains the new guidelines in Amoris Laetitia.

It really has been a tough year for Pope Francis (seen Before/After).

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Holy Father expected to resign soon

This may shock some readers, but the man revered by millions of Catholics as their leader - the person who tells them what to think - is now expected to move on to another job before long.

Things began to unravel for him a month or two ago, when it was clear that he refused to regard the communist tyrant Fidel Castro as simply a brutal dictator, and went from bad to worse when he became involved in the storm over Amoris Laetitia.

Pope, Ivereigh, Valero

SInging "The Holy and the Ivereigh" together.

Yes, Austen Hercules Ivereigh, the Holy Father of Catholic Voices (expected to merge soon with its rivals Anglican Waffles, Muslim Screamings and Secular Spleens), is getting further and further out on a limb, and will surely drop off soon to take a cushy job as Pope Francis's confidant, odd-job man and assistant wielder of the Spadarine sockpuppets.

Some say he jumped the shark when he referred to critics of Amoris Laetitia as dissenters, urging Pope Francis to break with Catholic tradition and ignore the four cardinals' dubia. Others say that this was a mere training leap - over a mackerel, say - and that he was really saving his athletic exploits for an attack on the Polish Church: their fault, roughly speaking, is that they are unhappy at the way Pope Francis contradicts the teachings of their own Pope St John-Paul, not to mention the 260-odd previous popes, the apostles, and a certain Jesus Christ of whom some theologically-expert readers may have heard.

Vincent Nichols and a girl dressed as a shark

VIncent Nichols learns about the liberal sport of shark-jumping.

Well, we shall miss Uncle Austen if he retires to Rome in order to give the pope a helping hand, but from here he doesn't have many options. Either he has to come out with more and more ludicrous statements ("Why Fidel should be canonized," "Bring back torture for Cardinal Burke," or "52% of Catholics are literally Satan"?) or (unlikely) tell us the answers to the dubia so that we can all get back to being holy people again, or shut up for a few months and write "Pope Francis Volume 2 - the Vatican Strikes Back", or... well do something else.

Meanwhile, Austen has not yet answered our 5 yes/no dubia: Are you off your head? Do you need a lie down? Are you serious? Did you really say THAT? and Have you been hacked?

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Father Boff is coming to town

Yes, it's the time of year when that strange white-bearded old man, traditionally dressed in red, and in whom most grown-ups don't believe, is said to come down your chimney and leave you gifts.

Leonardo Boff

Father (well, ex-Father) Boff.

Yes, Leonardo Boff is well known for giving surprises to Catholics. Benedict, 89, is one who gave up believing in Boff when he found little packets of Marxism and Liberation Theology on his doorstep, which are well-known to be lethal if consumed.

Francis, 80, is less sceptical. Two years ago, he was given a CD of "Cry of the Earth" by the Gaia Ensemble, and last Christmas he was given a "Communion for All" game. Francis was apparently delighted with these gifts. This Christmas Father Boff is said to have brought him some Deaconesses, and even more packets of Marxism. What will he do with these gifts?

Molesworth Santa-trap

Two traditional Catholics prepare to receive Father Boff into their home.

Do you hear that strange braying sound, children? It's Kasper the red-nosed reindeer, guiding Father Boff's sleigh as he rides over the rooftops. Naughty children, like Raymond, 68, who refuse to believe in Father Boff, will not be getting any new heresies from him this year - so be warned!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Everyone who disagrees with me is Satan

When you're debating religious or political issues, I find that insulting your opponent is the best way to win the argument. For example, the people who imposed same-sex "marriage" on us - something that ten years earlier everyone had recognised as absurd - managed to get their way by means of the powerful slogan "Bigot! Bigot! Bigot!"

Cameron and Clegg

A happy couple (now long-since forgotten).

On Twitter it is well-known that everyone you disagree with is literally Hitler. There are lots of 127-year-old Germans with silly moustaches sitting around in sheds, shouting hateful Nazi slogans such as "We don't think much of the EU" and "Er, perhaps Donald Trump is a better bet than Hillary Clinton."

Charlie Chaplin

Is this literally YOU?

Curiously, this is mainly a left-wing thing, and you don't see conservatives labelling people as Stalin or Mao - probably because for so many lefties, these mass-murderers are still regarded as heroes. So the insult becomes a compliment.

Morales, pope and abomination

"And this attachment is for hitting cardinals with."

So we come to Satan, himself. I must plead guilty on this score, since I have long referred to Mrs Clinton as Hell Cat, and regarded her as a tool of the Devil. This is mainly because I don't share her enthusiasm for dismembering live babies and selling the remains off commercially (this is what is technically known as "planned parenthood").

Still, there are apparently worse things that one can do. Pope Francis himself picked out what he considered one of the great evils of the world when he described parish secretaries as like "disciples of Satan" - we never got to the bottom of this little rant, but one theory is that he had decided to make one of his spontaneous 3 a.m. phone calls to a random victim, but had been told to get off the line, have a cup of cocoa, and go to sleep. EXACTLY what Satan would say.

woman waking up at 3 a.m.

"Oh Lord, I hope that's not the pope again.

And now he's at it again. Pope Francis told the Curia that resistance to reforms is inspired by the Devil. Since these reforms apparently include modernisation and gradualism (discernment), we have a problem here, as these are the sort of thing that previous popes were very much against. Odd, that.

Unfortunately, the Holy Father has now run out of superlatives. All I know is, I'm glad I don't work for the Roman Curia. Two years ago it was a listing of their "spiritual diseases" and now they're being told that they're ALL LITERALLY SATAN. Call this job satisfaction?

Saturday, 24 December 2016

The 12 Days of Christmas

On the 12th Day of Christmas my true love sent to me

Twelve new reforms,

Eleven cricket-players,

Remember, the laws may be broken after appropriate accompaniment by a priest.

Ten new commandments,

Nine cardinal advisers,

Eight tips for family life,

Seven more saints,

Six new beatitudes,

All right, how many could you remember, even vaguely?

Five du-bi-a!

Four saved cardinals,

Three weird ones,

Popies: like groupies, but infatuated with a pope.

Two dreadful synods,

And a pope stuck up a gum tree.

A gum tree (pope not shown).

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Pope Francis moves to Avignon

January 7th 2017, St Raymond of Penyafort, Patron Saint of Canon Lawyers.

St Raymond of Penyafort

St Raymond of Penyafort

Not one of my favourite saints: for some reason canonists called Raymond tend to upset me. Anyway, at dawn my servant Spadaro (whose duties include a little light cleaning, cooking, and insult-writing, and who feeds the papal sockpuppets) rushed into my humble chambers brandishing a letter from Raymond, Cardinal Burke.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Following your lack of response to our five dubia, we have the honour of informing you that Amoris Laetitia is an heretical document, and you are therefore officially in schism with the Catholic Church. Your title henceforth is Antipope Francis, and your Twitter handle @antipontifex. I enclose a plane ticket to Avignon, where spacious rooms at the Hotel Héretique have been booked for you.

papal palace, Avignon

The Hotel Héretique - Michelin gives it 5 stars.

In due course, we shall be electing a new pope to replace you - with luck it will be me, Pell, or Sarah - and definitely not Cupich, Nichols or Farrell - so please leave the apartments as you would wish to find them. Please make sure that you take Spadaro with you.

Yours ever,

P.S. You passed on five questions. The answers were NO, YES, YES, YES and YES.

"Mutiny!" I cried. "Call the Swiss Guard!"

"They've all resigned," said Spadaro. "All we've got to replace them is Austen Ivereigh in his pyjamas, armed with a garden rake."

Austen Ivereigh

The Antipope's English Guard

"Ivereigh? I remember him. Didn't he write Pope Francis, the Great Dictator? He's remained faithful to me? I'm touched."

Well, it was time to get up, once I had consulted the enneagram to help me decide on my actions: 8: today you will take a long journey, and embark on a new exciting career. Beware a man with the initial R.

Obviously, as an Antipope, I was no longer supposed to wear white, so I put on black vestments, packed a suitcase, and headed for the airport, accompanied by my faithful servants.

Pope Francis

So farewell, then?

Apparently it's not a bad life being an Antipope - I shall still be able to insult Catholic bishops, priests, deacons and worshippers, to attend Lutheran services, and to write Apostolic Anti-Exhortations. Feeling lucky, are we, Burke? We'll see who gets the most attention!

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Francis is Redeemed

As a blogger who endeavours to provide spiritual nourishment, I do regularly look at the writing of other satirists to see what the "competition" is up to. For example, Fr James Martin SJ, with his nuggets of made-up doctrine such as "Mary Magdalene was the Church" is a well-known star, as is Prof. Tina Beattie with her "human flourishing" that rewrites Catholic teaching as an over-the-top parody of feminism.

Pope and birthday cake

"And you say that Cardinal Burke's head is inside this?"

But now is the first time that I have encountered a parody of my own blog. Francis is Redeemed is clearly a spoof of "Eccles is saved", and very funny it is too, even if the author's name, Austen Ivereigh, is not quite as witty as, say, Fr Todd Unctuous or Archdruid Eileen.

Francis is Redeemed was written to celebrate the 80th birthday of the pope, and presented as if it were a genuine piece by the official hagiographer of the 2nd most powerful Catholic in the world (after Antonio Spadaro).

It is very tongue-in-cheek, and you have to be on the lookout for the clever bits of humour. Apparently Francis is interested in the Enneagram - and, in particular, is an "Eight", like Fidel Castro, Ignatius Loyola, and Martin Luther King. Of course he's also a Sagittarius and a thetan of the twelfth level, but that would be going too far with the joke.


The Vatican has promised to purge all 5s from the cardinalate.

Then again, Francis is said to model himself on General Juan Domingo Perón, although presumably without the same fondness for fascism and love of torture. I must admit I would never have dared write anything quite so rude about the pope, but I am a mere novice at this satire game.

Yes, this new kid on the block, with his Francis is Redeemed blog, is writing some of the top Catholic humour of the day! Well done, man!

Bruvver Eccles, not an Eight, but a humble and dubious Five.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Vatican deploys its secret weapon

Over now to the Vatican, where the pope's advisers are struggling with a deluge of demands for clear teaching and an end to fudging. Their energies are spent in fending off polite requests of the form "What exactly is going on down there?"

Greg Burke of the Holy See press office enters, and asks vice-pope Antonio Spadaro for the latest news.

Spadaro explains that he is at his wits' end - they've tried silence, insults, and even threats, but nothing seems to work. The Holy Father is ready to "go nuclear" and excommunicate the whole Catholic Church, if nobody can find a way to resolve the Amoris Laetitia crisis. All solutions are welcome, short of actually giving the answers to the five dubia.

Dubia tee-shirt

Increasingly many Catholics are wearing this shirt at Mass. Stop it!

"Does the Holy Father have any new wisdom for us today?" asks Greg Burke.

"He's been leaking extracts from his new encyclical De Coprophagia, as well as an apostolic exhortation on clerical hats, but this doesn't seem to be doing the trick."


Get thee behind me, Saturno! Who would have thought that a simple hat was so evil?

"Then there's only one thing to do."

"You mean...?"

"Send for Ivereighman!"

Yes, mild-mannered journalist Austen Powers Ivereigh, known to most people as the "Mr Big" behind Catholic Voices, has a secret life as a super-hero. All he has to do is rush into a Confessional to change his costume, and he becomes unrecognizable!

Austen Ivereigh and Superman

When he takes his glasses off, Austen becomes Ivereighman!

With cries of Dissent! Roma tacita, causa finita! (Rome has kept quiet, so the cause is ended.) Move on! Nothing to see here! We have ways of making you love Pope Francis! Ivereighman sweeps down from the Ivereigh Tower, and scatters the pope's friends and enemies alike.

Golly, it's exciting when a mild-mannered newspaperman turn out to be a superhero! But even though Martin "Lex" Luthor is no longer considered to be the main villain, there's still a dreadful rumour that Cardinal Burke has reopened the disused Kryptonite mines on Malta, and will strike back...