This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday, 27 October 2016

An interview with Cardinal Kasper

For many Catholics, Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican's Prefect of the Congregation for Introducing New Heresies, is a Godlike figure. He must be, as otherwise how would he dare to contradict so much teaching from the Son of God Himself? We were determined to interview the man they call "St Wally the Absurd".

We made our way to his Vatican apartment "Dunprayin", and we were admitted by the butler, Tommy Rosica; in fact, Rosica initially tried to block our way, but a shrill cry of "All are welcome, Tommy! Give him Communion, whoever he is!" forced him to let us pass. We did not take Communion.

Kasper and Marx

A scary disguise for Hallowe'en. Heresy or treat?

"How nice to see you, Eccles," said Kasper, as Rosica retired in order to practise martial arts on his "Cardinal Burke" punchbag. "Excuse my lying on the floor - I'm trying to see things from the cat's point of view today. May I offer you a mouse?"

I hastily declined and asked him about his latest claims following the publication of Amoral Lay-Teaching (a blockbuster written by the Pope, with additional material by Cardinals Baldisseri, Cupich, Danneels, Marx, Kasper, Nichols, and Schönborn; also Fr Thomas Reese SJ, Fr James Martin SJ, Fr Tony Flannery, Dame Tina Beattie, Sister Margaret Farley, Mr Joe Biden, Mr Tim Kaine, Prof. Hans Küng, Mr Michael Coren, Mr Ed Stourton, the man at the off-licence, and a very nice devil-worshipper we met at the sauna baths).

Namely, Kasper had decreed that it was not only possible for the divorced and remarried to take communion, but actually a great scandal if they didn't. "That is what we decided at the Synod," he explained, "and it supersedes all the teaching of the last 2000 years.

"Surely the Synod actually refused to agree that?" I asked.

Martini and Baal

Baal The late Cardinal Martini, who taught Kasper all he knows about orthodoxy.

"Look, if the writers of Amoral Lay-Teaching deliberately put in a footnote saying 'Don't worry about all that SIN nonsense, ha ha ha!' then surely that proves you wrong, Eccles?"

Kasper now got up from the floor. Sticking straws in his hair, pouring custard down his trousers, and painting his nose red ("I've got to go to Mass soon, and need to be properly dressed"), he referred me to his fifteen books on theology and Christology. My German is not very good, but I promised to try and make my way through his magnum opus, Eine Nürnberger Wurst mit Kartoffelsalat, bitte! which, he said, encapsulated the essence of his thought.

So, receiving a friendly parting kick on the backside from Rosica, I said farewell to the greatest theologian of this era, or indeed of any era.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Don't mention your faith!

Following Pope Francis's advice to a girl that she should avoid convincing people of her faith, the Holy Father has asked me to clarify this instruction.

Pope Francis himself has of course given strong leadership in this direction, by showing himself to be much happier in the company of Lutherans and Anglicans than with ordinary Catholics. Indeed, it seems that for some people the question "Is the Pope Catholic?" is no longer rhetorical. This is what we call ecumenism, and goes well with the Biblical instruction "Seek ye out a bushel, that ye may hide your light under it" (The Sermon in a cave under the Mount, Matthew 5, etc.)

Dolan, Clinton, Trump

"They say she's the anti-Christ, but, hey! That's just fine by me!"

Well, you see the problem above. If you tell people that you're a Catholic Cardinal - as so many of my readers are - then they're going to think that you're interested in God. And that will OFFEND people. It is a very grave sin to challenge other people's beliefs. Ask Pope Francis!

So the answer is to hide your light under a bushel. Pretend you're a Jesuit - nobody thinks of them as religious - or, in any case, keep quiet about your religious beliefs.

Vincent Nichols the Hindu

"You will forget that you were ever a Catholic..."

Of course the way of the truly ecumenical is not easy. When we come to celebrate the Reformation, you must forget everything you read about Thomas More, John Fisher, and other trouble-makers. Instead, wear a seraphic smile on your face, and say "We can all learn from other people's beliefs, man, but they mustn't learn from mine."

Ravasi tweet

Cardinal Ravasi leads the way in touchy-feelie hippyism. The answer is 42, by the way.

So, avoid people who preach controversial doctrines, such as Heaven, Hell, judgement, sin, and redemption. That dreadful man Cardinal Sarah, for example - he actually talks as if he believes in something! Far better to have a Kewpich-doll as as your spiritual adviser - there's no danger of any dogmatic teaching creeping in and causing upsets!

kewpie doll

Cardinal Blase Kewpie.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Martin Luther to be canonized

As part of the celebrations of the Reformation, and to mark his excellent relations with the Lutherans - "After all, they're far more Catholic than the German cardinals Kasper, Marx, and their cronies" - Pope Francis has agreed to canonize Martin Luther himself.

Pope Francis and chocolate Luther

The Choco-Luther (© Fr Ray Blake). Hard for some Catholics to swallow.

In addition to the Luther statue, which Pope Francis will put in a position of honour next to his personal statue of Hans Küng, the Holy Father has been given a copy of the 95 theses of Luther. Fortunately they do not criticise Amoris Laetitia directly - since to do that is nowadays the only sin recognized by the Vatican. They do claim that the Pope is the Anti-Christ, but then so do some traditional Catholic bloggers.

Pope and 95 theses

"These theses say that the pope is totally confused. How did they know?"

If the canonization of Luther turns out to be a popular move, then there is a queue of other great religious thinkers awaiting their haloes. This includes Buddha, Mohammed, Henry VIII, and Ian Paisley. For we must remember that all people are saved and Hell was closed down as part of the Vatican II reforms. However, the case of G.K. Chesterton will not be considered. Ever.

crackpot religion

Other churches have declared themselves open to dialogue with Pope Francis.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

How we know we are living in the End Times

From the 3rd Letter of St Paul to the Jesuits.

1. Now, brothers, many of ye have asked me, "How shall we know that the Day of the Lord is nigh?"

2. Ye shall know that ye live in the End Times by means of various signs.

3. For lo! The world shall become very silly, and by this ye shall know that your time is nearly up.

4. First, clowns shall stalk the land, spreading terror to all who see them.

Pope and clowns

Pope Francis receiveth his new cardinals.

5. Then in England, a land flowing with Marmite, shall men complain that this wondrous foodstuff is no more.

6. The great wells of Marmite shall dry up, and the pipeline that bringeth Marmite from the distant East shall run dry.

7. Even the mighty jars of Dawkins, that once ran with milk, honey, and Marmite, shall be empty. And the professors of Oxford shall starve.

Dawkins tweet

And men shall say that Bin Laden hath won.

8. And there shall be other signs of silliness.

9. For a singer of popular ballads shall win a mighty prize for literature.

10. Thus shall he spoken of as the equal of Kipling, Yeats, Mann, Eliot, and Camus.


And Dylan shall ask "How many roads must a man walk down?"

11. Finally, and silliest of all, the sound of the Trump and the sound of the Clinton shall be heard in the land of America.

12. For the people shall be asked to choose between a complete slob and a woman of infinite evil.

Trump and Clinton

No, this is beyond a joke.

13. And at that point the LORD shall say, "Enough! This is too silly!" and the world shall end.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Pope Francis makes a cardinal error

The Catholic Church was reeling in shock and dismay today, as it was announced that Pope Francis had decided to appoint Archbishop Blase Cupich - a man so liberal that he makes Vincent Nichols look like a reincarnation of Pope Pius V - as a cardinal.

"Sorry, folks, I seem to have made a boo-boo there," laughed the Holy Father. "My friend Thomas Rosica played a little joke on me, by crossing off the name of Archbishop Chaput from the list I had originally prepared and writing in 'Cupich'. Since I didn't have my glasses on, I never even noticed! The names were so much alike!"

Cupich and Pope Francis

"Cupich? I asked for Chaput!"

Cupich, of course, is known for his very weak pro-life credentials - it is said that Hillary Clinton wanted him as her vice-president - and indeed he discouraged his priests from participating in demonstrations against Planned Parenthood (now renamed "Baby Parts 'R' us"), or from supporting 40 Days for Life.

Some of the Holy Father's other appointments are equally bizarre, notably Archbishop Farrell, who was awarded his red hat for extreme sycophancy.

Bishop Farrell tweets

Kevin Farrell - the only man who is not confused by Pope Francis.

Still, it is said that Caligula made his horse Incitatus a consul, David Cameron scrounged an O.B.E. for Isabel Spearman, his wife's hair stylist, and Harold Wilson obtained a peerage for his secretary Marcia Williams, so there are definitely precedents for this unusual appointment. The pope's dentist will have to wait until next time.

The list of new cardinals contains several who are from the third world, including the splendidly-named Dieudonné Nzapalainga of Bangui, Central African Republic. It is believed he was included in the hope that his arrival would cause Cardinal Kasper to have an apoplectic fit. However, this has not yet happened.

Dieudonné Nzapalainga

Dieudonné Nzapalainga - looking forward to a punch-up with Walter Kasper.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The religion that threatens Christianity

Am I going to attack Islam again? Am I going to have another kick at secular humanism (atheism)? No, there is a worse threat to church-goers. Every Sunday morning one of our great cities is blocked by some "half-marathon" running event (today it was Oxford): the streets are closed, and Christian worshippers cannot get to church. The event could just as easily - and less disruptively - take place on Sunday afternoon, but no, it has to take place at the worst possible time for Christians.

fancy dress Marathon

Bad vestments worthy of Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori!

I admit that in my childhood my religious education, although mostly Christian, did include heretical elements such as cross-country and road-running. Every Tuesday we did a 4-mile run, and woe betide you if you did not complete the course in 30 minutes. Being supremely fit I clocked in at 26 minutes, every time. However, being sent on runs could also be used as a punishment, which is why so many "baptised" runners later lapse and follow other forms of worship.

London Marathon

World "Yoof" Day. A huge congregation turns out for a London Marathon Service.

These days I do occasionally run for a bus, but of course this is actually a breach of the 1st Commandment, and needs to be confessed and forgiven. Pope Francis has suggested that we "walk with" people who have dabbled with running. It is true that if a person with running tendencies is truly seeking God, then who are we to judge?

Running is an ancient heresy. The Church of Half-Marathon was founded by the (false) prophet Pheidippides in 490 BC (which is somewhere between Zechariah and Esther in Old Testament terms), and there are references to this religion throughout history.

Peter and John run to the tomb

Peter and John running to the empty tomb. But they were forgiven.

Some runners have become radicalized. Whereas "moderate" runners will dash past you on the pavement with an apologetic "Excuse me", the militant ones shout "Get out of the way!" and are prepared to knock over those who do not follow their faith.

Nowadays, running is the major religion in the Western World. The Islamic countries are less troubled by it - it's too hot - and it is good to see that older people run far less than the youngsters, putting away such childish things as they prepare for the after-life.

As all religions spawn heretical sects, a modernist religion has arisen that also causes great inconvenience to Christian worship - cycling. There are Le Tour de France, Le Tour De Yorkshire, La Tour de Babel, ... all events designed to take over the streets for several days and make it impossible for people of other religions to worship.

cycle lane

Cyclists have special places where they can carry out their disgusting rituals.

Still, all is not gloomy. Pope Francis is expecting to meet the Chief Cyclist soon, and to pray with him as an ecumenical gesture. In these days, we have to live with our neighbour, even if we are shocked by his beliefs.

Saturday, 8 October 2016


It's time for another instalment of the Eccles Bible project, in which we explain the books of the Bible to atheists, Jesuits, and others who haven't really grasped the point. Good to see you again, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Fr Thomas Rees, Fr James Martin, Tim Kaine, Donald Trump and of course dear Hillary.

Our star pupil has a thirst after righteousness.

Well, there's not much of a "plot" to the book of Proverbs: it consists of various wise sayings. Indeed, wisdom is the main theme. Rather than making a pointless analysis, I'll just give five quotations from Proverbs, interspersed with wise remarks from other sources. See if you can identify them.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

If my good friend says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch in the nose.

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.

It is never difficult to distinguish between a Scotsman with a grievance and a ray of sunshine.

A ray of sunshine.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging.

How often do you ask for the help of the Holy Spirit, the breath, the "ruah" of God? Call on her in time of need. Count on her help.

The wicked flee where no man pursues; but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

I think on the whole mumps are better than measles.

As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

Virtue is better than no bread. Whom the gods love, butter no parsnips.

Buttered parsnips. Possibly a source of spiritual nourishment.

Right. The five non-Biblical quotes are from a computer, Pope Francis, James Martin S.J., Nigel Molesworth, and P.G. Wodehouse, in some order. They are not as full of wisdom as the authentic quotations from Proverbs, are they?

DONALD! Put that woman down! Who do you think you are, Bill Clinton? Go and sit on the naughty step!

Anyway, the next book we'll study is Ecclesiastes, commonly known as Eccles and thus universally admired.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Anglicans and Catholics agree to unite

Following very friendly discussions between Pope Francis and Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, it has been decided that the time has come for the Anglicans and Catholics to recognise that there are no real differences between them, and so to re-unite.

Pope and Welby

"That's agreed then. You take Tina Beattie off our hands, and we'll take Giles Fraser."

Initially, the joint statement from the pope and archbishop was going to be an admission of defeat, namely:

1. We promise to stop burning and beheading each other 
from now on.
2. We shall carry on disagreeing about almost everything.
3. Er...
4. That's it. How about a cup of tea?

An early attempt at Catholic-Protestant dialogue.

However, a deeper search for possible common ground revealed the following points of agreement:

1. Some Catholics think women should be ordained. 
So do some Anglicans.

2. Some Catholics are happy with same-sex marriage, 
including for priests. So are some Anglicans.

3. Some Catholics are atheists. So are some Anglicans.

4. Some Catholics are fine with abortion. 
So are some Anglicans.

5. Some Catholics are demented lunatics with no 
moral principles whatsoever. So are some Anglicans.
Pope and Welby

"So you'll wear the white vestments this week, and then next week it's my turn."

As for the liturgical differences that some commentators thought an insuperable barrier to union... well, clown masses, bad vestments, puppets, skateboards, communion in plastic cups, hymns that sound like bad pop songs, children sitting on the altar, balloons, masses where pets are invited, and fancy dress... are all welcome in any church. Or so it seems.

balloon mass

"Just remind me. Am I a Catholic, a Protestant, or a family entertainer?

So that's all right, then.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

A world without abortionists?

This is Frankenstein, my son. When we were expecting him, the doctors warned us that he would probably be an abortionist (there is now a non-invasive test that can tell you with 99% reliability if your unborn child is going to have this condition). But we decided to go ahead and let him live, because, after all, we are pro-life.

young Frankenstein

Dear Frankenstein.

It was not easy having an abortionist son, but we loved him. As a child, he was almost the same as other boys, except that of course he liked pulling the wings off butterflies, kicking cats in the head, and, on special occasions, dropping bricks out of the window on babies in pushchairs. When, at the age of 16, it became clear that his condition was incurable, we decided to help him all we could, by sending him to the Norman Bates Psycho School for people with Special Needs (in his case, blood, guts, and vital organs).

Cecile Richards

Cecile Richards of Planned Slaughterhood. A normal healthy adult.

My friend Doris has a different story. She was not able to cope with the idea of giving birth to an abortionist, but, on the other hand, she was a devout Catholic and did not believe in asking for a "termination". In the end she took the only reasonable course of action and gave birth to her child. Luckily, there had been a misdiagnosis and her daughter was merely a psychopathic serial killer, and not an abortionist after all. A lucky escape indeed!


You wanted a termination?

Imagine a world without abortionists! A whole section of our population ruthlessly eliminated! Sounds great, doesn't it? Has anyone got any ideas how we can achieve it?

With apologies to the wonderful Sally Phillips.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

How to be a devoid Catholic

The story so far: you are Citizen Kane, who was brought up by Jesuits and thus never had the benefit of any moral guidance. Nonetheless, when they kicked you out into the big world, they slapped a label on your forehead saying "Catholic", and you find it useful to describe yourself as a "devoid Catholic", saying "devoid" quickly so that it sounds like "devout".

Tim Kaine praying

"Let us pray. Only joking, folks, ha ha ha!"

Imagine your joy when Hillary Klingon - a woman known to be suffering from a thousand illnesses - asks you to be her running-mate as she stands as the Demonic candidate for President of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave! There's just one condition necessary: you must sell your soul to the Devil.


"Whatever you say, Hillary."

Being Jesuit-educated, you didn't even know you had a soul, but it turns out that you do. Now, what are good causes for a devoid Catholic to support? Catholics for Slavery? Catholics for Torture? Catholics for Rape? Excellent... but Catholics for Choice is even better! Ripping babies to pieces in the womb... um, sounds a bit grim, doesn't it, but Hillary's all for it, so you must be too!

By all means describe yourself as "personally" a decent human being who only wants love, peace, mercy and fluffy kittens. Provided that "politically" you go for violence, cruelty, bullying and squashed fluffy kittens, like Auntie Hillary and Uncle Bill do.


"I don't like the sound of this Klingon woman."

Oh, but there's one problem. The LOTFATHOTB is full of Catholic bishops. People such as the mighty Dolan, Wuerl, and Cupich. Stout defenders of the faith. Single-minded champions of the weak. Moral giants. These people aren't going to stand any nonsense from people in public life who claim to be Catholics and then spit on the Church's teaching. You'll be excommunicated in no time.

Only joking, Tim! First they didn't come for Ted Kennedy, then they didn't come for Joe Biden, then they didn't come for Nancy Pelosi.... You're perfectly safe. Moreover, if Hillary gets in, then in six months time she'll be carted off to the funny farm, and we'll see President Kane!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Henry Tudor stripped of papal knighthood

The news from 1533.

Henry Tudor, the king and former Catholic apologist, has been stripped of his papal knighthood following his reception into the Anglican church. Tudor, whose book Why Catholics are right brought him into favour with Pope Leo X a dozen years ago, also won the coveted Fidei Defensor award, which he is so far refusing to return.

Michael Coren

Henry Tudor celebrating "pride".

Tudor's main disagreement with the Catholic Church seems to be over its moral teachings, which, if he had been paying attention, he might have known about from the start. He has recently published a book celebrating his apostasy, with the title Epiphany. It is thought that he chose the title because Epiphany is naturally associated with gold, frankincense and myrrh, and Tudor is expecting to receive large quantities of loot from the sales of his book.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot, also stripped of a papal knighthood.

It is thought that the first person to be stripped of a papal knighthood was Mr Judas Iscariot, who spectacularly fell out with Pope Peter. Although he had the grace to return his 30 pieces of silver, he maintained until the end that he was entitled to use the "Apostle" title, if not the label "Saint". Moreover, his book Why Christ is right (popularly known as the Gospel of Judas) was highly-regarded at one time, although these days people prefer to read Michael Coren's works.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Pope puts world on journalism alert

Police worldwide have declared a state of red alert, after Pope Francis, in an audience with, er, Italian journalists, decided to charm them by telling them that journalism based on rumours and fear is terrorism.

Pope and Rosica

Fr Rosica explains that he never spreads gossip, rumours, or indeed interesting news.

Apparently, there is a genuine danger than innocent members of the public will be assailed by journalists, who after uttering a fanatical cry such as "Daily Telegraph!" or "Spectator!", will proceed to ask them what they think Amoris Laetitia means, and whether they think Pope Francis is about to abdicate in favour of Cardinal Tagle. Said Inspector Vincent "Vin of the Yard" Nichols, "If you suspect that someone may be a journalist, do not approach them directly, but keep your distance and dial 999. Our anti-journalism squad will do the rest."

Madeleine Teahan

Madeleine Teahan of the Catholic Herald. Wanted for gossiping about the Pope's pizza-addiction.

Said Anjem Choudary, the radical cleric sentenced for supporting ISIS, "These journalists make me sick. Take Damian Thompson, for instance. Rather than going out and slaughtering a few people in a train, like an honest man, he makes snide remarks about my hairstyle and my love of custard. No wonder the Ecclestone Square boys can't stand him."

Superman/ Clark Kent

Superman also has a secret identity as a Tablet journalist. Don't tell the Pope.

"Rumours and fear" is of course a direct reference to the reception given to most of the Pope's recent pronouncements. Did he really say THAT? Is he trying to change Catholic doctrine? Was he misquoted? Why can't he give a straight answer to a straight question? Be afraid... be very afraid.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fr James Martin turns down prestigious award

In a surprising move, Fr James Martin SJ, the world's most prominent Catholic, has turned down the offer of a prestigious award from the New Ways Ministry, a group that rejects the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

Fr James Martin SJ, a known pillar of orthodoxy.

In declining to accept the Judas Iscariot Prize for betraying Christianity, Fr Martin was apparently worried that accepting it would have brought shame upon the Jesuits, an organization that has long been known for its honest teaching, straight dealing, and reliable theology. "We Jesuits have a reputation to keep up," he insisted. "It's all very well saying that we want to see a lesbian pope giving birth to children while occupying the throne of St Peter, but at the end of the day we must accept that St Ignatius of Loyola never actually expressed such sentiments."

St Ignatius, another known pillar of orthodoxy.

Fr James Martin has in the past been known for floating unusual ideas on Twitter, in a spirit of comedy; it is thought that the New Ways people may somehow have taken some of these seriously, and thereby got the impression that he was a rebel against Catholic teaching. For example, consider the following recent Martin joke:

Fr James has an almost Chestertonian gift for paradox.

Still, all is not lost for the Oscar Wilde de nos jours. He still has the much-coveted Giles Award for Comedy to put in his trophy case.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Protect the Beattie!

After the striking success of our Justice for Tina campaign, a few years ago, it's time for us to have another go at showing mercy (© Pope Francis) to Professor Tina Beattie, the world's greatest living expert on Human Flourishing.

Some people have been very rude to Tina recently, daring to criticise the dear lady's views, even suggesting that she put a sock in it. So much so that she is now a hot favourite for the 2016 Tony Flannery Prize for Silenced Catholics. She never stops talking about it.


Fans of Tina Beattie show their support.

However, Tina Beattie is (in her own words) forbidden from speaking in the diocese of Edinburgh and St Andrews by Archbishop Leo Cushley! This is pretty severe, you'll agree. Of course this is not a blanket ban, and Tina is allowed to indulge in limited attempts at communication: she can order her favourite Pizza à la Hans Küng in Tartaglia's Italian restaurant, she can buy train tickets back to London (and indeed is encouraged to), and so on. However, any attempts to tell passers-by her views on abortion, same-sex "marriage", or the wackier bits of God's Mother, Eve's Advocate are met by persecution from the Scottish Inquisition.

Nevertheless, Tina does have powerful friends among the episcopate, and they will rush to attack anyone who criticises her.

Cleese, Barker and Corbett

The patrons of our Protect the Beattie campaign.

Now, we realise that certain words and phrases upset dear Tina, and we are encouraging people to avoid using them:

• Jesus said...
• Catholic teaching says...
• Pope Francis said...
• Pope Benedict said... [YELLOW ALERT FOR THIS ONE]
• St Paul said... [RED ALERT]


Doctor? Someone quoted Pope John-Paul II at me!

However, the following expressions, which are essentially meaningless, are much more soothing, and they will cure her headaches, lower her blood pressure, and leave our Tina with a feeling of well-being and - dare we say it - human flourishing. So please try to use them as much as possible.

• Gender identity;
• Women bishops;
• Feminist philosophy of religion;
• Remaking the Church;
• Global sisterhood.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Buenos Aires Directive

To non-Catholics The Buenos Aires Directive is probably just a novel by Robert Ludlum, he who wrote The Parsifal Mosaic, The Aquitaine Progression and The Icarus Agenda; but to Catholics it is a sequel to those popular thrillers, The Bergoglio Flight and The Francis Exhortation.

The Apocalypse Watch

Robert Ludlum predicts that the papacy will end in tears.

Apparently endorsed by Pope Francis in a private letter, the Buenos Aires Directive contradicts the Catholic Cathechism by allowing divorced and remarried couples to be regarded as validly married. We have seen a variety of reactions to Pope Francis's comments: which one do you agree with?

1. Pope Francis is a Jesuit, and so quite entitled to say what he likes and then claim that he was misinterpreted.

2. Pope Francis is a fine example of liberal Catholicism.

3. Pope Francis is just a silly old man who says too much and thinks too little.

4. Pope Francis is a heretic. Obviously not off the scale like those Catholics who endorse abortion and same-sex marriage, but definitely not as infallible as, say, Burke or Sarah.


The Eccles HeresometerTM for describing where Catholics lie.

Some people would say that these four descriptions are pretty synonymous, and which you use depends on your point of view. However, that is a little cruel.

Part of the path of "reconciliation", "mercy", "acceptance" or what you will, of remarried couples is that they should live as "brother and sister". Presumably, this means yelling at each other, pulling hair, stealing the last piece of cake, etc. Yes, that should work.

Brother and Sister

A model for family life.

Whatever else we say, it is clear that the Buenos Aires Directive is problematical, and Pope Francis would have been wiser not to have endorsed it. This time he didn't even have the usual excuse "I was in an aeroplane at the time and didn't know what I was saying". Now, you may argue that it is a valid interpretation of Amoris Laetitia - after all, nobody knows what that infamous footnote means, least of all Pope Francis - which itself is a valid description of what was agreed at the infamous synod - except that it isn't - and so it must be fully in line with Catholic teaching since popes never say silly things. But then we hit the famous words of Bishop Farrell, recently appointed Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life.

Words of Farrell

O.K. I admit it. I am confused. Can you help, Bishop?

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The suit and tie bloggers have lost

A special report by Damian Thompson.

It started at the Telegraph, moved on to the Catholic Herald, the Spectator, and ever onward: the demise of the professional "suit and tie" blogger, who was actually paid for writing his or her piece for a newspaper or website. For it was discovered that the "pyjama" or "underpant" commentators, who offered their services for free, had so much more to say, even if they were never allowed out of their bedrooms.

Damian Thompson and Princess Michael of Kent

"Would you care to write a blog for us, your Majesty? Any old rubbish will do."

Originally designed as learned essays on matters of common interest, in the tradition of Bacon, Swift, Chesterton, Orwell and so many others, the professional blogs gradually declined, as people were invited to read them and comment on them. Would Francis Bacon have written a piece on whether James I ate too much custard? Would Chesterton have criticised Cardinal Vaughan's haircut? Did George Orwell have a crush on Judy Garland? No, these were heavyweight essayists.

Eddie Izzard and friends

Scarecrow, Dorothy (Judy Garland), Lion and Tin Man in the Izzard of Oz.

In the end, it was not necessary to write a full blog post in order to generate the valuable "clicks" that so delighted the advertisers. A simple one or two-word title, such as "UKIP" (mysteriously written "Ukip" by the Telegraph), or "Islam", or "David Cameron", or - in the great days of "Holy Smoke" blogs - "Vincent Nichols", would guarantee pages and pages of mouth-foaming nonsense, as shelf-stackers, donkey-obsessives, drunken journalists, sinister deacons, bad-tempered Australian grandmothers, mollusc-molesters, implausible priests, and perverts from Stockport would tumble over each other as they rushed to issue insults, to suck up to the blog's author, to dump the contents of their brains, to explain why the Catholic Church was damned and they alone were saved, or to tell tedious anecdotes about life in Adelaide. Or perhaps it was just one person using an army of sockpuppets.

Of course, an army of semi-literate "muddlerators" was required to keep them in order. Sometimes the blog author himself was muddlerated, sometimes rival bloggers would drop in to join the fun.

Pope Francis and computer

"I see they've moderated my comments about giving communion to adulterers."

Curiously, the Guardian, a newspaper that will be totally forgotten by about 2025, took an entirely different approach. To write for Comment Shall Set You Free, you had to buy into the liberal consensus, where men could become female just by putting on a dress, where an abortion was considered to be every woman's dream, where Shami Chakrabarti was actually taken seriously, where a man could marry another man - or his mother - or indeed his pet hamster, and where Keith Vaz was regarded as a saintly character of irreproachable morals. Then, any comment below the line other than "I agree with you, Fr Fraser" (or whoever the writer was) was rewarded with instant banishment and accusations of "hate crime". But nobody read the Guardian so it didn't matter.

The fate of "professional" bloggers was inevitable. The best writers went off and wrote their own spiritually nourishing blogs, in a world where deadlines did not exist, the writer was not obliged to produce any old tosh if he or she didn't feel like it, and no money changed hands. Hence there were casualties among the professional bloggers: Fr Dwight Longenecker's family starved to death when his own blog was drowned in a sea of rivals; Fr Zuhlsdorf had to sell coffee to make ends meet; and as for that huge army of brilliant Telegraph bloggers - Thompson, Delingpole, Hannan, Hough, Mary Riddell no not Mary Riddell - they disappeared without trace. Although sometimes you may see Ed West selling matches in Trafalgar Square; he still wears a suit and tie.

Daniel Hannan

"You will leave the EU..." Hannan has a new career as a stage hypnotist.

P.S. Comments are welcomed. They're usually better than anything I have to say, anyway.