Notre Dame renewed

Following the surprise announcement of the installation of ‘one-armed bandits’ in the Sistine Chapel, the French Ministry of Culture has unveiled the final designs for the rebuilding of Notre Dame. The Ministère de la Culture et des Communications (Minister: Ms Marie Montpetit) explained the designs in an exclusive interview with BBC.

‘During its long history, Notre Dame has been many things: Catholic cathedral, Temple of Reason, tourist destination. The tragic fire has presented us with a God-sent opportunity. It is our determination that Notre Dame should rise again, not as the focus of an obscure cult to which a minority of our diverse and inclusive country belongs, but as a Pleasure Palace for all the family.

‘Your English viewers will better understand what we have in mind if I describe it as a combination of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Tate Modern and the Eden Project. There will be animatronic dinosaurs under the vast glass roof, bungy-jumping in the new glass spire, a Quasimodo Experience in the western towers  and a white knuckle ride in the nave. We have been fortunate in securing, as consultants, the Deans of Rochester and Norwich Cathedrals in England, who are experts in adapting such venues to contemporary use.

‘The project is expected to be completed by February 1023, and will be opened jointly by the President of the Republic and His Holiness the Pope (who will dedicate the new structure to the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’, the world’s first cathedral to be so named).  

Liturgy Now

What is a liturgist?  Someone wholly innocent of anthropology; numb to the meaning of bodily gestures and the tones of human voices; ignorant of the subtleties and the many registers of language; a blank for solemnity; with no sense of drama, no feeling for silence; someone whose idea of poetry may be found on a greeting card; someone who will lay on your back the burden of a sham hospitality; someone whose very smile sends all deep thought and feeling into an abyss of indifference.

Anthony Esolen


It was announced today that, sponsored by the UN Conference on Climate Change, and accompanied by Swedish teenager and candidate for canonisation, Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis will be travelling to the forthcoming Amazon Synod on a raft made entirely of recyclable and renewable balsa wood.

The raft, powered entirely by solar panels, will be propelled by two sails made of a fabric specially woven from bamboo-fibre. The Holy Father will be accompanied, on this voyage (the first of its kind by a reigning Pontiff) by a small crew of senior Vatican officials including Cardinals Coppopalmerio and Maradiaga (as chief cook and bottle-washer respectively).

The crossing from Civitavecchia is estimated to take twenty-six months, during which time there will be no opportunity for press interviews. The date of the synod will be adjusted according to the time of arrival. The voyage will add nothing to current carbon emissions.

Inevitably this bold initiative has come in for criticism. ‘A cheap stunt takes nothing away from the damage done by the carbon footprint of a Synod drawing bishops from all parts of the world to a conference in the heart of the rain forest,’ said a spokesperson for Friends of the Earth.

Said Fr Antonio Spadaro: ‘With only ten years to save the planet, a dramatic, meaningless gesture like this was just what we needed.’


Kind readers have enquired as to the cause of my recent silence.

Truth is that I fell into the clutches of our wonderful NHS.

On discharge from the hospital I was provided with an assessment form (‘How Are We Doing?’). Among the impertinent questions which it asked were some about my sex: Male? Female? Other? Some about my ‘sexuality’: Heterosexual/Straight? Lesbian/Gay? Bisexual? Other?

Needless to say I put ‘Other’ in both cases.

Fiat Lux!

J-J Rousseau

As so often, Fr Hunwicke is right. He complains of the decline of female modesty – which all previous ages and most other cultures have valued and upheld. The ‘Love Island’ phenomenon is a modern aberration.

But how come?

The culprit (as so often) is the Enlightenment. Earlier cultural movements – the Reformation and the Renaissance, for example – purported to be recovering a past golden age. In consequence they were careful to cover their novelties with antiquarian scholarship, and gave the past due reverence. The Enlightenment was quite different. It declared war on the past in the name of the future. And it did so with little respect and a modicum of violence.

‘Man (sic) will not be free until the last King is strangled with the entrails of the last priest’.

The wisdom of the ages and all social convention, could be set aside in the name of reason. And as the worst excesses of the French Revolution go to demonstrate, every precept of religion was cast aside and every restraint of morality questioned. License was the principle on which Jean-Jacques conducted his private life, never the nobility of the savage.


Kind readers from Australia have jumped to the defence of the Victorian Court of Appeal. Apparently there is nothing mysterious about the delay. The Courts are in recess during July.

It’s the money, Stupid!

“We are easily talking about six-figure sums every year.”

That is the assessment of one diocesan official in Newark, New Jersey, of the income of former Cardinal McCarrick’s discretionary fund or ‘Archbishop’s Fund’. The Diocese of Washington has consistently refused details of the Fund, after it was transferred from Newark with the archbishop.

But McCarrick was a notorious participant in what has been called the ‘envelope culture’, revealed by the exposure of former Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield. McCarrick was also influential in trying to persuade the Papal Foundation to give a loan of $25 million (at Francis’s request) to a scandal-riven Roman children’s hospital.

The question has to be whether ‘generosity’ from the Archbishop’s Fund gained McCarrick impunity from censure over his other activities. If not, why will the Diocese of Washington not release details of individuals to whom payments from the Fund were made?

Sexual scandals so often involve financial irregularities, and, awaiting evidence to the contrary, this seems to be the case here.