It is a slick operation, whoever is behind it.

Pre-ordered from Amazon, the copy of Frederic Martel’s book, ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’, dropped through my letter box on the very morning that Pope Francis inaugurated the conference in Rome called to address the abuse crisis. It is a thick volume (I am a third-way through), but some things are already evident.

The first is that Martel is a loquacious bore, who is irritatingly shy of hard facts; but conversely strong on innuendo and cod Freud. His thesis, set out in all seriousness, is that those who most oppose homosexuality are those most guilty of it. Francis’s most vocal opponents, it seems, are all closet queers, trying desperately to cover-up their proclivities. Their penchant for lace gives the game away.

 Hardly more sophisticated than gay bar gossip, a book intended as the ‘bombshell’ to shatter Francis’s strategy needs something more substantial than this.

Will the book undermine the conference, and efforts to stamp out abuse? Will it damage Francis? In the first case, probably not. In the case of Francis himself, since it offers further evidence of less than ‘zero tolerance’ on the Pope’s part in the matter of McCarrick, almost certainly. But even about that we knew already.  

Cupich and the Elephant

Cardinal Cupich, who is rapidly becoming the Voice of Francis, has cautioned against high expectations of tomorrow’s summit of Chairmen of Episcopal conferences. It will be limited, he says, to discussion of the abuse of minors. More’s the pity.

The Vigano testimony, as well as events in Chile, indicate two related matters which are integral to the abuse crisis: homosexuality and episcopal cronyism. If these are not addressed, then it will be clear – while seeming to deal with the most embarrassing symptoms – that the meeting will have failed to engage with the real problem.

This shallow pontificate – strong on public relations, short in transparency – is the reverse of radical. It will not – perhaps it cannot – face up to the real issues. Mum’s the word!

Days after the laicisztion of McCarrick, the judicial process has been arbitrarily shut down by papal fiat. Now we will never know who knew what when, and whether the cover-up was purposely orchestrated or simply institutional. It is clear that tomorrow’s meeting is to be stage-managed into impotence. It is difficult to summon the slightest interest in the (utterly predictable) document it will no doubt produce.  

Brexit Clichés

A man who looks as if he knows

The time has come for those who would reverse the Brexit decision of 2016, to provide some naked and incontrovertible facts. The time for cliché is long past.

It is now clear that most of the predictions of doom made before the vote were extravagant hyperbole. Rising wages and falling unemployment have put paid to those. What greater cash value have the current clichés about a ‘no deal scenario’?

Why a ‘cliff-edge’? What is meant by ‘crashing out’? What are the certain indications of the predicted ‘catastrophe’. Who will be imposing additional tariffs and why? In whose interests, precisely, will it be to inhibit trade?

There are surely answers to all these questions. But why are they not being given, even at this late stage?

Straight-forward answers, please, in an email, to the Radio 4 Today Programme – so we can all look forward to rational debate devoid of cant.

Sic Transit

A well-known Chinese

The truth is out at last! I am a Transracia! And that’s something to celebrate!

Since early childhood I have known myself to be a Chinese trapped in a Caucasian body. You will ask how I know I am Chinese (living all my life in Surbiton, my only experience of Chinese culture was the local take-away). But that is irrelevant. My own feelings and convictions in this matter are paramount. Against all evidence the contrary, what I say goes.

I hereby assert my right to live and be accepted as part of the racial group to which I know myself to belong. I demand State-funded classes in Mandarin or Cantonese, surgery from the NHS to darken my hair and adjust the slant of my eye-lids, and legislation to enforce other Chinese to give me full racial recognition.

You may find this strange, anomalous, even psychologically perplexing – but who are you to judge?

The rapidly increasing numbers of Transracials (especially young people of school age) is making it imperative that this problem be addressed. Funds must be made available, and counselling provided. Transracialdysphoria must be included in the National Curriculum.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has already made it clear that the Church of England will make full provision for Confucianists, Buddhists and Communist Atheists to be fully integrated into Parish communities. And the General Synod is making Chinese language classes compulsory for all clergy.

Of course, it remains to be seen what provision can be made for those transitioning from black to white (or white to black), current sensitivities considered.

One Down, One Up

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has finally got his comeuppance. This morning the Holy See announced his laicization. His notorious career of flagrant ‘clericalism’ is at an end.

But according to ancient laws of ecclesiastical polity, what goes down must come up. Almost simultaneously the Vatican has announced that Cardinal Kevin Farrell has been nominated Cardinal Camerlengo by Pope Francis.

The Camerlengo – who takes charge of the See during an interregnum, organises the papal funeral and arranges the ensuing conclave – obviously needs to be a man of the utmost integrity, untainted by scandal. Which is why the lot fell on Farrell.

Francis clearly wanted someone unconnected with the disgraced McCarrick. And who better than one who, despite living at close quarters with McCarrick for some years, has so repeatedly and vociferously denied all knowledge of his patron’s proclivities? Would a prince of the Church prevaricate?

Thus it comes about that we have a clean pair of hands to supervise the inauguration of a new era!

Umbilical Discord

Now let us get this straight.

A woman who applied, under the Gender Recognition Act, 2004, to be publicly acknowledged as a man, has nevertheless conceived a child. He is now petitioning to be registered as the ‘father’ of the child. The grounds cited are the difficulty of explaining the complications of the situation to the child, and the emotional and relational problems which might ensue.

It is, it seems to me, not at all clear how lying to the child twice over – about both the nature of the present relationship and the abandonment of the child by the mother it will naturally assume to exist – can possibly be of help to anyone. Nor do I see how, in all conscience, the registrar can falsify the birth certificate. If the birth of a child is not sufficient proof that the ‘father’ was (at least at the time of the birth) a mother, what would be?

The complications arising from the anomalous relationship of parent and child in this case do not require further involvement by the State. The problem arises from the absurdity of the 2004 Act itself


Rumour (she who has more tongues than eyes) has it that a cabal of wealthy Americans (associated with a man called Bannon) is intent on securing the election of Gerhard Mueller as our next Pope.

That the St Gallen Mafia may have met their match is news which every fervent Catholic should greet with rejoicing. But not so fast! In a world of false news, nothing is certain and little is credible. Might not the current rumour be a fabrication by that same St Gallen bunch, intent on belittling Mueller’s ‘manifesto’ as a mere electoral stunt?

Who knows? Who can tell?