In-flight Entertainer

Predictably, on the flight back from Fatima (where, according to some reports, the Holy Father commanded more devotion than the Blessed Sacrament), Pope Francis gave the assembled press the benefit of his opinions on a number of subjects.

As appears from the official transcript, little is gained from theses interviews.

The message of Our Lady of Fatima is one of peace. We must speak of peace. Even atheists want us to speak of peace.
The Pope never judges people before he has listened to them; and that principle will apply to his meeting with President Trump.
The Pope knows no more than his interlocutor about collusion between NGOs and people traffickers.
The Pope is personally disinclined to credit the Medjugorje apparitions.
Marie Collins is a very nice lady.

With all due respect to the Holy Father all this is little more than trivial.

What is significant about these media-fests, however, is not what is revealed by them, but that they take place at all. They inflame the personality cult which is already a problem with Francis, and they fuel the popular confusion between his opinions (fallible and confused as they sometimes are) and the teaching of the Magisterium.

The Pope is not an absolute monarch, whose word is law. He is more like a Supreme Court, whose judgement on the meaning of the law should be duly measured and properly circumspect, precisely because it is final.

                                             The King,             Louis,            King Louis

Cut and Paste


The Catholic Education Service (CES) acts on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference to support Catholic education. We have a strong and positive working relationship with the British and Welsh Government, sharing the aims of high academic standards for all and increased parental choice.

Imagine then the surprise and alarm among rank and file Catholics when the Service issued guidelines on homosexuality in schools much of which was lifted verbatim from publications of the homosexualist pressure group Stonewall.

Was this innocence, indolence or infiltration?

It is hard to say – though the Education Service does, from time to time make available material from other outside sources and is generally scrupulous about declaring provenance. In this case it did not.

It is observable that liberal Catholics are adopting an increasingly insolent indifference to grass-roots opinion and to the teachings of the Magisterium.

We need to be ever vigilant.


A kind correspondent has claimed that a variant of the cited limerick was used in a moving picture and applied to the American writer F Scott Fitzgerald.

I have to say that I regard this as intrinsically improbable (A Diamond as Big as the Ritz?). The form lacks Lear’s traditional incipit ‘There was a …’ and so cannot be deemed original.

Evidence suggests that the authentic version is a fine example of the humour of the English Tommy at war, and originated in the campaign of 1884 which resulted in the tragic death of General Gordon.

For a similar limerick dating from the Punjab campaign of 1849 see:

There was a young man of Darjeeling
Whose member reached up to the ceiling
When he turned on the light
He’d  a terrible fright
And a really remarkable feeling.


2248adb6962cab83c62d6df824a2015bThe College of Bishops of England and Wales has recently been conferring at Villa Palazzola, the summer retreat of the Venerable English College.

Which raises the inevitable question: what do bishops discuss during these times away?

By comparison with their Anglican colleagues, the topics must be somewhat limited. They cannot discuss doctrine, for example, since that is reserved to those way above their pay grade. Nor can they talk about ordaining women or marrying gays – the mainstay of endless Anglican episcopal gatherings at ‘secret’ venues in the Midlands and dreary sessions at the Adelphi Hotel. For Catholics these matters are settled for all time.

Probably they fall back on old favourites, like Pastoral Reorganisation (aka closing more churches); fresh initiatives in Evangelisation (aka closing more churches); and, of course, the importance of celebrating Mass facing the people.

Obviously, all this cannot be much fun.

But we hope that they return refreshed and renewed for the daunting tasks which lie ahead.



As I have always suspected, North America is a cultural desert. Already kind readers are asking for the first two lines of the limerick cited by the good archbishop.

They are, of course:

There was a young queer of Khartoum
Took a lesbian up to his room.
They spent all the night
Asking who had the right
To do what and with which and to whom.

This version is quoted in the Appendix to the 1968 Cambridge University Press Variorum Edition of Eskimo Nell. As you might have guessed.


Newcastle Episcopi


Dear Frank,

Oh dear!

Just when I thought the gay crisis had subsided for a bit, some lunatic curate in Newcastle has got himself consecrated as an ‘alternative’ bishop by some renegade South African outfit. It really is too aggravating.

David Holloway – the man’s vicar – has been a fair to average pain for a long time. But now he is threatening reciprocal heresy trials if I intervene. That, frankly, would open a can of something a good deal more serious than worms.

I suppose I shall have to declare the invalidity of the man’s orders (your Cardinal’s paper may come in useful here!). But the problem is that the bishop of the diocese is a superannuated woman whom we put in faute de mieux, and substantial numbers don’t accept her orders either. Then there is the Bishop of Beverley, whom we thought would mop up the disaffected…

It is an absolute mess. I’d call it a buggers’ muddle if that were allowed. It reminds one of the limerick:

…they spent all the night
asking who had the right
to do what and with which and to whom

Perhaps it would be easier if I just became a Catholic. Do you think the Ordinariate would have me?

Yours in despair,