In an operation involving the Roman Carabinieri, a life-size image of Pope Francis has been dredged from the Tiber, where it was thrown by thieves who stole it from the sanctuary of the church of San Giorgio in Velabro.

The statue, part of a tableau honouring St John Henry Newman in his titular church, was found to be tarred and feathered and covered with nails. A spokesperson from the Rome Museum of Ethnology has identified the image as one used as a cult object in voodoo rites. ‘The statue was probably employed in an attempt to cause harm or pain to the Holy Father,’ she said.  

The search is now on for the culprits.

Cardinal Baldisseri, head of the Synod of Bishops, has named cardinals Burke and Mueller as prime suspects. ‘The action,’ said the Cardinal, ‘shows the operation of perverted and corrupt minds. This crime was clearly intended to bring the Amazon Synod and the indigenous peoples of Amazonia into disrepute. Only rigid theologians could have done this. We must always be on our guard, as Pope Francis is constantly telling us, against the malign forces of clericalism.’

The statue itself, alongside another of St Francis of Assisi,  has been erected in the Vatican gardens as an object of devotion.   

Brexit Correction

The subsequent claim of the opposition parties that Johnson‘s action [in proroguing Parliament] was ‘illegal’ demands further scrutiny. How could a man avoid transgressing a law which did not exist until defined by the Supreme Court after the event? One, moreover, which might (or might not) subsequently have been devised to outlaw the very action he was contemplating?

That is what I said in my post (The Death of Brexit, below).

A kind correspondent informs me that in Common Law such judgments have a puzzlingly metaphysical dimension. Court decisions of this kind operate retrospectively – that is to say that what nobody knew to be the case before the judgement was arrived at is assumed always have been the case; and ignorance of that fact is no excuse.

Poor Boris! For him there was no escape. Such is justice; such apparently is the Law.

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is an ass “


It was announced today that Inspector Salvo Montalbano of the Sicilian Police has been relocated to a new assignment in Rome to investigate (at the request of his old friend and former colleague Domenico Giani), financial dealings in the Vatican involving among others Cardinal Angelo Becciu of the Secretariat of State.

At a press conference hastily organised at Palermo’s Punta Raisi airport, Inspector Montalbano said: ‘The case involves investment, via a Swiss Bank, of hundreds of millions of Euros in a luxury property in London. This transaction has all the hallmarks of Mafia involvement. In that case I am well-qualified for the job. ‘

‘Domenico, who was summarily dismissed from his post, has asked me to clear his name. Which I am happy to do.’

Where next?

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about feminism is its dependence on a victim culture. Women, it is claimed, are everywhere oppressed by the Patriarchy. And no amount of success in changing society and institutions makes that sense of oppression and injustice go away.

The Church of England is by now a largely feminised institution. Though irksome pockets of resistance remain, women priests have generally been accepted and welcomed; women bishops have been appointed with alacrity by those (largely men) who decide these things. But the anger and hurt continues. And among a radical minority, at least, there continues to be a burning sense of injustice. Among those who aim to be more feminist than Germaine Greer, there is always the campaign to normalize trans-sexuality. And increasingly the ‘mission’ is extended to homosexual equality and gay marriage. The connection, needless to say, is not pellucidly clear. But the question remains: what do women campaigners in the Church want?

The attempt to geld God – an extension of the urge to ‘police the pronouns’ – was never going to gain general approval. As the earliest radicals saw, back in the 70’s, the religion is too grounded in the language of a Son sent by a Father to accept change without general dogmatic degradation. ‘What will happen to God? they asked. And the answer was that He would become increasingly irrelevant.

So where next? Women have entered the Patriarchy (and have signally failed to change it substantially or radically). What remains to be done? Are we simply left with the smoldering embers of a discontent which can never be put out?


Dear Frank,

Just a line to thank you for making a saint out of our own dear John Henry. We found him an invaluable asset in the run-up to women’s ordination. The very idea that doctrine actually develops made all the difference among the minority of clergy who care about these things.

Of course there were those who majored on the idea that doctrine changes in order to remain the same. But far more applied the adage “To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” And of course we Anglicans in our institutions and practices are always, in our modest way, striving after perfection.

You too will probably find John Henry a pliable partner in achieving whatever it is you have decided you want from the Amazon Synod. Good luck! From our point of view even married priests and female deacons would be a step in the right direction. Change and be perfect is my advice to you.

Your friend and admirer,


A Modest Proposal

It is certainly true that the Amazon Synod and its Instrumentum Laboris have occasioned comment from both the traditionalist and revisionist wings of the Catholic Church. But none more controversial than a recent contribution by Cardinal Alfonso Rodriguez of Veracrucia, Brazil.

Taking his cue from the Instrumentum (which majors on what the Church can learn from the culture of indigenous tribes) Rodriguez cites the widespread practice of infanticide among Amazonian tribespersons.

‘We need to learn from the practices of peoples insulated from the contamination of contact with the West,’ says the Cardinal, ‘and the humane disposal of unwanted children is a case in point. This is not to seen as an object of moral opprobrium, but as a meaningful response to the adverse effects of the human impact on the natural environment.’

‘As ecological scientists have repeatedly told us, there are just too many people. We can learn from our Amazonian brothers and sisters a new way of restoring the balance between man and the environment. This is merely an extension of what affluent people in Europe and North America are achieving through state-sponsored abortion. How much better than medical intervention, simply to return the child to the forest of which it is a part!’

To support Cardinal Rodriguez, Extinction Rebellion has sent a deputation, which is currently blocking the Via della Conciliazione with random encampments representing Amazonian villages.

Get Knotted

Downing Street must have worked overtime to choose the venue for the Prime Minister’s recent meeting with the Taoiseach. Thornbury Manor (as can be seen from its romantic website) specializes in lavish weddings. Though Boris is famously not gay, Dominic Cummings may well have been hoping for a political romance. The results of which remain to be seen…