Parlour Game

As Christmas approaches here is a game for all the family:

Locate the doctrinal ‘developments’ of Pope Francis on the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX.

Pio Nono’s Syllabus is available on the internet, and provides informative reading for all those born after 1960,

Vatican goes Carbon Neutral

The new papal Yacht

Not only has Pope Francis decreed that the Christmas Tree in S. Peter’s Square should be lit by energy saving bulbs provided free of charge by OSRAM, but complementary changes are being made throughout the city state.

Thermostats are being lowered and DAMART underwear is being provided for all Vatican officials by the GRETA THUNBERG CORPORATION. A new electric Popemobile has been ordered. But perhaps the most significant change will affect future Papal visits overseas. Francis will henceforward travel by yacht, assisted only by wind power. Gone are the days of continent-hopping, with its huge carbon footprint. Papal journeys will take longer and journalists will need to be prepared for extended intervals at sea.

The Holy Father will use the time to revise the Catechism, develop new doctrines, and play deck quoits with the press corps.

Fr Antonio Spadaro is being modified to run on hot air alone.

Baptismal Degeneration

Mary Macalisse, former President of the Irish Republic (who has recently been made a canon of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Dublin) is reportedly of the opinion that infant baptism is an assault on the human rights of the child. Children, she says, should not be ‘forcibly recruited’, but left to make their own decisions about religious affiliation in due course.

A familiar story came immediately to mind..

The 16th century Scottish historian Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie,  in his Historie and Chronicles of Scotland, compiled almost 100 years later tells of Jame IV of Scotland. He explains: 

The king also caused [to] take one deaf woman, and put her in Inchkeith, and give her two bairns with her, and furnish her in all necessary things pertaining to their nourishment, desiring hereby to know what languages they had when they came to the age of perfect speech. Some say they could speak Hebrew, but for my part I know not but from [other people’s] reports.

Did the children really learn to speak fluent Hebrew? You can make your own mind up on that one—but as Sir Walter Scott later commented, “It is more likely they would scream like their dumb nurse, or bleat like the goats and sheep on the island.”

Like a child denied nurture in language, a child deprived of the spiritual and moral tutelage of religion would have no criteria on which to make the free decision which is so important to Ms Macalesse. He or she, adrift in a world of amorphous relativities, would be incapable of rational choice.

It is a parental right and duty to share with children all that is right and good. Tragically for parents, it is the right of offspring to renounce that proffered heritage.

Me Peter, you Jayne

Dear Frank,

I am so grateful that you found time to meet with Jayne Ozanne and receive her powerful testimony. Jayne, as I am sure you have grasped, represents all that is honest, Spirit-filled and forward looking in the Church of England. I am so proud of her and her witness.

If our churches are to reverse decline and move on, we must listen to the Spirit of the Age. Jayne, despite all her neuroses, is showing us the way. I have to admit that our dear old CofE is not exactly thriving at the moment, with only 1% of young people admitting to affiliation; but the darkest hour comes before the dawn, and so we must just persevere in the daring course we have adopted.

Of course, like you, we have our gainsayers – the rigid and the neo-Pelagians. They are just nostalgic for the old days, when churches were full and sermons hardly never referred to sex. But like the nostalgia for Empire, we have to put such things behind us. We have moved on!

People like Jayne show us the way forward. As your visionary Amazon Synod goes to show, we must all become inculturated into the changing world around us.  Jayne is part of the ecology of the world in which we live. She is part of the glorious diversity of race, custom and religion which God has given us in his wonderful creation.  

Yours inclusively.


A Satirical Essay

David Virtue writes:

At a hastily called press conference, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry, publicly bewailed Americans for not joining his Church when it believes exactly what the surrounding culture believes.

“We have fully embraced the LGBTQII2 community, abortion rights for women, anti-racism training, identity politics, the Jesus Movement and challenged the very definition of sin. We have made every effort to match all of our core doctrines to that of secular American society.”

“We have even embraced those who want to have sex change operations and flip from him to her and vice versa. What more could people ask for, for Christ’s sake! And I mean that literally,” though he admitted under questioning that the Episcopal Church did not take the Bible literally on most things, including the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

“We leave that up to individual consciences,” said the Presiding Bishop, “because we realize that it could be taken spiritually or metaphorically or springtime in the Rockies.”

“I can’t imagine what is holding people back and why no one bothers to come to our Episcopal churches which are welcoming to all, no exceptions.”

“I just don’t get it,” said the Presiding Bishop. “I preached up a love sermon storm at a Royal wedding and I became an instant celebrity. More than a billion people have seen it. So, I can’t figure out why, with my international acclaim, people aren’t crowding into Episcopal churches. It makes no sense. I ask you, is an NFL game more important that hearing a sermon on diversity and inclusion!”


It appears from Down Under that the High Court in Canberra (not to be confused with the Supreme Court in Melbourne) has admitted an appeal by Cardinal George Pell.

The world is waiting to see whether Australian justice uniquely admits the evidence of one uncorroborated complainant as sufficient for conviction.

The British Conundrum

Kind readers from the United States have asked me to explain what precisely is at stake in the forth-coming UK Election. Though the presenting issue is Brexit – as everybody can see – the election goes deeper than that.

Ultimately it is about the nature of British democracy.

How, in our system, does representative democracy (Parliament) relate to direct democracy (referenda). Are referenda (which some have claimed to be binding) merely indicative (and so subject to Parliamentary confirmation)?

The question is made the more acute when one party standing does so on a pledge to overturn the consequence of the Brexit referendum (Article 50 of the EU Constitution, initiating the process of withdrawal). It is further complicated by another party (the Scottish National Party) which proposes to use its position in a hung Parliament to seek to overturn another recent referendum (that on Scottish independence). Can the majority in a referendum ever be deemed to be conclusive? And if not, why not?

Better, you will say, to abandon referenda altogether. But the past cannot be undone.

Britain entered the EU by means of a referendum*, so logic would seem to demand that we would leave by one. But since the vote in 2016 has been undermined by Parliamentary means, it has been argued that the only way to ensure that Government is acting with the full consent of the governed is an election which delivers a Parliamentary majority to one side or the other. But what if that is not achievable?

Then God only knows.

*The confirmatory referendum undertaken by Harold Wilson  

A Tale of Two Countries

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, papal nuncio to the United States of America.

As the apostolic nuncio to the United States tells the American bishops to get in line with the Holy Father and show they are taking steps to hand on the “Magisterium of Pope Francis” to their flock, ten German dioceses have affirmed their solidarity with the projected ‘Synodal Path’.

 So the question arises: what does Francis want? Is he a proponent of centralised authority (as his ‘bombshell’ to the American hierarchy implies?) Or is he sympathetic to regional synodical authority (like that of the German project?)

The answer probably lies in the curious wording of Archbishop Christophe Pierre’s message. The Americans are being encouraged to ‘get alongside’ not the Magisterium of the Catholic Church (as evidenced, for example, by the Catechism); but the Magisterium of Pope Francis (as evidenced by Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si.) Pierre is stressing the personal authority of Francis and conformity to it.

The Americans, in the view of the Vatican are clearly ‘rigid’, and need to loosen up.

It remains to be seen whether the German, with their aspirations for women priests and same sex marriages, are too pliable, or not flexible enough. With this Pope you can never tell.

Through the Looking Glass

Things, as Alice remarked, simply get curiosser and curiouser.

It has now been reported that Francis has described critics of the Amazon Synod as ‘racists’. Nothing could more plainly illustrate the Looking Glass world he presently inhabits.

The racists, surely, are those who impose the myth of the ‘noble savage’ – and the theology of German liberals – on the unsuspecting peoples of the Amazon. This is the real and destructive colonialism. The manipulation of the synod has been flagrant and apparent. Indigenous peoples would never speak of themselves as the final document of the synod speaks of them.

They are being rendered pawns in the game of Western relativists, who seek to foist on them, in the name of diversity, a denuded and ersatz Catholicism. That this is allowed to pass as a ‘new evangelism’ further compounds the offence.

Pressing Matters

Why does Pope Francis put up with Eugenio Scalfari? It is a puzzling question. The veteran journalist has been given privileged access to the Pope twice recently. And on both occasions he has claimed that the Holy Father spoke in a way that all would call unorthodox and most would categorize as heresy.

The question surely is this: why does Francis permit it? And why is the Vatican Press Office left (ineptly) to pick up the pieces? The Holy Father could as easily (and more authoritatively) deny the assertions himself.

There are after all, a number of possibilities. That Scalfari is theologically naive and ill informed, and so unable to comprehend Francis’s subtlety of argument; that he is old and confused; that he was enthusiastically trying to foist his own opinions on the Holy Father; that Francis had (not for the first time) spoken imprecisely or carelessly.

But we need to have a word, as to which it was, from the only other witness who was present at the interviews. As in the case of the dubia, silence is not an option