Dis is me, Eccles

Dis is me, Eccles
Dis is me, Eccles

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Eccles-iastical rumours

Great excitement has been generated by rumours that the Pope told a divorced and remarried woman, Jacquelina Sabetta, that she was now allowed to take Communion. "Who am I to fudge?" he is said to have asked her. Without knowing whether or not this rumour is true, we should point out that many previous rumours about the Pope have been shown to be false, and caused by mistranslation, misreporting, misunderstanding or simply mischief. Here are some of the silliest.

Pope and Queen of Jordan

POPE TO MARRY A MUSLIM WOMAN.

Centuries of tradition, whereby the Pope, and indeed all priests, are forbidden to marry were supposed to have been upset recently when the Pope was seen talking to an attractive Muslim lady. Said the Queen of Jordan (for it was she), "Don't be silly, Damian (who he?), we are just good friends."

Pope and lamb

POPE WASHES SHEEP'S FEET ON MAUNDY THURSDAY.

The Maundy Thursday ritual of washing feet was challenged this year when it was claimed that the Pope had extended it to animals. Said a spokesman, "It is true that the Holy Father might wash the feet of a primate, but only if it were Justin Welby."

Pope and boy

POPE ADMITS THE EXISTENCE OF A SON.

Despite the strong physical resemblance, it has been explained that these two popes are not related.

The rumour machine continues to grind on, with forecasts that Fr Alban McCoy would become the next bishop of Leeds (which has been sede vacante since Arthur Roche was packed off to Rome). Ten days have elapsed, and the good man still hasn't received the expected letter, so we must conclude that this bit of gossip was off the mark.

Dr McCoy

Dammit, Damian, I'm a doctor, not a bishop!


We were going to blog about St George's Day as we did last year, but apparently it has been moved, owing to a clash with Easter. Curiously, one Very Famous Person Indeed found it was possible to celebrate Easter and St George at the same time.

Christ and St George's flag

They always said God was an Englishman.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Judith

After a short break, we resume the Eccles Bible Class today with the deutero-canonical book of Judith. Dawkins! Good to see you in class today, although I hear that your pals are very cross that you didn't sign their letter about Britain being an atheist country. Would you like to tell the class what "deutero-canonical" means? Come on, boy, you must know, you're supposed to be a learned theologian, remember?

All right, I'll explain. This is an Old Testament book that wasn't in the Hebrew Bible, and so it's not really accepted by most Protestants. We can probably get through it quite quickly, as there is only one thing you need to know about Judith: she cut off the head of Holofernes.

Judith and the head

I'm sorry, Madam, but you can't take this as hand-luggage.

What's that noise outside? Oh, some new arrivals! Pratchett! Tatchell! Nick Ross! Steve Jones! Singh! You felt that, Britain being a Christian country, you ought to brush up on some of the theory? Well, you're all very welcome to join in, but today's book of the Bible isn't really a great introduction to Christianity. There won't be very many deep spiritual insights today, and indeed not very many in general until we reach Job.

Steve Jones

Professor Steve Jones denies that his pets are malnourished.

Actually, there is one another reason to remember Judith, which is that the Tallis motet Spem in alium is based on words from this book. Just in case your Latin's a bit rusty, here's an English rendering of it:

I have never put my hope in any other
but in You, O God of Israel,
who can show both anger and graciousness,
and who absolves all the sins
of suffering man.
Lord God,
Creator of Heaven and Earth
be mindful of our lowliness.
Professor Travers

My colleague, Fr John Hunwicke, teaches Latin to atheists.

Right, let's get to the point. The book of Judith is agreed to be non-historical, rather than an accurate account of events. Those who have been paying attention will remember that we said that the books of the Bible aren't all alike. Some are solid accounts of events, some are poetry, some (such as this one) are more like parables.

good Samaritan

Don't worry, we're only part of a parable. Trust me, I'm a Samaritan.

Judith is a Jewish woman, known for her great virtue, and Holofernes is a general in the service of Nebuchadnezzar - here described as king of the Assyrians. Holofernes is charged with the job of making himself a nuisance to the rebels against Nebuchadnezzar, which basically includes all those who serve God. Just as you atheists like making yourselves a nuisance towards Christians, eh?

Judith uses her feminine wiles - probably, she's even prettier than Toynbee here - and this is what happened to Holofernes:

Her sandals ravished his eyes, her beauty made his soul her captive, with a sword she cut off his head.

sandals

Warning: these sandals may ravish your eyes.

She also takes the head home to her people as a souvenir (see above). As a result of these actions, the Assyrians flee, so it's a happy ending for the good guys. Look, you really don't need to worry too much about this book, folks. Just try and stay saved.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Renewal of vows

Here at the Church of St Daryl the Apostate, in conjunction with ACTA, the Tablet Newspaper and the Tina Beattie Foundation for Extreme Silliness, we recognise that Easter is a time to renew our vows, or more precisely to make some new, more modern, ones. Therefore, I ask:

Do you renounce all that happened in the Catholic Church prior to the 1960s?

We do.

Do you renounce all that stuff in the Bible written by bronze-age goat-herds, in particular the four Gospels, which obviously need updating for modern secular Catholicism?

We do.

lonely goat-herd

A bronze-age goat-herd learns that he is simply not up-to-date.

Do you believe in the Spirit of Vatican II, who came upon us and told us to preach many new and exciting things which were beyond the wildest dreams of those who were actually present at the Second Vatican Council?

We do.

Do you believe in those Saints of Modernism, Annibale Bugsbunni, Carlo Maria Spartini, and Basil the Lofty (who some say is not just an old bearded man in the sky, but alive and resting in a bothy somewhere in Sutherland).

We do.

Annibale Bugsbunni

"What's up, Doc?" asks Annibale Bugsbunni.

Do you believe in the blessed Hans Kong, he who has written 295 books telling the Catholic Church why they are not saved and only he is saved?

We do. O Worship the Kong.

gnomes

At this point the congregation will light their Hans Kong candles.

Do you believe in the blessed Professor Tina Beastie, the world's leading expert on human flourishing and avant-garde post-modern neo-liberal Catholic doctrine?

We do. Wonderful woman.

long-legged beasties

Surely "from long-windedy Beatties"?

Do you praise the Tablet, the National Catholic Reporter and all other organs of liberal Catholicism?

We praise them. Of course we don't actually read them.

Do you renounce all the orthodox Catholic blogs, such as Protect the Deacon, What did the Pope really say?, The Hermit of Continuity, and Father Ray Bloke?

Verily, they are a thorn in our side.

Nasty traddies seeking to prevent dialogue in the Church.

We now come to some ACTA-specific vows. Do you live in fear?

We live in fear.

What do you want?

We want dialogue!

When do you want it?

Well, now would be a good time to have a chat with the bishop, although it seems that he's blessing the lesbian knitting circle this afternoon, and then he's got a joint service with the Freemasons, and we mustn't forget that he's conducting a circle-dancing class this evening...

Finally, some vows of modernism. Do you renounce Latin, a language spoken by Nero and Caligula (here he may name other famous nasties who spoke Latin)?

We do.

Do you swear always to worship God in English, except when we have joint services with the local Maharashtran community, when we may have a Mass conducted partly in the Marathi dialect, for convenience?

आम्ही करू.

पवित्र जिव्हाळ्याचा परिचय एक विलक्षण मंत्री (An extraordinary minister of Holy Communion).

Do you abjure Gregorian chant, hymns written by dead people such as Charles Wesley and John Henry Newman, and any hymns with more than one basic idea in each verse?

We do.

Do you adore the songs of Paul Inwood, the publications of Kevin Mayhew Ltd., and all hymns where you can go "clap clap", "ch-ch" or "fizz-pop" in the chorus?

Yes.

BONG! You said "Yes". That's the end of the game.

Is Britain a Christian country?

From a letter to the editor of the Telegraph.

Dear Sir,

We are fifty odd intellectual giants, er, sorry, fifty-odd intellectual giants, who like to see our names in the papers, and between us we have put together this letter in which we give an in-depth analysis of Britain, in just a few short paragraphs. Being busy people we just had time to write two words each.

Saint Cameron

Look, we're not all as saintly as David Cameron!

Look at the names we've got on board! Not Richard Dawkins or Stephen Fry, we admit - they were too busy being famous somewhere else - but who cannot be impressed by the names of Rincewind the Magician (failed), Dr Death, Polly Tuscanee, and Martin Rowson the world's most pointless cartoonist?

Terry Pratchett

Sir Terence Pratchett, Regius Professor of Wizardry.

Now we admit that Christian values are taken very seriously by the blessed David Cameron, just as they were by St Tony Blair. So seriously, that he does not let them affect his policies in the slightest (but then, nor did St Tony). Our Dr Evan Helpus in particular is very happy that abortion is thriving in the country as never before - who knows, perhaps he'll get pregnant himself, exercise his own right to choice, and perhaps end up on Big Brother! And of course we're all great fans of Equal Marriage - although Giles Fraser explained to us that this is actually a Christian thing, and so it probably doesn't count.

Giles Fraser

He's not my husband, I just met him in a bookshop.

Anyway, we're all very cross that people have been celebrating Easter this weekend, especially Simon Singh. Did you notice that Simon sign(h)ed the letter twice? That's because he's very cross indeed. And Polly is cross because nobody sent her a Fairtrade Easter egg. Someone did give Ken Follett an Easter bunny, but they told him not to bite its head off, so where's the fun in that?

Apart from the narrow constitutional sense that we have an established "church", Britain is no longer a Christian country. At Professor Grayling's College for Rich and Stupid Atheists, the students beg to be allowed to work on Sundays, Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, etc. Well, we say work, but this week's challenging assignment - curling up with The God Delusion and drawing faces on the blank pages - is surely a pleasure rather than a chore?

Jesus and Mo

J. and M. In deference to Muslims' feelings, the latter is portrayed as a black egg.

Anyway, it's very important to have Equality and Diversity in this country, as this means that we are all equal and unequal at the same time. We respect all faiths of course, and want them to flourish, provided they do what we tell them. You see, we have discovered in round-the-table-chatter at Islington dinner parties that we all fundamentally believe in the same things. Socialism. Liberalism. Atheism. Equal equality. Diverse diversity. Equal diversity. And of course Diverse equality. And Chocolate.

Signed, ... a long list of very boring and egocentric people who don't see why the Christians are so happy at Easter.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Palm Sunday Dilemmas

Fr X. Pell de Mons, our resident exorcist and liturgical consultant, answers your Palm Sunday questions.

hymn sheet

St Theodulph of Orleans (tr J.M. Neale) wrote a cracking good hymn.

Q. In today's Palm Sunday procession, I accidentally started singing "The company of angels..." instead of "Thou art the King of Israel...", since I am used to reading text downwards in columns rather than across. After two lines of this I noticed that people were glaring at me, and so I switched back to Verse 1.

My question is: when we got to Verse 2, should I have sung "The company of angels..." again, or gone back to sing the omitted bit from Verse 1? I didn't want people to think I was denying "Thou art the King of Israel".

A: You could try muttering "Thou art the King of Israel..." sotto voce - or sub voce as we Latinists have it.

Q: I had another problem with Verse 3.

A: You mean "with palms before thee went"? Did you sing "psalms" by mistake, even though you have a visual aid to remind you?

entry into Jerusalem

Actually, He requested psalms.

Q: Mea culpa, but there's another problem, in Line 3. "Our prayer & prayers & anthems..." I suppose that's a typo?

A: Yes, St Theodulph of Orleans never wrote Inwoodisms like that. It's "Our prayer and praise and anthems". Er, or possibly, "Our praise and prayer and anthems". I'd need to look it up. Still, in these circumstances, you should always sing what is written on the service sheet.


Pope Francis blesses palms

A pope showers people with holy water.

Q: I am a Catholic priest, and at the Palm Sunday procession my attention was distracted by an idiot who was singing the wrong verse of "All glory, laud and honour." So much so, that some of my holy water fell onto a pile of unsold Tablet newspapers, which promptly burst into flames, severely damaging the bespoke mass-trousers worn by one of the servers. Is this a known problem?

burning Tablet

The Tablet. Keep away from holy water.

A: Yes, indeed. I even heard a rumour that a certain Tablet journalist was severely burned when she came into contact with some holy water; however, this is probably just malicious gossip.

fuel tablet

The Tablet in easy-to-burn form - you can fuel some people all of the time.

Eccles visits the wilderness

Prayer and relfection is a great way to spend Lent, but for a saved pusson like me it's a bit too easy. Therefore, I asked my bishop - a man of great spiritaul insights - to recommend somefink extra, as befits a trully saved pusson.

"Eccles, you is right," he said. "Go ye forth into the waste lands of the world, where the word of God is never heard, and bring em spiritaul nuorishment."

shed

A place for prayer and relfection.

"Not Croydon again!" I remonstarted. "Even Jesus didn't spend forty days locked in a shed wiv a deacon."

"Nope," said +Thingummy, "I have something even worse for you. Do the words 'custard', 'hair salon' and 'Gladys Mills' suggest somefink to you?"

"You want me to visit Damain Thopmson's blogg?" I gasped. "You know, Croydon isn't so bad, reely. Even deacons in sheds is almost human."

2048 game

A nightmarish vision, caused by playing the "2048" game too long.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I registered on Diqsus as "ecclesiis" (for it is Eccles, I is), and went along to the holy smoking wastelands.

Is David Cameron a saved pusson?

That was the title of Thopmson's blost, in which the author gave an in-depth analsyis of the spiritaul state of our Prime Minister, concluding with the mysterious comment: "Personally I don’t care if Dave is a Chinese frog-worshipper..." (I spose he means Chinese-frog worshipper,as it don't seem very likely that Dave is reely Chinese).

Cameron and Kermit

David Cameron communicates with his deity.

As usual, Damain didn't have enough material to last him to the end of the piece, so he includded some stuff about Charles Hawtrey, Monty Python, and Vaughan Willaims clibming up his wall.

So I rolled up my trouser legs - sorry, I meant sleeves, I was thinking of ACTA for a moment - and took a look at the comments section. It seemed to be populated mostly by the resident troll, one "Phil", posting anti-Cathlic sentiments under half a dozen different usernames. There was one or two other trolls around, mostly based in South America, so clearly there was a crying need for the contributoins of a saved pusson.

red biretta

The new avatar of Ecclesiis.

I challenged a few of the nastier comments of "Phil", offered a cup of tea to anuvver pusson who was gettin a bit incoherent, and basically shone the light of my widsom on the poor desolate blogg, wot had seen better days.

In less than one hour, all my posts had been deleted, and I had been banned.

Well, we knew that the muddlerators on the blogg were creul unsaved pussons, and that even the bloggs editor had no control over em. But this was quick work. Apparently, Phil is a pusson wiv a mark on his head like Cain, wot says he is under specail protectoin.

So I has given up on the wilderness of Damain, and has decided to convert pagans instead. Phew, at least it's nearly the end of Lent.

stone circle dance

A pagan dances round a stone circle.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Eccles changes his browsers

Congratulations. If you're reading this, it is because you are using a browser suitable for saved pussons. If you're not reading this, then you are blocked because your trousers browsers smell of Mozzarella: you should get rid of that loathsome unsaved product FireEich. See here.

rood and norty cheese

Avoid unsaved cheese.

I'm not supposed to be here today, as it is Lent, and not a Sunday (except in the Pacific Ocean), so here is a penitential car, sent to me by the wonderful Rhoslyn Thomas.

asperges me

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor...

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Justin Welby redefines sin

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has signalled that the Anglican Church (well, some of it) will now abandon its resistance to same-sex marriage. This is part of a new far-ranging review of the nature of sin - the point being that it is anomalous for the established Church of England to be in conflict with the laws of the land.

From now on, teaching based on scripture and tradition will be abandoned, since it cannot be updated. Instead, following negotiations with the police force, there is one simple rule for salvation:

Welby in helmet

If it's legal, it's moral. If it's moral, it's legal.

OUTGOING: All those "sins" which are no longer illegal, such as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are now repealed. Fancy some Sabbath-breaking, adultery, fornication, same-sex relationships, or worshipping false gods? Go ahead, chum. God can't touch you for it.

golden calf worship

Only sinful if you are obstructing the traffic.

INCOMING: Make sure that from now on you acknowledge all breaches of the law: from now on, these are all redefined as sins. Did you drive a car without wearing a seatbelt? SINNER! Did you sell a wrongly-shaped banana in contravention of EU Directive E/1601303/ZLOBB/Q? REPENT, OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL!

Milibanana

Forgive me, Father, for I have sold a wrongly-shaped banana.

These changes will filter down to the liturgy of Anglican services. Out go traditional forms of words such as "We confess and acknowledge our manifold sins and wickednesses". Instead, we shall hear the following words (possibly set to a happy-clappy anthem):

PRIEST: Hello, hello, hello. What's all this, then?
CONGREGATION: It's a fair cop, Guv'nor. I dunnit orl right. 
prodigal son with pigs

The Prodigal Son realises that he's been moving pigs without a permit.

The nature of Good and Evil is constantly evolving - in the Church of England we have long since got away from the idea of a "God" who makes up the rules - so it is good that a logical doctrinal position is now being taken. Naturally, as time goes on, new sins will defined, and some old ones repealed. One all-purpose sin that is currently under review is Denial. Do you deny that same-sex couples are really married? Do you deny that whatever sort of winter we have, wet, dry, warm or cold, it is evidence of climate change? Do you deny that Stephen Fry is hilariously funny? YOU ARE A BIGOT AND A SINNER AND YOU WILL NOT BE SAVED.

penitent

Forgive me, O Lord, for I am bigoted.

A guest post from Robert Mickens

Since I have just been suspended from my prestigious position as the Tablet's Rome correspondent, I am very grateful to my friend Eccles for allowing me to explain the circumstances on his lovely blog.

Robert Mickens

Formerly @robinrome, now @robinthedoghouse

As you will probably have read in numerous places, starting, I think with my pal Damian Thompson's blog, I got into trouble for referring to Pope Benedict XVI as "the Rat" and speculating about his death.

Rood and norty screen shot

Mere friendly banter!

Benedict and I are old friends: when I saw him in Rome (this happens less frequently now, since he's stopped being God's Rome correspondent) I would say "Ooh look! It's the Rat!" and he would reply "Wer ist dieser Schweinehundheretischentabletistikendummkopf?" My German is nearly as bad as my Latin, but I gather that this is a term of endearment.

Mickens Mouse

Benedict (Rat) also refers to me as "Mickens Mouse".

You may recall that Benedict used to tweet as @pontifex, and I remember the time he gave me a special mention:

@pontifex Dearly beloved, Laetare Sunday is a day on which we remember the words of Aquinas. P.S. Why isn't Mickens Mouse dead yet?

Anyway, you'll want to know what happened last week. Pope Francis - we at the Tablet haven't yet thought up an insulting nickname for him, as it's still possible that he may be on our side - made the appointment of Cardinal Methuselah, aged 113. Methuselah is a sprightly person for his age: he bungee jumps regularly, boxed 15 rounds with Guido Marini only last week, and plays prop forward for the Italian Rugby team.

Methuselah

Cardinal Methuselah: new blood in the Vatican.

Anyway, in a spirit of merry banter I joined my friend Chris Grady (who enjoys trolling) in speculating that Cardinal Methuselah would outlive Benedict. I didn't know what trouble I was getting myself into!

There came a telephone call from Catherine Popehater, the redoubtable editor of the Tablet. "You fool, Bobbie!" she said. "It is the Tablet's policy to attack Pope Benedict (and indeed all earlier popes) by subtle means, not outright insults. Now you've given the whole game away!"

I could see her point. If the Tablet falls from grace, what will be next? Will people suspect that ACTA is run by the KGB? Will there be whispers about whether Tina Beattie is really to be taken seriously when she claims to be a Catholic?

prayer and reflection

The answer: prayer and reflection.

So I have decided to go for a period of prayer and reflection, as recommended by nine out of ten bishops to bloggers who point out where the bodies are buried. It's going to be a tough day or two, but I'll be back soon - maybe even in time for the Rat's funeral (oops!)

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The massacre of Glencoe

Just for a change, here is a post that has nothing to do with religion. It tells the story of how the Campbells massacred the MacDonnellys in 1692.

the highlanders

A tale of Bonnie Scotland.

The Laird of the Clan Campbell was a braw man named Michael, who ruled his territory with an iron hand. At least he did, except when it was invaded by a tribe of PICTAs ("Protestant Invaders Call To Action"), in which case he tended to lie down on the ground and let them tickle his tummy.

The PICTAs were fearsome warriors, about which many ballads were sung, for example:

Rebekah O'Keeffe
Has a fine set of teeffe,
And she bites even hardeur
Than Ann Lardeur.

ACTA demon

A PICTA warrior frightens two harmless clerics.

Anyway, Michael, the Laird, was a learned man, who wrote a journal, which he entitled "blog". In it he recorded the insights that had occurred to him in his life as a laird. With admirable restraint, he did not post many pictures of what he had for dinner, probably because in those days he would have to wait around while an artist painted it.

Michael Campbell

The Laird.

However, Campbell was much troubled by the clan MacDonnelly; its own laird, Nick by name, published a far more interesting journal, showing a greater awareness of the evils that beset Bonnie Scotland. In particular, he was none too sympathetic to the PICTA tribe, arguing that they were simply rebels who threatened the Pope, to whom he (and the Laird Campbell) owed allegiance.

Pope and Bovril

Protecting the Pope, by feeding him on traditional Highland food.

Thus the Laird Campbell became angry, for many fewer people read his own blog than that of his rival MacDonnelly. "Fighting against the World, the Flesh and the Devil is MY job, even if I don't do it very well," he said. Thus the Campbells lured the MacDonnellys into a lonely glen, and vanquished them. Nick MacDonnelly was exiled to a primitive hovel - some say it was a shed, but that may be a myth - where he was ordered to stop blogging, and to pray and reflect. It is not recorded whether Michael Campbell also vowed to pray and reflect.

However, this is not the end of the story. After the massacre, there remained at large the wife of Nick MacDonnelly, a mysterious woman known only as "M"; showing great courage, she carried on the MacDonnelly chronicles while her husband languished in exile.

M

A mysterious woman known only as "M".

The prophecies of St Damian

Being an account of how St Damian Thompson uttered many wrong prophecies, but finally managed to name the new archbishop of Liverpool.

Malcolm McMahon

Malcolm McMahon, on the set of Star Trek.

St Damian Thompson, the Telegraph blogs editor, was known for his visionary predictions of events in the Catholic world. Some of these he obtained from "Inside sources in the Vatican", some by reading tea-leaves (or, more commonly, the dregs of a pot of custard), and some by staring at Toby Young's head, which would light up as a crystal ball and give him mystic visions.

Toby Young

A crystal ball.

One of St Damian's greatest prophecies was made when Pope Benedict XVI resigned, and a new pope was to be elected. St Damian predicted that the Catholic Church would break with tradition and elect Paul Priest, the amateur archbishop of Corby, and author of numerous 100,000-word encyclicals, such as Honestly, Ma'am, you don't know the first thing about ontological paradigm shifts and The time-bomb of Vatican II-type liturgical/doctrinal/moral Vichyist revisionism. But it was not to be.

Paul Priest

Paul Priest: good hair, fond of custard, likes the EF Mass. But not elected.

St Damian also spake forth about the reasons for Pope Benedict's resignation, averring that the Holy Father Emeritus had a rare illness, the symptoms of which included a compulsion to dress as a clown and roll on the floor laughing hysterically. Although in many churches this was accepted as normal behaviour, it had pained Pope Benedict to feel that he might end up in the same way. However, the diagnosis proved to be inaccurate.

St Damian also predicted the departure of the Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini, because of certain disagreements with the liberal "Magic Circle" of bishops in England and Wales. It was confidently predicted that Mennini would expire of polonium poisoning, or else would be found with his head bashed in by a bishop's crozier. St Damian even described a possible prime suspect, in case this eventuality came to pass.

photofit

A photofit of the prime suspect.

However, Menini survived, and - another great surprise - Vincent Nichols finally obtained his red hat, in spite of his nonchalant attitude towards "gay" masses, the ACTA rebellion, and Professor Tina Beattie.

But even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and St Damian finally obtained the scoop he had longed for. Archbishop Paddy Kelly, the curator of "Patrick's Wigwam" in Liverpool, resigned his office, and all eyes were on possible successors. Would it be Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, known throughout the Catholic world for his traditionalist views and unswerving hatred of ACTA? Or might it be Michael Campbell of Lancaster, he who was so supportive of his deacons' blogging skills? Surely they would not recall Arthur Roche from Rome, a man known for skating on thin ice and closing churches?

No, in the end it was the sheriff bishop of Nottingham who got the job, and Damian Thompson who predicted the outcome, having stumbled across the bishop at his gym, trying on football shirts.

Liverpool and Everton

Modernist or traddy? The big choice for McMahon.

For Malcolm McMahon knew he had to face his biggest challenge yet. Would he support Liverpool Football Club with its modernist motto You'll never walk alone, or would he become a fan of its neighbours and rivals, Everton, with their traddy motto Nil satis nisi optimum? Religion was not strong in Liverpool, but football certainly was, and the entire Catholic population of the North of England anxiously awaited the archbishop-elect's decision.

statue with mobile phone

Damian? I've got a tip for you. He's going to support Tranmere Rovers.