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Column: Cardinal Rules - On closing the Vatican embassy

The (not) Primate of All Ireland reflects on a difficult few days in which the Bishops battled over the right type of biscuit (and the closure of the Vatican embassy too).

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

IT HAS BEEN a trying week. One filled with superstition, and a government dragging its heels on the teeny weeny matter of a tiny winy embassy in the Vatican.


Bishop Brophy returns late from his now almost daily meetings at government buildings. He, and others, are attempting to convince the government to go back on their decision to close the Vatican embassy.

He informs us that the meeting was congenial and well conducted by Lucinda Creighton. “She was very impressive,“ says Bishop Brophy “at one point she calmed a particularly distressed old lady by cooing and stroking her hand.”

“Can I come to the next one?” blurts out Fr Brennan.

All eyes are on a panicked looking Fr Brennan. “As an observer,” he says.

Bishop Brophy smiles at him. “Of course,” he says.

Later Bishop Brophy confides in me that the government are obviously giving the matter serious attention. “The meeting was very high end. We had mini battenbergs and everything.”


At breakfast we listen to the news that Michael Healy Rae wants the government to get rid of the number thirteen from new reg cars.

“Superstitious claptrap,” shouts Fr O’ Leary as he blesses his toast.

The always doleful looking Fr Cullen disagrees. “There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of superstition. It is the universe’s way of keeping our more arrogant individualistic tendencies in check.”

There are murmurs of agreement, particularly because there is no better living example of this than Fr Cullen himself. He is renowned for keeping a picture of his dead mammy on his person at all times, and in fact he won’t leave the house without it. He has been known to take it out and smile at it during particularly good masses. He has also been known to cry and shout at the picture of his dead mammy whenever his favourite GAA club loses a match. Whatever his reaction we know it keeps him centred and well balanced at all times. Indeed, if we all had a picture of our dead mammies which we could use as a psychological anchor, what would be the harm?

Later that evening Bishop Brophy and Fr Brennan return from their meeting in government buildings. Their mood seems subdued. They have been downgraded from mini battenbergs to Viennese Whirls. Of course Bishop Brophy cannot touch Viennese Whirls, not since he saw Bishop Ruggeri choke to death on one at a Vatican 2 meeting in 1964. His reluctance to indulge introduced a slight note of tension to proceedings. A tension further heightened by an over exuberant Fr Brennan’s invitation to Lucinda Creighton to “stay and drink more tea and have the craic.”


Michael Healy Rae now wants the government to add extra bits to newly manufactured ladders, forcing people to walk around them rather than under them. It will create more employment for ladder manufacturers, make painters and decorators not feel so bad about buying ladders, and will also make members of the public feel happier and more secure.

Bishop Brophy and Fr Brennan have returned from their daily Vatican embassy meeting. Their mood is despondent. They have been downgraded to Marietta biscuits, and a smaller room. Matters weren’t helped by Fr Brennan bursting into tears and responding to Lucinda Creighton’s concerned questions by asking if he could sit in her lap.


The slow degradation of the pro Vatican embassy lobby continues, as Bishop Brophy and Fr Brennan find themselves and their companions relegated to a broom cupboard in government buildings.

Fr Brennan is very disappointed to discover that Lucinda Creighton will no longer have the time to chair these meetings.

Matters become slightly confused when Michael Healy Rae stumbles into the room, and proceeds to deliver a speech about the new septic tank charge.

“Enda Kenny says you can be registered for no more than the price of a pint. But I ask you, will that be the price of a pint in Dublin?”

There are angry murmurs of agreement, because everybody knows the price of a pint in Dublin is nearly 500 euros, and also it miraculously doubles in price in certain establishments after midnight.

Then Mr Healy Rae informs them about his new initiative to have a curfew for black cats. Everybody applauds, mainly because they are confused and suffering from sugar withdrawal after the replacement of the Mariettas with crackers.

Bishop Brophy and Fr Brennan return home later that night. They are both glowing. Michael Healy Rae has given them concrete evidence that their campaign will be successful.

“Nothing can stop us now,” says Bishop Brophy as he brandishes the rabbit foot gifted to him by the T.D.

Fr Brennan is equally optimistic. That is until he loses his special horseshoe in town the next day.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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