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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020

Column: Cardinal Rules - on 'Endaism' (ignoring the worst-case scenario)

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland contemplates the usefulness of looking on the bright side. Incessantly.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

ANOTHER WEEK OF supposed doom and gloom has passed. But once again, we in the house have made a valiant effort to struggle on despite all that life has thrown at us.


The priests and I are watching the news. Enda Kenny has been asked in the Dáil by Shane ‘busybody’ Ross if the government has a plan B should the Eurozone break up. “I do not contemplate, I do not contemplate, the failure of the Euro, or the break up of the Eurozone,” is what Enda Kenny says in response.

We all have to fight the urge to applaud. “He is so dynamic,” says Fr O’ Rourke who is blushing with the excitement of it all.

Fr Brennan is particularly taken with Enda Kenny’s attitude. He looks very thoughtful. “These are words to live by,” he says quietly to himself.

Meanwhile, I receive a phone call from Fr Flanagan in Las Vegas. I ask him how his trial is going.

“Oh, I wouldn’t call it that,” he says brightly. “It’s more of a small investigation into minor fiduciary matters. It’s no big deal really.”

“Does that mean the New York Times will stop reporting on it?” I ask.

He ignores my question. Maybe he hasn’t heard me, but he does ask me if I “have a spare lawyer handy?”


Fr Brennan’s budgie ‘Mr Pip’ has taken ill. He is off his bird seed, and he no longer does that charming little trick of chirping “murderer, murderer!” whenever Fr Maher steps into the room.

Fr Brennan rejects suggestions that he should bring Mr Pip to the vet. Instead Fr Brennan has adopted “a new conceptual system for dealing with life”. He calls it “Endaism”. This involves him reacting to all of life’s problems by simply refusing to contemplate any kind of worst case scenario, or indeed developing any kind of strategy to deal with it should the “very unlikely” worst case scenario come to pass.

Fr Lawlor points out that this could well involve ignoring any potential catastrophe to the point of recklessness. Fr Brennan rejects Fr Lawlor’s point of view, and refuses to contemplate it.

Another phone call from Fr Flanagan. I fill him in on the €3.6 billion accounting error uncovered in the Department of Finance. Fr Flanagan laughs heartily. “Sure what’s a few misplaced zeros? At least that’s what I said to my accountant. And my investors. And the judge. It’ll all sort itself out.”

I tell him that people are demanding that Kevin Cardiff bear a certain amount of responsibility for what happened. “You mean they want to blame the man in charge?” he says. “Indeed they do,” I reply. Even across the Atlantic I can sense Fr Flanagan shaking his head in incomprehension. “Well, I never,” he says. I shake my own head in sympathy.

Later that night Mr Pip rallies. Things are looking good.


Mr Pip has fallen into a coma. Fr Brennan says he “does not contemplate anything bad that might happen because Mr Pip is in a coma”. While I admire his dedication to his new way of thinking, I can’t help but feel that it has certain limitations. Not least because of the events of last night when Fr Brennan “did not contemplate” the consequences of putting his favourite shirt into a white wash. The consequences being twelve pink surplices and a ruined Disneyland t-shirt.

An emotional Fr Flanagan rings to tell me it’s the anniversary of the night his Lamborghini was repossessed. “How did they expect me to get around to see my parishioners in an efficient manner, I said to the nice FBI man.”


Mr Pip is still unresponsive. We have tried everything, including talking to him, singing to him, and even playing him Fr Deegan’s copy of Lionel Richie’s Greatest Hits. Fr Maher has even tried jumping up and shouting “Boo!” into the cage every five minutes.

In the only bit of avian related good news we have learned that the two gay penguins in Toronto Zoo are to be separated. It is a small victory for the forces of good, and we put it on our “Victory chart” between David Norris losing the presidential election and George Michael recently failing to completely fill the O2.

Later, I share a jovial pre sentencing phone call with Fr Flanagan, during which I inform him that Alan Shatter has lost half a million after investing his own money in the US property market.

“His own money?” gasps an incredulous Fr Flanagan. “Well now, that’s where he loses all my sympathy.”


It seems that not contemplating the eventual demise of Mr Pip hasn’t worked for a distraught Fr Brennan. Indeed the poor bird expired poignantly during the 12 inch version of “Dancing on the Ceiling.” A slightly over enthusiastic Fr Maher delivers the eulogy over the grave in the back garden.

A sad sad day, brightened only by the news that two of Fr Flanagan’s ten years are to be suspended, and the fact that he has been told he will be sharing a cell with Wesley Snipes.

Remember, there is always a silver lining.

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About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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