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Column: Cardinal Rules remembers 2011

The Pope’s stunt double, liveblogging the British royal wedding, a politican and an inflatable penis – good times, my flock, good times.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

IT HAS BEEN a tumultuous year, culminating as usual in a predictable flurry of end-of-year reviews. Here is mine.


The year starts with the traditional Skype call from his Holiness. He wishes the priests and I a happy and spiritually fruitful new year. I ask him about the rumours about his health and he gives a dismissive wave.

“If I was unwell, could I do this?” He disappears off screen for a moment and suddenly re-appears doing a cartwheel. We all applaud, and his Holiness disappears again for a few moments. He eventually re-appears and sits himself down in his seat. He has barely broken a sweat. There is more applause which he accepts with a humble wave of his hand.

“No doubt I will be accused by some of using a stunt double.” We nod in understanding. His Holiness is infallible after all.

Later that month a “tell all” book appears entitled “I was the Pope’s Stunt Double.” The Vatican issues a blanket denial, along with that month’s other blanket denials.


The Irish general election is a typically vigorous affair. We are subjected to the horrific rumour that Michael Ring has been attacked in Mayo by a giant p*n*s. Fr Doyle is heard to remark “What’s Bertie Ahern doing in Mayo?”  I stop his pocket money for a week.

Meanwhile, there are promises of “five point plans” and “making a difference.”

Fine Gael win the general election. Incredibly they do make a difference, and things become immediately worse than they were before.

(via Newstalk106108fm/Youtube.com)


Thirty eight of Fr Comerford’s properties are take under the wing of NAMA. Rather than see it as a mortal blow, Fr Comerford is full of the joys of life and keeps telling us that “NAMA will turn a profit, and everything will be alright by and by.”

An eager Fr Walsh immediately dashes to our local bookmakers to put some money on NAMA turning a profit. He is surprised to discover that the odds on NAMA turning a profit are longer than the odds on Jesus coming back, and Nicolas Cage ever starring in a decent movie. He is particularly surprised because the trailer for Ghost Rider 2 actually looks quite promising.

Enda Kenny returns from his first EU meeting as Taoiseach, and tells us that “Europe is very pleased with how Ireland is dealing with its economic woes.”

He then very proudly shows the assembled press corps the lollipop which Nicolas Sarkozy gave him, and a picture of Angela Merkel patting him on the head.


News reaches us that there is a sudden surge in church attendances in the small parish of Ballinbridge. This is all thanks to the efforts of parish priest Fr Foley. As Bishop Brophy points out “It’s one in the eye for the elitist liberal media.”

Unfortunately, the weaknesses in Fr Foley’s statistics are soon revealed, and I have to break the news to him that people bringing family pets to church doesn’t actually count.

I am invited to the royal wedding. It is a lovely affair, only slightly marred by a disagreement between Fr Lawlor and Trudie Styler about the place settings at the wedding banquet. Sting intervenes, and things escalate when Fr Lawlor calls him “Mr Trudie Styler.”

Later, in the casualty department, Fr Lawlor assures me that Sting “punches like a girl.” Then he asks me when the wedding starts.


Osama Bin Laden is hunted down and killed by US Navy Seals. This just gives Fr Lawlor an excuse to show us his copy of Charlie Sheen’s “Navy Seals” again.

Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton is airbrushed from an historic White House photo by an Hasidic newspaper. “Airbrushing a woman from a photo easy peasy. When they can airbrush women from a country’s history, well then I’ll be impressed,” says a smug Bishop Brophy. Then we high five each other.

I receive a late night phone call from his Holiness. “Fifty one – you can’t see me – fifty two – but I’m actually doing press ups – fifty three,” he assures me.

“Well done, your Holiness. That truly is-”

“Aaagh, you made me close count! I’ll have to start all over again.”

June, July, August, September

Absolutely brilliant months for the Catholic Church. No official reports, no scandals, nothing. Don’t think too much about it. Why not just go look at that cat playing the piano on YouTube.


Steve Jobs dies. Men all over the world mourn the passing of the man who made aesthetically pleasing but slightly annoying products, and who also made it socially acceptable to look like an owl. Fr Ryan is distraught as he wonders if it will affect the warranty on his iPad. Fr O’ Neill is also heartbroken as he articulates what we’re all feeling when he says “Now we’ll never know who would win in a fist fight between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.”

Meanwhile, women and people who actually have a life aren’t really bothered.

Dana loses the Irish presidential election. No more needs to be said.


Another phone call from his Holiness: “I’ve never felt better. I just did a back flip. I have witnesses and everything.”

I congratulate him, and he promises to fax me over a signed affidavit. I thank him, but in truth I am too excited by the announcement of a Top Gun sequel to give him my full attention.


A woman claims she has seen the face of Jesus in a sock, which is brilliant, because it distracts people from the shadow of official reports and church scandals, of which there haven’t been any. That man chasing his dog on YouTube is really funny isn’t he? Why don’t you go and watch that video again? Go on.

See all previous Cardinal Rules columns in 2011>

About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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