A VAT(ican) Added Tours is being offered by Holiday giants Thomsons.

For a mere extra £17 (note the similarity with the current rate of VAT) ecclesiastically minded rubbernecks get a ticket for the Pope’s weekly audience.

A company spokesman was unable to say whether this price included total absolution or was merely a plenary self indulgence.

Quite contraries

Followers of the Stow Maries saga ( see previous issues) will recall how this little Essex parish run by a bunch of obscurantist reactionaries was resisting the forces of enlightenment led by Mr and Mrs (the Revs) Cooling – formerly leaders of the ‘Priestesses-for-Wales’ movement.

After the publicity given to the deeply compassionate ministry offered to the traditionalists so far, the Bishop of Bradwell called for a period of “six months to see how things go”. Curiously enough this would take the parish past their AGM and PCC and Wardens elections.

Being a fair minded chap there are obviously some questions the Bishop may want to ask. For example:

1. Is there any unusual interest in joining the electoral role of Stow Maries from people not noted for their traditional faith?

2. Why is a non-conformist pro-priestess lady going around describing herself as the, as yet, “unelected warden”.

3. Is it true that the parish will not have a proper Maundy Thursday celebration but, rather, an Agape in the church hall, “so everyone can join in” thus obliging the traditional congregation to go elsewhere to worship?

4. Is it really the case that Mrs Cooling’s ministry is so restricted by only being able to function as a priestess in the two other larger parishes when she is, in fact, an NSM who works fulltime in London during the week?

Just thought we’d ask.

A rose by any other name

On June 23rd this year the great Norman Tower of St Alban’s Cathedral will throb to the celebration of the traditional Rose Service. In an effort to drag the C of E kicking and screaming into the 1980s the go-ahead new Dean, Christopher Lewis, is commissioning a telling of the proto-martyr’s story in “Rap”.

For those fuddy duddies unfamiliar with this exciting style, normally associated with extreme politics, sexuality and violence and delivered in an incomprehensible mock Caribbean patois, simply don your shades and your baggies and mumble:

“Honky wi de chopper, chop Al’s head
Cool dude Alban fall down dead
He was, he ain’t, he’s smart as paint
With a nod from God,
he’s a patron saint.”

Anyone similarly inspired should send their effort to: The Rapping Rev., The Deanery, Sumpter Yard, St Albans.

Alriiiight! Wo!

If Wales fails

Seasoned observers of the Welsh church now believe “the vote” later this year is balanced on a knife edge. The acceptable face of the episcopate, Rowan Williams, has been trying to sell a deal to Credo Cymru and the Society of the Holy Cross.

Abstain and we’ll give you a flying bishop!

Faced with compensation so miserly that it would scarcely pay for moving out of the vicarage, some are thought to be wavering. But others are made of sterner stuff.

As one Credo Cymru stalwart put it:

“Most people are fond of Bishop Rowan but he’s just like the rest of them. They ask the Holy Spirit to speak and, when they lose the vote, demand another election. Anyway, you can’t buy principles.”

ACCM? Sack ‘em!

The reports that new selection procedures were being devised for C of E clergy has been greeted with hilarity in spiritualist circles. The new tests are “psychometric”? and are being drawn up by Recruitment and Assessment Services.

But psychometry to the necromancers means something rather different from a poor relation to the I.Q. test. Hand over your watch, ring or some other intimate item to a sensitive and he/she will tell you all about yourself and the future from the “vibrations”.

Serious orthodox spiritual directors use rather different methods from either of the above to discern whether a man has a brain, a heart or a backbone.

Perhaps ACCM (ABM) could do something really radical and employ a few of them.

Dr Who?

A customer of Faith House Bookshop, one Mr Cranmer, had occasion to telephone a friend in Church House. “Certainly, I’ll put you through”, said the receptionist. “What name shall I give?”

“Cranmer”, he replied.

“How do you spell that?”, came the response.

Perhaps he should have had an Alternative name!

Saint Jarvis the Martyr

Any Christian parents obliged by their children to sit through “the Brit Awards” will have been surprised and delighted by the witness of one Mr Jarvis Cocker, lead singer of “Pulp” and a specialist in a dress style dubbed “designer nerd”.

“The Brits” is the popular music industry’s orgy of self congratulation during which a series of increasingly inebriated “musicians” stagger to the podium, fail to string a coherent sentence together and receive an Oscar lookalike.

This years star guest, the increasingly androgyne Michael Jackson, appeared as the Saviour against a backdrop of the world and, striking the pose of the crucified Christ was embraced by endless children whose rags were turned to riches by this wonderful encounter.

This was all rather strange in the light of the fact that Jackson has just spent millions on buying off a child who accused him of abuse.

Mr Cocker, who simply ran round this nauseating spectacle and waved his bottom at the heavenly Mr Jackson was arrested and later released. Cocker said, “It got up my nose, this Messiah thing. I am not a particularly religious person but I was very upset.”

On a completely different subject, Mr Jon Bon Jovi, the U.S. star and “Brit”? winner, said that he had hoped to bring his young son to the show but didn’t, in the circumstances, feel he would be safe backstage.”

Whatever can he have meant?