Two down . . .

It was only in April that we reported on the case of Margot Kaessmann, who had resigned as Presiding Bishop of the Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland – the Evangelical Church in Germany – having driven through a red light in Hanover whilst three times over the legal limit. Shocking, then, to have to record that, hard on her heels, comes the case of Maria Jepsen, the Bishop of Hamburg – the world’s first female Lutheran bishop – who has resigned amid criticism of her handling of a sex abuse case. Apparently, she denies having known before May this year about a priest in the town of Ahrensburg who reportedly sexually abused boys and girls in the 1980s. ‘My credibility has been put in question,’ she said, adding, ‘Consequently, I feel that I am no longer able to spread the good word, as I vowed to do at my ordination.’ (Odd, isn’t it, that it should be a woman bishop who has to resign in such circumstances? 30DAYS had always understood that episcopal failure to act on abuse cases was a strictly male disease.)

Own goal

It was probably the YouTube footage that sealed the fate of Dutch Catholic priest Fr Paul Vlaar. There he was, vested in an orange chasuble, with choir – sorry, music group – in bright orange shirts, with servers with the national flag of the Netherlands painted on their faces, with footballs and a goal, to say nothing of a kickabout during Mass – all in the interests of ensuring that Netherlands won the World Cup. Enter the spoilsport Bishop of Haarlem, Jozef Punt, who took the not entirely unreasonable view that Fr Vlaar had not paid sufficient respect to the sacred nature of the Eucharist and had caused ‘outrage’ in the Netherlands and beyond. He ordered Fr Vlaar to enter ‘a period of reflection’ and suspended him from his duties, so presumably he now thinks that the upload to YouTube was a BIG mistake. Stop Press: The Netherlands lost the World Cup Final 1 : 0 to Spain.

News from Fantasy Island

‘Even in the Church of England, which now has women priests and is close to accepting women as bishops, the hatred and vilification are shocking. At last weekend’s meeting of the General Synod, some women priests were spat at.’ Thus wrote Mary Ann Sieghart in that once-great newspaper The Independent. Some rather questions arise: ‘Some women priests were spat at’: How many? By whom? Interesting, isn’t it, that these accusations surface again and again, but such foul abuse never, ever seems to take place in front of reliable witnesses and that the identities of the perpetrators are never, ever disclosed? That will probably be because such behaviour is a figment of someone’s fevered imagination. There was abuse a-plenty to be found in York, of course, but it was as usual confined to the debating chamber and aimed solely at those who have what our opponents euphemistically like to call ‘difficulties’ with the ordination of women.


‘N.T. Wright is more of a propagandist for fundamentalism than he is a New Testament scholar, albeit he has the capacity to use heavily perfumed and sophisticated language to preserve the illusion of scholarship’ writes Bishop Jack Spong in a recent email to the worldwide members of his fan club. We’re confident that the Bishop of Durham will cope admirably with mindless insults from that particular quarter, reminiscent as it is of the old line about being savaged by a dead sheep, with which Dennis Healey so memorably put down Sir Geoffrey Howe back in 1978. And, whatever else it does, it sure as hell tells us more about Jack Spong than it does about Tom Wright!

For your prayers . . .

30DAys is much taken with The Electronic Rosary, produced in Italy by the PREX Company. According to the blurb, this nifty, portable little gadget recites the Rosary, using a female voice (naturally) and has a chorus of voices which respond; the user simply has to select the day of the week and the appropriate mysteries materialise. Apparently, you can just listen to it – as an aid to meditation – or you can join in! (Or, presumably, you can switch it on and then nip round to The Bull for a swift half whilst it gets on with your devotions for you.)

Neuroanatomic News

The question on few people’s lips right now will be ‘Could it be that Michelangelo hid an anatomy lesson in the Sistine Chapel frescoes painted by him?’ The answer is yes (if new research is to be believed), according to of India – one of the sub-continent’s largest and most successful internet presences. Apparently, the artist concealed an image of the human brainstem in a panel showing God at the beginning of Creation, according to an article in the May issue of Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons: ‘We propose that Michelangelo, a deeply religious man and an accomplished anatomist, intended to enhance the meaning of this iconographically critical panel and possibly document his anatomic accomplishments by concealing this sophisticated neuroanatomic rendering within the image of God,’ write medical illustrator Ian Suk and neurosurgeon Rafael Tamargo, of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore.

Ah! Baltimore. That makes it all much clearer . . . .

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