With all the excitement of Pope Benedict’s triumphant State Visit to the United Kingdom, it has been all too easy to lose sight of what one might call the fringe initiatives. Take, for example, this press release of 17 September from the thinktank (sic) Ekklesia:

Catholics working for women to be ordained in a reformed priesthood are conducting a ‘walk of witness’ before the Pope in London today. Members and supporters of Catholic Womens Ordination (CWO) are gathering outside St George’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in Southwark, southeast London at 2-2.30pm on Friday 17th September. They are staging a processional walk down Lambeth Road to Lambeth Palace where, at 4pm, Pope Benedict XVI is due to arrive to meet Anglican Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams. Those taking part are being joined there in solidarity by women priests from the Church of England, who are campaigning for their right to be bishops.

Naturally, 30Days rushed to the internet to find out more, and was soon rewarded with a simply stunning set of photographs illustrating the enormity of the event. Why, in one taken during the ‘processional walk’ itself, it is clear that at least fourteen people (including the Secretary of WATCH) were taking part. Just as well, then, that they were able to join up with Peter Tatchell and all the nutters outside Lambeth Palace – otherwise their message might have fallen entirely on deaf ears!

Promises, promises

30DAys was most impressed to read that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, in his audience with the Holy Father, conducted the conversation in the Pope’s native tongue. Whether they discussed the Liberal Democrat Party Conference due to take place the following week is not recorded, but it might have been fun to have been a German-speaking fly on the wall if it was.

Barely 48 hours after the Alitalia plane was on its way home from Birmingham Airport, press reports from Liverpool revealed that the party had overwhelmingly backed a resolution calling for marriage equality, irrespective of either sexual or gender orientation. Delegates apparently wanted same-sex couples to be free to have a church wedding, although – of course! – they wanted to make it clear that they had no intention ‘to force church or other faith communities to offer such ceremonies to people’.

Presumably, if the Party ever succeeds in this aspiration, they’ll make the same sort of solemn promises to Parliament that the General Synod made both to Parliament and traditionalists back in 1992 and 1993, so that’ll be alright then . . .

Culture News

Mind you, the Lib Dems always have been behind the times. A wonderful initiative (reported at www. by one Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, who is apparently ‘completing an online course to become a reverend so she can marry same sex fans during her concerts’ might not have been noticed had it not been for the fact that she performs under the name Lady Gaga. A friend of the 24-year-old star said: ‘She has completed virtually all of the coursework. She sees this as a way of repaying the love her fans have shown her’. 30Days is conscious that perhaps not too many of its readers will have had the opportunity of seeing a performance by the lady who was, incidentally, raised as a Catholic and apparently still considers herself ‘very religious’, so we are happy to whet your appetites with this gem of a report on a recent performance in Manchester: ‘She continued the “blood soake” theme in The Monster Ball Tour, in which she wears a revealing leather corset and is “attacked” by a performer dressed in black who gnaws on her throat, causing “blood” to spurt down her chest, after which she lies “dying” in a pool of blood.’ Nice.

Bottoms up!

30DAys is grateful to the Diocese of Lichfield for news that beer lovers will have a very special way of commemorating the Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to the diocese in November. It seems that Brough’s Brewery in Wolverhampton has come up with an ‘Archbishop’s Special’, with which the faithful (and, presumably, piss artists generally) can toast Dr Williams’ presence among their midst. As yet the beer has still to be named, although the suggestion of ‘Sticky Wicket’ is high on the list after the Diocese won the Church Times Cricket Cup for the first time in its 60-year history. A more than apposite name, 30DAys suggests, given where the Primate of All England seems to spend so much of his time these days!

Muscular Christianity

Fr Víctor Jimeno, the parish priest of Rótova, near Valencia, in a display of extraordinarily muscular Christianity last month, attacked local fiesta organiser Rubén Costa during Mass, when Costa took the Blessed Sacrament out of his mouth, tore it up and stamped on it. A fight then broke out, which ended when Fr Jimeno kicked Costa on the backside, according to witnesses. The entire congregation were then thrown out of church, although the priest later apparently apologised. According to reports, Fr Jimeno then ‘had to be treated for shock’ – whether because of the blasphemy or because he had apologised is not made clear.

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