The Franz Kafka school of communications

Press Officer: Hello?

You: I’d like to ask you some questions.


Yes, it’s in respect of your press release from this morning…

Please hold for a second.

[For the next fifteen minutes, you get to listen to “Light My Fire” on the pan pipes.]

Hello, can I help you?

I want information.

You won’t get it.

By hook or by crook, I will. Anyway, I had a few questions about these media coordinators…

Oh yes, the Joyful Noise project.

What exactly is that?

Well, it’s giving some bright young volunteers training in social media, so they can get the message out there. Making a joyful noise, you know.

Social media? So, some middle-aged people who can barely navigate their way around a fax machine are training young people in how to use Facebook?

Yes, it’s terribly exciting, modern and edgy.

What was Jack doing there?

Jack came along to tell the volunteers all about the fantastic job he’s doing with That Other Media Project We Have No Connection With.

But hold on a second, how do you know he’s doing a fantastic job if That Other Media Project hasn’t gone live yet?

But when it does go live, it will be fantastic. Ma Pepsi told me so.

Can I ask you what Jack’s job description is? Does he have one or does he just turn up at anything that catches his eye?

Jack is doing a fantastic job.

So how much is all this costing?

Oh, virtually nothing. Less than the cost of the sandwiches.

There were sandwiches?


So, more than the cost of the sandwiches then? Can you give me a figure?

Let me get back to you on that.

Fair enough. Can you tell me how the volunteers were recruited? Was this advertised, or was it word of mouth or what?

I’m not exactly sure. I’ll have to ask and get back to you.

In the photos, the volunteers appeared to be playing with Lego. Can you tell me what the point of that was?

Oh yes. The red bricks represent the print media, the blue bricks are the broadcast media and the yellow bricks are the internet. You have to try to make patterns. It’s a technique we got from a 1987 manual on all the most recent media training strategies. There was also an exercise with a Rubik’s Cube, but we couldn’t find one.

That all sounds very modern and… edgy…

Absolutely, the volunteers found it incredibly exciting and useful. And at the end of the day everyone got a complimentary bottle of Jack’s patented Oleo de Serpiente.

Well, thanks, you’ve been most helpful. While I’ve got you on the line, is there any chance I could ask you what in the name of Austen’s tracksuit is going on at Brum Oratory?

Please hold for a second.

[Those pan pipes start again… then you’re mysteriously cut off…]


  1. ejh said,

    July 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I’m afraid you’re right, Mr. Helpmann. He’s gone.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      July 3, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      I plead the Peter Jay defence.

      • Phil said,

        July 3, 2010 at 10:48 pm

        You’re Benedict’s son-in-law?

        (I mean, not that that wouldn’t explain a lot, obviously, but…)

      • splinteredsunrise said,

        July 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

        Hey, whatever has passed between me and Margaret Jay stays between us. I mean the old Jay riposte to the Times editor, the relevance of which should be immediately apparent.

  2. Mark P said,

    July 4, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Given the Catholic turn of this website, I suppose this obituary might be of interest. No doubt the deceased was as disturbingly heterodox as those uppitty American Nuns.

  3. Policraticus said,

    July 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

    What indeed is going on at the Brum Oratory???

    The campaign to release the “Birmingham Three”

    ‘THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG.’ Oratory spokesman to the Tablet [aka Valero part-time media man for Church on the Beatification]
    being sent on ‘indefinite retreat’ or what is known/referred to among canon lawyers as a punitive measure, even if it’s purveyed as a ‘medicinal’ remedy for a soul is surely not for one who is commanded without notice to go on and has not freely chosen said ‘indefinite retreat.’ And since the Church teaches that penal sanctions in an ecclesial context have essentially a three-fold aim: “repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender.” [language which sounds awfully similar to Mr Valero’s comments in the BBC West Midlands Radio interview that these men must have time away ‘to calm down’ and sort of well….be chastised and come to their senses..??]

    Readers may find the recent seminar in the US on canon law and sanctions helpful


    A canon lawyer,[see zenit article] Fr. Beal gave an overview of the possibilities of punishment for addressing the crime of sexual abuse by members of the clergy: “These measures are: medicinal penalties or censures, expiatory penalties, […] and penal remedies. There are also two non-penal strategies which may be useful in addressing the issue.” The first of these, medicinal penalties, are “deprivations of spiritual goods,” (could this include deprivation of the company of your brothers in religion which has happened to ALL 3?) privations which are theoretically temporary, (so not “indefinite”)and whose “primary aim is to impress upon the offender the seriousness of his crime and thereby prompt him to repent and reform,” he said.
    Another suspension, is a punishment that can only affect members of the clergy. Depending on circumstances and degrees, it prohibits the clergy from “some or all acts of the power of orders” and the “power of governance,” (such as performing the sacraments or administering Church property),[or perhaps being suspended from managing an archive of a great theologian? or being able to publish articles or reflections on said theologian or Church issues, such as those done by the 3?] or from “some or all rights or functions attached to their offices” (such as witnessing marriage.)(or being able to concelebrate at the Mass of Beatification of your holy founder and witness in person the papal visit to your religious community such as that desired by the 3??)


    Abusers can also be punished continued Fr. Beal, with expiatory penalties, which are: a prohibition from living in a particular place or an order to live in a specific place [such as that being suffered by the 3] * (Father Beal compared it to house arrest); a deprivation of a power, office, function, right, privilege, faculty, favor, title or insignia (these deprivations have a wide range, including prohibition to preach or hear confessions,**

    * being sent to monasteries not of their choosing sounds very similar to such a penalty
    ** Of the two priests involved Fr Fenlon was known for his long queues outside his confessional. Given the Cure of Ars as the model in this recent Year of the Priest – such a deprivation to hear confessions in the Oratory parish for no apparent crime seems a travesty of justice.


    According to the seminar on canon law the pontifical secret, is not about keeping things a secret, but to ensure that testimony is not polluted by interaction among witnesses and that even in civil legal proceedings, a similar demand of “secrecy” is made.

    So the obligation upon the 3 to keep silent with one another and others [with the equal force of a pontifical secret i.e presumably under pain of a worse sanction] is for what?? when “THEY HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG”

    • shane said,

      July 4, 2010 at 2:44 pm

      James Preece on his blog quotes Jack Valero on the radio admitting that there’s absolutely no indication of any impropriety of any sort on the part of the B3, that the media reports have wrongly carried that impression, and that they’re just being sent away to pray but will be home soon. We can only guess but it just sounds like plain old totalitarianism.

  4. Garibaldy said,

    July 4, 2010 at 11:44 am

    “the Catholic turn”. Now there’s a phrase designed to cause a split over ideology if ever I saw one.

  5. shane said,

    July 4, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    The goings on at the Brum Oratory have the whiff of a purge. When this was first reported in the Tablet, it said that there were differing views about the beatification of Cardinal Newman. It’s very interesting in retrospect how Fr Duffield got so jittery with Jackie Parkes (is she still banned, anyone know?).

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