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Cardinal Rules Part 2 An occasional column (not) by the Primate of All Ireland, healer and crisp fan

Paul Krugman might evoke Jonathan Swift, but our satirical columnist goes back to the much more recent future to explain what went wrong with the Irish economy.

This week, I caught Father Lawlor and Father Casey having a sneaky look at Back to the Future 3 in the common room. Despite great resistance,  I found myself being drawn into the ludicrous and improbable adventures of Mr Marty McFly.

A car that can go back in time? I ask you. But then, I had a thought. Hasn’t Ireland this week been a bit like Back to the Future 3?

Pleased with myself, I turned to my colleagues and said: “Hasn’t Ireland this week been a bit like Back to the Future 3?” They both gawped at me, and I took their silence as a sign of their mutual agreement.

It is common for me to make an astute observation, and for listeners to stare in wonder. Indeed I am quite used to the reaction. As the young people might say, “It isn’t any biggie.”

I was quite pleased with myself. It is customary for some of us to gather in the common room and “bounce” sermon ideas off each other. Within seconds any “you are unique” sermons are shot down in flames. The creative juices start flowing, and before you know it, we’ll have a “I see God in detergent” sermon forming, or an “imagine Jesus is your best friend, and you like going to the gym together” one.

‘We are all to blame, and I can’t think of anything more joyously Catholic than that.’

In that self-same spirit of innovation I launched into my own idea. “Think of the De Lorean as the Irish economy. An economy which takes Marty McFly back in time.” I could see the cogs turning in Father Lawlor’s head.

“That would make Marty McFly the Irish people,” he said. “Exactly” I replied, “and Doc Brown is Brian Lenihan.”

“He has googeldy eyes! Brian Lenihan has googeldy eyes, just like Doc Brown,” yelped a now excited Father Casey. I think if synapses could burn, Father Casey would have been throwing off sparks. “Precisely,” I said. “Minister Lenihan is also very creative and good with numbers, as is Doc Brown.”

Both Father Lawlor and Father Casey nodded. I could see they were impressed. “What about Mary Steenburgen?” blushed Father Casey.“What about Mary Steenburgen?“ I said, and he blushed some more.

I was on a roll, and wasn’t about to be interrupted. I stood up and spread my arms, picturing an imaginary congregation before me. “This has been the best week ever. And I don’t say that lightly. This was the week Ireland slipped backwards, and if there’s one thing we like in the Church it’s that little touch of the temporal. Like a tug on your sleeve delivered by a little whey-faced orphan saying: ‘Here we go. Backwards we go. Pre-divorce. Pre -condoms. Pre-materialism. Pre-Fade Street and Winning Streak. Eamon O’ Cuiv even wants you to pray. Rejoice!’” I could see the excitement on Father Lawlor and Father Casey’s faces. I was on a roll.

“As Minister Lenihan said ‘we all partied’ and now we are all suffering. We are all to blame, and I can’t think of anything more joyously Catholic than that. Can you?” Father Casey and Father Lawlor murmured their agreement.

“So here we are now, like Marty McFly in Back to the Future 3. What choices are we going to make in order to get back to the present day? Ideally a present day with all the characteristics of a pre Vatican 2 Ireland.”

I stopped and looked around me. Fathers Casey and Lawlor let it all sink in for a moment. It was Father Lawlor who broke the silence. “Could Mary Steenburgen be Mary Hanafin?” he squeaked. They both blushed then. “Stop that,” I said.

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(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady