A reader sends along this absolutely authentic and true news piece:

VATICAN CITY:  Fans of American football the world over have voiced their views over the game-clinching call at the end of the Green Bay – Seattle game held last night in the Seahawks’ CenturyLink Field.  After the debacle on the Hail Mary play on Monday Night Football, Pope Benedict XVI was reported to be visibly upset.  Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi (no relation to the legendary Packer coach) of the Vatican press office, noted that he hadn’t seen His Holiness this livid since he’d learned of the attempted ordination of several women on a riverboat in Austria in 2002.

The Pontiff wasted no time in tweeting his disgust with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:  @BennyXVI “As a matter of justice, we must condemn this fiasco in the strongest possible terms.  It is an offense against all that is true, good, and beautiful.”  The Commissioner was not available for comment, but was expected to address the Holy Father’s remarks in a press conference later today.

Packer Head Coach Mike McCarthy, a Catholic, was grateful for Pope Benedict’s support, remarking that “the pain of this loss is mitigated somewhat, knowing that we have the prayers and concern of His Holiness.  He has been a Packer fan all the way back to the ‘Glory Years’, and the team has been studying some of his most recent encyclicals.  Spe Salvi, in particular, gives us hope that this nasty officiating business will be resolved very soon.”

It is not known yet whether the Church will impose any canonical sanctions on the NFL, considering the gravity of the offense, and the public nature of the scandal.  “It is well known that recent popes have graciously given a pass to the copyright infringement by the NFL using the term ‘Hail Mary’, but this is really pushing the envelope,” remarked Lombardi.  “If nothing else, however, it does demonstrate the power of Our Lady’s intercession, and the eternal truth spoken to her by the Angel Gabriel that ‘nothing is impossible with God.’”

Thing is, there are any number of Catholics who imagine the pope is going to get this granular about all sorts of local stuff in their diocese that, frankly, it’s our job to figure out.

Though, personally, I do think he needs to step in and deal with “Anthem” and “City of God”.  Also, that leak in the south wall.  And we need an encyclical explaining that thing about the Nephilim in Genesis 6 and telling us what that verse means.  Also, what is the official Catholic way to eat a Reese’s?  And who is the official favorite Catholic Beatle?  Otherwise, why do we even *have* a hierarchical Magisterial Church?

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  • Jmac

    If the Church is supporting the Packers, let me be anathema.

  • Alexander Anderson

    The Packers are right… but I don’t want to admit it.

  • Favorite Catholic Beatle?!? Are you kidding? We don’t even have a solemn definition yet as to whether Paul is dead!

  • Phil Cathell

    why is everyone hating on the city of god hymn 🙁

    • Mark Shea

      Hey, if there are rumors on the internet that the Pope condemns it, who am I to dissent?

    • SpasticHedgehog

      Because strictly speaking, it isn’t a hymn. A hymn is a song of praise to God. “City of God” is, by its construction, more about the singers and their identity as children of God and their duty to build the City of God.

      • Phil Cathell

        lol Mark. Okay.
        Thanks for the explanation Hedge.

  • @Kevin That should be obvious.

    @Phil Because it is lame. Having been forced to sign that song during mass once, I can tell you nothing comes closer to liturgical jazz hands than trying to interpret “Let us build a city of God, may our tears be turned into dancing.”

    • Ted Seeber

      Never thought of it that way. I just considered it lame because some archdiocesan youth minister decided to call our diocese youth group meetings _City of God_ between 1984-1989 sometime (don’t even remember when exactly) and yes, I did hear a Christian Rock Band play it in the gym at Mt. Angel Abbey during one of those meetings.

      If you think the sign language version is bad, try it to a heavy metal ballad beat.

      Anthem though- I think we need to change the Opening Ode of Knights of Columbus to Anthem. We could add in all the traditional verses, it fits the virtue of Charity, and it would stop me thinking about Christmas Trees at the few meetings I’ve heard it sung at.

      • Hmm, what pray tell is “Anthem”? And yes, I agree about City of God (this from someone who led the band for a LifeTeen associated Mass for 2 years).

        • SpasticHedgehog

          Anthem is a popular song written by Tom Conry. It isn’t a hymn by the definition I gave above but is instead another song tied up in the identity of the singer. It’s one of those enigmatic songs that you hear and think it is deep and moving until you actually examine the lyrics and realize that you aren’t actually sure what it’s supposed to be about.

          I can’t find the whole lyrics and I don’t trust myself to recount them faithfully from memory but here is the refrain:
          We are called, we are chosen.
          We are Christ for one another.
          We are promise to tomorrow,
          while we are for him today.
          We are sign, we are wonder,
          we are sower, we are seed.
          We are harvest, we are hunger.
          We are question, we are creed.

          • SpasticHedgehog

            I’m going to reply to myself — I don’t believe God only hears prayers in Latin or that all churches everywhere ought to switch to Gregorian chant immediately. However, Conry’s “Anthem” definitely captures the trend in liturgical music published through the 80s and 90s to emphasize the singer and/or the singer’s community (though often inspired by scripture) rather than the traditional hymns of praise.

            The first part of Anthem’s refrain isn’t entirely problematic: we *are* called to be Christ to one another but after that what exactly does it mean to be promised to tomrrow while “we are for him today?” It’s catchy and I assume Conry is referring to us being in the world but not of the world, but it kind of sounds like we’re Time Lords (which, let’s face it would be SUPER AWESOME). We are indeed wondrously made but where is the glory given to our Maker? We are sowers of the Gospel but we also carry the seed of the Gospel within us. The rest of it though, I can’t make heads or tails out of.

            • Ted Seeber

              I always took it to mean that we are called to do something *about* the future right here on Earth, the corporal works of mercy as well as the spiritual.

              Which is really interesting considering that from the perspective of a badly catechized Catholic of the 1970s, the liturgical errors on *both* sides of the political spectrum were largely about emphasizing the spiritual works of mercy (Jesus loves you rah, rah, rah on the Left/Say 20,000 Rosaries for the conversion of Russia on the Right) over the corporal (and don’t look at that homeless man rooting through the dumpster behind the church).

            • I don’t believe that God only hears prayers in Latin, but I do believe that all Roman Catholic Churches that use the Latin Rite (even those that use the OF) should immediately switch to Gregorian Chant.

              “116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman Liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” -Sacrosanctum Concillium, Second Vatcan Council

              • And speaking of Latin:

                “36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” -ibid

        • Ted Seeber

          Grr…it’s one of the songs Oregon Catholic Press is downright scrupulous about their copyright with- I can’t link to it anywhere . “We are called, we are chosen, we are Christ to one another”. Basically the creed of 1970s American “Spirit of Vatican II” Catholicism.

          Which *happens* to fit into Fr. McGivney’s first holy virtue that all Knights of Columbus swear fidelity to: Charity.

  • Rosemarie


    “City of God” isn’t my favorite song, but I don’t exactly hate it. No, it’s not appropriate for Mass but I could say the same about at least half of what we sing regularly at Mass.

    My Catholic youth group held a retreat circa 1984 where the song “Beautiful City” (from the 1973 Godspell movie) became the theme. You think “City of God” is bad – at least that doesn’t sing about building the “city of man.”

  • Confederate Papist

    I agree that “City of God” and “Anthem” had to be some of the most spiritually devoid songs I’ve ever had the displeasure of hearing and singing. They were popular when I was “re-born” back into the Church in the mid 1990’s, and it’s amazing that it didn’t frighten me back out.

    I still wake up in cold sweats when those songs are jumbling about in my sleeping head…brrrr~!

    • Ted Seeber

      Spiritually devoid- yes. I like them both and I would also say that- because both songs are much more about the Active Life than the Spiritual Life.

      But both are necessary to be a well-rounded Catholic.

  • Nate

    My beloved team was robbed by an ersatz gang of imbeciles bused in from the Lingerie League.
    This is no time for joking.

  • Faith

    I have a confession to make. They sang City of God at mass last Sunday and I clapped along. Blush. What can I say, I’m 70’s girl.

  • Yes, “Anthem” is a terrible “hymn” musically and lyrically, but there are several songs that are way worse than “City of God.” “Ashes” and “God Beyond All Names” are the first that come to my mind.

  • Statman

    I recently attended our “Life Teen” mass, where the band (not choir) sang “Amazing Grace” to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun”. Suddenly, “Anthem” and “City of God” weren’t so bad.

    I would have preferred the “Gilligan’s Island” version.

  • Hezekiah Garrett


    Your teen singers should be shot. Otoh, if you feel that way about the Blind Boys From Alabama, ill pray God restores your taste to you.

  • “There’s no wrong way to eat a Reese’s” always did sound vaguely synchretistic to me.

    While Catholics of good faith may disagree on many snack-related questions, we must accept, as a matter of faith, what the Church has clearly and unceasingly taught about chocolate-and-peanut butter consumption.