Destination salvation: Pope's blessed bus is to debut soon

Destination salvation: Pope's blessed bus is to debut soon February 6, 2016

In one of his silliest publicity stunts to date, the Pope has given his blessing to the Diocese of Salford’s double-decker ‘Mercy Bus’, which will soon be touring parts of Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
The Catholic Herald reveals that the “holy” bus will have priests available to hear Confession, or just to talk and listen to people. It will also have live music and volunteers distributing leaflets to passers-by and inviting them on board.
The bus is a response to Pope Francis’s announcement of the jubilee year last March. The Year of Mercy, which began on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8:

Celebrates the mercy of God and forgiveness of sins.

The mercy of God? Hmmm ….


Bishop John Arnold of Salford said:

The Mercy Bus is a way of reaching out to people who might not otherwise have contact with the Church. We are going to them, rather than expecting them to come to us.

Francis blessed the Mercy Bus project, before being photographed Fr Frankie Mulgrew anda large card showing images of the bus.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, organised a VIP ticket for Mulgrew – one of the three priests who will be on the bus – so that he could present the Mercy Bus project to “the Holy Father”.
The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelisation was also involved in arranging the meeting.
Frankie also blessed badges, which will be given out by the volunteers.
The mobile confessional  itself will be blessed by Bishop Arnold next Saturday, after which it will take the streets and to shopping centres, schools and even prisons from 11 am to 4 pm every Saturday until Easter.
With Fr Mulgrew, Fr Michael Cooke and Fr Duncan McVicar, the bus will tour Manchester, Salford, Burnley and Blackburn.
Mulgrew described the stunt as:

Following the example of Jesus who spoke in synagogues and also brought the gospel on the streets, on hilltops, at dinner in people’s homes.
We were inspired by the Pope. In fact, when he served as cardinal in Argentina, the Holy Father would officiate open-air Masses in the poorest areas of the country
The fact that Francis approaches ordinary people travelling to their workplaces or bringing their children to school, testifies to the love and the compassion of God. It’s also an important commitment for evangelisation which we seek to mirror though our bus.

Update: After posting this piece, I discovered that Shell Fisher, whose work regularly appears in the weekly Freethinker bulletin, had sent me the illustration above, and it seemed an ideal addition to the report. If you haven’t sign up for the bulletin, I would urge you do so so.
Hat tip: AgentCormac

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  • Stonyground

    I do hope this project gets the warm welcome that it deserves.

  • David Anderson

    The bus will not run on fossile fuels. It will be powered by the stench and hypocrisy of the RCC.

  • Rob Andrews

    Just plain folks…The RCC has a good public relations man in francis. They tried that kinda folksy thing back in the 60’s with folk masses and the service in English (or whatever local language)
    Stuffyness doesn’t go any more.

  • Angela_K

    Do these Catholics actually believe this utter nonsense “testifies to the love and the compassion of God”Really? Do we ever see compassion from those catholic Priests and Nuns who have abused children for centuries – no.
    There is a slogan missing from their ridiculous bus “Contents unsuitable for children”

  • Canada Dave

    Reminds me of the 1970’s song The Who …..”Magic Bus” .
    Or even better the Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour”….the commonality is the same ………..superstition and magical thinking.

  • drat

    Bendy Bus

  • barriejohn
  • Laura Roberts

    “We are going to them, rather than expecting them to come to us.”
    Sounds to me like the theme for their new pedophilia initiative.
    If you’ve got something useful to sell, people will come to you. If you’re selling utter crap, then you’re forced to go to them. How many times have these wastes of space appeared in our towns or on our doorsteps? Now, how often have you found someone at your front door eager to spread the word about, say, microwaves or laptops?

  • L.Long

    Get on bus, lying preacher opens mouth, and after a few of us ask a few pointed question,tells everyone to shut up and leaves…..nothing scares these guys like being forced to face the truth.

  • Stuart H.

    I can’t help thinking that if Father Ted had run another series this bus wouldn’t be running, because Graham Linehan would have thought of it first and we’d still be laughing.

  • barriejohn

    Laura Roberts: Like the “Open Air Work”, “Door-to-Door Work”, and “Tracting” that I was forced to engage in as a young Christian. We knew that it only made us look desperate – and just look at the reputation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who make such a habit of pestering people on the doorstep with their nonsense!

  • barriejohn

    StuartH: You mean something like this?
    As Harry Hill might say: “Textbook”!

  • drat

    Feels on wheels.

  • Lucy1

    @stuart h. Exactly, Father Ted.

  • AgentCormac

    A bit like loathsome Salvation Army ‘soldiers’, the objective for the so-called Mercy Bus is clear as its route apparently focuses on Salford and other local shopping centres, prisons and homeless centres, where preying upon those who would no doubt hope for a better deal of the cards in another life would probably resonate most strongly.
    Now, despite my origins being in the arch-enemy city of Liverpool, I lived and worked for over 20 years in Manchester, and shopped in Salford shopping centre on many occasions. I loved Manchester and Salford. I loved the place and the people. Still do. So when I say that the rcc is preying on those who need hope the most, I say it with the utmost affection and respect.But prey upon them they do. In any way they can. Including a mobile confessional to remind them they haven’t been to pay their respects or put their hands in their pockets for a while.
    Cynical does not enter into it – despite the comic ‘Shameless’ antics of Bishop John Arnold. Wanker.

  • John C

    I actually saw this ridiculous spectacle earlier today,Mercy bus initially conjured up images of international aid to the needy, then as it got closer i realized what it was and mentally facepalmed.(AcentCormac, it was headed down the East Lancs towards Liverpool,enjoy).

  • barriejohn

    John C/AgentCormac: “Mercy” has completely different connotations where the religious are concerned. They aren’t talking here about dispensing aid to the less fortunate members of society; they are reminding people that they are all miserable sinners, unworthy of God’s love and “grace”, whose default position should be that of supine wretches, grovelling in the dust and begging for his forgiveness. No thank you; been there, done that, never swallowing that bullshit again!
    PS I was at Padgate College, Warrington, for three years in the 1960s, and I think they were the happiest years of my life. I’d never met people so full of warmth and good humour. I should have stayed “oop North”, really, as folk down this way often don’t get my humour at all!

  • Brian Jordan

    @Stuart H
    “I can’t help thinking that if Father Ted had run another series this bus wouldn’t be running, because Graham Linehan would have thought of it first and we’d still be laughing.”
    He pretty well did – in the episode where they were saying mass on a lorry to exorcise the explosive milk float. Maybe it would have worked, if only they’d had this bus on Craggy Island.
    Who knows, maybe they’d have abandoned the bus idea if they’d watched it.

  • Atabale

    Utter Bus-shit!

  • CoastalMaineBird

    Maybe they misspelled “Mersey Bus”.

  • barriejohn

    CoastalMaineBird: Ferry funny. Wirral laughing!

  • Laura Roberts

    @drat: brilliant!
    @barriejohn: that is definitely what I’d call a misspent youth! Though the obvious absurdity of those activities possibly helped rid you of the superstition. In any case, happy that you escaped.

  • barriejohn

    Laura Roberts: But not after wasting years on such futile pursuits. It was when I was receiving therapy to counter the damage that all this had done to my brain that I first heard a psychologist say: “The saddest words in the English language are ‘If only’!”

  • Stuart H.

    @Brian Jordan – yes, I had the exploding milk float episode in mind.
    But the more I think about it, the weirder the questions that come up. For example – presumably there has to be a confessional booth, where is it? I’m guessing if it’s a second hand bus/coach maybe the spot where the chemical toilet is at the back? Hmm!!
    If I didn’t have to pay a hate group to get it, I’d almost love to buy such a thing when they finish with it, just for such odd fittings. And as it’s a church on wheels, do they have to consecrate it before use and deconsecrate it before selling on? The idea of a church eventually ending up in a scrapyard similarly has me giggling.
    Which leads me to – what happens to all the scrapped Popemobiles? Is there a trade somewhere in such vehicles – could you buy one on E-bay?

  • barriejohn

    Stuart H: You most certainly CAN become the proud possessor of a “pre-owned” papal vehicle.
    (Hilarious that it would be a Fiat!)

  • barriejohn
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