Having recently revived the traditional concept of Hell, I have no doubt Pope Ratso I is currently readying a special place in the infernal depths for a certain Irish turf accountant.
In Ireland's headlong rush towards secularisation, not to mention the never ending quest to gull the public out of its last red cent, those little devils at Paddy Power, the nation's favourite bookies, have come up with another crafty stratagem to part the punter from his hard earned mazoola.
A story in today's Irish Times reveals that Paddy the punter's friend has opened a book on the length, the theme and the audience for a sermon to be delivered at St Muredach's Cathedral, Ballina, that will be shown on RTE this coming Easter Sunday.
Responding to criticism over the wee flutter from Martin Long of the Catholic Communications Office, Paddy Power, the company's spokesman, and henceforth to be known on these shores as the depraved jism of Beelzebub, said:
I'm a Catholic myself and I fully respect the importance of Easter in the Catholic calendar. I think it is a little bit of fun. Some people would see it as an extra incentive to watch the MassOf course you do, Paddy me old mate, but some of the less enlightened might think there's something a tad demonic going on down in Airton House. Especially after the Last Supper billboard campaign that nobody understood but the Advertising Standards Authority got its knickers in a twist about in 2005.
Still and all, there's a lot to be said for running the book on a bit of ecclesiastical action. Apart from the fact it might finish off the handful of religious zealots still remaining on these shores in an epidemic of apoplectic seizures, the possibilities for a fortune-tempting punt are, like some sermons, apparently endless.
So much so that I'm thinking of offering odds on the following:
- An altar-boy surviving to puberty without getting his bottom felt in the vestry;
- An outbreak of moving statues, weeping Madonnas, and bleeding Jesuses in Mayo the next time the abortion debate comes up;
- The discovery of a Christian Brother who didn't scar, fracture or otherwise concuss one of his charges in an Irish language class since the foundation of the state.