Telling Old Jokes About Catholics


The new issue of the London Review of Books is, as always, excellent-check out Elif Batuman’s piece on creative writing programs-but I was particularly delighted by this bit from the letter section.

“Colm Tóibín reminded me of a favourite joke (LRB, 19 August). Terence Cardinal Cooke of New York convened his bishops and ordered that in accordance with new austerity measures all clergy at Mass would henceforth be required to limit their number of attending altar boys to one and also to wear simple black robes rather than the usual colourful garb. All agreed. Mass the following Sunday began with a parade of obedient clergy: one boy per bishop, all black. But when Terence Cardinal Cooke entered the church, he was preceded and followed by no fewer than eight handsome boys and was dressed, head to toe, in beautiful robes of purple, red and gold. After he took his seat, the bishop seated in the row behind him leaned forward and whispered in his ear: ‘Terence, you bitch.’

Scott Haas
Cambridge, Massachusetts”

(I added the italics to “bitch,” because that’s really how the joke should be told.) Anyway, the Tóibín thing is also worth your time.