Bongo, bongo, bongo, I don’t wanna leave the Congo,
Oh no, no, no, no, no!
Bingle, bangle, bungle, I’m so happy in the jungle
I just don’t wanna go!

—Danny Kaye and The Andrews Sisters, 1947

The Vatican is dull and dreary—
It leaves me out of sorts and weary.
I’d really feel a lot more cheery
When huntin’ with a blow-gun, dearie.

The Curia is stale and dead—
That’s what my old witch doctor said.
I’d rather get my kicks instead
By playin’ with a shrunken head.

The liturgy is really boring—
It leaves me half asleep and snoring.
Let’s go where savage beasts are roaring
And where the tropic rainfall’s pouring.

Roman life is filled with tricks
And buildings made of stone and bricks.
How nicer to have lice and ticks
While chippin’ flints and rubbin’ sticks.

Catholicism’s crazed and manic—
Everything is just mechanic.
I’d rather fend off ghostly panic
With voodoo spells and charms Satanic.

The Cardinals just drive me nuts—
Don’t gimme any ifs or buts.
Put me in those grassy huts,
Screwin’ cute Ubangi sluts.

So here’s my Apostolic blessing—
I want you all to start addressing
Some issues that are really pressing.
And now—about the way you’re dressing:

You ought to wear some untanned skins,
And feathers right down to your shins,
With ears and noses stuck with pins
In penitence for all your sins.

My name is Jorge M. Bergoglio,
And I cooked up this wild imbroglio.
Twelfth Night had its crazed Malvolio,
But I sit on the papal soglio.

Pachamama—what a dream!
That idol gets me hot as steam.
Once we have her on our team
The Church’ll run as smooth as cream.

To hell with any old tradition—
Let’s update to a new condition!
The jungle is our joyous mission,
Without confession or contrition.

Forget about the Holy Mass—
Antiquities have gotta pass.
Don’t gimme any of your sass—
Around here I’m the chief jackass.


Some notes:

Curia: the administrative network of hierarchy at the Vatican.
Jorge M. Bergoglio: the current Antipope.
Malvolio: a repellent character in Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, notable for his arrogance, pride, high-handedness, and ill-humor.
soglio: Italian for “throne,” a term almost always limited to the phrase Il Soglio Pontificio (the Papal Chair).
Pachamama: a pagan earth-goddess of some indigenous Amazonian religions, given liturgical honors at the recent heretical Amazonian Synod in Rome.



Joseph S. Salemi has published five books of poetry, and his poems, translations and scholarly articles have appeared in over one hundred publications world-wide.  He is the editor of the literary magazine Trinacria and writes for Expansive Poetry On-line. He teaches in the Department of Humanities at New York University and in the Department of Classical Languages at Hunter College.

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44 Responses

  1. Joe Tessitore

    Well, I did suggest that you go for it!
    The only thing you missed, as far as I can see, was when he slapped an overly-enthusiastic well-wisher’s hand.

    I’ve heard that he’s called for a global wealth tax since you submitted this, but don’t know if that is accurate or not.

  2. John V. Peck

    As a Catholic I found this derogatory and indecent. Whether or not you are a Catholic, I encourage you to look for a more balanced understanding of the Church and the Pope, expressing your criticism in a more appropriate way.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      I am a cradle Roman Catholic from a family that has been Catholic since the conversion of Constantine. I am a graduate of a Jesuit university, a writer of devotional poetry, and a daily prayer of the rosary.

      Maybe you’re the one who needs “a more balanced understanding of the Church and the Pope” (or rather, this Antipope).

      • Sally Cook

        Joe –
        This pope was chosen for a reason, and not a good one. He is leading Catholics away from the Church and into such confusion. You are right to use your talents to challenge subterfuge wherever you find it. Thank you.

      • John V. Peck

        I am happy that you are a Catholic and I hope that continues to be the case. However, that doesn’t change the facts that Francis is a legitimate pope (elected by conclave after the resignation of Benedict), and that this poem is filled with disrespectful satyric messages (as well as racist ones).

      • Lannie David Brockstein

        To the reader at SCP: Mortal credentials are not good enough, because God looks past the mortal credentials of any man whose heart has proven to be heartless.

        Every tenderhearted Jewish and Christian person does recognize and respect the biblical fact that slander is a form of gossip, which is itself a sin.

        That is not to say the non-libelous text of fictional characters whom are villains should be censored from the theatrical stage. What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader?

        However, George Lucas when offstage is not a genocidal maniac, and the words of his onstage characters are not libelous towards any non-fictional individual or group.

    • C.B. Anderson


      Joseph almost certainly knows more about the Church and its history than you will ever hope to know. And thank God that he has the fortitude to speak his mind in the context of a rather delightful poem.

      • John V. Peck

        Interesting assumption for someone you have never met. Are these also the assumptions we make about other church officials? And I would not call such mud-slinging fortitude, but something else…

      • Joseph Charles MacKenzie

        Dear C.B. Anderson,

        Please see my response below.

        Dr. Salemi’s poem is a pious and humble act of deep devotion to Blessed Peter and his true successors. by contrast, only a perverse and demented mind would place himself above divine and positive law, or—O scandale!—discard the Scriptures themselves—in a feeble attempt to “save the appearances” of a manifest apostate and his anti-Catholic cabal of infiltrators.

        Dr. Salemi’s ninth stanza is precious!

        All good wishes!

  3. James Sale

    Good or bad theology does not usually determine whether a poem is good or bad, though truth is a powerful propellant of poetry. When Shakespeare writes ‘Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay / Might stop a hole to keep the wind away’ the sheer truth of the observation makes it poetry. I am not well versed enough at the moment to know what is happening in the Vatican, but I can respond to the visceral poetry of Joe Salemi and say that this is a tour de force poetically – the mere fact of its 4 rhyme stanzas is remarkable. To be able to do that and not fall into doggerel is exceptional in itself – the rhyming on Malvolvio is particularly funny. Thanks. But one thing, Joe – I have never found Malvolio a ‘repellent’ character – as so often with Shakespeare, there is alongside all that you correctly say is wrong about him, something human that is precious and elicits in me a sort of sympathy for his dreadful condition.

  4. Veronica

    This poem is uncomfortable for the moral relativist, thought-provoking for the discerning, and humorous to the faithful who are at a loss to explain this era of Church history.
    I shouldn’t have to say you are brave to publish this poem, however, these are such times. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Paul Oratofsky

    I find this poem brilliant, a delight, funny, really well constructed (except for one stanza) – and refreshing. Good for you on all fronts, Joseph.

    And it offers a fresh look at the world and what it’s come to be made of. Clearly, I revere irreverence. It’s our only hope.

    The only stanza that I feel doesn’t match up to the rest is the fourth from the last, whose meter, in just about all the lines, isn’t quite right to my ears.

    I was thinking this might work better (or funnier), but it doesn’t quite fit with where it goes: “So here’s my Apostolic blessing— / I want you all to start undressing”

    • C.B. Anderson


      The stanza you feel isn’t quite right is perfect iambic pentameter, with feminine end rhymes. “Bergoglio and “imbroglio” are trisyllabic, pronounced, for instance, im-BROL-yo.

      • James Sale

        With due respect CB, the stanza is not a perfect iambic pentameter. The third line for example – Twelfth Night had its crazed Malvolio – has a spondee substitution for its first foot, an anapaestic substitution for its second, and Malvolio in English has always been a 4 syllable word! The final line, I think, is a trimeter in terms of actual stresses. I particularly like this stanza, as I have said earlier, but I don’t think it is regular in the way you are suggesting.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Many lines of poetry can be scanned in various ways. When I wrote the above poem, I was thinking in a basically triple beat. The odd-numbered quatrains all end feminine, and each line in my mind was composed of an iamb, a tribrach, a trochee, and a trochee:

        x / x x x / x / x

        (So HERE’S my apos TO lic BLESS ing)

        The even-numbered quatrains all end masculine, and have this pattern: iamb, tribrach, cretic, as follows —

        x / x x x / x /

        (“The CUR i a is STALE and DEAD)

  6. Joe Tessitore

    Today’s “The Catholic Thing” by Robert Royal addresses these issues directly, in the context of Pope Francis’ soon to be released “Papal Exhortation”.

    • Paul Oratofsky

      Thanks, CB. Yes I see what you’re saying, and how it works for the last three lines of that stanza. I wasn’t aware that’s how they’re pronounced. But the M. before Bergoglio still feels like an extra beat that doesn’t belong there.

      • C.B. Anderson


        If you give “M.” a slight stress (a promotion called for due to its position between two unstressed syllables), you should find that the line scans just fine.

  7. Paul Oratofsky

    Oops. I clicked the wrong “reply” button. I clearly meant that to be after CB’s comment.

    • C.B. Anderson


      I don’t think it was your fault. The reply option operates according to the program that runs it, not according to the order in which you might wish things to appear.

      • Paul Oratofsky

        Hi CB. Yes, I see it now – giving that stress to the M does it. Thanks again.

        Earlier, I first clicked the Reply button under your comment, but just before hitting the Submit button, I accidentally clicked the reply button under Joe Tessitore’s subsequent comment, so that’s where it landed. I think hitting the right Reply button does set it in the right place.

  8. David Watt

    Joseph, I would class this delightful poem as ‘humor with a punch’.
    It gets to the heart of the matter, and doesn’t muck around. To me, that is an admirable feature of your work.

  9. Joseph Charles MacKenzie

    There is no impiety in such a perfectly crafted, in persona satire, given that the poem’s actual target, having withdrawn from divine and Catholic faith, is not a member of the Church of Christ and therefore cannot be its head, according to the irrevocable, perpetually binding Apostolic Constitution of the Trentine Pope, Paul IV, issued on the 15 of February, 1559.

    The decree’s language could not be more clear in asserting that anyone of whatever status automatically loses not only all public or ecclesial authority, but also forfeits benefices, property, and even the ability to make a will, for the grave crime of apostasy, and that no formal sentence of any kind is required as all penalties for crimes against the Holy Ghost Himself, as a matter of immemorial tradition, are incurred ipso facto, since the crime of heresy incurs the penalty of excommunication latae sententiae.

    Nancy Pelosi, for example, is excommunicated latae sententiae, as are all those who vote for socialists candidates in political elections.

    The vast majority of theologians affirm that popes themselves are subject to this decree.

    In the strongest and most solemn terms ever expressed in an Apostolic Constitution, Paul IV further decrees that it is permitted to “no one at all”—”nulli ergo omnino”—to contradict the law it establishes “to be observed in perpetuity”—”perpetuo observari.”

    While the Masonic, Novus Ordo sect of Vatican II and its pseudo-traditionalist adherents have attempted, through every form of sophism and historical revisionism, to deny the force and meaning of Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio, the document’s perfect clarity and use of maximally solemn language has rendered their arguments null and void—”nulla, irrita.”

    “Si quis autem hoc attentare praesumpserit, indignationem Omnipotentis Dei, ac beatorum Petri, et Pauli Apostolorum eius se noverit incursurum.”

    This is cut and dry. Roma locuta est, causa finita est.

  10. Joe Tessitore

    Of the vast number of religious men and women in the Church, is there one who agrees that Francis is the Antipope?

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      There are plenty who know very well that Bergoglio is an apostate, a heretic, and an Antipope. But most of the so-called “Catholic” hierarchy are cowards and timeservers, and they also know that if they speak out they will lose their jobs, salaries, and retirements. It’s as simple as that.

      Bergoglio is viciously vindictive, and will go after anyone in the hierarchy or the religious orders who dares to oppose him publicly.

  11. Joe Tessitore

    Do you believe that Pope Benedict, Cardinal Sirah, and Father Rutler are cowards?
    Is the priest who denied Holy Communion to Joe Biden a coward?
    Is the priest who denied Holy Communion to a gay judge a coward?
    Do you believe that these and countless others are willfully leading the faithful away from the Truth?

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Did I say that there are no upright members of the Catholic clergy? Did I say that no cardinals and priests have shown courage?

      • Joe Tessitore

        You said that most of the hierarchy are cowards and timeservers, and you still haven’t named one who agrees with you.

  12. Joseph S. Salemi

    How about Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who has had to go into hiding, in real fear for his life, because of his outspoken criticisms of Bergoglio’s lies, deceptions, cover-ups, and heretical idiocies?

    What’s the problem, Joe? I wrote the above poem at your request, and you have linked (approvingly) to the very conservative Robert Royal’s outspoken criticism of Bergoglio. Now all of a sudden you’ve become a defender of this Argentine impostor? Is this cognitive dissonance?

    • Joe Tessitore

      It certainly wasn’t a request – in fact it was a suggestion.
      I’m not a defender of Pope Francis – I’m a defender of the fact that he is the Pope.

      Has Archbishop Vigano said that he isn’t?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Archbishop Vigano (like thousands of other good Catholic clergy) knows very well that Bergoglio is an Antipope, and a sick tumor on the Body of Christ — one that is slowly poisoning the earthly, institutional Church. But these persons must keep silent, because if they speak out they will be disciplined, dismissed from their positions, and financially ruined by losing retirements and pensions.

        Could one speak out against Hitler in Nazi Germany? Could one speak against Stalin in Soviet Russia during the 1930s? Could one attack Fidel Castro in Communist Cuba? Can anyone in Red China today speak out against that nation’s leadership?

        Be reasonable, Joe. Most human beings are weak and afraid and desperate to survive. They will go along to get along, regardless of their private opinions. Over one thousand Catholic scholars, teachers, and canonists were courageous enough to point out in a long letter that Bergoglio is guilty of a spate of heresies, and many of them have, in consequence, been disciplined or dismissed because of their action. Naturally this has scared the hierarchy into silence for the most part.

        And now you’re using this successful campaign of intellectual terror as “proof” that Bergoglio is really the Pope? And that because most of the hierarchy has been cowed into abject silence, this shows that Bergoglio isn’t an Antipope? That simply is not logical. It’s like saying that if a husband beats his wife so severely that she is too terrified to report the abuse to the police, this proves that he isn’t a wife-beater.

        I’m a Catholic layman, so I’m not in a position to be terrorized by Bergoglio. And I say it clearly: this tinpot Peronista dictator and Argentine jackass is not the Pope.

  13. Joe Tessitore

    Is it possible to find the letter you refer to on line?
    Does it have a name?

    I’d very much like to read it.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Gladly, Joe. The letter is titled “An Open Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church,” and was released during Easter Week of 2019, with over 1500 signatures of Catholics luminaries, including the Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols; Georges Buscemi of the John-Paul II Academy of Human Life and Family; Professor Maria Guarini of the Seraphicum Pontifical University in Rome; and Brian McCall, law professor and editor-in-chief of Catholic Family News.

      The text of the letter (which was originally composed in Latin) runs to twenty pages, meticulously footnoted and documented, with both scriptural and canon-law references It has been translated into English and is accessible at the following on-line address:

      However, it might be easier to reach it at the on-line National Catholic Reporter, in a news article written by Maria Benevento on May 1, 2019. She provides a direct link to the English version of the letter in her very first paragraph.

      Let me give you here the opening sentence of this earthshaking letter:

      “We are addressing this letter to you for two reasons: first, to accuse Pope Francis of the canonical delict of heresy, and second, to request that you take the steps to deal with the grave situation of a heretical pope.”

      A letter of this nature, accusing a pope of the canonical delict of heresy, has not occurred in the Catholic Church since the fourteenth century, when the theologians of the University of Paris accused the pope of a heretical misunderstanding concerning the Beatific Vision. That was a minor technicality compared to the devastating indictment of Bergoglio’s manifold heresies presented in the 2019 letter.

      All the best to you.

  14. Joe Tessitore

    A formidable read, made all the more so by the fact that I did it on my I Phone (a mistake I won’t make when I read it again).

    Have the bishops responded to it?

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Not to my knowledge. I presume that if any cardinal or bishop dared to comment on the letter, much less act upon it, he would be instantly deprived of his ecclesiastical position, its concomitant salary and benefits, and his retirement package. In short, it would lead to his martyrdom.

      • Joe Tessitore

        I just remembered that he raised a red flag for me very early on, when he announced that he wouldn’t be living in the Papal Apartments, but decided instead to live in a hotel which, in this context, can be seen as symbolic.
        I still agree with Mr. Peck that he is a legitimately elected Pope and that the Holy Spirit guided his appointment, and that the gates of hell shall not prevail.

        I read in news a drag last night that he decided for celibacy for the religious in the Amazon.

        The saga continues …

  15. Joe Tessitore

    In today’s (Thursday, 2/13) “The Catholic Thing”, Robert Royal discusses the exhortation, which includes a quote by Pablo Neruda, in detail.

  16. Joe Tessitore

    There’s a very interesting take on this by David Warren in today’s “The Catholic Thing”.
    I hope you get a chance to read it.

  17. Paul Oratofsky

    Interesting how differently the arts and sciences receive and process challenges, contrary views, different approaches, and suggestions for new perspectives.

  18. Christina

    Please forgive typos – v poor sight!
    Joe Tessitore, do have a look at ‘Life Site News’ for daily analyses of what is happening to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Churh in the current pontificate. Of particular interest is a recent piece (utube) quoting in full the separate claims of 5 cardinals and 2 bishops – all orthodox and holy men – that we are in the End Times. Then today I learn that in tha dreadful ‘Exhortation’ Francis seems to defends the ‘Pachamama’ idolatry and apparently had more to do with that public idol worship and so the public breaķing of the first and greatest of the Commandments than was first reported. The Assisi outrages outdone indeed.
    Joe Salemi, I remember you once called Francis a buffoon in thèse pages, and I was uneasy, as I am about this poem, because I have felt, from the first sight of him on the day of his election that he is a very dangerous man. He sows confusion, and with every recorded word and act increases the diabolical disorientation we see all around us, inside and outside the Church. I hope that you are right to have him down merely as a figure of fun.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Dear Christina —

      You are absolutely right. He is VERY dangerous. And a buffoon in a position of great power and influence is overwhelmingly dangerous.

      Painting an evil man in comic colors is part of the task of satire. Recall those words of St. Thomas More: “The Devil, a proud spirit, cannot bear to be mocked.” The more we make fun of Bergoglio, the angrier the demonic forces will be.

      Pax tecum, in nomine Domini.

      • Christina

        Thank you! Ì am most grateful for this insight. I had not heard those words of St. Thomas More, and I had never thought of the Devil’s prideful aversion to mockery, although now you have pointed it out it seems so obvious!

        For 50 years now Ephesians 6:12 has never been very far from my mind, and recently “the spirits of wickedness in the high places” are more openly active and successful with every passing day. Nevertheless in future I shall try to remember St. Thomas More’s wise words. Meanwhile:
        Ab omni malo, liberà nos, Domine.

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