The Modern Cardinal’s Song

after “The Major General’s Song” from Gilbert &
Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance

from a faithful Catholic scandalized at the men
to lead the Church.

I am the very model of a modern Catholic cardinal,
I’ve passions homosexual, heretical, and criminal,
I know no old Church Doctors and I quote facts ahistorical.
From Peter to Roncalli I’ve disinterest categorical.
I’m well-acquainted, though, with ideologies political:
I know the Marxist doctrine, theoretical and practical;
Of critical race theory I’m teeming with a lot of news …
With a lot of fancy language that I lifted straight out from Marcuse.

I’m very good at smashing up and painting over sacred art
And putting up monstrosities upon the shrines I tore apart.
In matters homosexual, heretical, and criminal,
I am the very model of a modern Catholic cardinal.

My preaching on morality is anything but orthodox:
I give the sacraments to anyone who’ll fill my tithing box.
I imitate with gusto all the crimes of Heliogabalus
And thrill with pride when all the drag queens call my gay Mass “fabulous.”
I liken all my critics to the carping scribes and Pharisees
And marvel that I have no new vocations in my diocese.
Then I can belt some cheesy show-tunes masked as hymns like none before …
But ban those ancient chants that my gay liturgists find such a bore.

Then I can write a check to settle sex abuse and kiddie porn,
Forgetting that I hid the facts and silenced all who tried to warn.
In matters homosexual, heretical, and criminal,
I am the very model of a modern Catholic cardinal.

I preach for open borders and can fit them in the Parables.
I hang abstract felt banners, I’ve a taste for tribal chasubles.
When in restricting Latin Mass I’m most authoritarian,
And when I know the detailed sex life of each seminarian,
When I praise women’s progress in the Swedish episcopacy,
When I know more of back-room deals than all the lobbies in D.C.,
In short, when I’ve a smattering of watered-down theology …
You’ll say a better cardinal has never overseen this see.

For my theologic knowledge, though I’m plucky and adventury,
Has only been around since the end of the last century.
In matters homosexual, heretical, and criminal,
I am the very model of a modern Catholic cardinal.



Adam Sedia (b. 1984) lives in his native Northwest Indiana and practices law as a civil and appellate litigator. In addition to the Society’s publications, his poems and prose works have appeared in The Chained Muse Review, Indiana Voice Journal, and other literary journals. He is also a composer, and his musical works may be heard on his YouTube channel.

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The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

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23 Responses

  1. jd

    Enjoyed your truth in rhyme, Adam, before departing for attendance at the “Mass of the Ages”. Thank you.

  2. Sally Cook

    Dear Adam, enjoyed so much –
    Thank you ! But where can one go to worship today ?

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    Wow! This is super-great stuff, Adam. I cracked up laughing with every single line.

    It’s this sort of tough anticlericalism that we need right now among Catholic laity. The situation in the Church today demands that we cease being piously obedient to a rotten, left-liberal hierarchy of woke pederasts.

    • Margaret Coats

      Bergoglio and bedfellows applaud ANTICLERICALISM. With Synod instructions from Rome, the local bishop here equates clericalism with racism as absolutely wrong and to be struggled against. The hijacked government of the Church aims to accomplish what secular anticlericalism failed to achieve in Mexico 100 years ago, when faithful priests were hanged and Catholic laity gunned down and left unburied.

      About obedience, I made my comment at the end of the discourse between you and Joshua Frank. My response to Adam’s poem is also below.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Yes, I know that very well. But Bergoglio and his bedfellows are clerics themselves, and their clericalism is as arrogant and dictatorial as that of any stereotyped prelate. I agree that the “Synod” crap being promoted by him and the hierarchy is nothing but an attempt to hurt and demean good Catholic priests and bishops. Despite this, the Bergoglianists certainly want to maintain a very strict clerical control over the Catholic laity, so that they can jam left-liberalism down their throats.

  4. Roy E. Peterson

    Adam, you hit the modern state of religious leaders squarely on the head! They are presiding over societal cataclysm and religious abominations!

  5. Joshua C. Frank

    Well done, if a bit depressing and anti-Catholic. You’ve done a good job of articulating some very real problems among members of Church hierarchy while keeping the musicality of the original song.

    Where I take issue, however, is with the act of writing such a thing. As a Catholic, I believe in defending the Church from attacks, not attacking the Church. Rather than sling mud at our Church leaders, I think we would all do well to heed the example of St. Paul, as he advised (Philippians 4:9). The example I’m thinking of comes from the Acts of the Apostles:

    “And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him: God shall strike thee, thou whited wall. For sittest thou to judge me according to the law, and contrary to the law commandest me to be struck? And they that stood by said: Dost thou revile the high priest of God? And Paul said: I knew not, brethren, that he is the high priest. For it is written: Thou shalt not speak evil of the prince of thy people.” (Acts 23:2-5)

    He was following the command of Jesus:

    “Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses. All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.” (Matthew 23:1-3)

    Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t expect to change your mind. “They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them.” (Luke 16:29.) This is for others who may be reading this.

  6. Joseph S. Salemi

    Let’s consider the scriptural quote you mention:

    “All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do but according to their works do ye not, for they say and do not.”

    That applies solely to hypocritical clerics who preach the truth publicly but who privately disregard it. How does it apply to modernist bishops and cardinals who openly defend heretical doctrines, celebrate Gay Pride Day, refuse to support anti-abortion activities, persecute traditionalist Catholics, and act as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party? They are both speaking AND acting publicly against our religion. How is Adam Sedia being “anti-Catholic” when he makes fun of anti-Catholic clerics?

    Most important of all: When you say “I take issue with the act of writing such a thing,” how is that any different from cancel-culture?

    • Joshua C. Frank

      How is you telling me not to say what I think any different from cancel culture? If you get to object to what I write, I get to object to what others write. I keep saying this, but you haven’t answered thus far.

      St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila worked to solve the problems in the Church (there were many back then as well) through the way of prayer, humility, and the Cross; Martin Luther’s method was merely rebellion and schism. This poem borders on the latter. It’s an attitude I see among many traditionalists. Many are sincere Catholics seeking God in all they do, but many others set themselves above the Church in ways that border on schism, and a few are openly in schism.

      Yes, many leaders give unbelievers plenty of fodder for ridicule, just like believers in general, but the fact that the Church is still in existence and still formally teaches doctrine rejected by every other church (such as the ban on contraception) shows that Jesus’s promise that the gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church is true.

      Oh, and in this case, the quote from Jesus applies because they still say all should proclaim the truth, which is true, but what the targets of this poem actually do is proclaim lies. If they command us to do anything that is not sin, we have to obey.

      Also, if someone has a problem with what the hierarchy does, is making fun of them really the best way to go about it? How about encouraging the faithful to rise above the shameful acts of their leaders?

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I have never denied you or anyone the right to say what they think. But you are the one who is suggesting that Adam Sedia should have censored himself. You “take issue” with the fact that he composed a poem. That’s another way of saying “Adam, you should never have written or published such a poem.” That’s pure cancel-culture, even if it is carrying rosary beads. We can all tell each other that we strongly disagree with what others say, but it is tyrannical to tell others that they shouldn’t have said it or written it.

        Adam’s facetious little poem “borders on rebellion and schism”? You can’t be serious.

        Yes, the targets of Adam’s satire are proclaiming lies, as well as acting upon them. That means they aren’t hypocrites at all. The targets of our Lord’s quote in Matthew are hypocrites who say one thing and do something else. Surely you see the difference.

        Of course the Church formally teaches correct doctrines. But have you never wondered how many of the openly modernist and schismatic cardinals actually believe those doctrines? Are the bishops of Germany (and most of Europe) anything other than openly schismatic?

        The current antipope has deliberately changed the Catechism to deny that capital punishment is morally licit, despite 2000 years of teaching to the contrary, and despite the fact that the Papal States executed criminals on a regular basis. That’s only one of several things he has inserted into the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, in defiance of Catholic doctrine. Why don’t you accuse HIM of schism?

        How in fact do the faithful “rise above the shameful acts of their leaders”? By prayer, mortification, and silent obedience? What’s wrong with slamming these hierarchical heretics with some good old-fashioned satire? What’s wrong with casting a high-power public light on their malfeasance, their lying, and their blatant heresies?

        I don’t understand R&R Catholics. Adam Sedia’s humorous light-verse poem gets the inquisitional treatment for being “anti-Catholic,” while R&R websites like Michael Matt’s “The Remnant” and Michael Voris’s “Church Militant” make endlessly vitriolic comments (well-deserved ones) about dozens of Catholic bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, using their real names and exposing their sleaziest scandals. And yet here we have R&R Catholics questioning whether or not it’s appropriate for Sedia to pen a mild take-off on a Gilbert and Sullivan song.

        What’s going on? Do Matt and Voris get a pass, even though they go after the hierarchy with verbal sledgehammers?

      • Joshua C. Frank

        I’m not going to back down any more than you are. My point is to defend the Church to all who may be reading.

        I have no idea what an R&R Catholic is; I couldn’t find a definition. In any case, I never said those other channels you mention are legitimate. I go by St. John Henry Newman, who said that it is always safe to be on the side of the Pope and dangerous to be on the side of his enemies. As for Pope Francis, I don’t like the man any more than you do (he seems to want us to be liked by everyone, which, if this assessment is correct, is not a Christian attitude), but I believe in respecting the office of the Papacy; it is not for us to decide that he is not legitimate, just as we’re not supposed to interpret Scripture for ourselves contrary to Church teaching. There have been some really bad Popes in history, but none of them ever formally taught error (personal opinions of the Pope are not Church teaching, and discipline is not doctrine). Catholics are supposed to be obedient in all things but sin; anything else is the road that led to the Protestant revolt. For more, read In Defense of Pope Francis by Ronald Conte, Jr.

      • Joseph S.Salemi

        Yes, Newman was right — it’s safe to be on the side of the Pope. The issue is whether Jorge Bergoglio is the Pope or not.

        “R&R” is shorthand for “Remain and Resist” or “Recognize and Resist.” It refers to those Roman Catholics who can’t stand what Jorge Bergoglio is doing to the institutional Church, but who have decided to recognize his legitimacy while fighting him tooth and nail. It’s like loathing Adolf Hitler while serving in the Wehrmacht.

        But you’re right — neither of us will back down. So let’s just agree to disagree.

      • Margaret Coats

        Josh, please rid yourself of the idea that Catholics need to obey the hierarchy in all things but sin. That is the dire situation today of religious who have taken a vow of obedience. Even diocesan priests take no vow of obedience. In a local Carmelite convent, it used to be a test of obedience for novices to eat raw eggs. It is not a sin to swallow a raw egg, but you need not do it if your priest, bishop, or pope says so. Servility is the vice of excessive obedience.

      • Joshua C. Frank

        Margaret, I’m not so sure this counts as servility. Without the hierarchy, how would we know the answers to complex issues that didn’t exist in the times of the Bible or even of many currently canonized saints?

        For example, here’s something on organ transplantation:


        How would we who are not doctors know things like that without the bishops—the successors of the Apostles—to guide us?

        St. Alphonsus (a Doctor of the Church) said it all: “In a word, take away the authority of the Church, and neither Divine Revelation nor natural reason itself is of any use, for each of them may be interpreted by every individual according to his own caprice … Do they not see that from this accursed liberty of conscience has arisen the immense variety of heretical and atheistic sects? … I repeat: if you take away obedience to the Church, there is no error which will not be embraced.” (“Against the Reformers.”) If the last 500 years could be described in a single sentence, that last one would be it.

  7. Julian D. Woodruff

    To me, what Mr. Sedia has done seems more and more the right thing. (And a critic who recently called out Bergoglio as cowardly was right and just to do so.) The list of good cardinals is short, like representative names (Zen, Pell, Sarah, Burke) and unfortunately most, like these, are aged. Most others, with names like Cuwich, McRelroy, and Vegory, are escorting the flock out of the church.
    (Nowhere worse than in the U.S., as we speak;
    At least six to regret–the scene’s pretty damn bleak.)

  8. Mike Bryant

    This send up is very funny and, in my opinion, well deserved.
    The communist pope is feverishly installing more communist cardinals to ensure that the next pope will also be a communist.
    I cannot find the link, but I read that Bergoglio is sympathetic to a push to make Pachamama a saint.
    God help us all.

    I found this link:


  9. Yael

    Very funny and entertaining spoof and every bit as good as the original. Long live free speech!

  10. Cynthia Erlandson

    This is really brilliant, Adam — true, humorous (especially the rhymes), and sad at the same time.

  11. Anna J. Arredondo

    Ditto Cynthia’s comment above. She pretty much summarized my reaction to your poem. I will just add that your choice to model your poem after “The Major General’s Song” was also brilliant and it fits perfectly.

  12. Margaret Coats

    Adam, this is a faithful Catholic expression of scandal in an accessible poem. Fitting this catalog of concerns into the chosen melody isn’t an easy artistic task! You mention the egregious vices we deplore, and by doing so make known our opposition to the atrocious leadership of many cardinals, and to the lack of leadership in ALL the others. The overwhelming scandal is that the few “good” cardinals, like the many whose probity is unclear, fail to take a prophetic stand against abuses, to teach Catholic faith and morals, and to rule their particular realms in the Church as if Christ were King.

    I also welcome this excellent satire as yet another impulse to write about the ideal of the Catholic priesthood. This is no criticism to you, Adam, for writing this! You are doing what the cardinals themselves ought to do in serious and determined fashion. On the other hand, we are more unlikely than ever to see the graces of the priesthood proclaimed because of the Synod currently underway. Having been at a diocesan opening Mass and two parish listening sessions, I assure you that “clericalism” (the honor and privileges rightly due to the priesthood) is scheduled for nuclear attack from Rome in 2023 and 2024. The Synod has been extended for a year to make sure the destruction is complete.

    It is very difficult to write effective poems of praise, especially ones highlighting an ideal. Here at SCP, Karen Darantiere treated the clerical ideal with her ode on Bishop Schneider, and Peter Hartley gave us an example from the past with his sonnet on Saint John Southworth. Both got mixed reviews. But this is what we need more of, in addition to continuing work against the wicked. For an example in prose, I suggest “In Memoriam Father Peter Carota” by Father David Nix. One virtue of the article is that it focuses on the faith and works of the recently deceased priest, not on his brand of Church politics.

  13. Joseph S. Salemi

    Just a small postscript to Adam’s great poem: In Goa, India, the newly-appointed cardinal in that diocese (Filipe Neri Ferrao) is openly urging Catholics to take part in pagan rites and ceremonies as a part of their religious duties.

    “How would we… know things… without the bishops — the successors to the Apostles — to guide us?”

    I wonder what kind of “guidance” the Catholics in Goa are getting. But I guess according to some R&R Catholics I’m not supposed even to mention this publicly.


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