Vatican II Limericks

Ed. Note: Fr. Joseph Komonchak, retired professor of the Catholic University of America and priest of the Archdiocese of New York, recently shared his collection of limericks composed at and about the Second Vatican Council at Commonweal’s blog. These limericks shed light on many of the weighty issues considered at the Council. For example, retirement age for bishops:

To force an ancient bishop to resign
Is considered by the Council not benign;
Only secular planners
With no Christian manners
Would a churchman to oblivion assign.

Or the role of a deacon:

We all admit that the deacon
Could shine in the Church like a beacon.
“But…with a celibate’s vows,
Or as a man with a spouse?”
Is the question whose answer we’re seekin’.

Or the preponderance of saints from a very few countries:

It’s reported that three Latin nations
Have monopolised canonisations.
It seems rather quaint
That a non-Latin saint
Get a halo, but with limitations.

Or even: what was it like to be at the Council?

We are two thousand Patres in Session
Who feel a great weight of oppression
What with Cardinals talking
And lesser lights squawking,
Thank goodness, the bar’s so refreshin’.

Check out the the full collection at Fr. Komonchak’s personal blog.



  1. Does anyone remember Tom Lehrer’s The Vatican Rag? “First you get down on your knees, fiddle with your rosaries . . .”

  2. While not a limerick, there was an Italian verse circulating in traditional circles, which literally translated says:

    Popes die, councils adjourn,
    but the Roman Curia remains.

    A poetic translation rendered it with the following doggerel verse:

    The popes and councils pass away,
    but the Roman Curia will always stay.

  3. There once was a great Roman Church.
    Whose leader sat up on a perch.
    He disliked liberation of his congregation.
    A means of control he did search.

    “Our instructions you did misperceive.”
    “And your mass, I am here to retrieve.”
    All these words from the Pope
    Gave the Trads lots of hope.
    “And if this you don’t like, you can leave.”

    This pretty much sums up what the people who don’t like the fact that the new missal is being criticised.

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