Admits to only reading the Sparknotes of the Bible
The Catholic Church has once again found itself under fire, but not for what you’re thinking. In Ashtabula, Ohio, Father Michael O’Flaherty, priest of the flock of Saint Jerome Church, has been discovered to have never read the Bible in its entirety and has relied on Sparknotes summaries for all of his sermons. This discovery, after 37 years with the church, has sent shockwaves across the community for Ashtabulans and Ohio Catholics alike. Father O’Flaherty issued a written statement last Tuesday regarding the recent revelations.
“It is true,” he admitted, “I have not read the Bible in its entirety, and it’s true; I have been using Sparknotes, but I think I got the gist of it.”
I had a chance to speak with Father O’Flaherty concerning this matter. “I have read some of the Bible,” he explained to me, “but after the flood narrative and Noah, I have to admit the story gets a little dry.” O’Flaherty also stated, “I have used a physical Bible during my sermons, but when I tell the congregation to turn to a certain passage, I usually just make it up and riff from there.”
Father O’Flaherty explained that he developed this skill at Fordham when he was getting his doctorate in theology. “A few of the other guys I was studying with had an improv troupe I joined, so I really worked on my chops there.” He continued, “The Bible is pretty vague and some people can interpret it literally or metaphorically. I just use whatever is convenient for the moment. I like to get things off my chest and this is a good way to do it.”
O’Flaherty then described to me how he had been disappointed by the Cleveland Indians World Series loss in 2016 and spent twenty minutes trying to connect it to the story of David and Goliath. “The only time I thought I was in trouble,” he said, “was when I told the flock to turn to the fourth Epistle of John, which, of course, doesn’t exist. I had to play it off like I meant to do it and was making a point about something or other.”
Father O’Flaherty has also claimed to have made up biblical quotations from time to time. “I want to make it clear that I have skimmed the Bible, but a lot of the book is a whole lot of ‘Thou art’ this and ‘Thy was’ that, so it’s really easy to fudge a quote or two. If I’m gonna make up a quote, I usually take one from the Old Testament because nobody reads those anyway. Psalms are reliable to use because nobody remembers what number you said, so they can’t check you on it.”
A class action lawsuit in 2015 was the first time Father O’Flaherty had gotten into trouble. Several of his followers had an allergic reaction to the wafers he served during the eucharist. From that, investigators were able to obtain recordings of O’Flaherty’s sermons and the transcripts are quite shocking.
Father O’Flaherty begins, “Good morning everybody. How are we doing today?”? The crowd responds with a general, “good.”
“Well lemmie tell you something,” O’Flaherty said, “I’ve read this here Bible numerous, incalculable times, and no one has ever questioned that, ever! Cover to cover both testaments. Now having read this Bible, I was thinking about the scene where Paul is on the road from Damascus, that long road. He had to walk the whole way, you remember? And Jesus shows up—yeah, on the road to Jericho, and Paul sees Jesus like a big billboard, saying that he oughta convert now.” ?The crowd was silent.
“Well, picture yourself on the road of life, right the road to Damascus, and say you get off at an exit for Bellevue, what kind of life is that?”
He was known by some in the Church to have cut corners since 2002 when a traveling Jesuit, George Greenhouse, wrote a letter to the Diocese in Youngstown about Father O’Flaherty’s activities. However, the revelations were made public by noted ninth-grader Lucy Speck, who at confession told Father O’Flaherty she had used Sparknotes for her English paper on Romeo and Juliet, to which O’Flaherty is said to have responded, “Eh, that might be worth like half of an Our Father, but I do that all the time. Do you think I’ve actually read the Bible?” Speck stated in an interview with The Star Beacon that she saw it as her “religious duty” to report her Priest. Ms. Speck has also reported that this breech in her faith has caused her to convert to Islam.
The Catholic Church has always been proprietary over how the sacred texts have been read. Until the late 1960s, any summary of the Bible had to be written in the Latin vulgate and could not be substituted for the scriptures completely. Some church historians may remember John of Scandicci, who in 1483 simultaneously invented the bullet pointed list and was burned for heresy for using it to summarize the Gospels.
While it’s unlikely Father O’Flaherty will be burned at the stake, there is question as to his future with the church. With his apparent lack of concern and reverence toward the Bible and its teachings becoming ever more apparent, a new damning allegation has emerged. The Sparknotes addition of the Bible Father O’Flaherty had used was derived from the King James Version, which isn’t even used by Catholics.
Tommy Gonzalez is a second-year cinema and photography major who wouldn’t be caught dead with a King James Bible. You can reach them at [email protected].