December 9, 2004

WHERE'S TOM LEHRER WHEN WE NEED HIM?:

Pigeon-challenged cleric finds moral dilemma comes home to roost (Nicolas Rothwell, December 06, 2004, The Australian)

MORAL dilemmas are the familiar stock in trade of priests in the Holy Land, but the White Fathers of Jerusalem found themselves completely stumped by the case of the invasive pigeons.

The fathers, a Catholic missionary order devoted to good works in the African continent, have custody of St Anne's Basilica, a 900-year-old crusader church close by the Old City's eastern walls, between Bethesda pool and the Al-Aqsa mosque.

By tradition, the building, perhaps the loveliest Christian shrine in all the Middle East, is linked to the Virgin Mary, who is supposed to have been born in the neighbourhood. Pilgrims are drawn here in their hundreds - but so, too, are less welcome visitors.

Jerusalem's bold, fast-multiplying pigeons have developed a fondness for St Anne's cool, airy vaults and conveniently ledged dome, where they perch for hours on end, dispensing their peculiarly acidic droppings on to the faithful below - or, worse still, on to the white cloth spread upon the high altar.

The pigeon crisis was brewing even before the arrival at St Anne's of the pragmatic Father Michel Lavoie, a Canadian lateral thinker who decided this was a Middle Eastern crisis he would solve.


It reads like a Monty Python skit.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 9, 2004 2:37 PM
Comments

> And the poisoned sparrows, more susceptible because of their small body mass, simply flutter to the ground and pass out for several hours - so offering a tasty banquet for the hordes of unsentimental wild cats that prowl the streets of Jerusalem.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.

Posted by: Guy T. at December 9, 2004 3:40 PM

This is what comes of the Vatican's opposition to the death penalty for transgressors -- the innocent end up dying.

Posted by: pj at December 9, 2004 4:22 PM

I'm not sure how this would work in Jerusalem, but I have a Daisey Model 1938B BB gun that I use to shoot pigeons that roost in the barn and crap on the hay.

Posted by: AllenS at December 9, 2004 4:23 PM

Take AllenS's idea above and combine it with the old practice of selling indulgences and use dead pigeons as the form of barter. "Coveted your neighbor's wife? That's 20 dead pigeons, here's your BB gun. Don't shoot yer eye out."

Posted by: Governor Breck at December 9, 2004 4:40 PM

Guv - Jews used to have to offer pigeons as sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. The Romans destroyed the temple, and now there's no getting rid of the pigeons.

Posted by: pj at December 9, 2004 8:20 PM

They could hire Randy Johnson to take care of 'em:
Bird 'explodes' after flying in path of fastball

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 9, 2004 8:27 PM

Hey guys, enough of the joking around. This is serious shit.

Posted by: Uncle Bill at December 10, 2004 10:00 AM

I think we've found a new home for the New York hawk.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 10, 2004 11:00 PM
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