And for your penance …

I love irony, especially when it publicly flagellates those who deserve it.  Like the Catholic church and their efforts to protect those pedophile priests.



After the powerful catholic Church was brought low from its complicity in sheltering pedophile priests it paid some monetary penalties to expiate their sins with a few of the pervs serving prison time.  But these penances seem measured and perfunctory without any real lasting consequences for the pain and suffering their victims have had to deal with.

Where was the biblical-style hand of God punishment like that of Jonah’s trial by whale or the smiting of Ananias and his wife Sapphira who tried to conceal some of their fortune from the early church community following the death of Jesus?  A few miscreants sent to jail and monetary loss that reflects only a fraction of the Roman Catholic Church’s wealth seems like a slap on the wrist in light of the conspiracy that shielded these sexual predators for years.  Let’s not forget either that the Church has still failed to answer for its persecution of millions of so-called heretics during the reign of terror that was the Inquisition.

Though I have come to the conclusion that God is likely a contrivance of man I am occasionally intrigued by the prospect that maybe there is a universal force out there that metes out punishment in ways that seem small for an omniscient, omnipotent being but are none-the-less impressive.  Take for example the probability that one of the church’s most famous and vocal critics, comedian George Carlin, will have a part of the street named after him where he not only once lived, but where the catholic church and school he attended as a child also resides.

How fitting that seems to humiliate one of the Vatican’s properties by naming the street it sits on after one who publicly vilified the so-called rock of Peter on more than one occasion.

Efforts by friends of Carlin were able to get a vote passed by the Community Board to honor the now deceased humorist.  Their efforts have faced a vigorous opposition by the Church that shared the block with Carlin to deny this tribute to him.  Understandably so since it was often the target of Carlin’s acerbic humor.  In the end it appears the city and Corpus Christi Catholic church and school will settle on a compromise that would remove that one block that the church actually resides, leaving the adjoining block to be the comedian’s legacy – George Carlin Way.

If anything could serve as an enduring penance for at least one component of the Catholic Church it would be this one act that even a supreme deity would have to find amusing.


Like Carlin, I too was raised a catholic and had numerous run-ins with the priests and nuns during my incarcerations at St. Cecilia’s School in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas.  One of my earliest encounters occurred when I was caught looking under the girl’s dresses as they climbed the exterior fire escape stairs in the 2nd grade.  I was held in detention for an hour after classes along with being berated by a nun who looked as if she could double as a sumo wrestler.


The next year the palms of my hands were beaten with the yard stick by Sister Florence as punishment for questioning the existence of hell during catechism class.  How, I asked, could a good and loving God send members of his creation to a fiery eternity for things as simple as masturbating and looking up girls skirts.

In a 6th grade catechism class I was humiliated by Father Vogel after answering his question, “What’s the purpose of holy water”?  He called on me as I eagerly waved my hand, certain the answer was simply to make us holy.  “If that were true Mr. Beck”, the ex-boxer turned priest said to me, “you should be toting a jug of it around on your back.”  Was he recalling my routine confessions of impure thoughts and shooting the finger to the Protestant kids each time I and my friends walked past their public school two blocks over?

And then there was the time I nearly lost one ear after acting up in class in the 7th grade when Sister Bonita Francis caught be from behind, put her deadly finger-pincers into my ear lobe, digging them in as deep as she could and twisting her hand as far as was humanly possible.  I was on my knees in a split second, writhing in unbearable pain.

Kids like Carlin, myself and thousands of others – inquisitive, uninhibited and imaginative – were clearly a threat to an orthodox religion that relied on unquestioned obedience to survive.  It worked for centuries.  So it’s good to see them get knocked down off of their high horse a bit and for George Carlin Way to serve as a thorn in the side of his one-time nemesis.



8 responses to “And for your penance …

  1. Your Sister Florence was my Sister Helen… and oh what a cupboard of whacking instruments did she have!

    Haven’t looked into it, but scanned a headline feed yesterday that said the pope has come out and said 1 in 50 clergy are pedophiles.

    • Actually the teacher who had the largest arsenal of paddles and switches was a lay person, Mrs. Grayson in the 4th grade. I got a taste of one of her moderate size switches across the ass. There was a kid who sat in front of me, Biff, who was constantly doing things that put him in touch with just about every weapon she had in her closet. He never cried but once near the end of the school year when she apparently was determined to inflict enough pain on him to evoke the emotion she was looking for. Clearly she missed her calling to the sisterhood.

      I was reading that article on the pope this morning. I found it interesting how the reporter and the Vatican were trying to diminish the information by referring to the article from “the left-leaning La Repubblica” noting its founder, Eugenio Scalfari, was an atheist

      • Thanks for the link. Yes, nice, subtle drop of the word “atheist” in the reporting.

        Our Sister Helen became Father Boff in our secondary school. Yes, that was really his name, and your Biff was our Scott Prigly. Funny how these things mirror the other, regardless of geography. At least we can say the Catholic schooling system keeps its standard 🙂

  2. I was a fan of Carlin since all I knew was his earliest, wolf in conformist clothing, work. I’m sure he’d love the irony of this street naming affair.

    While there are some good qualities about the Catholic Church (Pope Frankie seems to personify the very best it has to offer) my impression of the Catholic Church is more along the line of Showtime’s The Borgias, based fairly accurately on this guy. In short, murder, mayhem, plotting scheming and hypocrisy of the highest order.

    “How, I asked, could a good and loving God send members of his creation to a fiery eternity for things as simple as masturbating and looking up girls skirts.

    Only “sins of the crotch” are actually hindrances to entrance into Catholic Heaven. (For the record, like cops & lawmakers never go to prison, white collars grant you immunity from punishment for sins of the crotch.) Divorcees are still kicked out, but members of the mob are more than welcome to attend, pray and (above all) donate to the Catholic Church. Similarly, the hand of the church is also outstretched to Wall Streeters and the 1%. Kill, torture, steal, swindle and launch genocides…fine, just don’t bone (or desire to bone) somebody you aren’t married to and all is good.

    Historically speaking, you could be the most vial murdering, mortal-sinner around but still purchase your way into Catholic Heaven via “Indulgences”, bonds purchased to cancel out sin. Get Out Of Hell cards issued by the Christian Monopoly.

    “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” -some dirty socialist hippie

    Kids like Carlin, myself and thousands of others – inquisitive, uninhibited and imaginative – were clearly a threat to an orthodox religion that relied on unquestioned obedience to survive. It worked for centuries.

    These qualities have always considered the greatest threats by the Powers That Be. For example, The Inquisition & witch hunts. Some of the first people Pinochet put to death were musicians & artists. In this era, some of the most spied upon citizens are guilty only of thinking for themselves. (Mind you, everyone these days is spied upon like they’re Enemies of the State.)

    Why? Because The Powers That Be want a passive, stupid, unquestioning, bunch of sheeple who only do what their government & corporate rulers want them to do. They’re easier to control and very easy to market products to. In the last 30 years or so, just look at how much human activity went to producing products, entertainments & propaganda designed to numb/over-stimulate the brain, or to target/encourage base urges & base thinking. Compare that to the amount of human activity spent encouraging the conditions that encourage deeper thinking.

    It’s been a landslide of stupidity.

  3. Wow! You guys had it pretty hard, ouch! I had my fair share of lickings at home at the hands of my parents, once involving a horse whip, but otherwise I have never had to deal with that kind of abuse from another human being. I imagine it is an entirely different humiliation one must face when abused at the hands of another.

  4. I was raised in the Lutheran church (Catholicism- lite). Only good thing was, we didn’t have nuns…just stern German pastors 😦

    • “just stern German pastors “

      I’ve heard rumors that if you ever held eye contact with their stern cold look for more than 3 seconds that it could make sterile.

  5. Well, I don’t know much about the Catholic church, and I’m sure there must be some good people in it, but I do know two strapping blokes, both Catholics, who will cross the street without a second’s thought, if they see nuns coming towards them. I always used to think that was rather weird. Maybe not so much after your ear story.

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