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.