Familiarity Breeds Contempt – Corporal Punishment and the Catholic Church

Just when I thought we had an enlightened Pope, the obvious truth comes out to smack me in the face – well not in the face, I guess. This obvious truth smacked in some other part of my body, some part where being struck isn’t going to cost me my dignity, I guess.
This Pope has come out on the side of many marginalized groups, gays, Muslims (marginalized in the West), even women, I think. He even said righteous atheists could go to heaven! But this –


“He made the remarks during his weekly general audience at the Vatican, which was devoted to the role of fathers in the family.
The Pope outlined the traits of a good father, as someone who forgives but is able to “correct with firmness” while not discouraging the child.
Some child welfare campaigners have questioned his comments.
The Pope said: “One time, I heard a father in a meeting with married couples say ‘I sometimes have to smack my children a bit, but never in the face so as to not humiliate them.’
“How beautiful,” he added. “He knows the sense of dignity. He has to punish them but does it justly and moves on.””

– this was rather disappointing. It says in the article that the Catholic Church argued that it “in no way supported corporal punishment,” but one has to wonder if this most shockingly liberal Pope could say this then what would more conservative back-benchers think about it. The article also mentions that the Church had come under criticism last year by a UN committee that was monitoring the progress of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
So, I’m a little afraid that we’re all getting a peek behind the curtain at this Great and Liberal Pope. If he can be supportive of corporal punishment for everybody on Earth – after all, we all start as children – then perhaps that gives the lie to his support of smaller groups, perhaps that support might start to look merely political.
The premise I find amusing: that as long as we’re not struck in the face, we retain our dignity while receiving our corporal punishment. I’m sure we all remember how dignified we felt when our pants were pulled down for it.

Personally, I feel this as a slap in the face, and sort of well, personal. The guy supports every possible cause they throw in front of him except mine. Murphy’s Law, got me again.

7 thoughts on “Familiarity Breeds Contempt – Corporal Punishment and the Catholic Church

    • neighsayer May 4, 2015 / 10:29 pm

      in my new world, grey areas will be strictly verboten! Punishable by . . . well, censured in the strongest possible . . .

      I know, I took the first hint and ran with it. And, yes, I know, a responsible blogger oughta know better, you can’t do that. We’re not therapists, fa crissake! I’m sorry.

      I really do know that you’d have to be looking for trouble to be bothered by this, and I know if I knew him personally and liked him, I’d probably give him a pass. You know, he was applauding that the guy stopped, more so than that he hit his kids, like that. And maybe, too. I hope so.

      It’s just that I’ve been on this train of thought for so long, I’ve got this bug so far up my ass it’s eating my lunch (hey! That was a joke, but also a metaphor! I think I’m writing again, longest bit in weeks!) about punishing being the root of all evil, that I feel that any cause we win we will ultimately lose again if we don’t start thinking about the flawed core concept that I think underlies it all. What could it ever matter that a person is gay, for instance, even if you didn’t like it or agree with it, if you didn’t already have the idea in your head that what you’re supposed to do when someone does something you don’t like is punish them?

      Both habit and maybe a sense of comedy would have had me stop right there, drop the mike, leave on a high note. I’m not sure I ever said that quite like that before. I like that. To carry on in slogans, how are we ever to solve violence, when we use violence to do it, or rather, when the good people are violent, how can they rehabilitate the bad ones?

      This is just moral philosophy, this is just the whys and wherefores. It’s OK for that to be black and white, isn’t it? The grey is in the living, I guess? Of course it’s nothing new either, all I and some other folks out there have done is put together two ideas together, what psychology and our own experience shows us the regarding the results of abuse added with the apparent truth that nearly all people suffer some measure of these symptoms – all people ‘have problems.’ What I mean here is,of course parents end up being rougher than they had hoped, that is no small part of the heartbreak inherent in the present state of affairs, I’m afraid.

      We determined early on that we would not punish, period, and force only in extreme situations, hazards and such. My wife’s worst memories are a time when she got tired and stressed (an appointment, I think? maybe only work) and yelled, loud and angry, scaring the crap out our first daughter to get her into her car-seat. And my wife says, she took timeouts. Locked herself in a room where the two girls couldn’t get at her, gave herself a chance to cool down. Ha.

      Damn. I told you hers, I guess I gotta tell you mine.

      Our second one was trouble right from the start, colicky, crying, thrashing about (family bed), so nobody’s slept since her birth. She was high energy right up until maybe puberty. So one night, she’s maybe, oh here goes, no fear! She’s like several weeks old, she’s between Mom and me in the bed, and while I’m dead to the world, she wakes me up with a headbutt to the nose. I had an internal, pain-fueled freak-out, but I got over it, and I turned towards her, talking to her, rubbing her back, trying to calm her down, and I guess I fell asleep eventually. Then she got me again. I wanna tell you it was instinct, I mean, it was, but honestly, I know I made a decision – and I headbutted that infant right back, in her forehead, I think. I know there was a moment of decision, and I know there was a calculation of aim and force. But I also know that my my tired, stressed out, half-asleep, pain-fueled gut reaction was to punish, even my baby. The decision and the calculations make it punishment, I figure.

      Oh, I learned something else that night too. Headbutting your baby doesn’t actually stop all the crying and writhing anyway!

      So twice I’ve hurt a kid, whooped my rent-a-kid’s ass once in 1985 for I don’t know why. That fact there, that I don’t know why would seem to preclude any hope that that ass-whooping did the kid any good. He was two or three, my daughter was a month or two, pretty sure that experience didn’t teach her anything, at least not anything good. So that’s my experience with corporal punishment, at least from the dishing it out side. Didn’t like it.

      Eesh, I do go on. Longer than the post. So . . .

      how are you?



      • theeditorsjournal May 5, 2015 / 8:28 am

        Bloody hell! Lool! 🙂 Yes, I’m fine thanks! I had read a few posts and I guess I started thinking (don’t know if you had said before, it’s been a while!) ‘Why is ns soooooo into this view point?’ I mean you can have an opinion but this is like evangelism. I guess if I had head butted my baby that might set me on the road too! As it happens I find I am not a million miles away from your viewpoint in that however you look at it violence begets violence. (Although I still maintain there are degrees of everything).

        Liked by 1 person

        • neighsayer May 5, 2015 / 9:56 am


          My wife has told me that the car-seat incident was not shouting and fear, but in fact, she forced the kid into the car-seat. My bad.

          ‘ . . .evangelism . . . ‘! So many folks say that sort of thing! ‘You can have an opinion, but the WAY that you have an opinion! It’s offensive and arrogant!’ I’m sorry, I suppose it is. But on another site, the message was clear: apparently I’m supposed to say everybody else is right too. No losers, everybody gets a prize, punishment of children is a parent’s ‘personal choice,’ there are no Wrong choices . . . it was like I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. Child abusement is some very Sacred Ground.


          • theeditorsjournal May 5, 2015 / 8:03 pm

            Nope. That is not my interpretation of ‘evangelism.’ I simply meant that it is a subject of which you clearly have great passion following which I had wondered where the genesis of that passion came from.

            Liked by 1 person

            • neighsayer May 5, 2015 / 9:58 pm

              Oh, OK, then. And yes, evangelistic, sure. Sorry I lumped you in with some others. Some leftover frustration there for me.

              Yes, absolutely, this is my passion, this argument I’m having with the world. I seriously think I may have the grand unifying theory of life. I doubt I would have gotten back to the other passion, writing, without it.

              You know I’ve got one follower, one blogger, who, after having raised four kids to their twenties and thirties the old fashioned way, for some reason has a fifth child to raise. Of course she started by fighting me, but I’m rather proud of her, she’s trying to raise this latest one without punishment, or with a minimum of it. She cusses me out for making life difficult for her now, while the child’s a toddler, and I keep promising her that it will pay off as the kid grows up, that the communication and the trust will be vastly better than most folks get from their punished children as the years pass.

              You know, I have psoriasis, and on a trip to Fiji a few years back, I guess the salt water aggravated it and my entire back side lit up red, head to toe. It kinda freaked the Fijians out, they don’t have psoriasis. But you know what, they know what will fix me, and guess what? these people have very little, so guess what will fix me – coconut oil. because when all you got is coconuts, apparently they can do everything. Mind you, they looked pretty healthy. They don’t have psoriasis, maybe they’re right . . . of course I’ve tried it. But the point is, I’m like that – all I got is coconuts.


              Have you seen my two posts about where this thing came from, my internal biography (along with some juicy external bio stuff)? Never mind, here they are:



              thanks for reading, ej, seriously.



              • theeditorsjournal May 6, 2015 / 6:48 am

                I don’t think I’ve seen those. But I’m going to have to come back to it – had a stinker of a tech day and now I hate everyone and everything. It’ll wear off once I’ve eaten!

                Your posts are usually long so I have to give it the proper time. Feel free to remind me if I forget.

                Liked by 1 person

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