I remember the older nuns (born c. 1900) who administered corporal punishment. It was physical, not harsh – but embarrassing. A swat on the butt in the cloak closet with “The Board of Education.” A light swipe at the head. I heard of stronger actions, but through the years I came to realize it involved kids with behavioral problems who responded badly to force.
The nuns were tough with children and it worked in most cases toward training them to control themselves. Nuns didn’t know enough of things such as autism, dyslexia, and various emotional problems to deal with them properly. They had tough jobs (in my time, up to 50 children per classroom!), received only room and board, and in some cases I’m sure were very personally frustrated.
And I’ll tell you what – they resented many of the priests. Religion aside, they had feelings as people and saw the vanity, superficiality, and rudeness of the male clerics. At best, they were often supercilious toward the nuns. I could see the nuns silently fume after dealing with arrogant priests. Sisterhood was already becoming unfashionable by the 1960s, and the nuns were often mocked as women who couldn’t interest real men, so they “married Jesus. “
And yet, they were in most cases intelligent and talented and basically ran the schools and parishes. Nuns did the work; priests got the glamour and admiration. But the day was soon coming when they began to lose respect, too. I often thought, even back then, that nuns should be the priests.
I’ve met clerics high in the Church. I’ve kissed cardinals’ rings, several of my classmates are monsignors and one is a bishop. Sadly, several were even prosecuted for sexual misbehavior. I don’t disrespect religions entirely, but I think men way up in the hierarchy are not normal mentally — have never been, through the ages.
Benedict seems a religious bureaucrat bound by rules and dogma hundreds of years out of date. How can intelligent, educated men engage in the double-think required to believe in fables of a pre-scientific cosmology? In the minds of many rigid churchmen, half of the human race is somehow unclean, ever since Eve. What a strange fetter is religion on the human race.