Synod and Smack

Last week saw the start of the Amazon Synod. But what’s a synod? Despite sounding a bit like snot, it actually doesn’t come from the nose at all. It’s a meeting of Catholic priests to talk about issues affecting the church. Now this might sound like a barrel of laughs but oddly, it isn’t. It’s quite dull – UNTIL NOW.

So Pope Frank (named after St Frank who was painstakingly honest) has hinted that in order to deal with the shortage of priests, he may accept applications from married men. I know, right! My friend George The Rentboy also accepts applications from married men when he has a shortage of funds. Is there a connection? Probably not! But here’s the issue at the Amazon Synod.

The Amazon is massive. 85% of communities cannot have Mass every week. Some communities wait over a year to have Mass. This is because only a priest can say Mass as they turn the bread into Jesus (imagine what the feck they could do with a croissant). Allowing priests to marry will probably be the most significant social change in the church for over 100 years. The church has 1.2 billion members making it bigger on Twitter than Beyoncé and Oprah combined. There are currently 400,000 priests and that just isn’t enough. More priests need to be found somewhere. The church has thought of previous ideas such as developing a Pokémon Go style app to locate priests and also allowing women to be priests. The latter was dismissed as the Bible teaches us women are only really good at finding stables and eating apples from trees. The Synod details “the instrumentum laboris” – which is the suggestion that in remote parts of the Amazon, older, married, men should be ordained. The men must also be upstanding members of society. Horizontally lying men shouldn’t apply.

The Pope in Milan Fashion Week

Of course, this has attracted a lot of criticism and many fear the exception would become the rule. First married men as priests and then any kind of man. Suddenly gays will be priests. And then any kind of object. Dishwashers will be giving Mass and headphones hearing confession. German Cardinal Walter Brandmueller is reported to have said that the Amazon Synod could mark “the self-destruction of the Church”. Oh my.

The Synod also deals with other issues affecting the area such as community and social issues and huge raging fires in the area. What will happen next? Well, you can watch this TV talk show hosted by priests, talking about priest things. No, seriously, click it. 

And now, moving away from something that might happen to something that has happened – we move across the Atlantic and closer to home.

In recent years, parenthood has evolved. Long ago, it used to be acceptable to give your child a light smack on the bottom. If, for example, I didn’t eat my dinner – some time out in the oven wouldn’t go a miss. Now, apparently, some people don’t think that’s the best thing in the world. Like the good nation of Scotland (it isn’t a nation but they get mad angry if you point that out) – which has decided to ban the smacking of children altogether. It will become the first part of the UK to do so. This has divided people. On a seriously note, no one in their right mind would promote and advocate for the smacking of children unless they were an utter prick or a conservative but some people believe that making it completely illegal may be a step too far. Legendary children’s writer ( the man behind Trainspotting) said – “Disappointing. I was given the belt almost every week at school and it made me into a cruel, psychotic drug addict. Now our so-called elected representatives would deny future generations such opportunities. PC gone nuts.”

 He does sarcasm much better than me. However controversial commentator Brendan O’Neill meanwhile called the ban “an outrageous assault on parental freedom”. In an article on his website Spiked, he wrote: “This is an outrageous intrusion into the sovereignty of the family. It is yet another expression of the PC middle classes’ arrogant presumption that they know better than the rest of us how children should be brought up… The quinoa mums and blogging dads who make up the commentariat and the political elite have always looked with snobbish horror at parents who smack.”

Like a standard-issue human bottom, I find myself ….divided. Certainly not something to be promoted –but if you tap your child across the head because they’ve done a shit in a sink for the 27th time and you’re in the middle of watching The Crown on Netflix …are you a criminal? I’m not so sure, but like a gaping hole, I remain … open.  Unlike men wearing skirts, this new custom doesn’t make Scotland unique. Other countries have had this debate already.

Scotland is the 58th country in the world to introduce such a measure and similar bans are already in place in the majority of European countries. Sweden was the first country in the world to ban smacking, in 1979. Austria, Finland and Norway followed suit in the 1980s, and Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia in the Nineties.

Bans were introduced in the 2000s by loads of places like Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. And who knew, Ireland in the last decade and, last year, in France. Places like Switzerland are yet to implement a smacking ban. But really, can you imagine a Swiss person hitting anyone – they’re adorable.

It seems the future means less violence and less priests . But it remains unclear if that is, in fact, a pro or a con. I’m going to contemplate this while I shoot a rabbit and stare mindfully at trees. Bye.

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