Before this week's high-speed hand to head, in the interests of full disclosure, a bit of outlining of bias is required.
I have a bit of an allergy to organised religion. Throughout history, a lot of... interesting things have been done in the name of whichever god was relevant at the time. On occasion, the word "faith" gets used as a direct attack on critical thought, and that is possibly the mildest direct attack that has been done for religion. People draw strength from their beliefs, belief can unite communities, but a lot of hypocrisy has been hidden in robes.
So, with that on record, strike up the organ to usher down February's first Slap recipient -
Bishop Richard Williamson.
Bishop Williamson was excommunicated in 1988, as the man who made him a bishop didn't have the papal authority to do so. I love this idea - how many companies (and make no mistake, the Catholic Church is a company) allow promotions without the boss's say so? Next time you're at work, promote someone at random. Make whoever says "good morning" the cheeriest into a department head (or if they already are, give them Chief Financial Officer). Much fun will be had.
Twenty years later, Bishop Dick and the other three unauthorised promotees were welcomed back into the fold. However, an interview that Williamson gave last year has raised its head, and given him a deserving bite on the buttocks, as he announced his belief that there were no gas chambers used in World War II, and that somewhere between 200 000 and 300 000 Jews died, rather than six million.
Sure, an argument can be made that ignoring chunks of history is pretty much a prerequisite for Catholicism, but this takes it to an offensive degree. Following a couple of internet links digs up a bit more offensiveness, however. Try this quote on for size -
"A woman can do a good imitation of handling ideas, but then she will not be thinking properly as a woman. Did this lawyeress check her hairdo before coming into court? If she did, she is a distracted lawyer. If she did not, she is one distorted woman."
As a certain Vatican-based institution tries to find its place in the 21st century, isn't that a breath of fresh air? Church workings are almost entirely irrelevant to my life, but the fact that this puddle of ignorance is in a position that, as part of the job description, includes offering guidance to others offends me.
So - a solid Flick to all those involved in Dick's involvement in church hierarchy, and to Pope Benedict for including him back in the fold. And, for the man himself, with the slightest hope of knocking a wayward piece of brain back into place, I issue a slap of Biblical proportions.
Link - Profile: Bishop Richard Williamson