Tuesday, 5 June 2018

50 years ago: Roman Catholic priest says "Sock it to 'em, God!" in high school benediction

Buffoonery on the part of clergy in an attempt to be culturally relevant is nothing new. Chris Rosebrough has said that relevance is a cruel mistress, and this item is evidence of that, as some of the phrases used and things referred to, that seemed relevant in 1968, seem a wee bit dated in 2018. The reader will notice that, as is so often the case, the lay person has a better grasp of things than the clergyman. Submitted for your approval, the following item, as reported by Reuters, that somehow found its way onto the front page of the London Free Press, June 5, 1968:

Glendale, Ariz. - A Roman Catholic priest apologized Tuesday for saying "Sock it to 'em God" in a high school benediction.

St. Jerome's Church assistant pastor Rev. William Healy said he used the phrase--which provoked a storm of protest here--while trying to relate God with the teen-age world.

In his benediction to Cortez High School seniors Sunday, he said: "We ask your blessing on things and people You created...Bless hair spray, mini-skirts, turtleneck shirts,...For God's sake bless our parties, religious exercises,...We ask because You are an understanding God, a swinging God. Sock it to 'em God."

Mrs. John McClellan, representing the parents of some children at the school, claimed Tuesday the "sock it" remark bordered on blasphemy. She deplored what she called "an attempt to bring God down" to the level of the graduating class.

Father Healy, who re-read the benediction in the Glendale Union High School Board on Monday night, declared: "I was praying from the heart and not just from words..."

Superintendent Howard Roberts said the words were misunderstood by the students and advised Father Healy to apologize.

Father Healy replied:

"I apologize if I offended anyone in doing what I thought was right. I was speaking to the graduates in terms they know.

"What does a swinging God mean to the mentality of a teen-ager?

"A swinging God is a God they know as a good God."

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