For those who celebrate the Traditional Form of the Roman Rite, yesterday was the Feast of St Thomas Becket in England and Wales. A First Class Feast, so kept even in the Octave of Christmas. I watched the 1964 film of his life starring Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole, which starts with King Henry II going to Canterbury Cathedral to receive his penance on 12 July 1174. He publicly confessed his sins, and then allowed each bishop present to give him five blows from a rod, then each of the 80 monks of Canterbury Cathedral to give him three blows.
It struck me that in these days when public figures can seem reluctant to resign over scandals this excellent practice might be re-introduced. I'm sure it would be terrifically popular and could be the next big reality TV event. Ideally suited for politicians, bankers and the higher echelons of the BBC.
The other scene that struck me as ripe for revival is when Archbishop Becket issues an excommunication. How refreshing it would be to see a bishop today issue an excommunication like this - perhaps for those Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion. A church service that even the BBC would need to give prominent coverage to!
Here it is below.