DRAWING THE LINE
To commemorate the 2005 publication date of the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed and the ensuing Muslim riots, a group of secular humanists designated 30 September 2009 International Blasphemy Day. It is set to become an annual event.
As one-dimensional and ferociously intolerant as their “religious” straw man, the dogmatically godless crusaders call themselves the Center for Free Inquiry! Reporters ignored the epic irony and self-contradiction, of course, gleefully announcing instead that these “Atheists, sceptics, freethinkers and free-speech advocates around the world will mark Blasphemy Day by mounting their soapboxes - figuratively and literally - and uttering words and displaying images that may cause offense.”
A Blasphemy-Fest was planned for Los Angeles, featuring a talk about free speech followed by three “provocative” films. Supporters worldwide were encouraged to take up The Blasphemy Challenge by uploading their denials of faith to YouTube; (typical recording: “Hi, my name is Ray and I deny the Holy Spirit. [pause] No lightning. Maybe next time”). There was even a Speaker’s Corner, modelled after the famed soapbox in Hyde Park, and a Blasphemy Contest, encouraging people to come up with the most blasphemous phrase, poem, or statement in 20 words or less.
To cap it all off, they held an exhibit, featuring such delights as Jesus “dripping red nail polish around nails in his feet and hands, an irreverent riff on the crucifixion wounds.” The “provocative” title of the painting: “Jesus Does His Nails.”
America’s Catholic League recently protested an episode of Jewish comic Larry David’s TV show, in which he ‘accidentally’ urinates on a picture of Christ. When a Catholic woman finds the picture she thinks Christ is shedding miraculous tears. A spokesman for the HBO network claimed the alleged humour was not “malicious.” And he’s right. Once confined to pornographic exhibits of the Avante-garde, vile and graphic blasphemy is no longer “malicious”: it now passes for prime-time “comedy.”
One need only recall La Salette to comprehend the gravity of this global scourge. Appearing to the children Maximin and Mélanie on 19 September 1846, the Virgin of La Salette deplored the pervasive irreligion and rebellion against the Church and Commandments, including the violation of the law of abstinence and the failure of people to pray or attend Mass. But along with the profanation of Sunday, Our Lady particularly stressed blasphemy, lamenting: “Those who drive carts cannot swear without adding My Son’s name.” It is these “ two things,” She said, “which weigh down the arm of My Son so much.”
Discovered in the Vatican Archives in October 1999, the secret imparted to Mélanie by the Queen of Heaven underlines the horror and consequences of these chronic sins. It was on 6 July 1851 that Mélanie finally wrote down the heavenly message in her uneducated hand for the Bishop of Grenoble, who in turn had it hand-delivered to Pope Pius IX. Our Lady expressly stated that if the people “do not do penance, and they do not cease working on Sunday, and if they continue to blaspheme the Holy Name of God, ... God will be avenged against the people ungrateful and slave of the demon.”
Thereafter, the Second Commandment was seared on Maximin’s heart, mind and soul. Also entrusted with a secret, he faced aggressive interrogations from the doubters. Calling him “a little liar,” one priest declared: “I don’t believe you have any secret. But it may be the devil who has entrusted you with your secret?” Maximin assuredly replied: “No, for the devil has nothing to do with Christ, and the devil would not forbid blasphemy.”
In fact, Satan has sown the casual wind of blasphemy on the street to reap the whirlwind of high-profile sacrilegious Communicants who routinely mock the Real Presence in our day. Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd is the latest schismatic-cum-heretic-cum-apostate of note to indulge the serpent whispering in his ear. A baptised Catholic who has long repudiated the Faith and now attends Anglican services, just before Christmas he presented himself for Holy Communion at the Sydney shrine of Blessed Mary MacKillop. Cowed by human respect, a nun duly placed the Body and Blood of Christ in his blasphemous palm.
“In the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,” warned St. Peter [2, 3:3-4]. No wonder we sense a Divine comeuppance in the offing! For God is not mocked [Gal. 6:7]. And yet despite the signs of the times, there is no need to head for the bunkers. Peter went on to reassure the Doomsday crowd of his time that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God is ever patient towards us, he said, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” In which case He will most certainly draw good from the present morass of evil.
Indeed, it was the mocking of His saints by lapsed-Catholic work colleagues, their filthy traducing of St Maria Goretti in particular, which finally awoke the present writer from his spiritual torpor and propelled him into a life of Catholic action. Even the most reluctant have their breaking point and trigger. Complacent prelates included! Who knows, perhaps the Rudd blasphemy will spark a belated fire in the belly of Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell?
Renowned for tolerating myriad scandals, his studied refusal to halt regular sacrilegious Masses conducted by militant homosexuals at St Joseph’s church, Newtown, has appalled even his erstwhile defenders. Nonetheless, will a public show of contempt for Christ and His Church by the highest civic figure in the land see the Cardinal call Rudd’s bluff and issue an equally public corrective-cum-rebuke, after the fashion of Bishop Tobin’s recent admonishment of Congressman Patrick Kennedy? Or will he continue to mirror the complicity of his Westminster brethren, who also indulged the sodomites [CO, Nov. 2007] while turning a blind eye to Prime Ministerial mocking of the Holy Eucharist [CO, June/July 2008, pp. 28-29]?
In any event, it is way past time for bishops everywhere to stand up and rip the gloves off! If they won’t do it in their own backyard they will never command the respect needed to fully and urgently engage the Church Militant in the culture war, spelt out herein by Bishop Finn and now advancing at double speed on every front.
And so it goes. Soon there will be nowhere to hide. Grim portents of the near future confront us at every turn. Recently, the Germans heavily fined and then sentenced to prison eight Christian fathers who merely refused to send their home-schooled children to mandatory sex-ed lessons and a theatre production (“My Body Belongs to Me”) which instructs young children in how to engage in sexual intercourse. Criminalised under a law instituted during the Third Reich, home educators are hounded by the German authorities. Heavily armed police squads forcibly remove home-schooled children from their parents in the dead of night and take them into custody. They even tracked down and sought the extradition of one peaceable family who moved to France to escape the persecution! Meantime, Labour is seeking similar State control of British home-schooling, as flagged by the sinister language which accompanied the announcement of its 2009 Badman review into home education. Parents choosing this option were depicted as dangerous religious zealots who need monitoring due to potential “child abuse such as neglect, forced marriage, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.”
The same authoritarianism underlies hate crime legislation at every level: national, EU and UN. Whether already enacted or merely proposed, it is so vaguely defined and heavily loaded against Christians as to place them in the same impossible situation faced by German home-schoolers. In the UK, voices of democratic reason in the House of Lords struggled to defeat crippling hate crime provisions attached to the Coroners and Justice Bill. At a stroke, the notorious Clause 61 would have killed free speech stone dead, outlawed Catholic teaching on homosexuality and handed sodomites a blunt legislative instrument with which to prosecute Christians into submission [see CO, Aug/Sept 2009, pp. 27-28]. For his part, Justice Secretary Jack Straw was “very disappointed” by this latest temporary setback to the Christian persecution. To be expected, of course, from a true son of the New Labour Reich; which fascist enterprise even tried to hold Millennium celebrations without a single prayer, and when compelled to do a U-turn included one that didn’t mention Jesus!
In his text, titled “The Help That the Russian Orthodox Church Can Give to Europe,” the 43-year-old Archbishop describes a desolate European scene which surely fits a La Salette-style punishment. “When travelling in Europe,” he writes, “especially in the traditionally Protestant countries, I am always astonished at seeing not a few churches abandoned by their congregations, especially the ones turned into pubs, clubs, shops, or places of profane activities of yet another kind. There is something profoundly deplorable in this sad spectacle.”
The precarious state of his own denomination and its treacherous past notwithstanding, Hilarion goes on to explain why he feels the Russian Orthodox can help rescue the West:
Declaring the ROC ready to fight for Christian values alongside Catholics and Protestants, he addresses the blight of unjust laws:
Catholic battle line
A spokesman for the appalling US Bishops’ Conference noted that “Vatican officials made no formal response to [Hilarion’s] text, but read it with great interest.” I’m sure they did. But closer to home, will they now ensure that Bishop Finn’s similar call to arms is taken on board by his American brethren and the episcopal college worldwide? Will Rome demand, in the first place, that our Shepherds put their own diocesan houses in order? For unless they are compelled to face down the crisis within they will never rise to the conflict without, let alone rouse the sleeping Catholic giant to battle the secular onslaught.
Above and beyond Bishop Hilarion’s fighting words and his admirable line of ecumenical resistance, therefore, perhaps the Holy Father should insist that each and every one of the hierarchy first read the Bishop of Grenoble’s pastoral letter of 1 May 1852? Announcing the erection of a shrine on the mountain of the Apparition of La Salette, it is utterly contemporary and heavy with the implications of present day episcopal neglect and the blasphemous state of the world.
“It is not in vain that the Mother of Mercy deigned to visit the children of men,” wrote Mgr de Bruillard. “It is not in vain that at the sight of disorders which rouse the anger of Her Son, She came as though to take refuge in our mountains, to shed tears, to warn us of the chastisements that were reserved for us if we did not convert; to remind us of the fear of God, respect for His Holy Name, the sanctification of the Sunday and observation of all the commandments of God and of His Church.”
There is our Catholic battle-line. Drawn at baptism, re-drawn and cemented at our confirmation, it was also the last testament of Maximin. On his deathbed, simply and truly, he declared:
On the one hand, adherence to this pristine Catholic faith alone can dethrone secularism. On the other, ecumenical alliances, to a greater or lesser degree, dilute such fidelity. For that reason, the Manhattan Declaration, while a timely show of strength, remains limited and problematic. This being the case, we dare to propose our own pithy formula and essential foundation for any meaningful response to the coercive secular hegemony:
THE CO DECLARATION:
1. There is a Divine Religion, which is the set of essential duties and obligations which God imposes on all persons without exception, under pain of eternal punishment, to be fulfilled as He has ordered these and not to be rejected or frustrated by adherence to any human philosophies or so-called religions. Thus no one is given by God any right not to fulfil their essential duties and live according to any human philosophy or so-called religion of their own choice. – Fr. I. Cox [Liberty – It’s Use and Abuse, 1939]