Controversy Over Gibson Movie But One Front In A Huge Attack On Catholicism
By Michael H. Brown
The Roman Catholic Church has done itself, humanity and gays a tremendous favor by so forcefully opposing homosexual marriage. For the first time in years, it has jumped ahead of the curve on an issue dominating the media -- and in that bold stroke, announced last week when the Vatican condemned support of gay marriage as "gravely immoral," a "legalization of evil," demonstrated that while a number of its clergy are of this unfortunate proclivity -- have even engaged in it with minors -- the Church itself is sound and staunchly opposed to such behavior and standing behind what is said in both the Old and New Testaments.
This is important not only for us to know, but also for those afflicted by homosexuality, who need our concern, love, and deliverance.
Recently, such excellent Church timing has not been operative, especially as concerns a culture that has turned markedly anti-Christian in general and anti-Catholic in particular. It was only two months ago that the Illinois bishops -- who have emerged as leaders of the U.S. Conference of Bishops -- publicly attacked the evangelical bestselling Left Behind books, which contain not only faulty theology but also a strong strain of anti-Catholicism (which is the way many unaffiliated churches keep their folds from returning to the Mother Church). Those books have been around as huge bestsellers since the 1990s, with virtual silence from the hierarchy in Rome. The same has been true with the occult-laden (and as such contra-Christian) Harry Potter books. Indeed, one priest on a Vatican committee even scoffed that they were worth worrying about and the U.S. Conference of Bishops once posted a review of a Potter movie lauding it as perhaps too violent but irresistibly entertaining.
That was not ahead of the curve. Excuse us for saying that this was trying to be "cool." This was submission to the culture.
Yet now we are seeing a new face to the Church. We are seeing great strength. We are seeing a new boldness. And it is strong, quick action that the Vatican needs to fend off the new assault. Consider The Magdalene Sisters, a new movie vilifying nuns, and the current runaway bestseller, The DaVinci Code -- which starts with a portrayal of Opus Dei, the spiritual movement founded by Josemaria Escriva, who was recently canonized, as one riddled with self-flagellating fanatics, a corrupt bishop, and an albino serial killer. It also sets forth a premise darkly arguing that certain aspects of Christ's life are legend; that the Church has suppressed the proper role of the goddess; and that there is nothing at all wrong with the pentagram (the symbol Satanists use).
War indeed! Sound the call. And in the U.S. Senate, the Democratic minority stalls Alabama Attorney General William H. Pryor Jr.'s appointment by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. The highlight of the process saw Democrats attacking Pryor's "deeply held values" -- a term Republicans said reflects discrimination against Pryor's faithfulness to Catholic Church teachings.
"Anybody who gives money to a church that sends it to Rome is nothing but a grubby victim," writes columnist Jimmy Breslin today.
"Vatican's old men just got more out of touch," adds a headline on another column, this one by Mike Barnicle (who until he was involved in a scandal worked for another great friend of the Church, The Boston Globe, which, speaking of recent journalistic scandals, is owned by The New York Times).
I write as one who has worked with many branches of the media, including The Times. In fact, it was The Times that initially propelled by career. But I also know that it is a dark cavern of agnosticism, of disdain for Christianity, especially Catholicism, and this burbled to the surface over the weekend when it took another shot at actor-director Mel Gibson for his upcoming movie on Christ's Passion. "Seven months before its scheduled release on Ash Wednesday, the film has set off an uproar that both sides warn could undermine years of bridge building between Christians and Jews," said The Times last Saturday -- trying to stoke up yet more opposition by Jews, who fear the movie will depict them as the "Christ-killers" (when there is no evidence whatsoever that it does, nor that it remotely intended anything but a realistic portrayal). "The dialogue is in Aramaic and Latin," goes on the hostile article. "Scholars say that belies the assertion of total authenticity, because the Romans spoke Greek.
"Mr. Gibson also set off alarms among the scholars when reports quoted him as saying his script had drawn on the diaries of Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th-century mystic whose visions included extrabiblical details like having the Jewish high priest order that Jesus' cross be built in the Jewish temple."
And so on. Such diatribes, often subtle and well-couched, are increasingly prevalent, a classic cultural confrontation. Exactly half of Americans oppose homosexual unions, and half are in favor. It is becoming a defining issue as abortion has been a defining issue. The gay issue is exploding -- Episcopalians are ready to okay their first homosexual bishop -- and the Vatican is leading the charge against it, as it should. If it doesn't, its critics will feel emboldened and take a step beyond what is thus far only a verbal persecution.
Resources: Prayer of the Warrior
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