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Sunday, March 04, 2007

And they DARE to ask why we are offended?

You can read for yourself the reviews of the play which has caused so much consternation among Catholics. The following excerpts are taken from the Pioneer Press article by Dominic P. Papatola.

Is "The Pope and the Witch" sacrilege, blasphemy, an affront to the Catholic Church?

Turns out that's the wrong question, based on the assumption that the controversial play now on stage at the University of Minnesota is about religion.

It's not, or at least not exactly. Most of Nobel Prize-winning playwright Dario Fo's work is political in nature, and "The Pope and the Witch" is no exception. This is a satire of the church as a maladroit bureaucracy, but also a dramatic tract about the world turning a blind eye to the problems of the Third World, and a farce putting forth overblown solutions to gigantic tragedies.

Several points to make here. Contrary to popular opinion formed by an overly-politicized world incapable of seeing anything outside the spectrum of political terms, the Church is NOT, nor has it ever been, a political organization.

Of COURSE this play was about religion; without the theme of Catholicism, it simply would not have worked. There was no story without being able to poke cruel humor at the expense of the Catholic Church. To see it otherwise displays flagrant ignorance.

This post is not a refute of the article; I only quoted it to give a snapshot of what "they" are saying and how they see it.

This entire fiasco really displays in full relief that "tolerance" and "fairness" and "equality" do not apply to those who hold the beliefs of the Catholic Church. We live in a world so terrified of lawsuits and the ACLU that to even RISK offending someone causes great backpeddaling and profuse apologies followed by complete worship of the group that was nearly offended.

Yet, when we as Catholics spoke up and said that this play is offensive, we were officially and summarily dismissed by the leadership of the University of Minnesota and their pet, the Theatre Depatment with the words, "We don't think it's offensive."

Of COURSE YOU don't think it's offensive, but what does our obvious offendedness have to do with your opinion?

If I were to use a racial slur and the person at the other end of that slur told me that I had offended them by my words and attitude, it would not be acceptable for me to tell them, "Well, I don't think it's offensive." In fact, such an attitude in some places would result in my death, or at the very least, great bodily harm.

This is the litmus test applied to everyone and everything save the Catholic Church. We simply don't apply.

But as long as I live and breathe in this country and my URL is not banned in China, I will speak up in defense of my Church because the right to do so applies to us as well, even though my words will be dismissed yet again and again. They did that to Jesus first, so I guess none of us should be surprised that we who try to follow in His footsteps should suffer some of the same humiliations.

To the claim that the Church is not political; let's take a look at what the play is attacking: issues of abortion, contraception, and poverty.

These are not political issues taken at their core; they are issues surrounding individuals, children of God, even to the smallest, most insignificant, and most defenseless.

These are issues which have been addressed by the Catholic Church since her inception, and they were never political; until the world chose to see and redefine them as political so as to justify their own immoral behaviors as "moral".

So in all charity, and since a proper forum has not been provided for us to answer to the offense against us, I take my place at the podium now before me, to give a defense of what we hold dear; our faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and our allegiance to the Magesterium of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. We do not divorce ourselves from our guiding light for it is the Church that gives us our mission, that of seeking to be holy as Jesus is holy, that of love of neighbor as ourselves. The Church is not a political organization; it is a spiritual organization. When you attack the Vatican and focus your attack upon our practices and our beliefs, you have undermined your right to have an opinion because you have already displayed that your opinion is not valid. I will explain.

The very issues in the play which were skewered as "political" can be found from the earliest days of the Church.

I submit exhibit A; the Didache. This is a document which can be described as the earliest catechism. It was used in a time when the Apostles were still walking the earth, teaching, preaching, and living the Gospel. It was a time in which the Gospels were referred to as "the Memorials" of the Apostles. It was a time of great unrest, great immorality, and those teachings of Christ were of great importance in order to show humanity the fulfillment of what they were always designed by God to become. It is not part of the canon of scripture, but more a type of supplement; a summary, if you will of those teachings of Christ.

(As a note, recognize the references are not necessarily from what we now refer to as the New Testament. This is because the Old Testament can only be interpreted in the light of the New Testament, and the New Testament can only be understood in the light of the Old Testament; the New is the FULFILLMENT of the Old. Additionally, note that the Didache does not note the Letters of the New Testament; they were not yet written for the Didache IS the teachings of the Apostles themselves in a condensed form. )

So let us look at these moral teachings:

Chapter 2.—The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden

1. And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2. You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, Exodus 20:13-14 you shall not commit p├Žderasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, Exodus 20:15 you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten. You shall not covet the things of your neighbour, Exodus 20:17 3. you shall not forswear yourself, Matthew 5:34 you shall not bear false witness...

Chapter 5.—The Way of Death

1. And the way of death is this: First of all it is evil and full of curse: murders, adulteries, lusts, fornications, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rapines, false witnessings, hypocrisies, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; 2. persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; from whom meekness and endurance are far, loving vanities, pursuing requital, not pitying a poor man, not labouring for the afflicted, not knowing Him that made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him that is in want, afflicting him that is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. Be delivered, children, from all these.

Please click on the link above for the Didache and read the entire document for yourself. It is not very long, and as you can see, it is also not difficult reading.

Let us now discuss the criticism of the Church.

The Church has ALWAYS been open to criticism, and as we, the faithful, we are likewise open to criticism, but let's at least have the integrity, all of us, to admit that serious criticism is not an attack; it is a dialogue. Additionally, it must be legitimate. As the U of M has completely dismissed us and people everywhere have demanded that we "take" this "criticism" I have to ask, logically, why the U of M has not responded to our legitimate and reasoned criticism of them?

Clearly, although Dario Fo and his devotees at the University of Minnesota are so enlightened by their navel-gazing, they have not bothered to see what the Church, and the Pope that is their scapegoat in the original script had to say both about criticism and the Church as a political institution.

So I will let the Pope speak for himself in defense of the Church:

While it is right that, in accordance with the example of her Master, who is "humble in heart"13, the Church also should have humility as her foundation, that she should have a critical sense with regard to all that goes to make up her human character and activity, and that she should always be very demanding on herself, nevertheless criticism too should have its just limits. Otherwise it ceases to be constructive and does not reveal truth, love and thankfulness for the grace in which we become sharers principally and fully in and through the Church. Furthermore such criticism does not express an attitude of service but rather a wish to direct the opinion of others in accordance with one's own, which is at times spread abroad in too thoughtless a manner.
John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, Article 4, p. 9

On the Church:

"...the Church cannot remain insensible to whatever serves man's true welfare, any more than she can remain indifferent to what threatens it. In various passages in its documents the Second Vatican Council has expressed the Church's fundamental solicitude that life in "the world should conform more to man's surpassing dignity" in all its aspect, so as to make that life "ever more human." This is the solicitude of Christ Himself, the good Shepherd of all men. In the name of this solicitude, as we read in the Council's Pastoral Constitution, "the Church must in no way be confused with the political community, no bound to any political system. She is at once as sign and a safeguard of the transcendence of the human person."

~ John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, Part II, article 13, page 25

(note: all phrases in quotes taken from the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes, footnoted in Redemptor Hominis as such)

And they wonder why we are offended? Let's see...

* The play takes the trappings of the Church and mocks us. That alone is something we're used to, but being that it's sanctioned by a University funded by tax-payers...yeah. You figure it out.

* The play has a WITCH dressed as a nun working hard to corrupt the Pope...and succeeds. This is an attack against our belief that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth and that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. And in fact, this claim has held up; through two millenia, although we've suffered bad Popes, NONE of them have spoken ex cathedra that is, infallably on moral issues. In fact, the Church's teachings on faith and morals have been consistent! This play attacks that reality and they dare to ask us why we are offended?

* The play, while it does not name the Pope, uses John Paul II as the obvious scapegoat, which is quite ironic considering his history, his life, and his writings. He was a champion of human dignity for all, especially the poor, and he was a champion of morality. I guess that latter issue is the reason he has been lambasted so transparently as a buffoon. And they dare to ask why we are offended?

* The play skewers the consistent moral teachings of the Church as "political" and attacks the Church as a "political" institution. The basis for the attacks are the MORAL teachings of the Church which have been consistent for TWO MILLENIA! It is the job of the Church, as designated by Christ Himself to carry on His mission, to speak to the dignity and the morality of humanity, effecting the fulfillment and restoration to union with God. This is not political; it is spiritual. The fact that these fundamental moral issues have become politicized in our culture does not negate their moral foundation, nor does it negate the duty of the Church and her faithful to speak out on these issues. Furthermore, the Church has a well-documented history of dedication to the poor and marginalized throughout the ages. Locally, Sharing/Caring hands is a charity founded by a Catholic and staffed by Catholic volunteers (as well as others). Catholic Charities, anyone? Birthright? - oh, right, that one isn't politically correct because they act to SAVE babies which would otherwise be aborted by people inflicting their will upon the defensless beings.

And they ask why we are offended?

And so I, exactly, given the evidence above, can anyone actually support this play and refer to their own opinions as "valid". Validity implies a basis of knowledge in the subject matter; Dario Fo, and anyone associated with the U of M has proven that they have no knolwedge, nor do they have understanding, nor do they have a will to understand. Thus, their opinions with regard to whether or not Catholics should or should not be offended has been rendered completely invalid.

If you are going to claim that this is not offensive to Catholics, then you'd better be prepared to defend yourself. To date, I have not seen any valid arguments as to how this play is not offensive, but I sure have seen and spoken with a good number of offended people.

And if you are going to ask us why we are offended, then be prepared to hear the answer, and we will expect a legitimate response, not the dismissal we have constantly received.

Can you really read all of the above and really question why we are offended?


Cathy_of_Alex said...

Excellent post!

Anonymous said...

Actually, they do think it is offensive, or they wouldn't do it, and they wouldn't do it if they didn't think they would get away with it. Catholics are not going to file a law-suit or issue a Jihad.
It's no more complicated than that.

Adoro said...

Actually, Catholics MIGHT file a lawsuit; the Thomas More Institute (I think I got the name wrong) and the Catholic Defense League have actually been filing lawsuits in some cases.

But you're right; we will not issue a Jihad or a fatwa, or any such thing. Our response is a peaceful, reasoned one, and the cool thing is that this is the type of response that wins converts. It's nothing we can see or measure on the surface, but it happens.

Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice; and it only goes to prove that, as such, it must be the one true faith.

But that does not mean we should cowtoe to the bullies and not speak up in defense of our beliefs.

Unknown said...

I agree with Les. The obviously DO think it's offensive, it's just not offensive to them. The fact that it is offensive to "those kind of people" is what got the play produced in the first place.

Fidei Defensor said...

Yep this is that St. Thomas More stuff I was talking about!

Adoro said...

lar, you guys are absolutely right; and that of course is the point of my post. Of course they want to offend us because it makes them feel better about the way they are living their lives.

My guess, though, is that some of the worst offenders are also the most conflicted; and by God's grace they will finally realize whre they are being led. Conversions can be powerful and dramatic, or slow and unnoticed. But they happen. We pray for them.

fidei - St. Thomas More! Well, he did use logic, but I always figured I was more Aquinas-like. Hmmm...

Our Word said...

I agree - you are a Thomist - after all, that's just what I called you over at Cathy's site... :)