Thursday, November 17, 2011

No Smooching Here

Here's an interesting story - the Vatican has taken exception to an image Benetton clothing company was using for its advertising campaign - the photo shows the Holy Father and Muslim Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed El-Tayeb kissing, one of a number of photoshopped images of political leaders in passionate embraces.  Benetton has pulled the photo, thank God.  The Vatican tends to be very tolerate of offensive images, but this was one step too far.

I am delighted that the Vatican has decided to raise its voice - I think it tends to let too many things go, as does the Church in general, so much so that people think they can say what they like and offend Christians in any way possible in the sure knowledge that we will not raise a whimper in protest. 

Sometimes I think those who attack us rationalise their abuse by saying "Christians have to forgive, so if they object, we can throw the accusation of hypocrisy in their faces".  It reminds me of a incident when I was teaching: one of my students had misbehaved badly in class, and when I brought him out to check him, he said with a smirk "You're a priest, you have to forgive me and let me off."  I told him I did forgive him - from the bottom of my heart, but he was still being punished - for his own good".  That wiped the smile off his face: he got extra homework and a "blue card" (a demerit card). 

I am all in favour of forgiveness and putting up with bad behaviour and attacks with patience and prayer, but that tolerance has to be mitigated in each situation by assessing the effect of our tolerance.  Will our silence confirm and reinforce injustice, bad behaviour and indeed sin?   We also have to gauge the reaction to our objection - will we do more harm than good?    Looking at the Holy See's response to Enda Kenny's attack, for example, we see that it was measured, diplomatic but yet firm - the government did not like it and tried to make hay by insinuating that it was another example of now entrenched the Holy See was and unable to admit her mistakes.  But that was an anti-Catholic government's view - the interpretation of other nations was different: they saw the Holy See setting the record straight.  

In the interest of fairness we have to give Benetton their due, when the Vatican raised its objection, it took down the image - perhaps they thought to themselves "If the Catholics are objecting so strongly, the Muslims will be really peeved" - no one dares offend Muslims for fear of the consequences.   But they have apologised for offending the faithful, let's hope others will be as respectful in future.

I note another story this morning - from The Irish Catholic.  According to the paper the four Archbishops of Ireland are resisting attempts by the Vatican to reform the structure of Irish dioceses.  A number of people have suggested that our dioceses need to be reduced in number, a suggestion I agree with.  It appears Rome may well agree also, and so is considering changes which will form new dioceses with a Catholic population of 300,000 on average.  The story in The Irish Catholic says that the Archbishops want dioceses with an average population of 100,000.  

To be honest I do not think that would effect too many changes at all.  If this story is true, then I would advise that we cooperate with the Vatican - the time for resistance is over.  With an anti-Catholic government in place, a group of dissident priests doing everything they can to undermine the faith of the people in the communion of the Church universal, this is not the time for haggling with the Holy Father.   Time for us to die to self and realise that perhaps we may not be the right people to sort out the mess the Church in Ireland is in.  Yes, we can help and cooperate, but perhaps it is time to follow Peter.

UPDATE:   It seems the Vatican is actually going to take legal proceedings against Benetton.  Is this a first?  In another legal story: Irish priest, Fr Kevin Reynolds who sued RTE for their false accusations of his having raped and impregnated a young Kenyan girl has been vindicated in the courts.  RTE reached a settlement with him paying not only his costs and compensation, but being order also to pay aggravated damages - a punitive measure imposed by courts on guilty defendants.  While the amount RTE has to pay will not be revealed, it is reckoned to be at least in seven figures.  Here's RTE news' report on the settlement.  That should teach RTE - but will they learn the lesson??  We will see. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Father, for speaking the truth.