I thought of this because of Fr. Longncker's piece on the truth about the Magdalene Laundries . Apparently, as the case of the creation of Pius XII as "Hitler's Pope," the reports of abuse in the laundries don't exactly dovetail with "reality" created in a piece of fiction, in this case the film The Magdalene Sisters. Fr. Longnecker points out the dangers of anti-Catholic propaganda masquerading as art:
This kind of argumentation is the dangerous stuff of pure propaganda and persecution. David Limbaugh has outlined the five stages of persecution:As Fr. Longnecker points out, we need only look to comboxes for evidence of this trend. And he's right, of course--the ugliness towards the Church and Catholics in general in the comboxes of, say, the L.A. Times is actually nauseating.
1. stigmatizing the targeted group,He forgot one stage. After vilifying it for alleged crimes or misconduct comes the stage of exaggerating those alleged crimes and assigning the crimes of a few to a whole group in order to create in the minds of the population the idea that the marginalized group are all inhuman monsters.
2. marginalizing its role in society,
3. vilifying it for alleged crimes or misconduct,
4. criminalizing it,
5. and finally, persecuting it outright.
Given this, how does a Catholic respond? I'm not averse to wading into arguments; and a combox is a lot safer, probably, than the line at my local bakery. Yet most of these people are impervious to reason and logic; one is wasting one's time and fingers offering, yet again, evidence that all priests were not abusers, all Catholics are not vile, and the name of George LeMaitre with a snarky "look it up!" to the charge the Church is anti-science. Is it better to just let people vent and get it out of their systems, in the safety of the virtual world?
I don't know, maybe. But about a month ago I was sitting outside of a Starbucks when two people struck up a conversation that meandered from how they were bilking the welfare system (pretty clever) into a conversation about the vile, filthy Catholic Church. After praising themselves aloud for their tolerance of religion, they wondered, now loudly, how anyone could possibly belong to such an organization, one that promoted child rape.
I didn't say anything. I had work to do, and I doubted that I would have shamed them. I didn't want to have a public argument. And also, there's something different about defending one's own religion to, say, defending a small child being picked on by an angry woman having a bad day.
But since that day, I've wondered if the ugliness spawned in our media is not now oozing out into the public in a way that is, frankly, frightening. Would I have remained silent had the object of bigotry been something other than Catholicism? I don't know. Would they have felt as free and easy as they obviously did had they been speaking of another religion? I can't help but think that the answer is no.
And I'm wondering about the price of silence, even in a combox or a Starbuck's patio.