It’s my goal, when I sit down at the keyboard, to inspire, to entertain, to present the Catholic faith in a manner that is both understandable and attractive. I pray that something I write may, in some small way, persuade someone to take a second look at a belief system which they’ve rejected but which, in my estimation, offers a consistent and logical approach to all things.
So I try always to cast the Catholic Church in the best light. I write about good things, about kindness and love and saints and expressions of faith in the marketplace. I am a cheerleader for the Vatican.
And then, this. Catholic World News, reporting on the Vatican’s response to the assassination of American Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, wrote:
Responding to mob violence against US embassies in Libya and Egypt, which led to the deaths of four American diplomats, the director of the Vatican press office released a statement condemning “provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers.”
The statement by Father Federico Lombardi did not include a condemnation of the killings in Benghazi, Libya, or the burning of American flags in Cairo. Instead he focused on offenses against Islam. The Muslim mobs were reportedly outraged by reports of a film, produced by an obscure American, that criticized Islam.
But wait, there’s more:
From Libya, Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, told Vatican Insider that Western countries should have the “courage” to ban “all blasphemous projects” and establish “a policy that is respectful of religion.”
The media analysis offered more of the same—explaining why the Muslims might have gotten their feelings hurt. Sitting around in a doctor’s office this morning, I caught a continuous loop of reporters first, showing the burning vehicle. (No, guys: Ambassador Stevens did not die instantly in a rocket blast that incinerated his vehicle. I’ve seen the photos, posted by Islamists, showing him being tortured and beaten; he was killed, apparently by smothering, and his body dragged through the streets.) Then, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour popped up to talk about the “shame”—how an American had produced an anti-Muslim film.
Dear Pontifical Councils, cardinals, bishops, media reporters, et.al.: This is America, and perhaps we’re different from other governments with whom you interact. Here in the U.S.A., freedom of speech ranks among our highest values.
We deplore the bigoted rants of the Ku Klux Klan, for instance; but we staunchly defend their right to parade through our streets—realizing that if freedom is not for everyone, then we may be the next special interest group to fall.
In fact, the issue of “religious freedom” has been in the fore here in the U.S. this year, as Catholics rise up to demand their constitutionally protected right to operate a business and provide health insurance for our employees without paying for abortion or contraceptive coverage, which our faith teaches us is morally offensive.
So please, join with us in condemning the violence which took the lives of four American diplomats, whose only role was to help in cementing relations between the U.S. and Libya. Recognize that for the horror it was. And please, don’t insist that America abandon its Constitutional freedoms to “establish a policy that is respectful of religion.”
What this is about is a ferocious attack on our country—a country which has poured millions into strengthening their economy and which has held out the hand of friendship—because of the action of one unimportant guy. Don’t excuse the Muslims for this action; instead, teach them about this great country in which we live, and the precious freedoms our citizens have died to protect.
UPDATE: Phil Lawler addresses “outrageous Vatican reaction,” hopes for a revised statement tomorrow.
UPDATE 2: Here it is. This morning the Vatican issued a new statement, firmly condemning the U.S. consulate attack in Libya. “Nothing, in fact,” said spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, ”can justify the activity of terrorist organisations and homicidal violence.” Read it here.