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Sunday, May 07, 2006

would jesus silence his critics through the courts?

I don't think so.

From this Reuters story:
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - In the latest Vatican broadside against "The Da Vinci Code", a leading cardinal says Christians should respond to the book and film with legal action because both offend Christ and the Church he founded.

Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who was considered a candidate for pope last year, made his strong comments in a documentary called "The Da Vinci Code-A Masterful Deception."

Arinze's appeal came some 10 days after another Vatican cardinal called for a boycott of the film. Both cardinals asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough.

"Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and to forget," Arinze said in the documentary made by Rome film maker Mario Biasetti for Rome Reports, a Catholic film agency specializing in religious affairs.

"Sometimes it is our duty to do something practical. So it is not I who will tell all Christians what to do but some know legal means which can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others," Arinze said.
As a humble, practicing Catholic, I think you got it all wrong, Cardinal. (OK, I'm not that humble.)

When some Muslims went crazy last year over those offensive political cartoons, resorting to violence and murder, it was easy to criticize them and useful to point out that Catholics, constantly under attack in our modern culture via film, television, and literature, do not respond to such attacks with violence. Instead, we respond with argument and education, knowing that truth will prevail in the end. Centuries ago, the Church was indeed guilty of using violence and murder to silence dissenters; fortunately, we've long since advanced beyond that mindset, recognizing and individual's right to his own opinion, however wrong we believe it to be.

Granted, Cardinal Arinze is not calling for the murder of Dan Brown or the cast and crew of the forthcoming movie, but by attempting to use the courts to prevent others from exercising their rights to free speech, he is advocating a form of violence through the State.

I haven't read The Da Vinci Code, and I probably won't, though I may rent the movie when it comes out on DVD. From what I know about the story, I probably would agree with the Vatican on its offensiveness to Catholicism, but I would encourage responding with boycotts and gentle persuasion using pens, keyboards, radio waves and podcasts, rather than responding with violence using courts, lawyers, governments and guns. I believe the Vatican generally shares this view, notwithstanding the views of Cardinal Arinze.

Thank God that Arinze wasn't selected to be the JPII's successor.

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