Remnant News Watch

(March 2009)

Blasphemy on Israeli Television

Mark Alessio

(Posted 03/19/09 Leaders of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land are “condemning the ‘revolting attacks’ against Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, broadcast by Israel's Channel 10 television,” reports Zenit (Feb. 19, 2009):

A joint communiqué issued Wednesday explains, "In these days, during a night show on Channel 10, a series of horrible offenses were launched against our faith and consequently against us, Christians." The communiqué was signed by the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the Franciscan custos of the Holy Land, among others.

"The show directed its attacks to the holiest figures of our Christian belief in an attempt, as the director of the show himself specifically declared, to destroy Christianism," the communiqué stated. “Channel 10 was used to desecrate the holiest figures of Christianism offending hundreds of thousands of Christian Israeli citizens and of many millions of Christians all over the world as well," the Catholic leaders lamented.

The communiqué, as well as an official complaint by the Vatican, was issued as the result of a series of skits broadcast on Israel’s Channel 10, a privately-owned station. During the program, hosted by comedian Lior Shlein, it was said that the Virgin Mary was impregnated by a schoolmate, and that Jesus never walked upon water because "he was so fat he was ashamed to leave the house, let alone go to the Sea of Galilee with a bathing suit."

According to the Associated Press (Feb. 20, 2009), the skits were “a sarcastic response to the Vatican's rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson.” After the Vatican complained that Mary and Joseph were "ridiculed with blasphemous words and images" that amounted to a "vulgar and offensive act of intolerance toward the religious sentiments of the believers in Christ," and Christian Arabs demonstrated in Galilee, the Israeli government assured the Holy See that “it would intervene to interrupt the transmission and get the broadcaster to publicly apologize,” even though Channel 10 is a privately-owned station.

The L.A. Times reports (Feb. 22, 2009) that Avi Cohen, the editor of the Channel 10 show, issued a non-apology for the incident, stating that he did not regret the satire directed against "one of the worst Holocaust deniers in history and a neo-Nazi of the most depraved kind" and had no regrets about their "appropriately biting satirical response." He also said, "we sincerely apologize – for the seventh time so far – if someone was personally offended by our fair-play and appropriate response to an anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying bishop."

The Catholic leaders who issued the joint communiqué observed that the blasphemous program was yet another in a series of attacks on Christians in Israel over the years, citing a recent occurrence during which "copies of the New Testament were publicly burned in the yard of a synagogue in Or Yehuda."

Lior Shlein’s vindictive display had one definite purpose – to punish Pope Benedict. For what? For “daring” to govern the Catholic Church as he sees fit. For daring to mend a breach which has been a disgrace to post-conciliar Catholicism. For daring to place the good of the Church, and the value of her liturgical patrimony, above other considerations.

Remember the outburst by Jewish critics when the Pope issued the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, allowing more and more Catholics to experience the Traditional Latin Mass? The ADL called it a "body blow to Catholic Jewish relations,” and the headline in The Times, UK read, “Pope set to bring back Latin Mass that divided the Church.” Divided the Church? It was the Novus Ordo that “divided” the Church, ushering in a liturgical Babel where there had once been unity of liturgy and language in Catholic Churches throughout the world.

One of the most baneful effects of the pontificate of John Paul II was the reduction of the dignity and import of the papacy in the eyes of the world. The spectacle of John Paul II donning pompous rock-star Bono’s sunglasses, and then grinning foolishly, was one side of the coin – the Vicar of Christ as “goofy old uncle.” That was bad enough. But, it was during his reign that outsiders became bold, to the point where they presumed to lecture him on all aspects of his holy office – i.e., the canonization of Edith Stein, or the supposed “anti-ecumenism” language of the declaration, Dominus Iesus.

How did such a climate develop where the ADL could demand that the Pope denounce Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk of Radio Maria for “anti-Semitism,” while popular American rabbis like Shmuley Boteach and James Rudin were saying and writing the most contemptible and offensive things about the Holy Gospels, with not one word uttered in protest? The participation of Protestants at Vatican II was a harbinger of things to come. Little by little, the enemies of the Catholic Church – especially those from within – chipped away at the doctrine that the Church was unique, was THE Church founded by Jesus Christ. They have done their job well. Today, the Pope is viewed as simply another corporate head, ripe for rebuking at the drop of a hat.

It has been a long time since we have seen a Pope stand-up for himself and the Church with a manly attitude, as is evidenced by how easily Pope Benedict has terrified the non-Catholic world. Thought not yet a Traditionalist, the Holy Father has taken a few very important steps – namely, providing greater accessibility to the Latin Mass (an accessibility which should never have been curtailed in the first place) and a rapprochement with the SSPX. And, because he has done these on his own initiative as Vicar of Christ (a no-no in today’s collegial/ ecumenical madhouse), he is labeled authoritarian, out-of-touch, regressive, etc.

Orthodox Jews hold fast to ancient dietary laws, pray in an ancient language and follow 613 mitzvot (commandments). Jewish writer Menachem Wecker wrote (National Catholic Reporter - March 21, 2008):

Orthodox Jews, both in Israel and throughout the world, recite the prayer Aleynu (“Upon Us”) three times a day thanking God for distinguishing them from non-Jews, including Christians, who “pray to a God who doesn’t help.” The Orthodox version of the Passover Hagaddah, which has been variously edited by Conservative and Reform Jews, petitions God to “Pour out your anger toward the gentiles who do not know you” and “chase them with rage and destroy them.”

Yet, do we see Orthodox Jews constantly accused of being out-of-touch, regressive? Are non-Jews continually haranguing them to follow “modern” styles of worship or change this or that element of their liturgy? No .... nor should non-Jews have any say in how the Orthodox pray and worship. But we are supposed to accept that Pope Benedict and Catholic liturgy/doctrine are legitimate targets for non-Catholic activists, merely because of his concessions to Traditionalism, which is, after all, the patrimony of every living Catholic? We are supposed to sit by and allow Jewish activists to tell us which Mass to attend? Rank hypocrisy, plain and simple.

The world loves a globe-trotting pontiff who doesn’t appear to get too worked up over liturgy or doctrine. But along comes another Pope, who merely attends to the pastoral care of the Catholic people – which is his duty as the Successor of St. Peter, who was told by Our Lord, “Feed My sheep” – and the cowards and Church-haters are staring bug-eyed at him as though he were Freddy Kreuger.

The geniuses at Israel’s Channel 10 assert that their vile blasphemies against Jesus and Mary was their “fair-play and appropriate response” and an "appropriately biting satirical response" to Pope Benedict’s charitable and pastoral actions regarding Bishop Williamson. Appropriate? The Mother of God being impregnated by a schoolmate and Jesus Christ being “too fat” to walk on water?

There is a powerful scene in C.S. Lewis’ 1945 science-fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, in which the forces of evil – in the guise of respectable rationalists called “The N.I.C.E.” (The National Institute for Coordinated Experiments) – are holding a meeting, when they are struck with the Curse of Babel. Suddenly, their language becomes more and more incomprehensible until chaos ensues. The enemies of Christ and His Church, using the Bishop Williamson affair for their own ends, are becoming increasingly strident and progressively more irrational as they try to hold onto this “golden opportunity” for Catholic-bashing. Witness Israel’s Channel 10. To anyone with a modicum of sense left, such screeching resemble a new Babel, indeed.

Much of the Bishop Williamson hysteria is not about the Holocaust. It is about the realization that, just maybe, the current Pope will be a man to stand his ground, working for the restoration of the Church while turning a deaf ear to the incessant cackling of dissenters who have no love for this Church, telling them, in effect, to keep their noses where they belong and clean up their own decrepit houses, for a change. It is a fear that the Holy Father will act with the recognition that the One to Whom he must account for the Church is not some pusillanimous activist, but the King of Kings. Let us hope this is true, even as we pray for him.



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