“Surely, this was the Son of God!” said the Roman soldier on Calvary two thousand and one years ago, on that first Good Friday when the Earth shook and the heavens darkened as Jesus Christ bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
In the faiths of Catholics and Christians alike, that soldier uttered the greatest truth ever spoken. He had looked up and seen in that lifeless body the answer to the question Pontius Pilate had posed only hours before, on sentencing Christ to His death on the cross: “What is truth?”
A different answer for every faith, to be sure.
Yet, recently in America, the verity of all truths – moral and religious – is questioned, relativism is taken hold, and all beliefs and assertions of truth itself are accorded the same protection under the catch word “tolerance.”
Worse, there is an increasing element of mocking distaste for those who believe that the greatest truth on Earth is the truth of Jesus Christ himself, and scorn for those who have suffered martyrdom rather than deny those truths.
What is this contradiction; this in-tolerance, of sorts, that asks for protection in the name of tolerance?
The contradiction is the red fiery morning sky before a storm; it is the sign that the forces of darkness in the battle for the heart and soul of America are near.
The Spring Break 2001 catalog of Abercrombie & Fitch is a soft-core porn magazine aimed at teenagers that happens to also bash Catholicism.
On page 61 of “A&F XXX Adventure: Get Wet Set & Go on Spring Break,” readers are advised to adorn their spring break hotel rooms with “palm fronds” that can be taken “for free if you crash a Catholic mass on Palm Sunday.”
On page 110, there is a review of cult movies, including “Cemetery Man,” about which it says “One viewing is all it’ll take but learning to make wry comments after bashing a dead nun’s head to a pulp couldn’t hurt either.”
“Florida Atlantic University has programs aimed at students who are Thai, Haitian, Chinese, African American, women, gays and Jews. The school also lists faculty experts in such areas as Rastafari, multiculturalism, sexism/racism in language and anti-Semitism,” said Catholic League president William Donohue.
“It has no expert in anti-Catholicism and no Catholic studies program analogous to its Holocaust and Judaic Studies program. But it hasn’t forgotten about Catholics, which is why it is hosting a play that depicts Christ having sex with his twelve apostles,” Donohue said.
In New York, at the ever-controversial, publicly funded Brooklyn Museum of Art, Christians have turned the cheek yet again for another slap: “Committed to the Image: Contemporary Black Photographers” opened in February. (The exhibit includes “Yo Mama’s Last Supper,” which depicts Christ as a nude black woman and shows her facing forward, standing with her arms wide open and 12 black men disciples sitting or standing on either side of her.)
This is a step up the moral ladder for the artist Renee Cox, who has previously justified her attacks by blaming the Catholic Church for slavery and has portrayed Christ on the cross castrated.
Said Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at the time, “If it were done against another group there would be an outcry in this city that would demand that they take the photograph down, but anti-Catholicism is just accepted prejudice, it is allowed in the city and in our society.”
Meanwhile, across town at the magazine Time Out New York, the editorialists there called the late Archibishop John Cardinal O’Connor a “pious creep” who was a menace to the gay society, and ranked his death as the best event of 2000 in its Gay & Lesbian “Best and Worst of 2000” listing.
And on Ash Wednesday, Fox News Network reported that CNN founder Ted Turner stunned CNN employees in Washington when he made an anti-Christian remark on Ash Wednesday.
Seeing ashes on the foreheads of some workers, Turner said, “What are you? A bunch of Jesus freaks? You ought to be working for Fox.” Turner later apologized.
Everywhere, we see the assaults on sense and decency; they are parasites to the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion which ride into combat disguised as constitutional liberties, only to be the opening salvos in the Cultural War.
In his 1931 essay, “A Plea for Intolerance,” Fulton J. Sheen wrote, “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance, tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos.”
Which begets the question, what is true tolerance?
“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience towards evil . a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error,” Sheen wrote.
“Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of stability,” he warned.
Monsignor Sheen had it quite correct: sometimes, tolerance is intolerable.
-The writer, a senior, is former Hatchet features editor.