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By Michael J. Gaynor
Op/Ed

The National Broadcasting Company is continuing its anti-Catholic ways.

And not even being subtle about it.

Blasphemy is "the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God."

Sacrilege is "gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing."

On February 22, NBC broadcast an egregiously insulting episode of the sitcom "Committed," using consecrated Communion wafers as comic fodder.

In the name of humor, two of the show's characters flushed a Communion wafer down a toilet!

For "good" measure, the show portrayed a priest as a vulgar ignoramus.

For Catholics, that Communion wafer literally is the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

For other Christians, it represents the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Priests do know the difference between a Communion wafer and a cracker, and they don't swear when they receive Communion.

Predictably, the "Committed" episode created a firestorm of protest among Catholics.

The Catholic League, a faithful watchdog, reported that during the episode two non-Catholics were mistakenly given Holy Communion at a Catholic funeral Mass and could not figure out a suitable way to deal with the situation.

The Catholic League described the unconscionable episode this way:

"Nate, who is Jewish, and Bowie, a Protestant, don't know what to do with the Eucharist, so they make several failed attempts to get rid of it. For example, they try slipping it into the pocket of a priest, dropping it on a tray of cheese and crackers, etc.

"At one point, the priest, who is portrayed as not knowing the difference between the Host and a cracker, goes to grab the 'cracker' from a tray of appetizers; he initially balks when he discovers that it is the last one. Then he changes his mind, saying, 'Oh, what the hell.'

"By far the most offensive scene occurs when Nate and Bowie accidentally flush what they think is the Host down the toilet."

Priests don't force Communion on non-Catholics during any kind of Mass.

Catholic League President William Donahue demanded that NBC apologize for "a direct frontal assault on Roman Catholicism, choosing to mock, trivialize and ridicule the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ."

NBC did apologize and agree not to rebroadcast.

But it obviously did not really repent its anti-Catholic ways.

Is NBC reporting on eBay's recent sacrilegious marketing of consecrated Communion wafers?

No.

And the April 24, 2005 edition of NBC's "Meet The Press" deplorably demonstrated that the Catholic Church remains a prime NBC target.

NBC assembled a group to discuss Pope Benedict XVI, formerly known as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

NBC gave its forum to historian Thomas Cahill to denounce the late Pope John Paul the Great for destroying the Catholic Church and appointing "mindless sycophants and incompetents" and "head-in-the-sand yes men" as bishops.

Mr. Cahill has an agenda: he doesn't want Popes to appoint bishops and apparently does want an end to priestly celibacy and a solely male priesthood

Said Mr. Cahill:

"The solution...is to return episcopal election to the people which is where it was in the early church. You could not--if Peter were to rise from beneath his grave in the Vatican and comeupstairs, would not be able to recognize this church as his. In fact, Peter, who was martyred about '63, was certainly not a bishop and he certainly was not bishop of Rome and he's certainly not pope. He was one of the leaders of the early church. The idea of episcopacy in the sense that we now use it really comes into play toward the end of the first century as a response to heresies and the need to create some form of doctrinal order. But it takes almost 2,000 years to put us in the position that we are now in where the papacy or the pope makes all of these appointments so that these bishops are not really bishops of their people. They are simply appointees of the pope. That was never the idea. It really is a theological mistake, and it is responsible for the horrendous scandal in American Catholicism and in many other countries. I refer to the pedophilia scandal. If we had bishops who were not head in the sand yes men, this could have been dealt with, but the pedophilia was bad enough in itself and really had to do with internal psychological immaturities in the celibate clergy but what was much worse was the cover-up which happened--it seems to me that Bernard Law, cardinal cover-up himself, is a perfect example of the mistakes that John Paul II made in his appointments. The people of Boston would never have elected Cardinal Law."

(The people of Boston have regularly voted for John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.)

NBC also invited E.J. Dionne, a Washington Post and New Republic columnist, to acknowledge that "as a Catholic" he "was petrified" at the choice of the 265th Pope.

Unfortunately, Mr. Dionne recovered in time to appear on the show.

According to Mr. Dionee: "Pope Benedict's vision of the Church is that it should comprise a tough band of orthodox believers who confront modernity and uphold the truths the Church teaches, without any hesitations."

Apparently, Mr. Dionne favors a weak group of doubters who abandon the truths the Church teaches, hesitatingly.

Moderator Tim Russert took offense when Rev. Joseph Fessio calmly and correctly mentioned what surely should not have been news to Mr. Russert: that some theological matters did not lend themselves to sound bite answers, and pathetically patted himself on the back for devoting a whole show to the current condition of the Catholic Church.

Mr. Russert read extensively from Mr. Cahill's recent diatribe against the late Pope John Paul the Great in The New York Times:

"Sadly, Pope John Paul II represented a different tradition, one of aggressive appalls. Whereas Pope John XXIII endeavored simply to show the validity of church teaching rather than to issue condemnations. John Paul II was an enthusiastic condemner. ...he was not a great religious figure. How could he be? He may, in time to come, be credited with destroying his church."

Mr. Russert also quoted these wicked words from Mr. Cahill in The Times:

"John Paul II's most lasting legacy to Catholicism will come from the episcopal appointments he made. In order to have been named a bishop, a priest must have been seen to be absolutely opposed to masturbation, premarital sex, birth control (including condoms used to prevent the spread of AIDS), abortion, divorce, homosexual relations, married priests, female priests and any hint of Marxism. It is nearly impossible to find men who subscribe wholeheartedly to this entire catalogue of certitudes; as a result the ranks of the episcopate are filled with mindless sycophants and intellectual incompetents."

Mr. Cahill is neither fair nor balanced.

And neither in NBC.

And Mr. Cahill deceptively decried "exclusivism":

"I think that Christians as a group often make the mistake of exclusivism, of trying to draw the circle that much tighter and that much smaller of excluding rather than including, which I think is an extremely basically un-Christian format. Jesus said, 'We must include everyone just as God does.'

"I think that in many ways, John Paul made mistakes in that direction, and though the piazza was full for many days, the churches are largely empty in many parts of the world and they will not fill up simply because of the phenomenon that we have noticed over the last few weeks. I think the kind of, what I would call, recidivist theology of someone like the previous speaker is, ahistorical. It is not based on the true history of Christianity, it's fanciful, and it is lacking in compassion for millions and millions of people who can't meet the supposed standards. When Jesus sat down next to the woman at the well and talked to her for a very long time, then he said, 'Why don't you go and bring your husband out.' And she said, 'I don't have a husband,' and he said, 'You're right. You've had five husbands and the man who you're living with right now isn't your husband.' And she said, 'Wow.' And she went into the town and said, 'I've just met the Messiah.' Now, he didn't say to her, 'Before you have communion with me, you must go back to your first husband.' No, he didn't talk about her div--he kind of engaged her on the subject of her divorces, but a church that says, for instance, of divorce people know they may not commune with Jesus I think is making the terrible un-Christian un-evangelical mistake and I think it does it in many other areas, largely related to either sexuality or women."

First, as Jesus said in "The Lord's Prayer": "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Evil is to be excluded, not included.

Sinners are to repent, not revel in and deny their sins and reclassify them as goods.

Second, when the adulterous was about to be stoned to death but for Jesus' intercession, he told her that he did not condemn her and to go forth and sin no more.

He did NOT authorize adultery.

NBC also made room for Sister Mary Aquin O'Neil to expound upon her concerns about Pope Benedict XVI and curiously credit "a line in a wonderful work by Karen Armstrong, 'The Spiral Staircase,' her latest book, where she says, 'We must make room in our minds for one another," in helping her to relate to Pope Benedict XVI despite her "great concern" about him based on his reputation.

Mr. Russert repeatedly turned to The New York Times, as though it were the Bible, for more criticism of Pope Benedict XVI:

"The New York Times Wednesday had this article: 'He has repeatedly condemned "religious pluralism" and relativism, the idea that other religions can hold the way to salvation, and he has been instrumental in blocking the advance of priests who support such view. In 2000 the Vatican document "Dominus Jesus," in which Cardinal Ratzinger was the driving voice, called for a new Catholic evangelism and described other faiths as lesser searches for the truth. "This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the church has for the religions of the world," the document said, "but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that 'one religion is as good as another."'"

Mr. Russert understandably bewildered Reverend Fessio, who knows Pope Benedict XVI, by insinuating (Mr. Russert put the "sin" in "insinuate") that Pope Benedict XVI is "very dangerous."

"MR. RUSSERT: Father Fessio, Hans Kung, who used to be a mentor to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and has obviously had a rather strained relationship with him--he's a theologian--said that the new pope is 'very sweet but very dangerous.' You have worked with Cardinal Ratzinger. How would you respond with that?

"REV. FESSIO: Well, Tim, first of all, I've been listening to these comments and I'm kind of bewildered, because it's hard to know how to respond to them. My experience of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, is of a man who is very gentle, extremely gracious, a wonderful listener and with a great sense of humor, always that. And I realize he's got bad press because he's had to be the one to oversee the documentation of the church. But I think even the press and the media are already surprised. They're saying, 'Gee, he seems so much nicer than we thought.' But there was a false image that was presented before of this man. And remember, for Catholics it's not so important who the pope is, but that we have a pope at all, that if there's going to be unity in the church there must be someone who's a visible sign and a guardian of that unity. So Cardinal Ratzinger is going to be 'conservative,' as the media likes to call him, because every Catholic has got to be someone who receives a message and passes it on.

"If Benedict XVI, Tim, gave you a message for me and you deliver it to me and I say, 'Well, Tim, is that just what he told you?' You say, 'Well, no, Father, I made a little change here. I thought I would improve this and that was a little outmoded.' I say, 'Wait a minute, Tim, I want to know what he said to me.' And we believe, as Catholics, that God himself has revealed himself in Jesus Chris to us, and given us the fullness of truth, truth which we cannot invent on our own. And so we believe, by the very nature of our faith, that it's very important that we receive these truths, we understand them, we cherish them, we try to pass them on to others and live them, but not to change them or dilute them or modify them. So any person who is a priest or a bishop or a pope or a Catholic, for that matter, is going to have to be conservative in the sense of trying to maintain this beautiful revelation that Jesus, who is God, died for your sins, died for my sins, died for all men's sins, and loves us all, but that's the fullness of truth. So we're going to respect Buddhists. We're going to respect people who have no belief at all, because they're in the image of God.

"At the same time, if we're Catholics, we believe that God has enlightened us. He's given us the knowledge that he does love everyone, and we have to pass that on. So for Kung to say he's dangerous, I think he's dangerous the way Jesus was dangerous. You know, Jesus came; he was rejected by many. But for those who did respond to him, he was the source of eternal life. And I love Sister's reference to her motto, 'The truth will set you free.' You see, I believe that was one of Ratzinger's greatest abilities, was to listen to all kinds of people, all kinds of positions, and then, in the light of the Gospel, present a fullness of response which enlightened people and which energized people. And that's why, again, in his own motto, he serves our joy. I think we have here a pope who'll take the name of Benedict who's going to try and re-Christianize our culture and reach out to everyone through prayer, through the Eucharist."

Bravo, Father Fessio!

And let us pray not only for the success of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy, but that Mr. Russert and NBC are educable and can be saved.

Michael J. Gaynor
95 Darrow Lane
Greenlawn, New York 11740-2803
(631) 757-9452 (tel)
(631) 754-3437 (fax)
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Contact

Michael J. Gaynor
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Michael J. Gaynor - Attorney, 631 757-9452

Email

GaynorMike@aol.com

Keywords

NBC, Meet The Press, Pope Benedict XVI, Tim Russert,

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