[Marxism] More than a wank: Passion and the Church

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Fri Feb 27 03:34:38 MST 2004

In The National Catholic Reporter, Joseph Cunneen states that Mel Gibson's
"The Passion of the Christ" is a "good movie" but "chutzpah" and "don't
bring children; it's far too violent". There are "too many shots of cynical
Jewish priests" and "too many Roman soldiers exult in the endless beatings
of Jesus on his way to Calvary". He argues:

"Oblate Fr. Ronald Rolheiser reminds us that it is a misunderstanding of
Jesus' Passion to think of it as the pain of the physical sufferings he
endured on his way to death. It should be understood rather as "a certain
submissive helplessness he had to undergo in counter-distinction to his
power and activity. The Passion of Jesus refers to the helplessness he had
to endure during the last hours of his life, a helplessness extremely
fruitful for him and the rest of us." This is an insight in sharp contrast
to Gibson's preoccupation with the horror inflicted on Jesus' body, an
emphasis in keeping with a film career that has always been steeped in

Meanwhile Rachel Zoll, Associated Press Religion Writer in Washington,
helped by Associated Press writer Nicholas K. Geranios in Spokane, reports
that two unprecedented studies documenting pervasive sex abuse by US Roman
Catholic clergy concluded 10,667 minors had claimed they were molested by
clergy since 1950, and that bishops bear much of the responsibility for the
crisis. One document reportedly says their failure to stop predators let the
"smoke of Satan" into the church.

After the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI had claimed in his June 29,
1972, sermon during the Mass for Saints Peter & Paul that "We have the
impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has
entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning,
dissatisfaction, confrontation.... We thought that after the Council a day
of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned,
instead, was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and

Pope Paul VI's 1977 Address on the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Fatima
Apparitions also included these words: "The tail of the devil is functioning
in the disintegration of the Catholic world. The darkness of Satan has
entered and spread throughout the Catholic Church even to its summit.
Apostasy, the loss of the faith, is spreading throughout the world and into
the highest levels within the Church."

Expressed here is a sense of despair and consternation at moral rot, a
social malaise which encroaches on the faithful themselves, plunging them
into sin and the ways of the devil.

It is no altogether clear what the meaning of the "smoke of Satan" is, but,
I think it could be defined as (1) the devil's power to blind, cause
spiritual blindness, or hide the truth, as implied in the Book of
Revelations; (2) smoke of a hash, tobacco or marihuana cigarette; (3) a fart
(flatulence), (4) intense body odour of some kind in some phase of human
development (5) the smoke of bodies burnt in imperialist death camps, (6)
teargas, (7) the smoke of pagans, heretics, witches, heathens etc. executed
by burning.

Dietrich von Hildebrand emphasises as regards infiltrating heresies, that
"The anathema excludes the one who professes heresies from the communion of
the Church, if he does not retract his errors. But for precisely this reason
it is an act of the greatest charity toward all the faithful, comparable to
preventing a dangerous disease from infecting innumerable people. By
isolating the bearer of infection, we protect the bodily health of others;
by the anathema, we protect their spiritual health (The Charitable Anathema,
p. 5).

The child abuse studies reported, which were commissioned by America's
bishops, found that 80 percent of the alleged victims were male, 20 percent
female, and that just over half said they were between ages 11 and 14 when
they were assaulted, a source who read the reports told The Associated Press
on condition of anonymity.

The abuse claims were filed against 4,392 of the 109,694 clergy who served
over the last half-century - or about 4 percent of all clerics. Dioceses
nationwide received 10,667 abuse claims since 1950, according to a news
release from the Diocese of Yakima, Wash. Of those, claims by approximately
6,700 were substantiated. About 3,300 were not investigated because the
accused clergymen were dead. Another 1,000 or so claims were
unsubstantiated, the diocese said. The national report also calculated
abuse-related costs such as litigation and counseling at $533.4 million.
However, the John Jay report covered claims up through 2002, and many
multimillion-dollar settlements have been reached since then.

Reference: Michael W. Cuneo, The Smoke of Satan: Conservative and
Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism (Oxford
University Press 1997).

Article at:

Bibliographic reference:


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