HH = HOST HOSTAGE (a young man whole stole a host and sent it to Dr. Myers for desecration)
FJ = FATHER JOE (a priest upset about the desecrations and disappointed in the people who would do such things)
HH: “I know that you have been hurt, but you seem uninterested in how you have hurt others, including me”
FJ: I have spent my life trying to bring healing to others and you stamp me as guilty of deliberately and callously hurting people?
HH: I too am a little disappointed; in that you chose to remove the link to PZ Myers’ website.
FJ: As for the website link, I try to avoid links to sites that employ vulgar language or long polemics against the Church. As terrible as your YouTube video was, you did not use nasty language as certain others did.
HH: It’s all the more strange, given that you are an active contributor to Dr. Myers’ blog.
FJ: I have never left a comment at his blog. I clicked your link and that was the first time I saw it.
HH: Also, you seem willing to link to my video on YouTube, showing the ‘cracker’ next to a condom! I don’t quite see the logic, but it’s your blog here, and of course you can do as you see fit. There is, of course, a small cost.
FJ: The video is very offensive and sad, but pretty tame without the dialogue. It does remind Catholics that the threat to the Eucharist is real. It furthered the discussion on my own blog, but as I said, I had never seen Dr. Myers’ website.
HH: I’m not interested in hurting people.
FJ: No, I think you are interested in hurting people. I think you want to return pain with pain.
HH: I’m interested in raising consciousness; both among Catholics and the wider community, that it’s time for a change in the ‘Zeitgeist’; that it’s time to hold religious people and religious organisations accountable (and responsible) for their actions; that just because you hold a cross in one hand doesn’t mean that you can do anything you like with the other; that the Roman collar isn’t a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’.
FJ: What you have done polarizes the various sides. We are not talking about sober debate but about acts of religious terrorism. Much is said about threats from Christians, probably mostly idle, but people like yourself have gone out of your way to light the match to the emotions. As for your agenda, I fail to see how atheism represents the raising of human consciousness. Rather, I see it as the ultimate digression into absurdity, an embracing of nihilism and despair.
HH: You say I’ve hurt you. I certainly regret that (if you’re being honest about that then I really do). But I do wonder if you’re equating ‘hurt’ with being forced to grapple with some inconvenient questions.
FJ: Any desecration against our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament pains me. But added to this is my concern for your standing before God. I have practical questions about how we might have better ministered to people like you; but, I would not revisit Catholic doctrine or morality. Such matters are fixed. Truth is not molded into our likeness; rather, we are to discern and then apply ourselves to truth according to its terms. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it is very hard.
HH: In any case, you by your support for the Catholic Church’s policies, that I’ve mentioned before, are hurting me and others. I think I have the right to hit back; if only to wake you up! You feel you have a ‘God given right’ (literally) to use your influence to impose your particular take on morality on the rest of society. I know from my experience living in Ireland (through national debates on divorce and contraception) that, given the opportunity, the Church will stomp all over the moral rights of minority religions and secularists. And, no, I’m NOT doing the same thing……please think a little before you accuse me of that.
FJ: The Church teaches what she feels is in the best interest of others. Like any good parent, she wants her children to be happy and to be in a right relationship with others and with God. Excusing what she knows to be sin and/or immoral would be a failure to love on her part. When people get married they promise each other and God that they will remain together as husband and wife, no matter what. Christ and his Church only insist that we keep our promises. Contraception was condemned by most all churches until 1930. I am firmly convinced that it damages the conjugal union and that it is the handmaid to abortion. It cripples fertility and treats a natural power as a disease. The Church is only one voice in society, but she has the right to profess what she feels is the truth passed down through the centuries.
This, in itself, does no damage to your rights. You and fellow atheists can also express yourselves through dialogue, politics and the media. However, this is not the same as disrupting religious services or absconding with the Eucharist for purposes contrary to what Christ and the Church give to it.
HH: I’ve read a number of your contributions to PZ Myers’s blog and I’ve taken a lot of it on board.
FJ: As I said before, I have never contributed to his blog. Decency would never allow me to write anything on that site.
HH: This may sound a little patronising, but my best guess is that you have a significant problem in understanding that a lot of atheists like myself have a DEEP DEEP sense of morality.
FJ: Given that you are evidently reading someone else, you really are not in a position to say much or anything about me. I tend to think atheism is somewhat crippled in assigning moral weight, given the total disavowal of divine positive law or an objective source for morality. Non-Christians can have strong moral positions, though. The late Pope John XXIII appealed to men and women of good will to respect the natural law in creating a more just and peaceful civil order.
HH: Unlike the greater part of yours, it’s not handed down from on-high. When one leaves the Church one has to forge one’s own sense of what is wrong and what is right. It’s no longer on a plate. EVERYTHING I believe in is as a result of being forced to think deeply about each issue. It’s about setting up some basic foundational principles on which one builds one’s position on everything else. It’s about appreciating the importance of ensuring that those principles are not built on sand. It’s about the joy of trying to do the right thing (and it is a joy!).
FJ: There is no such thing as a morality isolated from the community, no matter whether it be secular or religious. We try to find our own way, but no one walks absolutely alone. What happens is that we decide with whom we will walk. Placing myself in your shoes for a moment, I would contend that stealing hosts from a church or desecrating them is wrong— even if I thought the whole business was silly and that the hosts were still merely pieces of unleavened bread. Here is an instance where I question your moral reflection and activity. We should not become anarchists, doing what we want no matter how offensive to others. What you do in your bedroom might upset me but I have no right to enter your bedroom and invade your privacy. The Mass is the love story for Catholics, and you defiled the object of our love. You can ridicule or debate against the real presence, but defiling the sacrament goes too far.
HH: It’s about the joy of realising that human beings are, by nature, ‘good’. It’s a joy denied to the religious.
FJ: No, this is not true. The Church would say that God’s creation is good although we are hampered by original sin. Maybe because of your Irish background you associate Catholicism with the heresy of Jansenism; but this would be a mistake.
HH: You asked me in a previous reply if I was sure that there wasn’t ’something more’. I’m absolutely honest when I say that I’m 99% sure that there isn’t. I sympathise with Christopher Hitchens when he says that he would hate if there WAS an ‘after-life’; a ‘celestial North Korea’, as he puts it! It took me some years of deep thinking, in my twenties, to come to terms with the fact that when I die I will be no more. It may sound awful to you, but it’s something that time, and some reflection, reconciles. It makes one appreciate the real significance of the Golden Rule; a principle on which Christianity holds no monopoly.
FJ: I must still insist that while I can respect the honest reflection of an atheist, regarding both the scientific and philosophical questions regarding existence and absolute meaning; you show little sign of acknowledgment that people with comparable intelligence might come to very different conclusions. It seems to me that atheism has regressed since the days of Bertrand Russell and the civility with which he debated the Jesuit Copleston.
HH: I did the right thing on July 13th and, no, I don’t think I really hurt you……………if you were to be really honest.
FJ: Your final assessment then is that I am a liar. As a priest who is dedicated to the service of God at the altar and his Eucharist, I am offended and pained beyond words by what you did. As a priest, I am also very concerned about how this affects others, including you. This act will have an impact. It will change you. I am not talking simply about repercussions from the God you reject, but about the callousness in your character— the person you are becoming. You did hurt others. You hurt me. And when we stop caring about such things, we give it a name, “evil”.