by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The largest newspaper in France got a taste of Catholic ire when it ran a blasphemous cartoon that sparked a worldwide backlash of protest so great it caused the publisher to admit, “the lambs of God can bite!”
Le Monde, France’s equivalent of The New York Times, published a cartoon on March 19 depicting Jesus handing out condoms to the masses with the caption “The multiplication of the condoms followed the multiplication of the loaves. The cartoon also targeted the Pope, featuring him as a decrepit old man who says “Anything goes!”
According to the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Faith and Property (TFP), the paper’s Ombudsman reported on March 28 that the paper had received “a hurricane, a tsunami of protests” from Catholics around the world. Le Monde admitted that the tsunami started slow at first with protests arriving by the hundreds, then quickly grew to the thousands and finally reached a peach of 500 email messages an hour. The traffic clogged their server to such an extent they had to reroute email traffic to a new server to avoid a breakdown. The cartoon’s author said this was the largest protest he had ever seen.
TFP’s Student Action group played a large role in spreading word about the blasphemous cartoon by sending out its first e-mail blast on the day of the cartoon’s publication – March 19 – the feast of Saint Joseph, and placed the protest under his protection. The first e-mail was eventually followed by two more and before long, news had spread around the world.
“Thank God, the email struck a receptive cord in the hearts and souls of Catholics nationwide and thousands of Catholics responded immediately, sending their own messages of protest to Le Monde,” said TFP director Robert E. Ritchie. “Catholic groups picked up the protest in the United States and abroad.”
The newspaper transcribed samples of the protest messages and found simple expressions of Catholic piety mixed with notes warning of dire consequences for the souls of the publishers. One person wrote: “Don’t you realize that you attract the justice of God upon the world?”
This wave of Catholic ire caused Le Monde to say that Catholics need not take lessons from anyone on how to launch an effective protest and states that “The lambs of God can bite.”
“They forget that Catholics take their example from Our Lord, Who is the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah too,” Ritchie said.
Unfortunately, the people at Le Monde have not apologized for publishing the sacrilegious or pledge to stop offending God, the Papacy and the Catholic Church again, Ritchie said.
“But since ‘the lambs of God can bite,’ as they said, they may think twice about attacking Our Lord and the Pope in such sacrilegious terms in the future,” Ritchie said. “Moreover, we pray that their troubled consciences and the thought of God’s Justice may prevent them from doing it again.”
Most importantly, he said, the tsunami or protest and prayer from Catholics worldwide was an act of reparation raised to the Throne of God through the intercession of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother.
A message to Le Monde can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org:
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1. Which commandment is violated by the sin of blasphemy? (Read Article Two in the Catechism of the Catholic Church available here: http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p3s2c1a2.htm )
2. Explain how a person can make God out to be a liar by the misuse of His name. (Read No. 2147 in this section of the Catechism.)
3. Is the sin of blasphemy confined to just abusing the name of God? (Read No. 2148 in this section of the Catechism.)
4. What is meant by the “virtue of religion” and what relevance does this have to the sin of blasphemy? (See No. 1807 in the Catechism of theCatholic Church available here http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c1a7.htm )
5. List the ways in which Le Monde and its cartoonist blasphemed God. What was the Christian response to this blasphemy and why do you think this was an appropriate response?