United against a common enemy, Francois Hollande, the rather dull and unimpressive occupant of the French presidency, called for a peaceful protest in Paris last Sunday. This was in response to the massacre, two days earlier, of eight cartoonists at the vulgar, offensive and tasteless French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. He said that France was, above all other things, a democracy and there could be no democracy without freedom and no freedom without freedom of the press. This could only mean that even a magazine so malicious, vicious, deliberately provocative and irresponsible should and must be protected. I guess he never heard of Pope Francis who recently, in his own inimitable way, made it abundantly clear that calling someone’s mother a whore is no longer defensible.
Joining the thousands who participated in the march as a show of solidarity, were official representatives and leaders from roughly fifty countries. They were there to show their support for the freedom of the press, freedom of speech and appear as pillars of strength for democracy. Yet many of them are blatant violators of human rights.
One curious participant was Frau Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany in whose country it is a serious offense to deny the Holocaust or to stand at a street corner and say “Heil Hitler!”
While I find words hopelessly inadequate to express my outrage over the massacre in Paris, I am also deeply offended by the perverted sense of humor demonstrated by the cartoonists. Free speech and freedom of the press is the bedrock of democracy. But with that freedom comes responsibility. That freedom does not mean ignoring the religious beliefs of other people by knowingly, deliberately and repeatedly mocking religious figures.
As a Catholic, I am deeply offended by the long and disgusting record of the French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo that has produced cartoons that have gone beyond the lampooning of religious figures. They have shown nuns masturbating, popes wearing condoms. They have depicted the Blessed Trinity in a threesome homosexual act and Mary, the Mother of God in a spreadeagled position.
If this is funny, then we can safely assume that Catholic France and all of Christian Europe must be rolling on the floor, howling with laughter.