Charlie Hebdo is Not Enough

The attack on Charlie Hebdo was an assault on Christendom. Magazines that publish sophomoric cartoons mocking religion are, paradoxically, part of the Body of Christ – if perhaps its lower intestine. In a society formed by the profound Christian notion of human dignity, there is also room for bad Christians and non-Christians, just as there are cells for mystical Carmelites. The broadest vision of a real, earthly, Christian society can be found, not in monastic tracts, but in The Canterbury Tales.

Attempts to forcibly “purify” Christian societies of dissent and sin always ended in catastrophe – with “heretics” chained to stakes, Jews labeled with badges and artworks piled on bonfires. Such fitful attempts to truncate the Body of Christ of its “impure” members planted seeds of vengeance – which sprouted in France in 1789, and in Spain in the 1930s. At the Second Vatican Council, the Church fully renounced any aspiration to dominate men’s souls through the sword of the state – recognizing that religious persecution is intrinsically evil, just like adultery or abortion.

So it’s sickening to see some commentators squeeze out excuses for the slaughter of journalists –suggesting that the victims provoked the assault by outraging Muslim sensibilities. As Ross Douthat suggested, any religion that threatens to kill its critics needs and deserves profane mockery – as a means of self-defense on the part of non-believers.

Even believers need the freedom to chafe a little at the limitless demands of religion, to assert the claims of earthly life against those who would cram a purely spiritual meaning into every last square inch of existence. This solemn duty to push back explains deranged eruptions like Mardi Gras, the profane songs written by monks, and anti-clerical jokes among the devout.

The Christian faith does not hold that in a perfect world we would all be monks or nuns – such that marriage, business, and politics are a sad compromise with sin. Many clergymen have taught that over the centuries – and have been rightly mocked by raucous laymen. Let’s give John Henry Newman credit for understanding this. When he was asked by Bishop Ullathorne whether the Church needed the laity, he quipped: “the Church should look foolish without them.”

Christianity can bear mockery and assimilate it. God himself came down to earth to suffer abuse, blows, and spitting. Our piety depicts that very same God-man in little plastic statues, as well as in the most exquisite artworks. Islam, by contrast, centers on someone it admits was merely a man – and then goes on almost to deify him, holding up his every earthly action (from war-making to polygamy) as the model of moral perfection, and claiming that he is too sacred to bear depiction. That was how the Jews, whom the Moslems aped then vilified, treated the Lord –whose image they never drew, whose name they dared not speak.

"The Battle of Tours in October 732" by Charles de Steuben (1837)
“The Battle of Tours in October 732” by Charles de Steuben (1837)

But for all their fear of the Lord, the Jews have also the model of Abraham who dickered and haggled with God, and Jacob who wrestled with angels. Jewish thinkers have always dared to engage God and ask him difficult questions about his justice and human suffering – and when no satisfying answers were forthcoming, to joke sardonically and shrug. In one sense, Islam is Judaism, minus the sense of humor.

So the Church and the West, in a sense, need Charlie Hebdo. If France must defend that magazine’s offices with squads from the Foreign Legion, it’s well worth the price – instead of surrendering Western freedoms to the bearded thugs of the banlieues.

But Charlie Hebdo is not enough. France needs Villon, Rabelais, Moliere, maybe even Voltaire – but it was not built by such men, nor was it saved again and again by satirists and cynics. The free space where such rascals can ply their trade was populated, made orderly and beautiful, by a different breed: Charles Martel, Louis IX, and Joan of Arc; by the Vendee’s peasants, by the pilgrims at Lourdes, by dutiful poilus at Verdun, and by shameless patriots like Charles de Gaulle.

In 1940, cynical right-wing generals decided to stop defending the corrupt Third Republic, embracing the German victory as a “divine surprise,” and installing their crony Marshal Petain as the nation’s “savior.” Long rejected by voters, the French far right used the victory of the Boche to give their country’s Voltaires a taste of the iron heel. Who rose against them? Not the likes of Sartre – who cheerfully put on his plays to entertain Germans in Paris. Not the Communist cadres, whose master in Moscow was still then Hitler’s ally. It was the humorless, chauvinist patriot Charles de Gaulle who went into exile to carry on the “hopeless” struggle.

Today, when an equally evil ideology threatens France and the West, it will not be courageous cynics who save the day. It will be men and women simmering with rage at this assault on their nation. The bon mots will be mostly turned against them, tossed off by blasé multiculturalists who consider fervor vulgar. The de Gaulles, we predict, will shove the Sartres aside, and France and the West will be saved.

The Europeans who manage this will hate tyranny and its alien values, such as reason-snuffing “submission” to a capricious desert god. But more than that they will love – love their own French, German, Swiss or English people, and their historic ways of life. Such love, which demands self-sacrifice, bubbles up from capacious souls and lively spirits. Only souls with long-standing habits of courage, fortitude, temperance, and prudence have any hope of faith or love.

We pray that these patriots will be restrained from illiberal actions by Christian ethics, that their fight for the West will accord with its highest values – at the center of which is the person, the glimmering image of God.


Buy Mr. Jones’ and Mr. Zmirak’s book, The Race to Save Our Century, at The Catholic Thing‘s online store at

Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak

Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak

Jason Scott Jones and John Zmirak are co-authors of The Race to Save Our Century.

  • Lagos1

    I think this article is mistaken. It seems to be an attempt to reconcile Catholicism with the Charlie Hebdo haliography that secular society would like us all to participate in. And it doesn’t work. The church does not need Charlie Hebdo although it is certainly true that Christianity can bear mockery.

    Firstly, the idea that not only should we not blaspheme but that blasphemy should not be accepted does not necessarily go hand in hand with excusing the “slaughter of Journalists”. It is perfectly correct for Christians to honour Christ and The Almighty and so a Christian nation would not accept blasphemy.

    Secondly,it does not inevitably lead to the burning of heretics and putting badges on Jews. Neither of those things occurred merely because society and the law took a dim view of blasphemy.

    Thirdly, I think the author assumes too much about what Vatican II said about religious freedom. It did not renounce what went before in this regard.

    We should not be suckered into defending what no Catholic should defend – i.e.the absolute freedom to blaspheme etc. We should instead defend what is good – i.e. the right to live in a society without fear of gunmen in the street. The right to expect that the legitimate authorities exercise justice. These are the things a Catholic should defend.

    • crawler

      Excellent rebuttal of the outrageous assertions of this pseudo-Catholic article.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “It is perfectly correct for Christians to honour Christ and The Almighty and so a Christian nation would not accept blasphemy.”

      Or they might take the Roman view, “deorum injuriae, diis curae,” [Offences against the gods are the gods’ concern].. If they are wise and powerful, they can deal with the profane and sacriligious themselves.

      • Lagos1

        No, a Catholic cannot take this view. They cannot take this view because Christians have a responsibility to each other and to wider society. There is no doubt that blasphemy is sinful and, in certain instances, mortally so. Therefore a Catholic who neglects to provide fraternal correction to the blasphemer, on the basis that it is God’s concern rather than man’s, commits a sin of omission himself. This is why blasphemy is taken so seriously in both scripture and tradition.

        Therefore to say that the Church needs Charlie Hebdo (as this article does) is wrong. – at least with respect to the blasphemy that has been committed by those working for this publication over the years. We need to pray for their souls. The moment for fraternal correction is over unfortunately.

      • Guest

        Which Pope said that?

      • Lee Gilbert

        “Offences against the gods are the gods’ concern.” Exactly. Maybe CH expected a blessing.

    • CadaveraVeroInnumero

      The point is, regarding the Muhammad cartoons, there was no blasphemy. Muhammad was no god! His message was, certainly: that Allah, holed up in his Totalitarian, Capricious, Oneness has no business asking for our submission. The worst of the illustrations augmented a core truth about the *man* (as workable satire must), that Muhammad did have sexual intercourse with a nine-year old. Even to a French relativist that is repugnant – and worthy of mockery.

      And, how does Islam truly view blasphemy anyway? In Islam there is a greater offense, a more damnable blasphemy than depicting Muhammad in a sexual pose – that is, vocal and pictorial confessions of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Would you proclaim it a sin for a Christian to proclaim the Trinity for it may provoke offense in your neighborhood. In this past year, how many Christian men, women, and children have been put to the sword for their refusal to renounce the Trinity.

      Islam holds that the simple confession of the Trinity (or God coming in the Flesh) is blasphemous; and those so confessing prime for slaughter, You, my dear Catholic read of this article, are yourself a blasphemer as much as Charlie.

      I am an artist. As I said elsewhere, what if I should draw and paint a series of images depicting Muhammad yielding, submitting, kneeling to the Triune God at the manager of his coming into the Flesh? Print them up in a glossy magazine, exhibit them in a fancy gallery in London’s Soho. If I did, I would be giving every Muhammadan in East London a bloody excuse to go rioting and beheading. For that reason, should I not? Just shut my Christian mouth and go away? Actually, a bit ago, when I attempted even the suggestion of it, I received my own little fatwa – with parts highlighted in red, no less!

      Oh Charlie, Charlie, you did the right thing.

      • Guest

        The fascists and the libertarians are two sides of the same coin. Both are wrong and both are a threat to society.

        Authentic satire is one thing, but perversion is another.

  • I for one am no longer convinced that toleration of evil produces anything other than more evil. Can you say something that will change my mind on this? After the genocide of 56 million in abortion, after the repeated market failures of the first decade of the 21st century, after the sexual revolution invaded the church herself with the sex abuse scandals, I have lost my faith that good can always triumph in the short run.

    I have lost my faith in the liberal promise of citification and centralization. The only civilization I see left, exists in small rural communities.

    It seems the only strategy left is to build small rural ghettos, and outbreed the evil in the long run.

  • Guest

    Je ne suis pas Charlie.

    There are limits to satire. There are limits to free speech.

    The so-called satire magazine is filthy and corrupt. It abuses freedom. There is no defense for it.

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    [From the BANKRUPT Diocese of Stockton] simply thank-you.

  • Murray

    …“heretics” chained to stakes

    Why the scare quotes around “heretics”?

  • Sebastian Sauerborn

    Terrible article. Listen to the words of Pope Francis today who in two sentences makes more sense than this whole article. Those who insult religion need not to be surprised when disaster strikes. If you insult my mother I will punch you.

  • Austin Ruse

    Great….just great…thanks, gents…

  • Monica Rafie

    You are free to run through various streets of Chicago shouting racial/ethnic/religious epithets to stick it to “multiculturalism”. But doing so doesn’t make you a hero or freedom-fighter any more than the shape you will be in afterwards points to threats to free speech.

  • Jean-Francois

    I guess I am sick of people telling me that because I oppose an absolutist view of free speech that I am supporting the evil done by the terrorists. And if you think that Charlie Hebdo was just a magazine that posted “sophomoric cartoons” you really aren’t too familiar with them. On this I will side with Charles-Phillipe d’Orleans.

    “I will go against the tide of emotional propriety by separating me from the movement “I’m Charlie.” No, I’m not Charlie because I never liked that Manichean newspaper.

    Charlie Hebdo is a vulgar paper, despising all opinions except its own, which, under the guise of freedom of expression, will allow provocative behavior to all. Charlie Hebdo is an aggressive newspaper that produces hatred of religions through its, supposedly, humor. Charlie Hebdo is the very image of the European atheist society which creates enmity and distress instead of respect and brotherhood among peoples and men, regardless of their differences, race, color, religion.

    So I refuse to take part in a “republican sacred covenant” to defend Charlie because, simply, I do not understand what I have to defend.

    I am neither disrespectful nor indecent and do not want to offend the memory of the killed cartoonists. Words fail to tell the horror of the attack that hit the newspaper. I condemn this barbaric act and present to families and relatives of the deceased my deepest condolences.

    I denounce justly this sterile attempt to bring about national unity and I denounce the hypocrisy of the citizens who have never read this humor publication and who have always criticized the weekly. To honor the victims, yes. Honour Charlie Hebdo, no.”

  • oahu5o

    The genuinely blasphemous cartoons run by Charlie Hebdo in the past were sickening. They made my blood boil, and made me want to go smash the cartoonist’s face. Or cut off his ear, as Peter did to one of the guards who arrested Jesus on Gethsemane. Our Lord told him to put away his sword. I consider that command definitive.

    There are limits, of course. We must not allow violent attacks on the vulnerable (such as the unborn) or violations of man’s dignity as the image of God. Part of that dignity is freedom, and for humans that freedom entails the ability to stumble and make mistakes, to chafe at the bit and shrug off the yoke. Such sins are between a soul and his Maker, and when we barge in and try to discipline people for bad thoughts, we are playing God—no, more than God, since He does NOT quash our freedom. People who want to imprison cartoonists, or who secretly envy the Muslims for having the cojones to go and kill them, are not defending the Christian God. They are mistaking him for Allah. Jason Jones

  • isaac heckler

    Pontifex says “One cannot react violently, but if [someone] says something bad about my mother, he can expect a punch”. So I guess PUNCHING SOMEONE isn’t VIOLENCE according to this confused old man. Just another example of the incompetence of the present Bergoglio regime.

    • RainingAgain

      Would you have defended Arius against St. Nicholas?

  • JaneSeymour

    How can authors of this article defend the violation of the 3rd Commandments “Do not use my name for evil purposes, for I, the Lord God, will punish anyone who misuses my name”. This vulgar newspaper have always mocked our Christian faith and insulted God. This article has no place in a Catholic forum. Utter secular liberalism and anti Christian views.

    • ZZMike

      The key here is ” I, the Lord God, will punish”. No Christian assassins struck at C.H; no Jewish assassins; only Islamic assassins.

      The proper response to blasphemy is – in this case – not to buy the magazine.

      • Guest

        That is not the key. The key is that we have a better culture and that is not going to happen based on Charlie Hebdo.

        Western civilization will not be saved by perverts and blasphemy.

  • RainingAgain

    To criticise blasphemy is not to justify murder. It was the Islamists who perpetrated that. Catholics and all other religions are surely at least as free to express their objections by legitimate means as the blasphemers are to blaspheme.

  • mary jo anderson

    And now, may we please have “Je suis bébés à naître”

  • RainingAgain

    Je ne suis pas Charlie. I condemn the murderers unequivocally, but I also reject blasphemy. So there you have it.

    • Guest


  • Sebastian

    This article has many flaws, but most bizarrely Zmirak and Jones make contradictory arguments in two successive paragraphs. In the second paragraph they blame the French Revolution and the Spanish Civil war on the Church’s efforts to curb dissent and promote orthodoxy. They basically say the Church “had it coming.” Yet in the third paragraph they express outrage against those who make a similar observation with respect to Charlie Hebdo–i.e. the publication “planted the seeds of vengeance” leading to the attack against it. To cite just one additional flaw: Zmirak and Jones praise Charles Martel, St. Louis, and the Vendee rebels as models for France, even though they stood for the very principles Zmirak and Jones condemn in the second paragraph!

  • Jean-Francois

    Who is justifying murder?

  • red6020

    “So the Church and the West, in a sense, need Charlie Hebdo. If France must defend that magazine’s offices with squads from the Foreign Legion, it’s well worth the price”

    Have Mr. Zmirak or Mr. Jones seen some of the cartoons published in Charlie Hebdo, specifically the blasphemous images of the Holy Trinity. If that’s the type of stuff that the France needs to defend in order to survive, then may she rest in peace. I have trouble believing that anyone who has seen those cartoons (and there are many) could defend their “right” (once again a Lockean definition not Aristotelian/Thomistic, i.e. Catholic, definition) to publish such images and also be a faithful Catholic. I’m sorry if this comes across strong, but the logic boggles me.

    “But Charlie Hebdo is not enough. France needs Villon, Rabelais, Moliere, maybe even Voltaire.”

    Really? Does France need Rousseau and Locke? It was these men that brought down France! Maybe it needs Marat, or Robespierre? Zmirak and Jones’s thinking is founded more on Locke than on Catholic teaching. I only wish they would see how Lockeanism is a misunderstanding of the nature of freedom and is opposed to Christian doctrine.

    I get that you’re saying other men were the better part of France. But that undermines your point? Could those good men have built up France without allowing blasphemies? All the examples you cite (except de Gaulle) lived in a decidedly non-liberal era. And all of them took decisively illiberal actions.

    By the way, if religious persecution is intrinsically evil, then the Catholic Church not only permitted an intrinsic evil on the level of abortion, adultery, euthanasia, or sodomy for the vast majority of its history; it positively taught it as religious doctrine. Do you see how this might open up some troubling implications about change in religious doctrine? If the Church can command the faithful to believe and practice intrinsic evil, then could she say that another intrinsic evil (abortion or sodomy) is not really evil after all?

    Finally, Vichy France failed because the Nazis took over. The first few years weren’t necessarily collobrationist. Many of the Allies (especially the US) recognized Vichy France as the legitimate successor of France for a while after its establishment. It was mostly after 1942 that Vichy France became a government in name only, just as in the occupied region. It certainly didn’t fail because it was disrespectful of dissenting opinions. So were the Nazis, the Soviets, the Chinese Communists, the Vietcong, North Korea, and every kingdom and empire before the 1600s. For better or for worse, they all survived for long periods of time or failed for other reasons.

    Here I believe Pope Gregory XVI is on point:

    “Here We must include that harmful and never sufficiently denounced freedom to publish any writings whatever and disseminate them to the people, which some dare to demand and promote with so great a clamor. We are horrified to see what monstrous doctrines and prodigious errors are disseminated far and wide in countless books, pamphlets, and other writings which … are very great in malice. We are in tears at the abuse which proceeds from them over the face of the earth. Some are so carried away that they contentiously assert that the flock of errors arising from them is sufficiently compensated by the publication of some book which defends religion and truth. … Is there any sane man who would say poison ought to be distributed, sold publicly, stored, and even drunk because some antidote is available and those who use it may be snatched from death again and again?”

    • JaneSeymour

      Great comment. Thank you for your insightful input. God bless you.

  • Guest

    Who is justifying murder? Are you justifying perverted magazines as some distorted right?

  • Tamsin

    I will not blaspheme the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. But I am not sure that I should support civil blasphemy laws for fear they will be used to silence me, too soon!

    I think we need a tutorial on blasphemy law… With careful attention to the effect on Christian witness of the imposition of blasphemy laws by our government under cover of criminalizing hate speech as determined by government.

    • ZZMike

      The American system is built on a foundation that church and state go separate ways – at least officially. “Congress shall make no law respecting [these days we would say “regarding”] an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …” Any attempt to bring a blasphemy law into the U.S, would be met with well-deserved scorn.

      I would like to see a world where anybody could insult anyone’s religion – but nobody would ever want to. Just as I would like this to be a country where anybody could burn the flag without repercussion, but nobody would want to.

      In both cases, because everybody would have respect for religion, or the flag.

      Even though it is not easy to respect some philosophies.

      • Guest

        The American system is built upon a foundation that only works when people are moral. Today we have the opposite. The number of facile thinkers who actually support perverted things like Charlie Hebdo as if that will save civilization is astounding and appalling.

        • ZZMike

          I agree – the soul of a country depends on having moral and ethical people, That also applies to our democracy (the foundation of our Republic): it depends on an intelligent and informed electorate. More and more, it seems that our electorate is neither (in general).

      • John Fisher

        Id America was majority or entirely Catholic the Congress would have a Christian soul. A nation with no common religious or vision of what is true is chaos.

        • ZZMike

          We used to be a nation of Christians (not a Christian nation), and things went fairly well. I’d reply that if we were majority Catholic or Protestant, we would have a moral compass. But a country that turns away from God is likely to turn towards just about anything.

    • Paul Vander Voort

      I do not support “hate speech laws” either. In Canada we have “hate speech laws” which in essence are the same thing. A Canadian man was given jail time for saying “I hate Islam” on public transit. We have Christians sounding like Muslim Apologists because they denounce the Charlie Hebdo murders then add — BUT if you insult my mother you can expect a punch in the face. It’s a catch 22 situation, if you criticize Mohammad or Islam (eg. armed offensive Jihad and Sharia Law) you are committing blasphemy as far as many are concerned.

    • mollysdad

      Here’s Lesson One on the law of blasphemy.

      Civil blasphemy is the use of the Divine Name for any evil purpose namely the justification of crimes of murder, sedition, treason, sexual immorality, and theft.

  • Tamsin

    Je suis Asia Bibi.

  • Tony

    Vicious and ignorant bastards have a right to live, too. If you murder a vicious and ignorant bastard, you have committed a heinous crime not simply against the vicious and ignorant bastard, but against the People, and the very possibility of self-governance. If an assassin murders another assassin, we convict the murderer and put him away, but we don’t throw a party for the murdered assassin. I’m not going to throw a party for vicious and ignorant bastards.

    • John Fisher

      If a vicious bastard kills others as ISIS have done they have earned the death penalty.

  • DougH

    Well said, though perhaps a bit too hard on Voltaire. He was run out of France because he refused to bend, and fought for justice for Protestants, after all. I doubt he would have cheerfully acquiesced to the Nazis in occupied France.

    • C.Caruana

      Yes, is this the same Voltaire who was rabidly anti-semitic?

      • DougH

        Personally, yes, Voltaire was an anti-Semite both philosophically (he could not comprehend a universal God that singled out a particular people as His) and from personal experience. But he was an anti-Semite that campaigned for tolerance for Jews, stated that Christians had much to learn from Jews when it came to tolerance, and was perhaps more responsible than any other single individual for changing religious tolerance from a vice to a virtue in Western culture.

        • C.Caruana

          Oh yes, ask Zygmunt Bauman about the direct line that connects ‘Voltaire’s bastards’ (his Enlightenment progeny in modernity) with the Holocaust. You have good reason to express his improbable acquiescence to the Nazis in the form of a doubt.

  • JR


  • quisutDeusmpc

    “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people.”
    G.K. Chesterton

    “I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”
    Dorothy Day, 1897 – 1980

    “As for ourselves, yes, we must be meek, bear injustice, malice, rash judgement. We must turn the other cheek, give up our cloak, go a second mile.”
    Dorothy Day

    Well done. Much more convincing and charitable than “Je ne suis pas Charlie”.

    • RainingAgain

      The Lord have mercy on the Charlies (and even on their killers) mais je ne suis pas Charlie. I will not consent to vile blasphemy-I mean those unspeakable cartoons against Christianity, not those much milder ones about the so-called prophet which aren’t blasphemy at all. It might be wrong to murder an abortionist (though I wonder), but if someone does would you go “Je suis abortionist”?

    • C.Caruana

      ‘So the Church and the West, in a sense, need Charlie Hebdo.’ Yes, because without God haters it wouldn’t be itself would it? ‘In a sense’ , blasphemy is of its essence, isn’t it? Apparently, even Pope Francis was not ‘convincing and charitable’ enough when he manifestly steered clear of the ‘je suis Charlie Hebdo’ hypocrisy by suggesting limits on free speech:

      ‘You cannot provoke, you cannot insult the faith of others, you cannot make fun of the faith…
      Pope Benedict, in a speech, I don’t remember which, he spoke of this post-positivist mentality, of the post-positivist metaphysics that brought people to believe that religions or religious expressions are a type of lower culture: that they are tolerated but that there’s not much to them, that they are in not part of an enlightened culture. And this is a legacy of the Enlightenment. So many people speak against others’ religions. They make fun of them. Let’s say they “giocatalizzano” (make a playing out of) the religion of others. But they are provoking, and what can happen is what I said about Dr. Gasbarri if he says something about my mother. There is a limit. Every religion has dignity; I cannot mock a religion that respects human life and the human person. And this is a limit. I’ve used this example of the limit to say that in the freedom of expression there are limits…’
      Obviously, the Pope doesn’t feel the need to identify with Charlie Hebdo to sanctify and defend free speech.

      ‘Evil must come, but woe to him through whom it comes’ is Christ’s warning to those who would try to justify the purveyors of any form of evil violence, whether spiritual, physical, verbal or pictorial. So let us stop this pseudo Hegelian claptrap of Jesus needing Judas to work out our salvation, on a par with the Church needing Charlie Hebdo to fulfill its mission, in whatever ‘sense’ we interpret such nonsense. He also said that, more than those who can kill our body, we should fear those who can send our soul to eternal damnation in hell. He was ‘unenlightened’ enough to think that scandal may be more deadly than death.

      • RainingAgain

        Jesus didn’t need Judas-he avoided death more than once in the Gospels, didn’t he? The first time, if I remember, was when some of the people of Nazareth tried to throw him off a cliff. Killers are two a penny. They can be smoked out by provoking them.

      • quisutDeusmpc

        We live in the time of the ‘now and the not yet’. Yes, Jesus Christ has instituted his kingdom in the Church, but the Church is in the midst of the world; it does not yet enjoy the Beatific Vision. There is a legitimate separation between Church and state. Within the purview of the state is “freedom of speech”. In a pluralist society, not everyone is going to be a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, an Orthodox, a Protestant, a Buddhist, a Hindu. People should be free to express themselves. Within the purview of the Church are the ‘deposit of faith’ and a person’s moral obligations before God: creed, code, cult. There is no contradiction in upholding the best of BOTH the merely secular / temporal (freedom of religion, freedom of speech, etc) AND the supernatural / religious. We should not be engaged in false dichotomies but affirm the best of both.

        This selective quoting of the Pope’s full remarks is tiresome. He also said that WE, CATHOLICS HAVE, in the past, engaged in the type of behavior that the French Salafist gunmen did: the Spanish Inquisition, the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, et al. Catholics have murdered fellow human beings for holding heterodox views, for blasphemy, et al. The Pope admitted this was wrong. No one who is taking our view on this “Charlie Hebdo” matter has spoken ONCE about that quotation. It is obvious the Pope is making the distinction between the legal right to freedom of speech and the moral right to expect to be able to hold one’s religion without being derided for doing so. We should do the same.

        • C.Caruana

          To imply that Charlie Hebdo is the best of ‘the merely secular/temporal ‘is the height of folly. That at least even you can gather from the words of the Pope, who would ‘naturally’ punch you if you kept insulting his mother to his face. At least be intellectually honest enough to admit that much. I uphold true free speech that knows its limits, like the Pope, but like him, I will never utter that mendacious hypocritical slogan ‘Je suis Charlie Hebdo’.

  • Guest

    It is your logic that is flawed. The Pope was talking about logical consequences that follow from abusive people. He was not encouraging it, but stating the obvious in that if you act stupidly then you ought to expect some violent response given the situation.

    Even the co-founder of that perverse rag , who is in his 80s now, said that the magazine was wrong to constantly incite when they where well aware of the possible consequences.

    That is not condoning murder, but it points out the obvious.

    • isaac heckler

      You obviously don’t know the difference between logic and rhetoric. Logical consequences follow from the form of the argument. The form of the Pontifex’s argument is like so:

      ~(violence) ^ (punch someone)

      If we add the universally held premise that

      (punch someone) ϵ (violence)

      Then it follows that the Pontifex’s statement is self-contradictory. There can be no other conclusion.

      Your assertion that the violence was a *logical* consequence of abuse shows your ignorance of logic. One might argue that it is simply a rhetorical device, but you are wrong about its innocous conclusions. The main reason one wants to avoid self-contradiction in one’s thinking and speaking is that ANYTHING follows from a self-contradiction, including justification for murder.

      I suggest you take a course in logic or read a book before you emotionally bluster in a commBox. I recommend Jacques Maritain’s “Introduction to Logic.” You can download it for free from the Archive Dot Org website.

      • GG

        Your premise is flawed as is your logic (reasoning). The Pope said if you insult someone you can expect a punch. He did not say anyone ought to punch.

        There is no self contradicting statement. It is you who needs to read better, or more likely, stop imputing your poor reasoning skills onto obvious statements in an attempt to deceive.

        • isaac heckler

          Now it’s my premise which is flawed! HA HA HA HA HA HA!

          You deniers of logic can’t get your story straight can you …

          I only use one premise:

          (punch someone) ϵ (violence)

          Do you find this to be flawed? It’s certainly one way to extricate this silly old man from his self-contradiction. But almost no one will agree with you on this …

          As for your importing of the is-ought distinction from David Hume (a non-Christian philosopher whose own logic leaves something to be desired) into the discussion, the Pontifex states that HE will punch someone who insults his Mother, immediately after he forbids all violence! If you can’t see the self-contradiction, you’re a blind guide leading others into the ditch.

  • daisy

    Christendom? No. Christendom is dead and the French helped kill it. They and the West are now being scourged by the Muslims. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Charlie Hebdo is disgusting filth and I will not stand with them.

  • Asbury Fox

    The attack on Charlie Hebdo was NOT an assault on Christendom. It was an assault on Western Secularism. An assault on a godless, materialistic, hedonistic, depraved, and wicked Western culture of Secularism. A secular culture that is a true enemy of Christendom. A Western Secularism so sick, it cannot defend itself from Islam. It is only Christendom that can defeat this assault from Islam.

    • Faustina11

      The same ideology that motivated the Paris attacks is responsible for the slaughter of Iraqi and Syrian Christians. How then is this an attack on western secularism alone? It seems to me that these Islamists want to destroy everyone who doesn’t agree with them.

  • C.Caruana

    Oh come on! Try your logic chopping and laws of contradiction on ‘I and the Father are one’. Man does not live by LOGIC alone. I have been an outspoken critic of this Pope, but here the drift of his meaning is clear to common sense. Call it rhetorical, if you feel the need to overwhelm us with your categories, but it is both silly and perverse to suggest an equation between the provocations to violence of Charlie Hebdo and the Pope. It almost amounts to mere heckling 🙂

  • Mara319

    I can’t bear to read this article after the first paragraph. Part of it by Zmirak, you’re kidding?
    Isn’t there such a thing as a branch “being cut off from the Vine?”

  • ericdenman

    Isaac Heckler….this is on the money….”His failure to think logically can be traced back to his rejection of Thomism as “decadent and bankrupt”. As a result he has no coherent moral theology, and just blurts out whatever harebrained thought he’s got. And yes, that applies to his silly exhortatory work ” Evangelii Gaudium”. It’s just an omnium gatherum of no coherent theological understanding. His Jesuit formation in the 60s and 70s has made his theology a complete mess.”
    We pray our shepherds minimally are adept in theology and have a basic understanding of our Lord’s words that are preached to the benefit of mankind. Today we see a rush of apologists, doing damage control, pontificating frequently after the “shoe in the mouth” pronouncements and rejection of papal traditions of Pope Frances. He confuses the majestic trappings of his holy office with his own right over his personal preferences This is not humility but arrogance. His messy theology, muddled and too often contrary to Catholic teaching is the very last thing our world needs. How was this Jesuit ever permitted to lay claim to the throne of Peter?

  • Brian Ingram

    When does free speech cross the line and become hate speech. When does bad satire become a thin veil for hate. Satire is a powerful, clever art form when done right -when not satire accomplishes the opposite of what it is supposed to. Satire also can be an exercise of an Narcissistic individual with an inflated sense of right.

  • John Fisher

    You need to read the Koran, hadiths and certain pseudo gospels St John of Damascus and see how Mohamed the camel driver stitched together and made it up as he went along.
    There are deep sociological, anthropological truths and phenomena at work. We seem to be trying to manufacture a multifaceted multi ethnic and religious society? Why? It does not work and over time a gradual synthesis and unity occurs. United countries are the strongest. Yes there can be regional variation but each ethnic group must have unity and cohesion. Islam is exploiting our very odd ideology of plurality and tolerance. The USA is a country of immigrants seeking synthesis which is still in process. Other countries have longer histories are unified and don’t have religious pluralism. Why force onto them a model that does not work? The USA must stop doing it. For Catholics it is simple. We want the whole of humanity to freely embrace Christ and His Church. In non Catholic societies we want the chance to practice our faith and in peace contribute to social good. In Catholic countries as the majority or all citizens are Catholic the Faith is reflected in all aspects of life. Other religions are only allowed private practise and must not cause any civil strife or they must be exclude.

  • John Barba

    I stand with the pope.

  • Michael

    I have no idea whether any of those who work for this satirical rag are baptized or not and I doubt you do either. They are human beings and for that they deserve all the rights accorded us by God. That being said what these people do is in no way Christian, Catholic or anything worthy of our time or money. They did not and do not deserve to be slaughtered by misguided fanatics but neither does their speech rise to the level of civil discussion. May God have mercy on their souls and on those who murdered them.! They are all sick in spirit.

  • HartPonder

    After reviewing Dominus Iesus, really a follow up to Nostra Aetate, and then reflecting on CCC 787-795 regarding what constitutes the Body of Christ, I am amazed at the claims made in your article.

    Besides the above, I would encourage you to reflect on 2 Peter 3: 15,16 on what the defense of the faith and our approach to others that befits the Gospel should look like.

    Nothwithstanding, Jesus said, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers” (Matthew 5:11). But please notice that our Lord did not say, “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you insult their sensibilities by depicting what they hold sacred by showing their prophets in detestable acts.”

    In all reality, in situations like the one depicted in your article, it seems some are being persecuted because they are behaving in contradiction to our duties as Christions, and as such, they are on their own: “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it . . . ” (1 Peter 3:13–14).

    It is my current viewpoint “The Body of Christ” has nothing to do with this.

  • Edmund Pierzchala

    Doesn’t the same freedom which allows vulgar expression allow the critics of it to speak up?

    Who decides which side is free to speak its mind and which one is not?

    Freedom is a God-given gift. God could have created the world without sin, but He chose to allow it. Then He didn’t spare His Son from mockery and death to free us from sin and teach us how to love.

    The attacks in Paris were attacks on that very freedom.

  • Howard

    If the first two sentences do not constitute blasphemy, they come much closer to it than any web page that calls itself “Catholic” (with the approval of the local ordinary?) has any business doing.

  • Amicus Curiae

    This article uses euphemism (“sophomoric cartoons”) to obscure the disgusting reality of Charlie Hebdo’s routine pornographic blasphemy against the Holy Trinity, the Eucharist, and our Blessed Lady. It also promotes a twisted understanding of Western history (i.e. the French Revolutionary and Communist persecutions of the Church were “reactions” against things that happened in the Middle Ages–or that medieval inquisitions can lumped in with modern totalitarian genocides in nature and scope). The authors’ tendentious historical claims belong in 8th grade textbooks in Communist countries, and would never be taken seriously by anyone familiar with scholarship on these subjects.

    The “money” point, which Pope Francis made rather well, is that even if the cartoonists and editors at Charlie Hebdo did not deserve to be killed by gunmen, they definitely deserved to be punched. And their blasphemies are NOT analogous to the irreverent humor of believers. Only someone who hasn’t been exposed to the cartoons would think that.

  • Edmund Pierzchala

    So many posts here miss the central point of the article, which is that freedom is sacred (because it’s a gift from God) and focus on minor points instead.

    Yes, freedom includes the possibility of choosing the wrong thing.

    That raises two questions:

    1. Who is in charge of what is right?
    2. What are the consequences of non-compliance?

    The Pope reiterated the answer that the Christian faith offers to #1. Yes, as Christians we should recognize the fact that our freedom is not absolute as we are capable of hurting others, and we ought not to.

    He did not elaborate on #2, as far as I know, other then renouncing violence as a means to deal with the issue.

    So please stop using Pope’s words as an excuse for your own view point.

    • Guest

      Freedom is not license. There is no right from our Lord that includes blasphemy and perversion.

    • C.Caruana

      ‘Yes, freedom includes the possibility of choosing the wrong thing.’ No, freedom in itself is a means, not an end. This is why we speak of the distinction between freedom for and freedom from, not freedom by itself. Real freedom grows by choosing the good, and it is gradually lost when used for ‘choosing the wrong thing’ . In execising a freedom without limits Charlie Hebdo was, as the Pope stated, abusing the God given gift of freedom, which is not simply the possibility of choosing the wrong thing, but of choosing the right one – that way lies real Liberty.

      • Edmund Pierzchala

        All things are lawful for
        me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but
        I will not be brought under the power of any. … (1 Cor 6:12, ASV)

        That is what I meant.

  • JcR

    So,are you saying that its okay to hurt peoples religious feelings? Is poking fun at a person’s religious belief’s the way to win them over? Then you must really love The stand up comedians that put the RC Church on the receiving end of hatefull jockes.

    • Edmund Pierzchala

      You haven’t really read what I posted, have you?

    • Edmund Pierzchala

      “as Christians we should recognize the fact that our freedom is not
      absolute as we are capable of hurting others, and we ought not to.

      Does this answer your question?

  • Marie

    I read this article with interest until the male chauvinistic language came. And then, the article lost credibility and I stopped reading. Terms like laymen and mankind privilege men above women

    • SJ Man

      Seriously…… oh man………?!?!

  • The attack on Charlie Hebdo was not at all an assault on Christendom.
    How can you say “Magazines that publish sophomoric cartoons mocking religion are,
    paradoxically, part of the Body of Christ”

    • Derhexenhammer

      I think it’s meant to be from the idea that Latin Catholic and Protestant Christian cultures eventually gave birth to liberal ideals like free speech and freedom of expression, even if it was a long and slow development. On top of that, what saved Europe from conquest, was Charles Martel and Charlemagne uniting Gaul and Germania under Christendom, driving the Umayyads out of Toulouse and Narbonne, and later all of Aquitaine. In a sense, if it weren’t for Charles Martel, Charlemagne, and the Papacy, the cultures that eventually developed these liberal ideals would’ve been lost to conquest, eventually converting and assimilating, once dhimmitude becomes more than the population could bear. France would probably look like Morocco or Turkey, if it weren’t for the Carolingians uniting the Gauls, Franks, and Bavarians under Catholicism.

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