Dissent or Blasphemy: Is It Ever Acceptable?

Dissent or Blasphemy: Is It Ever Acceptable?

From the Catholic Herald – Rushie attack reminds Catholics they must always accept dissent
(Editor:  Really?)

The attack on Sir Salman Rushdie last Friday was perhaps the culmination of a decades-long struggle between the author and prohibition on freedom of speech, a fight the Indian-born novelist never, in fact, picked. It started with Sir Salman’s book – The Satanic Verses – for which Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued the author with a death sentence, or fatwa, in 1989.

While no firm motive has been established for the attack, motivations have been assumed by many. Whatever the outcome of the investigation, for Christians the incident is a reminder of what Catholics and others must never succumb to: the prohibition on criticism or mockery of their faith, and the use of violence to enforce punishment.

The Church, of course, has had its moment of violence against blasphemers and apostates. But that era has thankfully gone, thanks to an almost-total acceptance in the Christian-majority world of the sanctity of freedom of speech. Indeed, the very conservatives who would most likely be offended by attacks on Christianity are also at the forefront of the movement against ‘cancel culture’ and ‘de-platforming’.

When the Channel 4 comedy became a worldwide hit in the 1990s, lampooning three Catholic priests living on a remote Irish island, it was often overlooked that the comedy was especially popular among the clergy. Catholics, it seems, could take a joke; the Irish, in particular.

Self-assurance in one’s beliefs means being able to do just that, and yes, even accept criticism of the faith itself. Of course, this must stop short of violence, and Catholics and other Christians rightly defend their right to display symbols of their faith and have their voices heard.

But this is the key point: Catholics and other Christians, often on the receiving end of censorship, should understand more than most the inviolability of freedom of speech, and that all of us lose when it goes. Want evidence of a society without freedom of speech: just look at China.

In that communist regime, only one view is allowed, criticism is banned, and – as a consequence – debate is cancelled, ideas cannot flow, and solutions to problems are unable to develop. Any investor who thinks China is the planet’s future should ponder all of the above.

No society grows by strangling free speech. That is true today in the West’s ‘woke’ era, where ‘hurt feelings’ are enough to see a career destroyed or a work of art ‘memory-holed’. This is the road to Beijing’s autocracy and must be resisted by all.

To come back to Sir Salman, the Catholic world joins others in praying for his recovery. No religious community deserves to be persecuted, but nor do critics of a faith – however big or small those criticisms may be, intentional or otherwise – deserve to die. To say otherwise flies in the face of the Christian message.

Catholics should never lose a sense of humour about themselves – it is a sign of strength in their beliefs that they can withstand periodic mockery and, even, criticism of their faith, as well as the Church and its practices. In fact, withstanding such things can ensure arguments are sharpened up and backbones strengthened. Lessons may even be learned.

Catholics should never stop laughing at Father Ted, nor should the show or others like it ever be cancelled. Indeed, the only threat of cancellation Father Ted ever had was after one of its co-creators was attacked for his views on trans rights.

The Catholic faith’s decline in much of the world is not thanks to the likes of Father Ted, but to the Church’s own actions and inactions, on top of a permissive secular culture which has spread across the West. Of all people today, Christians should understand the importance of speaking freely.  Source – Catholic Herald

Editor writes… 

It’s easy to get the point of the Catholic Herald article.  I’ve never watched any episode of Father Ted – nobody needs to read the reviews to work out that the content won’t be exactly edifying.  However, while I wouldn’t watch it,  I’d hardly lie in wait for the cast to see them off into the next world.  No, violence is not the way to go if media presentations of the Faith are objectionable.

But refusing violence is a long way away from “accepting dissent”, although  it seems to  me that the article isn’t really about “dissent” it’s about the way religion is portrayed in the media, which is a bit different;  “Dissent”, in the sense of denying the teaching of the Church, or rejecting the authority of the Church, is never acceptable and requires correction. Otherwise, people are left prey to false doctrine which might lead them right out of Christ’s Church. So, I’d hazard a guess that the Herald is avoiding using the correct term here, which is blasphemy. They must know that blasphemy is never acceptable.  Not remotely.

In fact,  regarding the media portrayal of the Faith, the only way to judge whether something is truly offensive, is NOT if it offends you or me – individual Christians – but if it offends God Himself, Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  That’s a whole different ball theology game.  Blaspheming – that is, offending God – is NOT acceptable.  Again, though, the only weapons we may employ in opposition are a public expression of concern – which is essential to challenge public error; this may shape up as just anger, but with the aim of correcting false teaching, not of physically assaulting those responsible.  And of course, our spiritual weapons; prayer – especially Masses, rosaries, and fasting – to help us, to quote the words of the St Michael’s prayer,  “in the day of battle.”

Your thoughts.  

Comments (19)

  • editor

    N O T I C E . . .

    This is the second time I’ve received the following message. It can be found all over the internet. The priest concerned asks me to publish the following request, anonymously…

    “A priest who is suffering requests a 54 day rosary novena for his intentions. But any prayers and sacrifices would be greatly appreciated.”

    August 21, 2022 at 7:45 am
    • editor

      U P D A T E . . .

      The above mentioned priest replied to my message informing him that I had posted his request for prayers. He writes…

      Thank you so much. In gratitude, I will offer Mass for your blog.

      Deo gratias! Wonderful!

      August 23, 2022 at 12:12 am
  • Michael 🙏

    Dear Editor

    My Daily Office, Rosary and Mass intentions are united with his sufferings.

    Ave Maria!

    Every blessing

    Michael 🙏

    August 21, 2022 at 9:55 am
    • Lily

      I am also remembering that priest in my prayers.

      August 21, 2022 at 9:15 pm
      • Josephine

        Me, too. I will pray for that priest, whoever he is. God help him.

        August 21, 2022 at 10:19 pm
  • Athanasius

    It is of course disturbing and tragic that Sir Salman Rushdie was so brutally attacked, presumably as a result of the fatwa placed on him back in 1989. As Catholics, we can see by this and other such manifestations that the charity of Our Lord is not present in other religions, which is why the Church infalibly declares that outside of this divinely-founded Mystical Body, barring invincible ignorance, there is no salvation. If anything, this incident should be a wake up call for all the ecumenical and inter-religious nuts in the Church today who sacrifice this truth for the sake of human respect.

    As regards Catholic Churchmen of this era, I would go so far as to say that they have enabled the growth of false religions all around the world by their folly, not to mention their pride. Pride, sadly, is rampant in the Catholic clergy of our time, from the top down, which is why Our Lady’s request for a consecration of Russia was supplanted by Vatican II reform. These Churchmen thought they knew better than heaven and have paid a very dear price for that pride.

    Archbishop Lefebvre spoke of this in terms of false obedience to sinful authorities. Priests disobeyed God in order to please their fallen superiors, which is why the Church has ended up in the mess it is presently. I wrote about this during the lockdown when one priest refused access to the Mass and Sacraments to all who dissented from the unjust command to wear masks and use sanitizer instead of holy water when entering the church building. It was perfectly evident that such rules were against the law of God and Church teaching, but priests everywhere went along with them even at the expense of forbidding Mass and the Sacraments to the souls entrusted to their care. It was a mortal sin on the souls of those priests, meaning that unless they repented of it they committed sacrilege every time they received holy communion. But that doesn’t matter to the worldly priest and the careerist because his entire priesthood is about pleasing men, not God. This pride and disobedience lies at the heart of the Church crisis right across the world in this time of apostasy. No wonder the world is in complete disorder.

    August 21, 2022 at 5:22 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers

      Great comments Athanasius especially regarding Career Clergymen of whom we know that The Vatican or The New Babylon is full of them. I would go further and say that their is not even one ,near Bergoglio who is not more interested in His Career than in anything that is connected to Our Catholic Faith.
      As for Father Ted it was certainly filmed in the correct place ,and wasnt really funny unless of course one wanted to Laugh at so called Priests and Nuns.
      On Blasphemy one of the things that Really, Really gets to me is in all Programs and Films it seemed Okdoki to take the Lords name in vain. I must confess that i do swear [ on occasions ] but one thing I never do is take Our Lords name in vain.
      If the One Who cannot be named name, was even taken once in Vain the Religion of Peace would be Rioting outside of the studio. As for Rushdie i personally have no time for the Man but do not wish Him harm . What i certainly do know is that over many years His Bodyguards have been paid by us The Taxpayer and the price has run into several £Million. My beef is Rushdie knew the score [ so to speak ] and should be spending His own money on Body Guards as He is a very wealthy Man .

      August 21, 2022 at 7:07 pm
    • Lily

      “the Herald is avoiding using the correct term here, which is blasphemy.”

      I agree. The reason being, IMHO, that the Herald doesn’t want to draw attention to the fact that blasphemy is only really possible against the one true God, Jesus, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not the gods or religious figures of other religions. I’m guessing that’s why they use the word “dissent” and not “blasphemy”.

      August 21, 2022 at 9:17 pm
    • Josephine


      A thought-provoking comment from you. The word “careerist” jumped out at me because that is something I’ve become very conscious of, that too many priests think of their vocations more like careers, and some clearly want “promotion”. No wonder, as you say, the Church is in the mess it’s in these days.

      August 21, 2022 at 10:18 pm
      • Athanasius


        Indeed! The career priest is a priest absent of humility, if not faith. The Vatican is full of such men, as are many dioceses around the world. There should be a Church law forbidding the elevation to higher office of any cleric who shows even the least desire for it, as much for the salvation of the covetous cleric as for the unfortunate faithful who might find themselves entrusted to his care. Our Lord himself warned that those who exalt themselves shall be humbled while the humble shall be exalted. St. Pius X was a humble cleric and Our Lord raised him right up to the highest office in the Church. How the Church needs saintly souls like that today!

        August 21, 2022 at 10:36 pm
      • editor


        It’s taken me quite a few years to work out the danger of considering priests as “holy” or “good priests” because of their outward appearance (how devoutly they appear to offer Mass, for example) or because they give good, even inspiring sermons.

        Like any other alleged follower of Christ, unless they treat the people they don’t like, or the person who is considered the lowest of the low, with compassion, as Christ would have treated them, they are “as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal”, to quote St Paul.

        For all the accounts in the Gospels of Christ castigating the religious leaders of His day, calling them hypocrites, whited sepulchres, serpents, blind guides, you name it, there’s no instance of Him taking any vindictive action against any one of those evil-doing religious “experts”. Not one. Yet, we hear such stories, sadly, about some priests today, if someone falls foul of their personal “commandments” – such as don’t annoy me! A slight exaggeration but you’ll get my drift.

        So, my advice to those keen to canonise their favourite priest is to wait and see how he treats you when you fall out with him… That can turn out to be not a pretty sight!

        I agree with Athanasius that, of course, we need saintly priests today – just don’t be too quick to canonise any of them. “Living saints” are few and far between!

        August 22, 2022 at 11:12 am
      • Athanasius


        Sadly, I share your bitter experience of priests who show one face in public and another in private. I have been shocked at just how wicked some are when not in the public gaze. Still, the majority of priests I’ve encountered in my life have been well intentioned souls, albeit prone to the same faults as the rest of us, though usually with a more determined will to overcome them.

        That being said, I have met a few who have been exceptional in their charity, patience, kindness and zeal. These generally exhaust themselves providing opportunities of grace for the faithful, such as all-night vigils, extra Confessions and masses and numerous kinds of devotions. These rarer types of priests, I’ve found, are uniquely outstanding for their devotion to Our Lady, particularly in the recitation and promotion of her rosary.

        For me, the very simple way to define whether a priest is close to or far from Our Lord is to judge his fruits. This is the measure we have to use, especially today when many are either misled by Modernist error or simply using the priesthood as a self-serving career choice.

        To put it in a nutshell, a saint (whose name I can never remember) once said that the parish with a saint for its priest will be a saintly parish; the parish with a lukewarm priest will be an indifferent parish; and the parish with a bad priest will be a parish full of demons. Such is the power of the priest to sanctify or destroy the souls entrusted to his care, which is why prayers are so important for priests.

        In these very difficult times it is incumbent upon the laity to seek out parishes where the true Mass of the Church is celebrated by zealous priests with at least a modicum of Our Lord’s meekness and humility, priests who seek to build up and sanctify.
        Until Vatican II, Catholics were more or less spoiled for choice in terms of booming parishes with good priests. Today, we have very few parishes to choose from and every priest has to be watched like a hawk, for this unprecedented crisis in the Church is a crisis of the clergy and it is underpinned by an explosion of pride.

        On a final note, Editor, you know I am always available to administer my Apostolic blessing for a fee. However, in imitation of the parish priest of St. Mungo’s, the “no mask, no Mass” priest, the deal is no fee, no blessing!!!! We’d cry if we didn’t laugh!

        August 22, 2022 at 3:14 pm
      • Faith of Our Fathers

        Just my two pence for what its worth on Good Priests – Bad Priests. Many in my own Parish of whom av spoken to have said that they do not like our Priest. From comments to He gives the Eucharist on the Tongue, to He wouldnt do this for us like the previous Parish Priest. My answer to them always is ” He is not there to be liked or disliked He is there to do a Job ” which as far as am concerned He does. Of course again one of the most things Hes disliked for is He actually brings some Latin into the N.O. Mass .
        Of course as soon as i say anything back to them about Bergoglio I am not just wrong but Sinful. Well of course according to Bergoglio they are correct. Personally on that subject i say to them ” I will take my chances on Judgement Day “

        August 22, 2022 at 3:56 pm
      • Josephine


        Thank you for your reply. I think you are basically saying (what I think, myself) that there is a lot of blether about holiness coming from priests, but not a lot of virtue to give us examples to follow. That would be the meat on the bones.

        August 22, 2022 at 6:14 pm
  • graeme taylor

    Groups of Muslims have attacked Churches in Africa, the far east and France killing and maiming hundreds of people.
    Communists useful idiots in the USA and Canada have attacked and burnt down a number of Churches.
    The Chinese Communist thugs have destroyed scores of Churches in China and persecuted the real bishops and priests replacing them with their Communist Party stooges and persecuted the faithful there.
    In our own country we have attacks on the faith in the street, in social media etc. As for the Father Ted
    ” comedy” on Channel 4 if priests really do find that funny I have yet to meet them. The two main characters are presented as morons and the third clergyman a violent foul mouthed alcoholic who can barely walk. That is not humour it is an unveiled attack on Christ’s Priests pushing the narrative that clergy are uneducated, stupid, superstitious, numpties who can not boil an egg, let alone expound the Gospel and lead and guide souls. It is an infantile attack on Christ and His priests and I am sorry to hear that any clergyman has found it remotely funny. It is just more communist led agendas to attack the faith and belittle sacrifice. Shameful.

    August 21, 2022 at 5:41 pm
  • Josephine

    graeme taylor,

    We never hear about the attacks by Muslims on Christians in Africa – it’s a disgraceful and complicit silence on the part of the media.

    As for Father Ted – Ugh!!

    August 21, 2022 at 10:15 pm
  • editor

    N O T I C E . . .

    Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I had planned to post a thread on the subject, focus, of course, on the Fatima Message, so feel free to use this thread for any commentary or devotional input, on this beautiful Feast.

    It is perhaps useful to resolve, today, to make the First Five Saturdays with the aim of making reparation to Our Lady for the offences and blasphemies committed against her Immaculate Heart.

    My diary is jam packed this week with various meetings/appointments, so don’t think I’ve disappeared, (as my many enemies would like me to do!) I’m offering this prayer for all such weak and hardened souls…

    Happy Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary!

    August 22, 2022 at 10:49 am
  • Lily

    Happy Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to everyone. I hope we don’t have too long to wait for her promise of a period of world peace to come true.

    August 22, 2022 at 8:44 pm
  • Frankier

    I have had a Mass offered at Lourdes for Father`s intentions.

    August 23, 2022 at 11:17 pm

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: