One of the surest signs of a successful blasphemy protest is the presence of a counter-protest. The offending parties seem to be saying that protesters are so important that they cannot afford to ignore them.
It was hard to ignore the scores of Catholics who braved the rainy weather to pray and protest against the play, Corpus Christi, at the Know Theatre in Cincinnati on June 14. The two-hour event was sponsored by the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign.
Catholics from Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and even Michigan joined the nearly 150 local activists at the Saturday afternoon rally that attracted the attention of local media – and a gaggle of about 20 pro-Corpus Christi supporters camped out on theater property.
The play, which portrays Christ and His Apostles as homosexuals, was held in a local “alternative” theater which is attached and rents space from the Salem United Church of Christ. The Theatre admitted receiving over 10,000 protest postcards and 2,000 emails. They also confessed a $5,000 loss on the production due to added security costs.
There was a clear division between blasphemy protesters and supporters.
The TFP event was marked with inspiring speeches, rousing hymns and moving prayer. Music and bagpipes gave even more life to the rally. It began with a procession with a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and ended with a touching candlelight consecration to Our Lady with many on their knees.
The leaderless Corpus Christi supporters largely sat in silence occasionally waving their signs for news cameras or passing cars.
“The pro-blasphemy people just couldn’t compare with those who defended Our Lady,” noted TFP director John Horvat. “Our crowd was great and everyone could see the difference!”
Between rosaries and prayers, speakers addressed the crowd. TFP Vice President Thomas McKenna directed the program. Among the special guest speakers was noted pro-life activist, Dr. Jack Wilke of the International Right to Life Federation. Fred Summe of the vibrant Northern Kentucky Right to Life organization also spoke as well as local Cincinnatian and TFP friend Patrick Ashcraft.
Protesters also heard the statement of Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk who said that the play goes “out of its way to present Jesus and His story in the crudest and ugliest of ways.”
The Over-the-Rhine neighborhood rarely sees such a display. TFP standards and banners mixed with assorted signs making a scene that was highly visible on the busy South Liberty Street. Our Lady smiled on the event as the sun came out and the rain stopped.
“Now that the Know Theatre has associated itself with blasphemy, it will be hard for them to shake it off,” Mr. Horvat told the crowd. “They will see that it is a no-win situation.”
Meanwhile for Cincinnati Catholics, it was a win-win situation. The rally served to pay reparation for the offense against Our Lord and the Church. It united Catholics from across the city in common cause ready for future actions. Finally, it sent a strong message to pro-blasphemy supporters that such presentations will not be accepted sitting down. On the contrary, they can expect peaceful protest and negative publicity. By showing such plays, they themselves only cause irreparable harm to their public image.