When the largest French newspaper Le Monde published a blasphemous cartoon ridiculing Our Lord Jesus Christ and spewing hatred against the Pope, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition Family and Property (TFP) and its America Needs Fatima campaign asked its friends and supporters to protest.
The newspaper hardly expected the flood of protest that followed.“The word outcry is weak,” wrote the paper’s ombudsman Véronique Maurus. “This was a real storm, nay, a hurricane, a tsunami of protests… demanding that the newspaper apologize.”
Published on March 19, the cartoon depicted Our Lord as a foolish-looking hippy throwing condoms to a huge crowd of Africans. The cartoon reads: “The multiplication of the condoms followed the multiplication of the loaves.” Inside the boat is the Pope depicted as a decrepit old man who says: “Anything goes!” (You can see the cartoon by clicking here. Warning: the cartoon is extremely offensive!)
The attack of Le Monde was one of many in response to a statement by Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Cameroon where His Holiness reaffirmed Church teaching about chastity and use of condoms. The cartoon was one of an angry and bitter chorus of liberal anti-Catholic voices that appeared in the media. It is reminiscent of the vulgar anti-clericalism of the nineteenth century.
The TFP and America Needs Fatima React
The same day, the American TFP and its America Needs Fatima campaign began to prepare a worldwide effort asking their friends and e-subscribers to send protest messages to the French newspaper. Faithful Catholics offended by the cartoon responded in such great numbers that at one point nearly 500 protest emails per hour threatened to bring down Le Monde’s Internet server.
On March 27, eight days after the infamous cartoon appeared, Le Monde published an article by Véronique Maurus relating the extent of the protests. (Click here to read her full article in French)
Recognizing the Protest’s Effectiveness
“Sacrilege!” is the title of the article that recognizes the campaign’s impact and shows surprise at the Catholic reaction.
Unexpectedly finding Catholics standing up for the Faith, she states that these “lambs of God can bite!”1
“The Dreaded America Needs Fatima”
The protest emails started to arrive right after the publication. A trickle at first, soon it was hundreds, then thousands of emails. The apex was on the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, when emails were arriving at the rate of “500 per hour.” A reaction like this was never seen before, she affirms. The volume of protests swamped the newspaper’s server, forcing them to rush in an auxiliary server to deal with the volume.
The outcry was worldwide with emails, often in English, from the United States, Canada Australia, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and Spain. The massive barrage, Ms. Maurus commented, showed that “the tremendous power of the American Catholic lobby was mobilized.” Among those involved in this lobby, she mentioned “the dreaded America Needs Fatima – which became famous by denouncing the bestseller, Da Vinci Code.”
Sample Protest Messages
Here are some of the protest emails Veronique Maurus published in her article:“I pray for the soul of France that gave Saint Louis…”“Of course, as Catholic, I cannot cut heads off — but neither can I deny my desire to tear your newspaper to bits” (D. Reuben, email).“Le Monde should attack the Moslems that are slowly taking over Paris” (A. Saiki, New York).
“You would not have done this against the Moslem ethical principles. You choose soft targets because you are COWARDS” (Steve Killelea, Sarasota, Florida).
“I pray for the soul of France that gave Saint Louis [the king] to the world” (Doug Prize, Saint Louis, Missouri).
“You Attract the Wrath of God”
“Don’t you realize that you attract the wrath of God upon the world?” (Rita Reber, Florida).
“I am a Cajun. I was proud of my French heritage. Now I think that Le Monde has become a stubborn child that insults the values of our ancestors” (Paul Miller, Tennessee).
“France has still not recovered from the ignominy and infamy of the Revolution” (Frank L. Sharkozy, Wisconsin).
“One day you will appear before Christ and face a future of eternal darkness. May God have pity on your soul” (Deacon Ken Finn, San Diego, California).
Idolizing “Freedom of Expression”
The cartoonist who signs himself Plantu has never received such a reaction to any of his works.
However, despite the obvious offense Le Monde’s cartoon to Catholics worldwide, the paper defends itself in the same secular contradiction found everywhere. While claiming it does not want to offend anyone’s religious beliefs, the paper also affirms it will continue to publish offensive cartoons. Le Monde director, Mr. Alain Frachon, claims one must respect the “sacred freedom of expression.” (Our emphasis.)
Thus, while desecrating and ridiculing the sacred and divine person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Le Monde attributes to freedom of expression a sacredness it does not have. This is tantamount to worshiping “freedom of expression” and turning it into the only “god” accepted by secularism.
While Le Monde clings to its secular religion, protesting Catholics were pleased to come to defense of the Church. Such protests are acts of reparation, that cannot put be pleasing to the Blessed Mother.
From the article that appeared in Le Monde, it is clear that the protest sent a message that shocked the paper’s staff and will no doubt influence future policy. Long accustomed to indifferent Catholics, they came to realization that lambs of God can bite!
- Véronique Maurus, “Sacrilège!” [Chronique de la médiatrice], Le Monde, Mar. 27, 2009, http://www.lemonde.fr/web/imprimer_element/0,40-0@2-3232,50-1173348,0.html.