Protest and Reparation in Manhattan

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Thousands of Catholics voice their outrage over the blasphemous play Corpus Christi.

When playwright Terrence McNally first conceived the idea of portraying the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as a homosexual in his blasphemous play Corpus Christi, he probably did not expect that it would provoke such a substantial protest as took place in Manhattan on Saturday, September 26. Perhaps he thought Catholics would take this new blasphemy sitting down, as they have so often done in the past.

Since news of the play was reported last May, the American TFP and its America Needs Fatima campaign has led hundreds of thousands of Catholics across the country to stand up in defense of the honor of Our Lord Jesus Christ and proclaim a resolute No! to blasphemy.

The blasphemy perpetrated by McNally and the Manhattan Theatre Club may very well be the worst blasphemy in American history, for it offends the Most High with the worst and most infamous of insults that can be thrown against a man, that is of the unnatural sin of homosexuality. Nothing could be more monstrous or blasphemous; and therefore nothing deserves to be fought against with so much firmness and urgency.

What are we Christians for?

Why is it that for 2000 years we have been called “Christians”? Why has our Faith during all these twenty last centuries called “Christianity”? Why is it that the blessed and happy family of Catholic nations who live according the teaching of the Gospel has been termed “Christendom”?

It is because the Divine Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the central point in our lives, individually and socially. He is the vine and we are the branches. He is the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary foretold by all the prophets, He is our Redeemer, the God-Man, the Divine and Incarnate Word, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity made man. In His name every knee should bend, “of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.” He is the very core, the living heart of our faith. Nobody goes to the Father except through Him.

We learn from childhood that the reason for our very existence is to know, love, and serve Him. He created us and all things from nothingness. He is Lord of all and of everything. He is the center of all things and therefore of our lives. It is because of all this that we try as best we can to follow His commandments. It is because of this that when we fall into sin we turn to Him and ask His forgiveness. And it is to Him, above all, that we Catholics look as the most perfect model and goal for the life of Christian perfection to which He calls us.

It is this image, then, this example, this perfection, that the sons of corruption attempt to destroy, because they know that if they manage to destroy the image of the Head of Christianity, they will in a short while destroy Christianity itself.

Increase of Catholic fervor

It is unfortunately true that many Catholics today find it difficult to put aside their personal interests for the sake of defending their Creator’s honor in face of blasphemous affronts, and unfortunate, too, that many others have somehow embraced the idea that it is better to do nothing about them. Yet, there are still numberless true Catholics who would echo the great Saint Jerome: “A dog may bark in his master’s defense, and am I to stand by silent when God’s holy name is blasphemed? I would sooner die then forbear to speak.”

Since beginning this campaign in May, we have encountered many expressions of such fervent faith. One man on hearing about the campaign promised, “Let me know if you are going to protest in N.Y. I am going to make this my mission.” Another said, “I am so infuriated I can hardly speak. I am going to do all it takes to stop this, even if it means standing alone on the streets.” Yet another said, “I had heart surgery a month ago, but heart surgery or no heart surgery, I’m getting out of bed to fight this one.”

Yes, America may pride itself in that there are still many good, militant Catholics who will not stand by, will not remain in their comfortable chairs, but will readily sacrifice their spare time and even much more to go forth vested with noble indignation to do whatever the law permits to fight against blasphemy. Many individuals as well as many groups, such as the Catholic League and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, have made noteworthy efforts to raise their voices in opposition to Corpus Christi.

Our Catholic duty to protest

The outrage expressed by hundreds of thousands of Americans against this play proves that America harbors gallant souls who care more for good principles then for their personal comforts and interests. This has encouraged the American TFP to go all out in protesting and making reparation for this unprecedented offense. The campaign against Corpus Christi began last May with a letter to McNally urging him to eradicate the blasphemous aspects of his play but assuring him that if he persisted in his intent we would be obliged to launch a massive campaign of protest across the country. McNally made no reply within the time set — nor anytime since — so the campaign was launched.

Nearly 4 million postcards distributed

Through direct mail, networking with other Catholic groups, distribution by numerous volunteers in front of churches, at parish gatherings, and on public streets, millions of “Stop Blasphemy Now!” leaflets were distributed nationwide. The leaflet briefly describes the play’s blasphemous character and issues a call to action. Each leaflet includes two detachable protest cards addressed to the Manhattan Theatre Club, one for the leaflet’s recipient and the other for a family member or friend. Nearly four million protest postcards were distributed. The flyer provides a third card to be returned to us in confirmation that the protest cards had been sent. By the response we received, we estimate that the Theatre Club has received at least 180,000 protest cards.

When the dates of the play’s previews were announced, time was clearly not a favorable factor, since we knew that many people who would like to have come would be unable to do so on very short notice and much preparation needed to be done. Permits had to be obtained from both New York City Hall and the Police Department. After these had been secured, several banners and 300 “Stop Blaspheming Our Lord Now!” placards had to be printed

Some 25,000 packages were mailed out with invitations and instructions to be photocopied and distributed. Thousands of invitation flyers were distributed by hand on the streets of New York City. Letters were sent to 1,500 clergy and other distinguished persons asking for messages of support to be read at the rally. Faxes were sent to Catholic institutions in New York inviting them to join the protest. Invitations to the rally were published in Catholic New York, of the Archdiocese of New York, and in The Tablet of the Brooklyn diocese. A “phone-tree” was set in motion, with 160 American TFP and America Needs Fatima members and friends calling some 5,000 persons from our files in the New York metropolitan area, urging their participation in the protest. Buses and vans were arranged for participants from numerous locations, including Rhode Island, Virginia, and Massachusetts; Long Island, Queens, and Rochester, New York; Hazleton, Scranton, and York, Pennsylvania.

Catholic spirit echoes throughout Manhattan

On-site set up could, of course, be done only on the day of the protest. This work began at noon, with arrangement of the podium, loudspeakers, microphones, and other items necessary for a large public protest. Everything was ready on time.

At 2:00pm, Thomas McKenna, Vice President of the American TFP introduced Father Andrew Apostoli, a representative of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement and a frequent guest on Eternal Word Television Network. Father Apostoli opened the event with a prayer. Then followed the solemn entrance of a statue of Our Lady of Fatima carried on the shoulders of two sturdy “Fatima Proclaimers.” Amidst Marian hymns and applause and with a beautiful flower arrangement at her feet, the statue of the Virgin Mother of God passed through the crowd and took her place near the speakers’ platform, where she reigned throughout the protest. The American TFP band then played the National Anthem.

America Needs Fatima director Robert Ritchie led off the line-up of speakers. Referring to the humble woman who wiped Jesus’ face along His way to Calvary, he said: “Veronica didn’t hesitate! She saw Our Lord wounded and bleeding! Her love for Jesus moved her to take her veil and wipe His face. She just did it. It was God who inspired her to do it. And she had the obligation to do what God asked of her. It was something beyond tactics. It was heroic! Today we have the chance to console Jesus for the outrage being committed inside that theater, where He is being mocked.”

Following Mr. Ritchie, both Father Apostoli and Father Andrew McCormick, who came with a busload of his parishioners from Philadelphia, addressed inspiring words to the crowd about the evil of blasphemy. Among the other speakers were Steve Schwalm, a senior cultural analyst with the Family Research Council, Dick Walsh, president of Americans for Life, and John Dabbene of the Sons of Italy.

Prayer and Protest

The Rosary, led by Father McCormick and answered by all present, echoed through Manhattan’s canyons of glass and stone skyscrapers, where God’s rights are too seldom remembered and His holy name too often invoked in vain. The participants also joined in shouting slogans in protest and reparation, led by Mr. McKenna:

“Every one therefore that shall confess Me before men,… I will also confess him before My Father in Heaven!”

“Blasphemy! Blasphemy!… A sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance!”

“Catholics of America, will you remain silent as Our Lord is blasphemed?… Never! Never!”

“O Sacred Heart of Jesus,… Have mercy on us.”

“O Mary conceived without sin,… Pray for us who have recourse to Thee!”

The verses of “Immaculate Mary,” “God Bless America,” and “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” resounded alternately between the speeches and prayers. Simulta neously with the rally in Manhattan, hundreds of priests, nuns, and lay people across the country who could not attend offered prayers and sacrifices in reparation.

Impressive support for the TFP’s rally

Many messages of support for the rally were received from numerous religious and other public figures. These included Adam Cardinal Maida of Detroit, Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston, Archbishop Elden F. Curtiss, Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, and Archbishop Philip M. Hannan; Bishop Nicholas D’Antonio, Bishop Henry Mansell, Bishop Thomas Doran, and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz; Senator Bob Smith, Congressmen Mark E. Souder and Hostettler; and Morton Blackwell, Brent Bozell III, and Paul Weyrich. Excerpts from just a few of these messages may be found below.

The allotted time passed much too quickly, but by four o’clock the protest had to be brought to a close. Mr. Raymond E. Drake, president of the American TFP, delivered the closing remarks, which were heard with great attention and provided many thoughts and hopes for carrying on the battle against blasphemy. “This play presents a distorted, immoral, and twisted Christ, the very antithesis of Who He really is, and as such, we see it as a vile and cruel attack against Jesus and the Catholic Church, His Mystical Body….

“We are here today to sound an alarm! We are here to give a cry of warning to our fellow Catholics: Wake up, don’t allow Jesus to be disfigured in your very hearts.’ We are here to proclaim our love for Christ crucified and to shout out in reparation with our whole soul: ‘Lord Jesus, never in 2,000 years of history have such insults ever been hurled at Thee.’”

Fr. Andrew Apostoli

You know there’s an old saying, for evil to succeed all that is needed is for good people to do and say nothing. You have come up here to be counted. Thank you, because we have to let the people know, for putting on this blasphemous play, that they have offended the dignity and feelings of many, many people. I think they underestimate that there would be anything like this kind of response, and you know what? We have only just begun!

But they take the liberty to attack Jesus Christ. We must let them know that we honor Jesus Christ as the Son of God, we honor Him as Our Lord, and we will not stop protesting this play as long as it runs. I tried to quote Yogi Berra before to say, “It ain’t over till its over.”

Christ taught us to turn the other cheek, but He didn’t say to be a doormat. He said we must speak, and it would be wrong of us not to speak out against what they are doing to Our Blessed Lord.

Remember there have been men and women that, for two thousand years, have laid down their lives for their belief in Jesus Christ. And that’s why we are here today, to let them know across the street that we love Jesus so much that we give our all for His sake.

Fr. Andrew McCormick

There are many today who say that such a protest is futile and fruitless. We ought just to keep silent so as not to draw much attention to the evil that is taking place in our world. They claim that if we ignore it, it will just fizzle out and die. As we have seen, evil, perversion, and blasphemy are not dying out as they predict. Rather, the situation is getting worse and worse.

That is why we not only have a right, but an obligation to speak out against all the affronts to our Lord and Lady, these attacks against all that we hold and believe to be sacred.

Saint Catherine of Sienna said, “We had enough exhortations to be silent. Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues! I see that the world is rotten, because of silence.” Pope Felix III said that not to oppose error is to approve it, and not to defend truth, is to suppress it, and indeed, to not confront evil men when we are able is no less a sin than to encourage them.

As soldiers of Christ and members of the Kingdom of God, we cannot remain idle. We must take up the weapons of prayer and righteous act to defeat the sin that is so arrogantly displayed before our very eyes. There is certainly a battle going on. May we always be on the side of God, defending what is sacred, defending the truth.

Chris Slattery

The play Corpus Christi is an indecent and outrageous direct assault on God, on the Holy Family, the Holy Apostles, and our holy Church and Faith. Corpus Christi’s playwright and promoters have created a pathetic excuse of a play. Their intent is nothing less than to mock, blaspheme, and insult God, and to outrage Christians and moral Americans, and to flout the freedom of expression guaranteed in our nation’s Bill of Rights.

Why is it that the art community of New York tolerates blasphemy against our Blessed Lord and the Holy Apostles? Would they dare openly tolerate a play that mocks the Jewish faith? No! Black culture? No! Latino culture? No! Islam? No!

Where is the mayor? Where are members of the city council? Where are the politicians of this city?

We will not be silent whenOur Lord is affronted. We will not be silenced when Christians are mocked. We will not, however, hate. We will not return the mockery with hate of our own. We will pray for the offenders, we will pray for their conversion, just as we pray for the conversion of the abortionists.

Steve Schwalm

Militant homosexuality is fundamentally contrary and opposed to religion, family, and anything else that presupposes a natural moral order, a transcendent God, or anything higher than ourselves. The activist homosexual agenda and world view are fundamentally incompatible with Christianity or any form of true religion, because homosexuality is ultimately narcissism. It denies the nature of our bodies and the nature of our spirits. That is why attacks on the faith, such as Corpus Christi, are not the exception, but rather the rule.

This foul blasphemy is part and parcel of an agenda and people who know, much better than many Christians know, that there is and can be no peace between the two world views.

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