Do I hate Charlie Hebdo (CH)? The simple, and accurate, answer is, “No.” Don’t tell that to the Friendly Atheist [sic] over at Patheos. In addition to doing a hatchet job to yesterday’s post, “A Comment on Charlie Hebdo,” the blog attributes feelings to me which are not my own. In fact, the only emotions which enter the equation with respect to CH and the brutal tragedy surrounding the paper is sadness. I am sad that 12 people lost their lives at the hands of Islamic murderers. I am sad that the incident is inciting ethnic animus in France. And I am sad that the perpetrators, deluded as they are by a false religion, are continuing their terror spree as I write this brief post. Like Pope Francis, I pray for the souls of these criminals. May they see the light and repent before it is too late.
Never for a second did I think one of the shorter posts in this web-log’s history would attract so much attention, especially since it stated nothing which any Catholic of a saner era would have found controversial. If I have any regret about that blog entry, it is that I may have over-read Matthew Schmitz’s First Things piece on CH, concluding — it appears wrongly — that he meant to include “freedom of speech” on the menu of principles Catholics ought to uphold. His explanation of where he was coming from on that score is available in the Opus Publicum combox; you should go read it.
As for the Friendly Atheist and its followers, all I can say is that I will not and cannot view Catholicism and Islam on the same plane. The former is true; the latter is false. If, for a moment, I thought otherwise, then I should, in good conscience, withdraw from the Corpus Mysticum and follow my conscience, though it would lead me to hell. How a rightly ordered society treats truth, which includes the true religion, and how it treats falsity, which includes Islam, is, I admit, a complicated question — one made exponentially more difficult to gain clarity on in a predominantly secular world than I would like. I certainly do not expect liberal-democratic polities to proscribe blasphemy, even though they should. Given the facts on the ground in Europe, however, I remain firm in my belief that those states which sit across the pond from us might want to ponder the value of some of the “free speech” they claim to revere, not to remove criticism of Islam from the public sphere (Heavens no), but to protect public order in what can be accurately called dire times.