Don’t bring your pitchfork to the theater

Don’t bring your pitchfork to the theater

Okay, this is just getting ridiculous. Now, the Diocese of Cleveland is warning all Catholics to watch for rising feelings of anti-Semitism in their midst from people seeing The Passion. Can we all get a little perspective here? When Schindler’s List was in theatres did we get warnings about potential neo-Nazism? When CBS did their biography of Hitler, did people get worried about anti-Semitic feelings from that? This is a depiction of the Passion of Jesus Christ. We hear the very same story every year, twice at least if you’re an observant Catholic.

The Diocese of Cleveland sent a February memo to all its parishes asking Catholics to be aware of the potential for anti-Semitism. On Friday, a trio of prominent Jewish, Catholic and Protestant leaders sent a letter to 300 of their colleagues urging them to address the issues raised by the film in their churches and synagogues.

I see. And after we read the Passion narrative at Mass on Palm Sunday and on Good Friday, should we be worried the “potential for anti-Semitism?” After all, in the narrative, the whole congregation reads aloud the words of the Jewish leaders: “Let his blood be upon us and our children” and “Crucify him!” I think what we have is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy or even worse, a needless hysteria.

Who do they think is going to go to this movie? Skinheads? Neo-Nazis? Anti-Semites (as if they’d need anything to push them to hate the Jews)? No, we’ll see ordinary people who will hear the story of the Crucifixion in their churches throughout Lent anyway or read about it in their Bibles.

This sounds like nothing more than elitists who think the hoi polloi can’t be trusted with religion, that popular piety and devotion is to be sneered at in comparison to their sophisticated beliefs that barely acknowledge the presence of the divine. The handwringing over all this is becoming offensive, not because of what it says about the movie, but what it says these people think about the average Christian.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli