I am struck by the irony that in the same week that Catholics fall over themselves to cheer Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s blog post to the New York Times, accusing the paper of (the horror!) anti-Catholicism, that these same Catholics are quick to share headlines like “Jihadist gunman kills American Troops in Fort Hood” with all their friends via Facebook.
I am not going to comment extensively on the Archbishop’s words; he says nothing new, adds nothing to the conversation, merely repeats the same old complaints with fresh new examples. Yes, there is anti-Catholic bias in the press, and in our society. Much of it has long roots in the tragedies of historical strife and division, while some is of more recent flourishing. He even almost acknowledges that some of it has been well-earned by the actions and inactions of the Church itself. With all due respect, Your Excellency, I would be far more inspired to hear you step forward to be part of the solution to this perennial problem rather than rehashing the same threadbare defensive posturing.
And then there is the news from Fort Hood.
This was an American tragedy, a heinous crime of one American soldier against an indiscriminate number of his brothers- and sisters-in-arms. A portrait of this man has emerged in the media, and only more time and investigation by the competent authorities will reveal how complete or accurate that is. From what is available to read, it seems almost certain that his religion — and his experience of hatred from his fellow soldiers in response to his religion — had something to do with his cruel actions. Everyone has their own motivations for their actions, and for anyone with deeply-held religious beliefs, those beliefs are going to play a significant rôle in any major actions, right or wrong, that they choose to take. But to draw a simplistic connection between “he opened fire on a room full of American soldiers” and “he was a Muslim” is reckless and divisive, especially when the event happens in the midst of an armed camp engaged in a war that has — thanks to eloquent Christianity of our 43rd president — acquired the attitudes and trappings of a Crusade.
Given the state of the world today, it is an easy leap to equate the Islamic faith of the shooter at Fort Hood with his actions. But as Christians (and we Catholics are supposedly Christians, you may recall) we are called to not make the easy leaps: to fear of the other, to prejudice, to hatred and divisiveness. We are called to love as Christ loved, which was generously and unendingly, even to those we may temporarily see fit to call our enemies. I must stress that “temporarily” again, for in the End there can be only Love, and our Christian vocation is not to idly and arrogantly wait for the Other to come join us. Each of us, individually and as the Living Church, must run out to meet and embrace our enemy