In a perverse irony, a statue of our Lord was decapitated last week at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas, the diocese whose bishop made headlines in June for a photo op kneeling with a Black Lives Matter sign. Bishop Mark J. Seitz’s public support for a Marxist organization that has fueled a summer of terror, violence, and destruction is shameful. He may have been rewarded by an enthusiastic call from Pope Francis, but the alliance the bishop forged was an unholy one, and he is now witnessing the fruits of that perverse union.
It is the same bitter lesson that feckless mayors such as Ted Wheeler of Portland must learn: Contrived obsequiousness and self-flagellation don’t heal racial and social tensions and won’t appease the mob. That capitulation simply spurs and emboldens lawless degenerates to the point they descend upon your home.
In Seitz’s case, the retribution is infinitely graver, a vile assault on our Lord himself. Seitz shouldn’t be “saddened,” he should be horrified. The desecration of a statue of Jesus should not be regarded as merely an act of “vandalism,” as the diocese of El Paso lamely described it, but as a gross sacrilege against the second person of the Trinity.
Seitz’s misstep should serve as a sober warning to other church leaders who have either paid lip service to the BLM organization and its radical left doctrine, or who have been too cowardly to sound the alarm. If the clergy tacitly condones or, as with Seitz, even applauds a group whose beliefs, agenda, and tactics directly oppose the church, they should be prepared for these despicable acts of anti-Christian desecration to escalate.
This Destruction Is Unsurprising
The rector of St. Patrick Cathedral, Fr. Trini Fuentes, described himself as shocked by “such an unexpected situation.” For anyone with the slightest awareness of what has been unfolding in this country over the past few months, yet another attack on a statue of Jesus is not only to be anticipated, it is completely consistent with the BLM organization’s divisive and destructive narrative, and the anti-Christian hate crimes that have ensued.
Disturbing attacks on the Christian faith have been spreading with alarming frequency around the country. Over the summer, the historic San Gabriel Mission in California and the Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Ocala, Florida, were set on fire. Statues of Jesus and Mary at churches in Boston, Mass., Miami, Tenn., and Colorado Springs, Colo. were set alight, beheaded, and defaced. On Sept. 11, someone captured a video in broad daylight of the toppling of a statue of Our Lady of Guadeloupe outside a church in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
So no, the latest attack in El Paso was not “unexpected.” According to a court affidavit, the individual charged with the destruction of the statue told police “the skin color of the statue was the wrong color.” The suspect’s statement echoes the words of the radical-left BLM activist Shaun King, who tweeted that images of white Jesus are a tool of “white supremacy” and “oppression” and should be torn down.
Anti-Religious Attacks Are Nothing New
Sacrilegious attacks on Christian symbols are not about protesting racial inequality and improving the lives of black Americans. They are part of a Marxist insurrection designed to intimidate, terrorize, and destroy. That any bishop would respond to this scourge with anything other than unqualified condemnation is doctrinally perverse. It’s an abrogation of his apostolic duty to instruct and lead the lay faithful.
In his encyclical on socialism 150 years ago, Pope Leo XIII urged bishops to endeavor that “the children of the Catholic Church neither join nor favor in any way” what he described as “abominable sects.” Leo XIII, and before him Pope Pius IX, explained that the specific names of these groups and movements vary, but they are always “bound together by the closest ties in a wicked confederacy.” Their objective is always the rejection of the divine and the subversion of all civil society.
BLM is a 21st-century version of the type of socialist group these popes warned about. No bona fide Catholic shepherd should be advocating an organization that opposes fundamental church teaching on family, the sanctity of life, the dignity of the individual, original sin, and redemption.
Nor should he cheerlead a movement that has led to the killing of innocent people, the shooting and ambushing of police, the destruction of property, the targeting of ordinary Americans, and the desecration of churches and religious symbols. With its exploitation of class differences and racial inequality and its embrace of violent uprisings as a means of overthrowing public order, it is clear that this is not a group to which the church should be kneeling.
The Church Must Stand Against BLM
Even church leaders who have not gone as far as taking a knee to BLM, have been reluctant to condemn the organization. When Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., spoke at an online conference entitled “Race in America: The Faith Perspective,” he suggested the social unrest and protests the country has witnessed have been a “wonderful assembly of Americans” and a display of unity.
Bishop Timothy Doherty of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana suspended one of his priests for strongly criticizing the BLM organization. Even Bishop Robert Barron, who has been vocal in condemning the cancel culture’s targeting of Catholic saints, has been conspicuously quiet on BLM’s Marxist agenda.
When asked about the organization during an interview for the podcast “Jesuitical,” Barron missed a crucial opportunity to educate listeners about why BLM goes against fundamental church teaching. Instead, he focused on tenuous points of commonality, such as injustice and feelings of righteous indignation.
Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane, Wash., is one of the few bishops who have bravely responded with a resounding “No” to the toxic rhetoric of the BLM organization. In a recent interview, Daly correctly argued that we can and should stand for black lives without supporting BLM. The interview was a response to a ludicrous video released by Catholic Charities Eastern Washington. In it, CEO Dr. Rob McCann claimed the Catholic Church is racist, all white people are inherently racist, and BLM is a “Christ-like movement.”
No amount of nauseating wokespeak can explain how a supposedly “Christ-like movement” has spawned a toxic climate in which radicalized individuals are desecrating images of Christ. Enough is enough. Bishops must take a stand, not a knee, and unanimously condemn the attacks against Christianity, and the Marxist, anti-Catholic vitriol that the Black Lives Matter organization has been relying on to foment this seething hatred.