Last week I was with my Word on Fire team in Ireland, filming for the Catholicism
series. At the hotel, I had picked up a copy of the “Irish Independent,” a mainstream newspaper, and I was paging through it while we traveled through the countryside. I came across a small article on the ever-developing Mel Gibson situation, bearing the title “Wait—It just gets better and better.” The author laid out the gory details concerning Gibson’s recent drunken forays into alleged sexism, anti-semitism, wife-beating, etc., and he concluded that under American law the disgraced actor could (and should) be prosecuted. Then, the brief article ended with this breath-taking and utterly bizarre remark: “Who knew Catholicism could be so interesting?”
Suppose someone had written a piece on Bernie Madoff’s crimes and misdemeanors and had concluded with the line, “who knew that Judaism could be so interesting?” Let’s fact it: the clear implication of the article in the “Irish Independent” is that Mel Gibson’s Catholicism is the cause of his destructive and anti-social behavior. Not his alcoholism, not his anger issues, not his sinful soul or anything else—but his Catholicism. What I actually found refreshing is how this author explicitly stated what I felt was often implicit in thousands of other stories about Mel Gibson. I mean, among the dozens (probably hundreds) of misbehaving and dysfunctional stars in Hollywood, why was Gibson so singled out for exposure? I think the answer is obvious: he was the director of “The Passion of the Christ” and an outspoken advocate of Catholicism. Mind you, I’m not defending Mel Gibson’s behavior for a minute. I share the general disgust for his disgraceful remarks and even more disgraceful acts. But come on, I’m not going to stand by while people use this man’s weakness and wickedness as a club to attack Catholicism.
(This commentary from Father Barron is also featured on the Chicago Tribune's Seeker Blog. Take a look at it here.)
Father Barron is the Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Also, be sure to read Father Steve's homily for this, the Feast day of St. Martha the Dragonslayer!