Israeli soldiers carry a body in Kfar Aza, a kibbutz in southern Israel, Oct. 10. OSV News photo/Ronen Zvulun, Reuters

Editorial: Tell it like it really is

  • October 27, 2023

Who knew that one day Canada’s Catholic bishops would share a common language problem with the big machers of Hollywood. Yet it appears neither group can collectively find its tongue to condemn Hamas unilaterally for its Oct. 7 butchery in Israel.

News reports say Tinsel Town itself is being torn apart by entertainment factory factionalism. Big wigs in executive producer suites are divided by in-house accusations that antisemitism is behind the silence of the lambs when it comes to properly calling Hamas killers bloodthirsty terrorists. A-listers such as Jerry Seinfeld and Sacha Baron Cohen are among the stars who fumed in an open letter that the Writers Guild of America is refusing to even issue a statement decrying what is being called the worst mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust. A WGA official responded that no such statement is possible because “viewpoints are varied” and “consensus out of reach.”

Viewpoints? Consensus? Really? As former press baron Conrad Black has reported, credible medical documentation that he’s been made privy to reveals 24 female members of the Israeli Defence Force were beaten, raped, then had their hips broken before being killed by gunshots to their genitals.

Wherein might the finer points of spirited debate leading to collegial consensus about that particular war crime be found? What are the most likely shared viewpoints that could create a balanced and mutually acceptable moral response to the burning alive of Jewish babies? Alas, even those ironic questions appear too taxing for the masters of cultural content that we all absorb wide-eyed and open-mouthed. But, hey, they’re only writers, not theologians, priests or prelates.

Canada’s bishops must be at least two of the three. Yet they seem trapped in the same on-the-one-hand/on-the-other discursive deadlock as lowly Hollywood script grubbers. In fairness, that does not mean they’ve done nothing. Calgary Bishop William McGrattan issued a statement as president of  the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops that was fine as far as it went — even if it went far from far enough. Toronto Archbishop Francis Leo published a welcome call to make Oct. 27 a day of prayer, penance and fasting for peace in the Middle East.

Prayer and penance are, of course, always all to the good. Yet faced with the naked brutality Hamas visited upon the Jewish people, the question must be asked: how can even prayer and penance, by themselves, be good enough as a worldly response to this horror? Can Canada’s bishops not respond collectively by helping Catholics to discern why such savagery inflicted on the Jews demands explicitly naming Hamas for its specific sins? Can they not say plainly that we must avoid the temptation of slippery caveats about “both sides,” and disavow any misdirection play of moral equivalencies when the dead bodies and spilled blood of Israeli Jews make explicit that no such comparability exists? Such discernment can — indeed, should — differentiate the Palestinian people from the horrors of Hamas. It could even possibly pare the cheese finely enough to distinguish Hamas as a historical political entity from the specific wickedness of its Oct. 7 acts.

But to signify in the least way that Israel and Hamas share the suffering of that infamous day is to dwell in the house of Hollywood fantasy, not in the Catholic reality where the good men who lead us should guide us to live our lives.

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