I never cease to be surprised and horrified by the vitriol that spews from the mouths of so many people who claim to be Christian. And I never cease to be surprised and horrified by their rigid, cold-hearted "defense" of their version of "right."
Honestly, I rarely pay attention to this display of mean spiritedness because the talk is cheap and the purveyors have no courage. They weaponize their words against people they do not know; people they never meet at the local grocery store, or the Friday night basketball game at school, or at Mass on Sunday morning. So it is easy to use social media as a channel for their dark, self righteous rage.
And somebody always gets hurt.
But today's sad and ugly event sent me searching -- looking at some of those ugly words because out of them came a manifestation -- blind crusaders carrying out their bent version of heroism.
Toward the end of the press conference today, a collective gasp could be heard in the Vatican press room when someone asked Paolo Ruffini and Fr. Giancarlo Costa for the Vatican response to a breaking story.
Early in the morning someone stole of a sacred indigenous symbol of life -- a wood carving of a pregnant indigenous woman -- that had been placed at a side altar in the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina where several organizations are sponsoring educational and prayer events related to the Amazon synod.
The sacred symbol was a center piece surrounded by the photos of the Amazonian martyrs, including Sr. Dorothy Stang.
The persons who stole the sacred carving and other reproductions of it, video taped themselves taking the carvings, walking to a nearby bridge, placing them on it, and finally batting them with their hand, one at a time into the Tiber River.
Pain shot through my body and tears of sorrow filled my eyes at the news.
Representatives from LifeSite News, Church Militant and others who seem to affiliate more closely with Brietbart than the Gospel have spent lots of ink and airtime questioning the purpose and value of the indigenous sacred symbols.
I have at times felt a little sad for them with their blind allegiance to a Christian history that never existed or their lack of understanding of how Christianity has spread over time, regions, and cultures.
But the steady stream of vehement rejections of Pope Francis; his genuine loving kindness toward the people of the Amazon; his authentic respect for their way of life; along with his willingness to hear what the indigenous Catholics in the region need to strengthen the church there and do something to help them; it is magnetic to the followers of these reactionary websites. And the trove of troll like people who are driven by this canned ideology are sometimes emboldened to take action.
And when they do, people get hurt.
When they carry out their colonialist diatribes, they are part of the problem that Pope Francis is trying to help address.
While they may not live in the Amazon, their rhetoric helps keep in tact a world where multinationals, land owners, and others can and do exploit, rape and murder the Amazon people and their land.
Their rhetoric helps keep in tact a world in tact where landowners feel free to shoot up the plaque honoring Sr. Dorothy Stang.
Their rhetoric helps keep in tact a world where special interests continue to engage in smear campaigns against Dorothy 15 years after her death.
With tears in my eyes for the suffering they cause, I went looking at some of the reactions to the theft and desecration of a vulnerable people's sacred symbol. I was jolted and even more saddened:
"The rest of the landfill trash needs to go too."
"Finally, someone did it."
"Finally, God bless these guys. But why didn't they smashed it before throwing in Tiber. How nice would it be to watch. But this is enough for a nice Monday."
"Well done gentlemen!"
"Canonize these men."
And for your specifically misogynist version, a citation from Kings:
"And he took the effeminate out of the land, and he removed all the filth of the idols which his father had made."
People hurt others foolishly and callously.
And people get hurt by these kind of words.
Tonight I sent out a special prayer of gratitude to my Dad who died in 2007. When I was very small, I stood listening to an adult circle casting some very negative aspersions on someone whom I did not know. But my Dad wanted me to learn something in that moment. He took me aside and what he said has guided my life. He said, "Debbie, you can't judge others. You have to walk a mile in their shoes to understand them."
Thank you Dad. My your Spirit cover this sad group of people and help them to "walk a mile" so they might learn compassion, kindness, and love.
I am also thankful for a beautiful prayer poem by Rumi that someone sent me today -- healing balm for broken hearts.
Every midwife knows
that not until a mother’s womb
softens from the pain of labour
will a way unfold
and the infant find that opening to be born.
There is treasure in your heart,
it is heavy with child.
All the awakened ones,
like trusted midwives are saying,
“ Welcome this pain.
It opens the dark passage of Grace.”