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SYDNEY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Christians in Australia are blasting a national news program for airing blasphemous comments mocking Christ's Crucifixion.
Openly gay Jewish comedian and drag performer Reuben Kaye sparked outrage when he appeared last week on Network 10's nightly news and talk show The Project and spouted vulgar remarks that compared Christ's Crucifixion to homosexual acts.
Kaye crudely quipped, "I think it's hilarious when someone messages me and says, 'You have to accept Jesus' love or you will burn in Hell,' because I love Jesus. I love any man who can get nailed for three days straight and come back for more."
Multiple religious leaders sharply criticized Network 10 and the hosts and producers of The Project for airing such crass comments. Christians and Muslims immediately announced plans to host a protest outside Network 10 studios in Sydney.
The night after Kaye's appearance, the hosts of The Project issued what they called an apology for the "needlessly offensive" comments:
Live TV is unpredictable, and when this happened in the last few moments of last night's show, it genuinely took us all by surprise and there wasn't a lot of time to react in any sort of considered way. It's fair to say we weren't expecting a comment like that to be made — we wouldn't knowingly broadcast it — of course we acknowledge the offense that it caused, but more than that, we're sorry.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney published a strong condemnation of both Kaye's blasphemy and Network 10's complicity. He wrote, "[T]he insult not only went unchallenged, but was even endorsed with spirited laughter by members of the panel. That a 'news and current affairs' program would so flagrantly mock the beliefs of more than half of all Australians is extremely upsetting and frankly incredible."
He also blasted Network 10's response to the outrage, calling the aired apology "forced and insincere." He also noted that the apology wasn't posted to The Project's social media accounts, but Kaye's vulgarities were.
Fisher is a Dominican and, true to the spirit of the Order of Preachers, he invited The Project's hosts and producers to learn more about the faith:
Perhaps the members of The Project have little understanding of the importance of the Easter season and why attacks on one of the most sacred symbols of our faith is so offensive. To that end, I would like to invite you, The Project panelists and production staff, to visit St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney so you can better understand what Christians believe and why attacking these beliefs is inappropriate. I would especially like to invite you all to join us for our Easter ceremonies on either Good Friday or Easter Sunday where you can fully experience the reverence that Christians have for Jesus Christ. I look forward to welcoming you and your staff to St. Mary's soon.
The archbishop further called on Catholics to "continue to do penances for these all too common acts of blasphemy, and pray that the eyes of the ignorant will be opened to the life that Christ offers us."
Maronite Catholic Bp. Antoine-Charbel Tarabay also condemned Kaye's comments as "neither a joke nor an unavoidable mistake that happens on live TV."
The leader of Christian Lives Matter, Charlie Bakhos, demanded the show's hosts and producers — and Kaye — all issue public apologies, adding, "We have all had enough and this show last night crossed the line with the mocking of Our Lord Jesus Christ."
Serbian Orthodox bishop Siluan Mrakić also condemned the blasphemous comments:
Whilst the Church holds vigil, praying for the salvation of the world, the demons are at their business of making noise, trying to distract the faithful in order to draw their attention away from prayer, from Christ, to the vanities of this fallen world, to its profane, superfluous and idle talk, its gossip and brokeness. These blasphemous utterances are a product of a world and society that has rejected God.
In a homily, Sydney Catholic priest Fr. Brendan Lee called The Project "the worst show on television" and demanded the whole show be canceled. He continued, "It is a show that preaches diversity and tolerance but has no tolerance itself for different religions and people of faith," he told the congregation. "It does not practice what it preaches. ... It is hate speech and bigotry."
Fr. Lee told the media, "Jesus Christ is the son of God. You couldn't mock something more sacred. He is our everything. To knock Jesus Christ is to knock Christianity. ... These things escalate and if Christians don't push back it will get worse."
Anti-Catholicism in Australia seems to be hitting a fever pitch. One of the clearest examples is the late Cdl. George Pell.
Speaking of news coverage of Pell's 2018–2019 trial on false charges of child abuse and the subsequent overturning of his conviction, media analyst Gerard Henderson claimed that Australian news outlets ran a subtle smear campaign against the cardinal. He explained, "It was a very hostile environment. I'm not aware of anyone who had such a hostile environment in recent times. ... In such a circumstance, it would be very difficult for anyone to receive a fair trial."
Even after his death earlier this year, Pell, as the preeminent personification of Catholicism in Australia, was still targeted. The fake-Catholic premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews, denied Pell a state funeral, though the cardinal had for a long time served as the archbishop of Melbourne. Instead, Andrews rejected the Australian High Court's 2020 landmark overturning of Pell's conviction and continued to smear the cardinal as an abuser.
At Pell's funeral, hundreds of LGBT protestors gathered to label the cardinal a bigot, chanting such elementary slogans as "George Pell, go to Hell." Others played the song "Highway to Hell" as Pell's casket was loaded into the hearse.
Reuben Kaye was among Pell's detractors. Upon hearing of the cardinal's death, Kaye tweeted, "There'll be a fireworks display and champagne outside the hospital where George Pell died."
Yes. There'll be a fireworks display and champagne outside the hospital where George Pell died.— Reuben R Kaye (@ReubenKaye) January 11, 2023
But the anti-Catholicism down under doesn't end with Pell. Dan Andrews has enacted some of the harshest anti-Catholic policies in his state. In February 2021, Andrews and his Labour Party passed a restrictive bill banning conversion therapy. The law explicitly criminalizes homilies, spiritual direction and even prayers for those struggling with same-sex attraction.
New South Wales is preparing to pass its own conversion therapy ban, but pro-life Catholic premier and father of six Dominic Perrottet has pledged homilies, spiritual direction, prayer and the like will be specifically exempted. His Labour Party counterpart agreed.
Later in 2021, Andrews passed new "anti-discrimination" laws that specifically discriminate against Catholics. In order to promote the LGBT agenda, Andrews forbade Catholic institutions from firing employees or refusing to hire job applicants who don't uphold Catholic teaching. The laws effectively permitted homosexuals and transsexuals free reign to work in Catholic institutions, including Catholic schools.
Such nationwide attacks on Catholicism have had an effect. In addition to laws making it harder and harder for Catholic institutions to function according to Catholic teaching, worsening media bias against Catholics has had a demoralizing effect.
Mass attendance in Australia was never particularly high — in 2001, only 15% of Australia's Catholics attended weekly Mass. But as anti-Catholic rhetoric increases, Mass attendance continues to decline. The latest numbers available (from 2016) show less than 12% of Australia's Catholics attend weekly Mass.
Reuben Kaye's blasphemy and Network 10's endorsement of it are simply the latest examples of anti-Catholicism down under.