Opinion: They kill people for that, don’t they?

An Ottawa restaurant, appropriately named the Koven, hosted the first Satanic mass in Canada on August 17th. Just a day before, the Daily Telegraph reported the story of a Czech couple who had disrespected a holy site in Bali. The man had ‘lifted up the skirt of his girlfriend and splashed (holy) water on her bottom” at a temple in the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. The incident sparked outrage and the Bali government warned that visitors who behave badly would be sent home or face purification rituals.

In Ottawa, the Black mass generated a conversation on Charter rights.

For those who are unfamiliar with a Black, or a Satanic mass, it involves taking Catholic symbols, rituals and language (Latin) to mock Jesus and our Christian God. Think about that in any other context. It isn’t Lutheran, Pentecostal, Evangelical or Baptist ways and symbols that are being desecrated. It isn’t Jewish ones, either. A Satanic mass uses Catholic liturgy and liturgical symbols, in order to mock them. In its most orthodox form, the Black mass uses a stolen consecrated host to desecrate it. This is not a mere symbol for Catholics. It is the actual Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ. No biggy.

We don’t need to look hard to find many recent examples of how blasphemy is regarded in other countries. In June this year, Sunny Waqas a 19-year-old man, was the victim of Pakistan’s blasphemy law which is punishable by death. His Muslim neighbour accused him of the crime after a game of cricket. He was jailed while the police investigated. While stories abound about the radical enforcement of Pakistan’s law, most were awakened to its brutality through Asia Bibi’s story. She was sentenced to death in 2010 after being arrested for contempt of the Prophet Muhammad the previous year. She had had an argument with some colleagues in which she defended her Christian faith. Eight years later, she was exonerated. Still, she was not safe until her arrival in Canada, only this spring. Nine years spent fearing for her life and those of her loved ones.

Again this year, Prime Minister Trudeau’s plea in the case of Raif Badawi of Saudi Arabia, was joined by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. In 2013, the 30-year-old blogger was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, a fine and 10 years imprisonment, for insulting Islam. Not to be seen as lax, Saudi Arabia also sentenced his lawyer to 15 years.

In Ottawa, the official Catholic response to the Satanic mass, despite its clear assaults on Catholic beliefs, was deliberately different. As we would expect in our country, there was no government response.

Catholics in Ottawa were exhorted by their Archbishop to pray in reparation for the mass. They were asked to pray for those participating with full knowledge, or in ignorance. While approximately one hundred and fifty people stayed in prayer at the cathedral, two hundred received a blessing from the Archbishop and proceeded to Murray street.  They gathered across the street. Armed with their faith and their crucifixes, they prayed the Rosary and recited litanies. Ottawa priests had been encouraged to gather their parishioners to pray in their respective churches which they did. Recognizing what was really happening at this burger joint, Protestants came out too. Not only was there no call to violence by the Archbishop and priests, there was no call to even raise their voices or to insult or to curse any of the Satanists.

In every way, private property was respected. Freedom of religion was respected. Freedom of assembly was respected. Freedom of speech was respected, even to the point of blasphemy.

Aren’t we a polite bunch?

As a practicing Catholic, I would not want to violate these rights, though at every turn, it seems that mine, as a Christian, are.

However, the clarity with which other countries get to the heart of the matter, does provide us with insight, I think. Draconian religious laws, radically enforced, do not create a way of life I would wish on any human being.

But while Satanists gathered to worship Satan, our civility did not permit a discussion on that. The worship of Satan and the worship of self, through Satan. Rattling the gates of hell. Turning loose the forces of darkness. We witness these dark forces in the plots of our movies, books, Netflix originals and more. But there is no doubt that the forces of evil are at work in the real world too. Daily. And yes, also in the Catholic Church. Yet reporters could not bring themselves to ask, What the hell are they doing?

This was not about freedom of religion. Not about freedom of speech. Not about private property. Not really. The Black Mass is about Satan. And in the very polite coverage, in our very secular society, we turned it into a civics lesson.