In Holy Week, three historic Catholic churches were torched in Melbourne, Australia.
On Holy Monday, St Mary’s Church, St Kilda East and St James’ Church, Brighton were set alight. On Holy Wednesday, the third, St Mary’s Church in Dandenong went up in flames.
Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention but, as an Australian Catholic, I only heard about this today — two weeks after it happened.
There has been little media attention on this tragedy. Sadly, what coverage there was focused almost exclusively on the possible link between the churches burned and the child sex abuse scandals of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The sadness and loss of current priests and parishioners has been pushed aside as the media has gleefully relayed the crimes that took place around these churches. The implication is clear. These churches are a burnt offering in atonement for the sins of past priests.
No one denies that horrible abuses did take place but is that any excuse to burn a church that has stood for over 140 years?
What the media reports insinuated, some went right ahead and said. Australian actress Rachel Griffith said she felt “great relief” and added, “I was quite elated, like many of my generation, when I heard the news this morning.”
Elated? At the news three churches had been burned?
Imagine for a moment that these weren’t Christian churches.
If they had been mosques or temples, we’d be loudly decrying such persecution and furiously examining our consciences. We’d have a nation-wide hashtag campaign and protests in support of those whose beloved sacred places had been destroyed in the most holy of weeks. (Can I suggest #illfightchurchattackswithyou)
But no, these are Christian churches.
They had it coming, you see.
The point isn’t that these attacks were necessarily inspired by hatred or revenge. I suspect they are the work of a disturbed individual who just wants to see the world burn. What is concerning is that the coverage of these attacks have been so callous and even gleeful.
In our media climate today, you can ridicule and revile Christians as much as you want and you’ll be guaranteed a sympathetic hearing. This is the so-called tolerance that reigns today.
It is unabashedly anti-Christian. In fact, the media narrative of “Bad Christian” is so pervasive that many are incapable of seeing Christians as victims in any circumstance. Even if churches are set alight, the story must be played out as it’s our “fault” somehow.
I’m just sadden that we needed churches to burn to see the hollow ruins of this so-called tolerance.