Physical aggression or attack on the Church?6 minutos para ler

Physical aggression and abuse of the rights of children and adolescents are the latest accusations against the Heralds of the Gospel. In a program of October 27, "Fantástico", rede Globo, veiculou videos in which the founder of the institution, Mons. John Scognamiglio Clá Dias, taught the Sacrament of Confirmation to some young people. At one point, according to liturgical praxis, the celebrant slapped the face of the confirmation. Nothing new or abnormal… But in the view of the accusers, it constitutes "aggression", "violence", "abuse".

For Globo, administering the Sacrament of Confirmation according to church praxis would set up "aggression", "violence" and "abuse"

It is not necessary to say that incrimination has profoundly shocked the truly Catholic public —and even a large portion of non-Catholics. Indeed, many of the spectators certainly went through the same ceremony, witnessed countless other bishops making the same gesture and perhaps heard their ancestors joyfully comment on the "paternal pat" that the bishop gave them, by anointing them soldiers of Christ! And never cross-minded them to be the celebrant an aggressor, a rapist of the basic rights of children and young people! This crime seems to exist only in the heads of the accusers…

Classifying as a criminal an act that is part of a rite of the Catholic Church, for centuries approved and stimulated by her, is very serious. Now, the priest in question does nothing but follow what She has always taught. Was he doing the wrong way by doing what the Church recommends and approves?

It is necessary to clarify a basic point: Confirmation is one of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church, by which the faithful, anointed with the sacred oil of Confirmation, receives a new infusion of the grace of the Holy Spirit, which perfects supernatural gifts and virtues in it.[1]In other words, what Baptism gives in seed, confirmation perfects. Therefore, he is "confirmed" in his faith and adherence to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This Sacrament therefore marks a new phase in the lives of Catholics. They acquire a spiritual maturity that distinguishes them from the simple baptized:

"They are more strictly obliged to spread and defend faith by words and works, as true witnesses of Christ."[2]

The slight slap enters as an integral part of this ceremony, as an "explanatory rite".

The Bishop's "pat" in confirmation is an ancient liturgical symbol that represents the willingness to endure any offense for love for Jesus Christ

The custom of patting this "pat" is very old in the Church and dates back to the early centuries of Christianity. The bishop does so because the confirmed is, from then on, a soldier of Christ! You must be ready to defend faith in the face of enemy attacks and undertake all work for the expansion of the Kingdom of Christ:

"The slight slap on the cheek reminds the confirmation that, as a soldier of Christ, he must be willing to endure any offense for the sake of Jesus Christ."[3]

Moreover, it is entirely in accordance with the spirit of the Church using gestures and signs in their ceremonies, for they allow them to "more clearly express the holy things they mean and the people can easily understand them, as far as possible, and also to participate fully and actively in community celebration."[4]That's the meaning of the so-called "explanatory rites."

Now, is that a physical assault? It's absurd to assume it is. The intention of the celebrant is not to provoke any form of physical or moral injury in the recipiendário. It totally lacks the animus nocendi, that is, the desire to harm it. On the contrary, it is to benefit the faithful with the gifts of the Sacrament that lead him to act according to the Ceremonial and Rite Of Catholics.

The exemption from any offensive character is even more evident with the sequence of the ceremony. After giving him the gentle slap and uttering the words "Pax tecum" (Peace be with you), the celebrant grants confirmation the embrace of peace, meaning that Our Lord will be help and comfort in all future clashes. Interestingly this excerpt was not transmitted in the report in question… Mere distraction or manipulation of information?

In turn, the Pontificale Romanum, from 1962, normative liturgical book of the celebration of the Sacraments, brings in one of its headings: "Deinde leviter eum in a caedit jaw" — Th[o celebrante]en beats lightly on his face.[5]The liturgical standard makes a point of "lightly" stressing, excluding any aggressive tendency in advance.

Although the Ordo confirmationis, published on August 22, 1972, does not bring explicit mention to the gesture, this, however, does not take its use, because: 1°) There was no determination of the Church obliging in the opposite way, so much so that many bishops still use it, because it is a laudable custom approved by centuries of tradition; moreover, the Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of Benedict XVI ratifies "the power to celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation using the previous Roman Pontifical, if the good of souls so advises"; 2°)[6] If that were not enough, some vernacular versions of the 1972 Ordo, such as French and Italian, still refer to the gesture and give freedom to the celebrant to carry it out. It cannot therefore be accused bishop or celebrant of contrary to liturgical norms for this.

Religious ignorance, coupled with anti-Catholic prejudices, is a perfect broth of culture for a new religious persecution in Brazil

What led, then, the "Fantastic" to transmit to Brazil whole unfounded accusation, would we even say childish? Has history been witnessing almost twenty centuries ago, in culpable muteness, the so obvious and public offense to human rights, until a television network — not very friend of probity and transparency, as we know — would eventually illuminate the "eyes to the blind" , wanting to qualify a slight slap of abuse, when she morally harms thousands of faithful?

Considering all this, the reader is necessarily led to consider two hypotheses: either with this accusation Rede Globo wants to blame the Catholic Church for allowing an abusive, violent and aggressive act in its ritual; or the accusations that are made against the founder of the Heralds of the Gospel — and against the Institution— serve only as a pretext for lying, slander, and defamation.

In fact, as the popular proverb states, "you don't throw stone into a tree that bears no fruit"…

In the face of all this, perhaps a discreet, but very timely question is going through the minds of Brazilians: "What to think of the torrents of accusations that have been addressed to the Heralds of the Gospel in recent months, always fraudulent, without evidence and witnesses?"

The tide of unfounded, false and detractor incriminations of which the Heralds have been objected is nothing but the prelude to what may be the complete curtailing of the Freedom of the Church and its beneficial influx over this nation.

Brazilians, will you allow that to happen?

[1]Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1303.

[2]Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1285.

[3]RIBÓLLA, Joseph. The Sacraments traded as a kid. São Paulo: Editora Santuário, 2000, p. 24

[4]Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 21

[5]Pontificale Romanum: Typica Editio 1961-1962. Città del Vaticano: LEV, 2008, p. 10.

[6]BENEDICT XVI. Apostolic letter given in the form of motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. July 7, 2007. Available from: http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/pt/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xvi_motu-proprio_20070707_summorum-pontificum.html. Access on November 2, 2019.


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