pragueBlog

2006-02-06  

Prague's chief Catholic Cardinal Miloslav Vlk not covering himself in glory:

"'The freedom of man is not unlimited. It has its limitations whenever it affects the freedom of another person - and this is what journalists often do not realise,' Vlk said", reacting to the cartoon riots by criticizing those who simply exercised free speech.

I'm not sure how he imagines cartoon-publishing to affect the freedom of others. He has the right to disgrace himself just as you have the right to publish your opinions about a religion whether or not they're in good taste. But this is a man who had some direct experience of actual limitations on freedom. The Prague Post had a piece on him just a few weeks ago:

"...Vlk struggled to follow his calling under the communist regime, when the church's activities were tightly restricted. He could only be ordained as a priest in 1968, during a slight loosening of the regime's iron grip. But he had to officially give up the priesthood shortly thereafter, and spent eight years working as a window cleaner in Prague while continuing to practice underground."

He obviously minds a limited freedom when it affects him, but has no problem advocating limiting others' freedoms when it's him defining the limits. What is the point of saying that 'the freedom of man is not unlimited' unless you're saying something should be done about it? There is no word of criticism for the Muslims who call for the cartoonists to be punished. So is he saying they are right?

Look at this paragraph from the first article in which he appears actually to admire the way in which Muslims react to perceived attacks on their religion, as if publishing five or six cartoons constituted a threat:

"Vlk said that the Muslims are concerned about their religion, about the Koran. 'They feel it so even though the Prophet Mohammad is not God. We Christians do not have enough courage when something like this touches directly God. This is good to realise,' he said."

The phrase "this is good to realise" may have suffered a bit in the published translation, or the Cardinal spoke in English and makes the very common mistake of translating the verb 'realizovat' as 'to realise' when it's usually more suitable to use "to do" or "to accomplish".

Tell me I'm wrong, but the Archbishop of Prague is arguing that Christians should emulate Muslims in the way they react to perceived insults to their particular icons.

UPDATE: Here he is on the same theme as quoted by Radio Prague: "In our part of the world it has become acceptable to defame the beliefs of others, even using lies. That's not just towards Islam but also Christianity. We've accepted this false sense of freedom, but Muslims have not been corrupted in the same way, and are willing to defend values they consider sacred."

BTW, both links via Prague Monitor.

Steve | 15:21 |
links
archives