Public attacks upon the Catholic Church in the United States were routine and commonplace in the nineteenth century as the immigrant Church’s expansion was seen as a threat to the nativists and know-nothings of the era.
Often churches and convents were attacked and burned and Catholics subject to acts of hatred and bigotry. However, a recent attack upon Catholicism should serve as a warning that hatred and bigotry are still alive and well. Most recently it appeared among the elite and so-called enlightened world of academe when University of Minnesota professor Paul Z. Myers made good on his pledge to desecrate the Eucharist.
Myers signaled what he was going to do in response to a Florida student who was chastised for leaving Mass with a host and “holding it hostage” for several days. “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker!” Myers proclaimed on in website post July 8. He asked readers to mail him some, or even one, Host, promising, “I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly...[and] treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse.”
Subsequently, Myers announced to the press: “I pierced it [the Host] with a rusty nail. And then I simply threw it in the trash.”
Suggesting that he did not want to “single out just the cracker,” Myers also tore pages from the Koran, along with a few pages from Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and nailed them to the Host before throwing them in the trash. This outrageous act of sacrilege wasn’t the act of a madman, but rather the action of a tenured university professor. Attempting to justify his hate crime, Myers suggested that “Catholicism has been actively poisoning the minds of its practitioners." The professor declared that Catholics were intolerant for demanding he be disciplined.
He hasn’t been. The Chancellor of the University of Minnesota suggested while Myers’ actions were “reprehensible,” they were in the bounds of academic freedom. Once again, attacks on the Catholic Church are dismissed as a mere exercise of academic freedom. But hatred and bigotry, whether it is burning a cross on the lawn of an African-American, painting a swastika on the home of a Jewish American, or defiling the Eucharist, the source and summit of the Catholic Faith, must not and cannot be tolerated.
Furthermore, how could anyone reasonably claim that a professing Catholic student enrolled in a class taught by Professor Myers would be fairly treated? He is no enlightened academic but rather a bigot who must be repudiated by all who despise the purveyors of prejudice and intolerance. His shameful actions speak for themselves, and we encourage the university administration to listen to the outrage of the Catholic Community against these actions. Hatred and bigotry cannot be tolerated in the name of academic freedom nor dismissed in the name of free speech. We urge the administration to hold Professor Myers accountable for his violent attack against the Catholic Church and take swift and decisive disciplinary action against him.