And sometimes you just have to let yourself laugh when somebody falls down the stairs. Or, in this case, gets pushed off the stage.
That's what happened to Father Marcello Rossi, a priest in Sao Paolo, Brazil, the other day.
It's mean. But it can be funny, if the person falling is in clerical drag and you've wished your whole life something like this would happen to people who collect a salary for proclaiming God doesn't like gays or uppity women or people who practice birth control. Whose boss actually declared (until 2010) that condoms must not be used to fight AIDS.
Don't get all righteous on me and tell me it's not nice to wish other people ill. And don't waste time insisting your ethical system would be OK with pushing Hitler off the stage, but this priest is no Hitler.
Of course he wasn't. And decent man, child molester, homophobe or nebbish, it really doesn't matter. Of course we should all put ourselves in his place and ask how it would feel being shoved off a stage by somebody who doesn't like you. Or at least doesn't care if you get hurt or not. Of course he doesn't deserve to be dealt with violently.
But what are we to make of the reaction to this incident? After you watch this video, take the time to read the commentary. Most of it is celebratory. Most people who took the time to tune in are glad to see a Roman Catholic priest "get what's coming to him." Look how many comments refer to the child abuse history in the church. Or the homophobia. To say there's no shortage of resentment of the church being expressed here would be a gross understatement.
Unfortunately, from what I've been able to dig up so far (and I admit I haven't really dug that far) we're not clear about the background to this event. Was he preaching that God doesn't like fat women? Was the pusher a crazy lady? All innuendo so far; very little real background information.
The press coverage isn't necessarily helpful. Several sources, here, here and here, claim it's because Rossi claimed fat women don't go to heaven.
You have to ask yourself, could he have been that stupid? Or is this fake news? Is the resentment expressed in the commentaries against this priest, Marcello Rossi, as an individual or as a member of the RC clergy? Can one argue that this incident is emblematic of the loss of prestige of the church? Or is it just one of those events out of the blue?
I remember a time gone by when we turned the knob on the TV set to listen to Walter Cronkite tell us about the important events of the day. The term "fake news" had not been invented. The priests in my home town visited all their parishioners once a year to update their estimates of how much money they could probably afford to pledge to the church's coffers. Nobody would dream of laying a hand on father. My friend Tommy went to confession every Saturday to store up enough good vibes to be able to resist touching his girlfriend's boobs that night. He always failed, but that gave him material to take into confession the following Saturday.
I'll admit, I didn't just laugh; I guffawed when I saw the good father bite the dust. Too many years of stored resentment for my better nature to call the shots. Second thought: I hope he didn't get hurt. Third thought: maybe we can start a new trend. Fourth thought: Sure hope this doesn't backfire and create sympathy for this sexist, homophobic crew that is the clergy.
Fifth thought: I wonder how many people I know out there are wondering why I don't get a life.