Sarah Silverman's modest proposal for the Pope, and what I propose for Sarah
You are welcome to watch it, but we warned that it's extremely vulgar.
In the video, Silverman tries to make an argument that the Pope needs to sell the Vatican to feed poor people.
I'm not disagreeing with Silverman that poor people ought to be fed, but I'm sure sick of liberal know-it-alls getting away with stupid arguments and ignorant stereotypes of the Church. That's what I'm going to focus on.
Even the Associated Press has covered this story, and it doesn't help the reputation of the Church when Rev. James Martin, SJ - culture editor of the Jesuit magazine America, writes that Silverman may be onto something.
.... excuse me?!
Silverman is trying to claim that if the pope doesn't sell the Vatican to feed the poor, the pope and the Church are somehow being hypocritical - that their actions don't reflect their beliefs.
Well, let's take a look at the facts:
- The Catholic Church already feeds more people than any private institution in the world. In the world. There's not even a close second. As a Church, of course we could do more. But we are doing something - and its a lot of something. Silverman might give credit where credit is due.
- Silverman makes the slur that the Vatican was involved in the holocaust. Seriously, Sarah? The historical evidence firmly exonerates the activity of the Church during the holocaust. Pope Pius XII personally saw to the protection of thousands of Jews, at great personal risk to himself and the Church. As a person of Jewish ancestry, how dare she attack the institution credited by Jews the world over with protecting Jews when so many world governments were deaf to their cries. This is beneath even her.
- Silverman likes quoting Christian sayings back to the pope - does she know about motes and beams? I'm curious how much of Sarah's profits, including her movie profits, have you used to feed the poor? If she is tired of seeing starving people on TV, what has she done about it, besides uploading a self-promoting video to YouTube? Shouldn't those who work to feed the poor be outraged at the antics of Silverman, when she uses the plight of starving people to further her own popularity and distract from their needs?
- At the end of the day, it's just a really stupid idea even in itself. The assets of the Vatican (St. Peter's Basilica, etc.) don't have a fair market value. Who is going to buy the Vatican? The best use of the Vatican is to continue to provide a place of worship to the millions of people who are members of the Church, who are in turn the economic engine behind the Vatican's ability to feed the poor. Pure and simple.
Some of you may be thinking: "Thom, chill out, everyone knows this is a joke."
Well not so fast - we look at this proposal and find it preposterous, but plenty of people watch this and receive yet another confirmation of their ingrained opinion - frequently reinforced by pop culture - that the Catholic Church is a bunch of selfish hypocrites who use Christianity as a way of lining their fur-coat vestments.
So my last point is for Fr. Martin, who writes that Silverman "is on to something - like Jesus was":
- Attacks on the Church are not the correct opportunity for pius hand-wringing. The take-away from the Sarah Silverman proposal is not "Gee, I guess she has a point". Rather it is: "The only good point Sarah makes we Catholics already knew, now has she heard any of the points we Catholics have in response?"
I, and every serious Catholic, don't need Sarah Silverman telling us we need to do more as individuals and as a Church to feed the poor. However, Sarah Silverman and most everyone who listens to her, needs to know that the Church is attempting - to the best of its ability and despite all its human failings - to live out the gospel mandate of Jesus Christ to feed the hungry.
(A little example might help here, if Silverman promised to match the charitable output of the Church dollar-for-dollar in its care and feeding of the poor, she would be bankrupt in a couple days. And that's just a guess. Maybe she would be bankrupt sooner.)
So no, Sarah Silverman doesn't have a point. The Church has a point - it has the truth.
That's what we should be talking about.
I realize papists don't need to hear these truths from me, but when your friend or co-worker asks you, "so what do you think about that Sarah Silverman video?" ... you know what I have to say about it.
Answer Sarah Silverman, Teach the World.