BEARING THE CROSS
An Open Letter to Mel Gibson
REMNANT COLUMNIST, New York
PROLOGUEThe Remnant, posted Aug 5
It started out as a fairly routine news story. Actor and director Mel Gibson was arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) in the early morning hours of July 28, 2006.
Forty-eight hours later, the episode had morphed into a tale of Homeric
proportions after it was revealed that, during his arrest, Gibson launched into
an anti-Jewish tirade, during which he accused the Jews of being
"responsible for all the war in the world." Suddenly, a run-of-the-mill
newsflash became a full-blown tragedy, a woeful tale of a mighty hero fallen.
It was The Fall of Hector for the modern age. But, instead of the fallen
warrior's slain body being dragged around the city of Troy behind Achilles'
chariot, Mel, the "Hector" of our story, was carted away in an ordinary police
vehicle. One could almost hear the Blind Bard himself, paraphrasing his own
Odyssey, uttering these words as the squad car drove off into the early
"Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and
again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Hollywood."
The unsavory details of Gibson's alleged tirade were uncovered by TMZ.com,
an entertainment internet news site owned by media giant Time Warner. TMZ
posted excerpts from Officer James Mee's official arrest report, taken from a
supposedly "leaked" copy of the report.
According to Tabloid Baby, an internet news/commentary/satire site, TMZ.com
managing editor, Harvey Levin, a one-time lawyer and legal analyst, has a
thing for inciting and filming celebrities as "entertainment."
While we could wish that the entire incident was just another of Levin's
celebrity hassles, the fact remains that Mel Gibson admits that he said and did
things during his arrest of which he was truly ashamed. In a July 30th
statement, he admitted that "I drove a car when I should not have," that "I
acted like a person completely out of control when I was arrested, and said
things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable." He
apologized to anyone he had offended, especially the deputies involved, who
"probably saved me from myself." He concluded with:
I disgraced myself and my family with my behavior and for that I am truly sorry.
I have battled with the disease of alcoholism for all of my adult life and
profoundly regret my horrific relapse. I apologize for any behavior
unbecoming of me in my inebriated state and have already taken necessary
steps to ensure my return to health.
It is at this point, after a writer has calmly and dispassionately stated the facts,
that he is supposed to launch into "analysis" mode, perhaps interview a
couple of shrinks on the earth-shattering topic of "do people really mean what
they say when drunk?"
My own approach, however, would get me kicked out of the Associated Press
faster than you can say "Tawana Brawley." For I contend that Mel Gibson's
statements on the morning of his arrest are utterly inconsequential, except if
brought up by him in the confessional. I say this for the simple reason that I
was raised on the streets of Queens, New York, and not by the banks of the
root-beer-float rivers of Candyland.
There are ways in which I can identify with Mel Gibson. We are both the same
age. We both returned to the Traditional Catholic Faith of our forefathers after
many years far, far away from her embrace. We both returned to the Church
as adults and under rather dramatic circumstances. And we both carry with us
to this day far too much baggage left over from those old days, when there
was no sacramental dimension to our lives with which to combat our demons.
Remember how the nation of France got on America's bad side at the
beginning of the current Iraq War? All we heard at the time were crude
generalizations about "the French." "The French" were cowards. "The French"
were surrender monkeys. I even heard a pioneer Traditionalist priest engage
in this nonsense. Yes, generalizations often come easy, even to "good"
Am I, a middle-aged man who has been around the block more times than I
care to remember, supposed to succumb to a case of the vapours because a
Catholic brother of mine should fall, get himself intoxicated and make an utter
fool of himself? Am I to conveniently forget that this man had been the subject
of a year-long, merciless slander campaign on the part of Jewish activists
(and their apostate Catholic cronies), during which no personal insult was
deemed too vile to launch against him, his father or the Church he loved? And
all because he desired to honor Jesus Christ? Is it not possible that a man
who has been through all of that will, under stress, fear, anxiety and the
influence of booze, lash out in generalizations? You know, the kind that many
of our neighbors were directing against "the French" a few years back?
Rabbi Daniel Lapin of Toward Tradition, in an August 1st statement entitled
"Mel Gibson & Me," wrote:
We most definitely can and must insist on lawful behavior and we must
demand respectful interaction. However we must stop pretending we can
police people's thoughts. I know of nobody who would be willing to be
hooked up to a machine that would disclose his innermost thoughts to the
If Mr. Gibson really does hate Jews as his drunken diatribe might indicate, his
behavior towards the many Jews he knows has always been nothing but
cordial and respectful. He has never supported (as have too many Jews)
Palestinian causes and other organizations that encourage the murder of
Jews. Amazingly Mel Gibson has utterly resisted the natural human
temptation to snap back at the so called "Jewish Establishment" for its vicious
assaults on The Passion.
Rabbi Lapin described the Jewish response to Gibson's apology as "beyond
ungracious." And this response is worthy of scrutiny. The omniscient Abraham
Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith (ADL), all too eager to
judge and judge harshly at that, posted a statement on July 30th, in which he
Mel Gibson's apology is unremorseful and insufficient. It's not a proper
apology because it does not go to the essence of his bigotry and his anti-
Semitism. His tirade finally reveals his true self and shows that his
protestations during the debate over his film The Passion of the Christ, that he
is such a tolerant, loving person, were a sham.
In having his apology rejected by the "great and powerful Foxman," Mel
Gibson joins the company of Pope Benedict XVI. Back in May, Foxman was
"deeply troubled" over Pope Benedict's address at Auschwitz, because it had
failed to pin the blame on "centuries of Christian anti-Judaism which became
Gospel-hater and media darling, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach, writing for
BeliefNet.com (July 31, 2006), feels Gibson's apology should be accepted, if
he backs it up by reissuing the Passion "with an important disclaimer at the
very beginning of the film detailing the undisputed historical fact that the
Romans killed Jesus, and that any of the Jewish leadership, like Caiaphas
the High Priest, who called for Jesus' death were all in the employ of Rome,
and indeed served as the Roman police enforcers in Judea." He also wants
all those who defended the Passion "to do some real soul-searching." Yes,
this from the man who thought his buddy, Michael Jackson, was treated too
roughly by the press during his child-molestation trial!
Even the part-Jewish atheist, Christopher Hitchens, columnist for Vanity Fair,
in the midst of an outpouring of hysteria matched only by that of TMZ's Harvey
Levin, wrote of Mel's arrest (Slate.com, July 31st) that, "Those who endorsed
his previous obscene blockbuster are obliged to say something now or be
ignored ever after." Both Hitchens and Foxman expressed the desire that
Hollywood simply treat Gibson as a leper from here on out.
Interesting, isn't it? Where Mel Gibson is concerned, it always boils down to
the Passion in the end. Even now, when Gibson has humiliated himself and
sunk about as low as a man can sink, the bottom-feeders are obsessed with
punishing him specifically for the Passion. And we wonder why his rage has
chosen the particular form it has.
In 1977, director Roman Polanski drugged and raped a thirteen-year-old girl
and fled the country to avoid prosecution. In 2002, Polanski won the Palme
d'Or (Golden Palm) award at the Cannes Film Festival for The Pianist, for
which he also later won the 2002 Academy Award for Directing.
In 1988, Victor Salva was convicted of having sexual relations with and
videotaping a twelve-year-old boy. Salva went on to direct the popular films,
Powder (1995), produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and Jeepers Creepers
Yet the bottom-feeders want the director of The Passion exiled from
Hollywood forever. For what? For creating what may well be the single most
important work of Catholic Art of the last century? Come on! They want him
simply because he is Mel Gibson. And Mel played right into their greedy little
hands. That is the biggest tragedy of all.
Mel Gibson's public apology is a sincere one. The public penances of the
Middle Ages were a means by which the sinner, through humiliation, could
mortify himself, thus annihilating pride. How many of us would care to go
through that? Perhaps Mel has an understanding now of such humiliation. If
so, this entire awful incident is worth its weight in gold to his soul.
It is only the Catholic analyst who can recognize correctly the spiritual
dimension of this Mel Gibson fiasco. In his first papal encyclical, St. Peter
wrote: "Be sober and watch, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring
lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." This advice - chronicling, as
it does, the spiritual dimension of temptation - has been mocked and
ridiculed in modern, secularized society by the childish cry, "the devil made
me do it!" But the sad and sobering fact remains that St. Peter's words are for
all of us, and anyone reading these words can fall - and fall hard - tomorrow.
When Mel Gibson made the Passion, he stuck his head right into the lion's
cage. God alone can know what infernal assaults have been launched
against him during and since that time. Mel has proved himself no friend to
Christ' enemies, both human and supernatural. And for that, they will make
To a rational, adult individual, the entire Gibson arrest incident is just another
tempest in a teapot. We all know what it is like to say things, even to our
dearest loved ones, which we regret as soon as we say them. We know what
it is like to stumble. We know temptation. We know irrational anger, and the
stomach knots of anxiety. We do not feign horror at human frailty.
And we know the blessed silence of the confessional as we wait for that little
wooden door to slide open and the opportunity to unburden our hearts and
souls. Mel Gibson and his family deserve our prayers. Those who have
rejoiced in his misfortune and are using it to further their own misguided
agendas deserve no more than our pity.
Dear Mr. Gibson:
On August 1, 2006, you issued a public statement to "everyone in the Jewish
community for the vitriolic and harmful words" you spoke on the morning of
your arrest. It was a genuine and humble admission on your part, as you
rightfully assumed personal responsibility for your behavior.
However, you made statements in your public apology which must be
addressed by a Catholic brother, statements which, although spoken in a
spirit of contrition and amendment, are unworthy of a soul redeemed by the
Precious Blood of that loving Redeemer Whose Supreme Sacrifice you have
honored in your art.
You spoke of meeting with leaders of the Jewish community for a "one-on-one
discussion to discern the appropriate path for healing." You asked the Jewish
community to help you on your "journey through recovery."
The events surrounding your arrest, ugly as they may be, have two
dimensions. On the one hand, you have offended your fellow man, and for
that you have apologized, honestly and sufficiently. But, in the end, the more
important dimension is the spiritual one. The secular media uses the term "fall
from grace," without having an inkling of the true depths of this phrase. As
sinners, we do "fall from grace," but far from being a mere melodramatic
device, we know that a loss of sanctifying grace through our own deliberate
separation from the Blessed Trinity is the real "tragedy" of sin. This separation
is true loneliness, and can lead to despondency and despair.
And that is why Our Lord, in a mercy that is as loving as it is infinite, has given
us the means to return to Him, time and time again. Repentance, Confession,
Penance - these are the dynamics of a redeemed world.
Mr. Gibson, you speak of turning to Jewish leaders to help facilitate your
"healing." I remind you of these simple facts. For one to practice Judaism
today, one must deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, His Miracles, His
Resurrection. In short, one must deny the very Source of all Hope,
Forgiveness and Grace. In order to adhere to Judaism today, one must view
the Immaculate Virgin Mary as either an adulteress or worse, since Jesus
would not then be the Only-Begotten Son of God. To practice Judaism today,
one must deny the Living God present in the Blessed Sacrament, deny the
power of the confessional, deny all claims that the Roman Catholic Church is
the Bride of Christ.
Mr. Gibson, Jewish leaders and groups have nothing to give you that can
compare with your taking refuge in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the
Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is THERE, and only there, that you will find
healing, comfort and strength. It is there, and only there, that you will find the
embrace of the Living God and the waiting arms of the glorious Queen of
Heaven and Mother of the Church.
Jesus and Mary harbor a special love for the prodigals and they employ weak
human vessels, for one simple reason: "We have this treasure in earthen
vessels, that the excellency may be of the power of God, and not of us." Can
you imagine for one moment the unfathomable love that Our Blessed Mother
holds for you in allowing you to chronicle the Passion of her Divine Son?
Never doubt the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, even for a second.
Can you honor these Hearts by turning, in your hour of need, to those who
have nothing but contempt for Them? Would it not be a far better thing, and
would it not give greater glory to God, if you instead seek out the counsel of
good priests, spend afternoons before the Blessed Sacrament, do spiritual
reading and exercises, and make yourself an offering to Our Lord?
Remember the Miserere:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy. And according to the
multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my iniquity. Wash me yet more from
my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my iniquity, and my sin is
always before me.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash
me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. To my hearing thou shalt give joy
and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.
A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God,
thou wilt not despise.
Upon the release of your apology, Abraham Foxman of the ADL, after
haughtily sitting in judgment upon you, announced, "We're ready to help
when he's ready. We'll be there for him." Yes, groups like the pro-abortion
(including "partial-birth" abortion), pro-homosexual, pro-pornography ADL are
ready to help "heal" you! Would you dare breathe the same air as these
vipers, let alone place your soul in their hands?
Mr. Gibson, you have Catholics all over the world praying for you and your
family. Let your road to recovery be one of Catholic repentance and renewal.
You have already apologized to the people you have offended. Do not
compound your errors by giving scandal to fellow Catholics who genuinely
care about you. If you do so, you will deservedly lose both the respect and the
support of these people. Our Lord and His Mother will move heaven and earth
for you. Of that, you can rest assured.
"What concord hath Christ with Belial, or what part hath the faithful with the
unbeliever?" Good questions asked by St. Paul. What can those who deny,
indeed despise, Jesus and Mary possibly have to offer you to aid in your
In His mercy, Mr. Gibson, Our Lord has placed the choicest treasures of
creation - Himself, His Mother, His Church, His healing Sacraments - at your
feet. Look no further. The Pearl of Great Price is already yours.
Thank you for your labors on behalf of Jesus and Mary, and rest assured of
our continued prayers on behalf of you and your family.