To many, Madonna and Marilyn Manson are infamous pop artists. I’ve been reading where Catholic groups are mustering their protesters and events to discourage and/or disapprove of upcoming concert tours in Eastern Europe. The Archdiocese of Warsaw has rejected a request to celebrate a Mass in protest of the Material Girl’s Assumption Day concert in Poland. “Mass can’t be treated as a form of protest,” according to Father Henryk Malecki, speaking on behalf of the archdiocese.
What if the organizers had titled it more positively, as this US effort earlier this year netted not only permission, but the bishop’s on-site leadership?
I’ve been on the protest side before. In the eighties, I participated in a few liturgies celebrated outside the fences of an upstate New York location that was known to house a nuclear weapons stockpile. At the time, I felt mostly uneasy with the use of liturgy for the cause. I doubt I would organize or participate in such an event today. And yet, there are occasions on which believers feel strongly the need to pray communally, and to do so through a familiar and fruitful form: the Mass.
So answer me these questions: Is it just how the event is titled? Is it the large scale of an outdoor event? If it’s right for Florida, how can it be wrong for Poland? If some are so convinced ordinary Catholics have lost belief in the Real Presence, can we really claim Madonna intended to insult Polish religious sensibility when this date was booked? I bet more Catholics believe in the Real Presence than know the date of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, don’t you?