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Australian Catholics vandalise a ‘blasphemous’ war memorial

Australian Catholics vandalise a ‘blasphemous’ war memorial

Jesus is all about peace, don’t you know, so to have a memorial bearing a sword was ‘blasphemous’, according to a group of Catholics who vandalised the Cross of Sacrifice which has stood in Toowong since 1924.

As a consequence, according to this report, charges have been laid against the “religious fanatics” who perpetrated the act.

The attack has outraged Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk and led to the Catholic Worker movement member Jim Dowling being charged by police yesterday afternoon (Thursday).

The Returned and Services League (RSL), meanwhile, described the perpetrators as the “lowest of the low”.

Dowling’s wife, Anne Rampa, defended the actions of her husband, who removed the sword, and 22-year-old Greenslopes man Tim Webb, who placed the sword in an anvil to reshape it into a garden hoe.

This photo emailed to Fairfax appears to show Tim Webb damaging the sword.

When asked what the difference between their actions and the actions of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan were destroyed, and Islamic State’s more recent destruction of “blasphemous” artefacts in Palmyra, Syria, Anna Rampa said:

We’re Christian. We’re not attacking another religion. We’re trying to bring our own religion back to its proper and rightful position in terms of the violence of war.

Rampa, who said she was present as the vandalism took place, said they chose Ash Wednesday to carry out the attack on the monument because it was the beginning of Lent, a time for Catholic reflection.

We are very shocked by the presence of the sword on the cross, which is completely antithetical to what Jesus said. It’s really blasphemous to put it there, even though it’s been there a long time.

The guy who designed it was apparently trying not to glorify war, but he obviously hadn’t read the gospels and didn’t understand that putting a sword in the place of Jesus was an insult to Jesus.

The memorial honoured fallen Australian soldiers and the man credited as being the founder of Anzac Day, Canon David Garland.

Quirk said council officers attended the scene on Wednesday night after his office was alerted to the act by Fairfax Media and confirmed the damage. Police were then called. Quirk said:

I am appalled at the vandalism that has occurred at the Toowong War Memorial in the lead-up to Anzac Day. Canon Garland is the architect of Anzac Day and this destruction is disrespectful to him and to all fallen soldiers and returned service men and women.

A Council’s stonemason will inspect the damage today but we are hopeful it can be repaired in time for this year’s Anzac Day ceremonies.

Quirk said the council would also seek reimbursement of costs from the alleged offenders through the courts.

RSL Queensland state President Stewart Cameron was similarly outraged.

The RSL Queensland is appalled by the vandalism of one of Brisbane’s most sacred war memorials and sites. Anyone who would defile a monument that pays respect to the brave men and women who have served their country for a cheap publicity stunt is the lowest of the low.

We find their conduct abhorrent and trust these vandals will feel the full weight of the law.

In an emailed statement, sent to Fairfax Media along with photographs of the desecration on Wednesday night, Jim Dowling said he would:

Willingly accept any consequences of this call to repentance. Jesus’s last words to his disciples before he was taken away were ‘put away your sword’. For the first three centuries, his followers largely obeyed these words and refused to kill their enemies.

With the conversion of Emperor Constantine all this changed, and ever since Christians have blessed countless wars, and even lead their own.

We come here today to repent all wars blessed by the Christian churches. We come to remove the sword from the cross on which our saviour was crucified. We come to beat it into a ‘ploughshare’, in this case a garden hoe. The ploughshare is a symbol of life. The sword is a symbol of death. We choose life.

Police charged Jim Dowling and another man with one count each of wilful damage. They are due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on March 16.

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane said the Catholic Workers were a “group of lay people” with no ties to the Archdiocese.

The Archdiocese supports any police investigation into this matter. The cemeteries of Brisbane mean a lot to the families and friends of the deceased. These sites should be treated with the utmost respect.

19 responses to “Australian Catholics vandalise a ‘blasphemous’ war memorial”

  1. Angela_K says:

    These loonies should really re-read their bibles: KJ version Matthew 10:34 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword”

  2. JJones says:

    Two points.
    1st Thing
    I hate that word ‘sacred”. It is nothing more than a word that says that some object or place or ceremony has some divine significance when actually nothing is divine because there is no god in the first place. “You must revere this thing that I say is sacred and if you say anything bad or do anything to it then you are a blasphemer and have offended me and my god and you will burn in hellfire for ever”. Yeah right cobber … get fucking real and grow up.

    2nd Thing
    Everytime I walk past a church with a horrific torture scene of a guy nailed to and suspended wooden frame I get the urge to tie a hawser to it and drag it down with my pick up truck. These things are in my face every day and I abhor them. Put then inside the fucking church by all means but don’t display such items of gargantuan bad taste where everyone has to see it.

  3. remigius says:

    All this nonsense about Jesus and swords reminds me of the email exchange between Australian blogger David Thorne and Darryl Robinson, a school chaplain. He totally winds the chaplain up, including asking…

    “Also, is it true that Jesus can be stabbed during a sword fight and be ok due to the fact that he can only die if he gets his head chopped off?”

    The whole exchange is worth reading.

    http://www.27bslash6.com/easter.html

  4. barriejohn says:

    Why was the sacrifice of the fallen being commemorated by a cross in the first place? And talking about Ash Wednesday:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-39127506

    I had CofE friends who performed this silly ritual – and “gave up” chocolate for Lent. Wow!

  5. Paul says:

    Barriejohn
    All of the CWGC cemeteries for the fallen worldwide have crosses in them save Turkey in Istanbul and Gallipoli where the cross is inlaid into a larger oblong type stone relief, and the grave stones are smaller than those in France and Belgium and here in the U.K. and laid at an angle to the sky rather than erect. They do have crosses engraved on them about 6-9 inches large, which aren’t visible unless one is right over the grave. Some have a star of David and only a very few have no religious symbol. This is to be sympathetic to the Turks. The French cemetery at Gallipoli uses old barbed wire stakes shaped ‘ nearly’ into a cross.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Oh, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Even the Menin Gate, which appears to be free of religious symbolism, is plastered with Biblical references, in particular: “They shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away”. I’m sure that those who were dying in agony were thinking of nothing else!

  7. L.Long says:

    One group of religious nutters outraged by another group of religious nutters!! I suggest ten paces turn and fire!!

  8. Trevor Blake says:

    I have a sincere and deeply-held religious belief that the house of Jim Dowling is standing on sacred ground that I need to bring back to its proper and rightful position.

    That’s how it works, isn’t it?

    I’ll also note that Mr. Dowling and his fellow iconoclasts did not elect to desecrate Muslim graves. I suggest they, like everyone else, knows which religion is whipped and which religion still does the whipping. They know which religious icons they can desecrate with penalties and which desecration will result in only death.

  9. John says:

    I liked the literal turning of a sword into a (sort of) ploughshare.
    Still, if the people involved in the “vandalism” felt so strongly about their position on the issue, why did they not start up a campaign on it?
    We know the answer is that they do not represent majority opinion on the matter – and they know it.
    This clearly shows the anti-democratic nature of religious belief and other forms of extremism too.
    Just imagine what life would be like if people like Dowling were ever able to assume unbridled political power.
    We can see what islamic republics are like – just look at basket cases like Iran and Pakistan.
    Now try to imagine what a christian republic run by the likes of Dowling or Mel Gibson would be like!

  10. Matthew Carr says:

    I have to share the bafflement over the sword being there. Does one side believe that a sword died for their sins? Did the artist think WWI was a sword fight or one where swords played a major role? If Jesus said he was going to send a sword who did he send it to and for what purpose? Was the sword ever returned or is it just laying around someplace?

  11. Vanity Unfair says:

    Anna Rampa said:
    We are very shocked by the presence of the sword on the cross, which is completely antithetical to what Jesus said. It’s really blasphemous to put it there, even though it’s been there a long time.

    Luke 22:36, 38
    Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
    38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.

    I, too, am struck by the ceremonial aspect of the affair. However, the conflicting Biblical evidence must prove it valueless and support the alternative proverbial saying that Toowong does not make a rite.

  12. Vanity Unfair says:

    And I apologise most profoundly for that.

  13. barriejohn says:

    I’m groaning.

    John: You’re dead right. It’s that same attitude that says: “I am right and everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong, and that gives me the inalienable right to ignore what they think and impose my views upon them because mine are the RIGHT views.” It’s extremely dangerous.

  14. 1859 says:

    Surely it is obvious that ANY religious bigot who gains unbridled political power is dangerous. A world governed by competing theocracies? – bye, bye human race….

  15. Stuart H. says:

    I’d have thought it was pretty obvious why you have a sword on a memorial to pointless World War One carnage.
    A field gun isn’t as aesthetically pleasing ,has the unfortunate effect of drawing attention to the horrifying way folk actually died…………………….
    oh yes, almost forgot, and it looks nothing like a crucifix.

  16. Matthew Carr says:

    Stuart H.,
    So you’re saying that the sword on the cross makes it more artistic? I thought art had to be either aesthetically pleasing or mentally challenging or both. Are you saying that it is bad art?
    If they were looking merely for a cruciform shape then I’d think an airplane would be more relevant. At least it has practical peaceful uses and man has to choose whether to use it for war or peace.

  17. barriejohn says:

    Is there such a thing as “bad art”? Does art have to be anything? (Time for bed, as Zebedee said – boing.)

    I remember a huge kerfuffle in Swindon over a popular nightclub in the Old Town called Mission, which had a cross as its emblem. The management put forward the not totally convincing argument that it was really a sword, which I considered rather cowardly of them, but what business was it of anyone else anyway? The religious are just waiting to be offended by something or other.

    Here it is, in a rather attractive old brewery building:

    https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2085/2259707971_f1c2196c2b_z.jpg

  18. barriejohn says:

    PS If you look carefully at the second “I” in the sign, you can just about make out the offending cross/sword!

  19. Cali Ron says:

    remigius: The email string from your link is hilarious. What a great way to start my morning.

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