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Mel Gibson may be an alcoholic, a sedevacantist and an anti-Semite – but he has my sympathy

Hollywood has turned against him: he has been dropped from the cast of Hangover 2

By on Monday, 25 October 2010

Mel Gibson on the set of How I Spent My Summer Vacation (AP Photo/The Brownsville Herald, Yvette Vela)

Mel Gibson on the set of How I Spent My Summer Vacation (AP Photo/The Brownsville Herald, Yvette Vela)

Here we go again. Mel Gibson has been dropped from the cast of Hangover 2. He was to have had a cameo role as a tattooist – the role played in the original Hangover by that winsome rapist Mike Tyson – but at the weekend it emerged that his co-stars had decided that they could not appear alongside a man whose wickedness has dragged the good name of Hollywood through the mud. Over at Salon Matt Zoller Seitz thinks he detects double standards at play:

“There’s something about this Hangover 2 thing that doesn’t pass the smell test. It seems, at the very least, yet another example of the selective outrage that fuels controversy-driven entertainment coverage, and Hollywood posturing generally, with actors, directors, producers, studio bosses and other players working themselves into a righteous snit about certain people and offenses while giving others a pass.”

Go here for the whole thing.

The case against Mel is that he is anti-Semitic, homophobic, violent and alcoholic, and, to add insult to injury, a Roman Catholic. That’s a bad combination in Hollywood. Most Hollywood types can forgive alcoholism and a little domestic violence, but they draw the line at anti-Semitism and homophobia, and they don’t like Catholicism unless it comes from Bing Crosby and is wrapped in tinsel. No one would ever accuse Mel of wrapping his Catholicism in tinsel.

But hang on, is Mel Gibson really a Catholic? No, say his critics; he is a sedevacantist and therefore a schismatic and therefore not a Catholic. You didn’t hear much talk of that sort when The Passion of the Christ was released in 2004. Then it was Mel the conquering Catholic hero; now, in some quarters at least, it is Mel the Damned. When I last wrote about him three months ago, one reader declared in the combox: “I am sorry to say that Mel will go to Hell when he dies. He is NOT a Catholic and absolutely does not practice the true Catholic faith.” Bless that reader for having compassion enough to regret that Mel Gibson is doomed to spend an eternity in unspeakable misery.

But not even Google can tell us exactly what Mel’s religious position is. His friend the Jesuit scholar William Fulco says that Mel denies neither the Pope nor Vatican II. Mel Gibson is obviously a religious nut, however, and there must have been times when, as a loyal son, he embraced his father’s sedevacantism. It is possible that he remains a sede. But so far as I know he has never questioned, far less rejected, any part of Catholic teaching. That’s more than can be said for a lot of Catholics, including priests and bishops. Surveys show that most Catholics in the comfortable West do not accept the Church’s teaching on (for example) birth control. They don’t just ignore it – the way we all ignore moral teaching from time to time – they believe the Church is in error. So it could be that some of those accusing Gibson of sedecavantism may themselves be heretics, or at the very least recalcitrant dissidents. I am not defending sedevacantism – on the contrary – but I am suggesting that sedes are sometimes more faithful to Church teaching than respectable Catholics in the suburbs.

Whatever Mel’s status as a Catholic, however, he is in his anger and resentments a classic type of Catholic alcoholic. His anti-Semitism is very Catholic, too. Catholic anti-Semites are very rarely prejudiced against individual Jews, but have a “thing” about Jews collectively. G K Chesterton loved individual Jews, and was outspoken in his condemnation Hitler’s anti-Semitism, but he was able to write: “I am fond of Jews/Jews are fond of money/Never mind of whose/I am fond of Jews/Oh, but when they lose/Damn it all, it’s funny.” Some might say that those lines are quite innocent, but I am not sure many Jews would.

Mel himself obviously has nothing against Jewish people. His agent, Alan Nierob, is Jewish. Nierob is also the agent of Liam Neeson, who has been picked to replace Gibson in the cameo role in Hangover 2 – pending, as Nierob has said, “clearance of cast and crew background check”. Probably the only sane response to this is to laugh.

All the same, I have sympathies with Mel Gibson, if only because I, too, am an alcoholic, and sense that if I were to go back on the booze I might soon find myself doing Gibson turns. My perhaps rather pious hope is that Mel will sober up – whether or not he is drinking now, he is not sober – and make his peace with the Church. He can after all do that and continue to hear Mass in the old rite. First, though, he must learn moderation. That’s more than I have ever managed to do, but I am persuaded that the only antidote to booze, anger and bad religion is love of God and neighbour, especially when your neighbour is also your enemy.

  • Thomas Mathew

    One of the the most sincere, analytical and truthful writing I have read recently

  • Gonsalve

    While not an alcoholic, I come from a family of alcoholic members and the sober side of each person of my family has always been a very loving God fearing individual. Thanks for this post.

  • louela

    His wife has my sympathy…..and no I don't mean Oksana!!

  • SusanS

    He dragged the “good name” of Hollywood through the mud? hahaha. Thanks for the laugh. I love Mel.

  • Rosemary Swartzell

    We can not know what demons Mel Gibson is fighting or the problems he is facing in his life. We only see what the press shows us. We should pray that he finds peace and not judge.

  • Kathleen

    I seriously doubt Mr. Gibson will go to hell; he isn't intelligent enough to be damned as an adult sinner. His maturity level is that of a toddler in the “Terrible Twos,” all tantrums. Who knows what he believes? I don't think he knows!

  • Bjor143

    I agree that Mel Gibson is being singled out because of his alcoholic behavior. No one knows how Mr. Gibson really feels because the typical alcoholic always denigrates with stereotypic outrage. However, why does the Roman Catholic Church need to be drawn into his disease? Mr. Gibson is an alcoholic, period. He makes bad choices when drinking, period. Leave religion out of the equation as it does not belong there. Roman Catholicism is not Mr. Gibson…Mr. Gibson is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. There is a difference!!!

  • Bill Fallendon

    Mel “obviously” has nothing against the Jews? Are you joking?

  • Steve

    I don't think it's any individual misstep of Mel's. I think that he's into his twelfth or thirteenth life now.

  • Yolanda


  • Mary7Macharia

    I agree with Rosemary. Good people, as she says, no one knows what struggles Mel is dealing with and what actually torments him. He probably is still struggling to discover what ails him before he can pray for God['s Grace to deal with it. Only his Maker knows His creation. To declare Mel will go to hell is a bit presumptious. Doesn't God have a say here? It is wrong to judge a person you do not even know closely and declare him a subject for Hell. Be careful, you are not passing judgement on yourself. Christ said. “What I want to see among you is Mercy”.

  • Yola Miryam Hurwitz

    No, Mr. Gibson does not have my sympathy. It has nothing to do with supposedly being a traditionalist, or an alcoholic. What it is that I do not have one iota of sympathy for anti-Semites — as far as I'm concerned, an anti-Semite needs his/her head examined — prejudice is not based on logic or reflection, but on some primitive, unimpeded, emotionalism, hatred.

    I guess it is too much for any anti-Semite who happens to be Catholic, to bother to understand that his/her thoughts and actions are against the teachings of the Church (cf. the document NOSTRA AETATE from Vatican II and the Church's other teachings regarding Jews/Judaism of Vatican II).

  • Oldwomaninshoe

    Are you sure Mel Gibson never rejected any Catholic teaching? Isnt he divorced and remarried? Or was she just a mistress with his illegitimate child? Either way, both actions contradict Catholic teaching on marriage, and break one of the laws of the Church…to observe the teaching of the Church on marriage…no divorce, no adultery. HELLO!!

  • Cathy

    Excuse me, but Mel Gibson has said publicly that he would never marry the mistress because he was according to Catholic teaching, “already married.” The fact is he sinned by committing adultry. We would do well to remember what Christ told the pharisees, as they were about to stone the woman found in adultry, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” We should hate the sin but not the sinner. It is such a double standard the way people love so many of the divorced, drug addicted, adulterers who hate the Church in Holywood. Mel Gibson has problems but he loves the Church of Christ. Shouldn't Christians be praying for him instead of lining up to stone him?

    Those who hated the Passion of the Christ have surely been waiting for Mel's human nature to win and for him to fall into sin so they could use it against all members of the Church. It is truly unfortunate that we help them to gather such stones, when none of us are without our own sins!

  • louela

    Nobody is lining up to stone Gibson…just to point out that someone has suffered gravely because of him ie his wife…but because she is not famous, nobody seems to give a toss about her or think she matter a jot.

    Just redressing the balance a bit!

  • Marlyn_25

    Do you have any idea how many Catholics divorce and marry someone else and ASSUME that they have a right to an annulment (which is not hard to do here in the US… even been reprimanded by JPII about that high number… )? Are you aware of how many Catholics world-wide, but just say US Catholics use artificial and permanent birth control?

  • Theophilus

    Brilliant. It's refreshing to read an article where a celebrity is treated as a human person, nothing more and nothing less, deserving of common respect and sympathy. Thanks.

  • louela

    Everybody knows already….but that doesn't mean it is right now does it?!

  • Hummelcreche

    You didn't have much to say about his homophobia. I think Mel would enjoy public execution of all gay people, including the approximately 50% of RC clergy and religious who are gay. Me thinks that he protest too much!! I believe that someone who spews such homophobia is very afraid that those very same feelings are in themselves and they try desperately not to let those feelings get out. So, they go gay bashing to push the feelings of same sex attraction down deeper………..until someday when we read about poor Mel being found in a public toilet somewhere with another man. Then he can go to his old rite “Catholic” church and explain his actions. The devil made me do it!!!

  • Ratbag

    Heck! Hollywood blaming Mel Gibson for dragging their 'good name' into disrepute? Take a look in the mirror, you – Hollywood – who are all fake body parts, botox and no skill and talent to kick a wet balloon with!

    The history of Hollywood is mired with ill-repute, scandal and treating its leading actors/actresses like something scraped off the bottom of the shoe. Having said that, there are cracking films to be enjoyed for many years to come – at a price, for some.

    The Servant of God, Father Patrick Peyton (also known as The Rosary Priest), involved many legends like Jimmy Stewart, The Barrymores, Gregory Peck and Raymond Burr in his Family Theatre Productions. Did it do them any harm? No. I read somewhere that even James Dean starred in one of the films…

    I also hope Mel Gibson finds peace and be reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church and start getting back into solid, meaty, quality films instead of the pretentious rap (with a capital 'C') that wouldn't even earn stars at McDonald's!

  • Ratbag

    Anti-Semitism is destructive, inexcusable, unacceptable and beneath contempt. How about Mel Gibson going on a pilgrimage to the death camps – that should shake him up and have him reconciled to the Roman Catholic Church in no time!

  • Bellator

    I don't think Gibson is a sede. His father apparently is though. As for the Jewish question; Hitler tackled it from a different position entirely. What Catholics are opposed to is not the Jew as a racial entity (some of our greatest saints are Catholic Jews, even in more recent centuries such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross), but rather the racial supremacist ideology of the Talmud and its offshoots such as Communism and Zionism. The Talmudic ideology claims that there is a biological “Chosen Race”, superior to the rest of humanity, thic is alien to the Christian message of love and charity and the entire concept of the new covenant. Anti-gentilism is a far bigger problem in Hollywood.

  • mike

    I found your page on Mel, googeling for a page on Lutherans in recovery. So if I am not welcome writing on this page as a non-Catholic, forgive me. I am however a recovering alcoholic and have been sober 15 years by the Grace of God and the fellowship of 12 step recovery, which I am still active. And while I may be a heretic in your eyes, I found your article beautiful and compassionate. I have been praying for Mel as well as a brother in Christ and a brother in recovery! While I was looking for a page on Lutherans in recovery, I thank God for my Catholic brothers and sisters who in the 12 steps have helped keep me sober one day at a time.

  • Yola Miryam Hurwitz

    What do you know about the Talmud? Can you quote passages in the Talmud that point to the Jews supposedly being a “biological Chosen Race”? Since when does the “ideology of the Talmud” have “offshoots such as Communism and Zionism”?

  • Hosemonkey

    Don’t care what others say, I like Mel Gibson, warts and all. I am still in awe of his “Passion of the Christ”, viewing on Easter has become a tradition in our family. It took a great deal of courage to make that film. I would very much like to see Mel get his life in order, those who vilify him need to be sure that they have no sins to repent of.

  • Mr Anthony Cotton

    I am a non practising Catholic trying to get back in to the fold. I have just watched his film the Passion of the Christ for about the sixth time. The film just shows you how it was. I have also just watched a film about Farther Padre Pio,for people who have not watched this film is a must. Mel Gibson has his cross to bare just like us. In Hollywood you are under the spot light,if you sneeze it comes out you are dying. Just give Mel Gibson the strength to get through it.