TEN COMMANDMENTS – it’s for everyone!

– Corrado Gnerre

Before Christmas, I happened to see the commentary of the Ten Commandments on the television made by the famous Italian comedian Roberto Benigni. I must say I liked it. Of course, not everything was acceptable, but I was positively impressed by the religious sentiment that filtered through those words and those gestures. I must say that my wife did not reach my conclusions, on the contrary, she told me that these shows are more dangerous than edifying for the faith. What do you think of it?

Dear ___, let me tell you that I do not agree with you at all, but with my wife. I will try to argue in the simplest possible way … as best as I can.

It is true that not all mortal sins have the same gravity. Notwithstanding the fact that every mortal sin is grave, there is no doubt that there are mortal sins that are more serious than others. Where does the difference arise? When one should go to hell for a mortal sin that has not been remitted, or if one were to go to purgatory to pay the penalty of mortal remitted sins. The gravity of mortal sins lies in the penalties that must be paid in relation to the mortal sins themselves. There are mortal sins with more penalties to be served, just as there are mortal sins with fewer penalties to be served. But – attention! – every mortal sin is serious and only if one of them is not remitted does one go to hell. This dear ___, it is good to keep this in mind, especially in this period of “mercy,” which is quite different from the just and true mercy.

I come to the question and I come to ours, that is to Roberto Benigni. Far be it from me to go and investigate in an internal forum (which only God can do), I limit myself only to judging what is objective. The Tuscan comedian in his commentary on the Ten Commandments said some very questionable things, especially regarding the Sixth Commandment, stating that it was the Church that would transform what was only meant as a condemnation of adultery with “not committing impure acts.” Now you tell me that in this case, you have to look at the classic “half-full” glass rather than the “half-empty” one because all in all it’s nice to think and see an old exponent of the culture of the libertarian left speaking positively about religion and especially about the Bible and Christianity. Instead, let me tell you that I do not agree. Indeed, I consider this attitude to be very dangerous, more dangerous than a total rejection for at least two reasons.

The first reason is that it is much more difficult to distance oneself and formulate criticisms of appropriate discernment towards those who present themselves in a captivating and persuasive manner, as one like Roberto Benigni undoubtedly knows how to do. Try, dear ___, to talk about the Sixth Commandment with boys. It’s not easy. In itself it is difficult to accept, then it happens that even those who speak well of Christianity start discussing its value, the damage is done! In this case, it is more difficult to cross the Sahara on foot with a Siberian coat on you than to convince our interlocutors.

The second reason is that it is not written anywhere that it would be enough to believe in order to save oneself. I say this because someone might object: but if it is true that a show like Benigni’s can be considered heterodox, it is also true that it is edifying to see how an old irreligious man has become a believer. But – I repeat – it is not written anywhere that it would be enough to believe in order to save oneself. Dear ___, I ask you: has Lucifer ever questioned the existence of God? Obviously, you can’t answer me, but the answer is obvious. If there is someone who has never doubted or had problems with the existence of God, it is indeed the Prince of Darkness, and it does not seem to me that he has made a career out of it …

Dear ___, be careful! it is much more dangerous when evil appears in a suit and tie rather than with its real face; it is much more dangerous when it manifests itself by pleasantly entertaining rather than when it is horrifying because of its intrinsic ugliness.

(From La buona battaglia. Apologetica cattolica in domande e risposte, 2019©Chorabooks. Translated by Aurelio Porfiri. Used with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved)