Below is a post by Webster Cook's father and my reply:
I was going to take the night off from posting, but thought you post deserved a reply. I am in full agreement with you in regard to violence never being appropriate. Over the past few days I have deleted more posts than I ever thought I would in my life. One post had the phone number, and personal information of your son. I did not post this for the protection and safety on your son and your family. I do not promote violence. In the same breath, I would also say that if someone is desecrating something, people have the right to restrain him or her. You or I can do this legally in our society.
I am in total and complete disagreement that your son’s action is not comparable to desecrating a Star of David. Please realize in my view it is worse. A Star of David is a symbol of God to our Jewish brethren; the Eucharist IS our God. It would be the difference between desecrating a statue of Christ, vs. the person of Christ. There is a belief among Catholics that the one accepted religious bigotry allowed in America is anti-Catholicim. I posted this comparison on purpose. Saying that if you son disrupted any other religious denomination service in America, I don't think you would be defending him as much as you are now. I don't think you would call the Anti-Defamation League press statement condeming your son's action if it was in a synagogue, "A Bully". Would you Dr. Cook? See you remove Roman Catholicism out of the equation and the incident becomes more vile.
In reading carefully your comments, I think there are still some problems not being faced. First the conflicting stories. One story said he was taking the Eucharist to protest public funds being used. In this story his action was premeditated. When everything started to implode, your son’s story changed to the more benevolent “I was just showing an interested friends.” This change in story makes it hard to believe it was not premeditated. It was totally premeditated and I think someone is not being honest. Did you know right now your son’s close UCF friends have a facebook page supporting him saying that he took the Eucharist to protest public funds? Your son is listed as the President of this page. You can’t say this was not premeditated.
The second problem with your comments is that the apology was not a true apology. It had many qualifiers to the point it sounded he was still making his point while apologizing. It was not contrite. “I didn’t want to hurt innocent people,” so he wanted to hurt people that were not innocent? Do you see what I mean?
You sign your post the "hostage-taker's" father. It still seems to be a big joke for you. As the apology is for us Devout Catholics.
Please understand that the are so many Catholics who feel your son affronted our Savior who suffered for us. Our love for Jesus and the Eucharist is on par with the love we have for our children. Do you think any parent would have let your son leave with malice holding their child without stopping him with every breath they had?
All this being said, I can image this has not been an easy week for your family. If you ever feel that your son wants to truly apologize without qualifications, I will broker this apology with the Catholic League, if you wish and put this chapter behind him. As a father of three, I know that kids do not think through their actions completely. Most adults don’t. I don’t believe your son’s intent on this action was on the level of a hate crime in his head, but it was an affront to the Holiest of Holies of our Catholic Faith and definitely maligned our Christ, our religion and all Catholics beliefs deserving of a response action.
Webster Cook's Father:
I would like to thank you for including my post in your blog. The dialog is worthwhile. I am confused as to why Webster's receiving the Eucharist is a breathtaking insult. He was raised Catholic and received his First Holy Communion, as did my other two children. There are church documents to confirm this.
I would agree with most of what has been said against Webster if he had premeditated the removal of the host from the church. That simply is not the case. Even so, I have told him that two wrongs do not make a right. He should not have compounded an inappropriate handling (physical force without calm reasoning) of a situation by walking out with the Holy Eucharist. I am positive that he would handle that situation differently if he had it to do again. He did not set out to make a mockery of your religious beliefs or to debase them.
This is not analagous to debasing a star of David as suggested above. What continues to disturb me, and why I vehemently protest your portrayal of this situation, is that physical violence and force should always be a last resort. The church has no excuse of being "young and impulsive." I hold the Catholic Church to a higher standard than a college student. Incidently, the college student has apologised, publicly. He has posted letters and gone on the televised news to do so.
Indeed, he publicly recognized that he caused innocent people pain, and that he wanted to stop that. How has the integrity and courage of church leaders been demonstrated in this? Perhaps some consideration that the handling of this situation might be examined for better results in the future might have mitigated the image of extremism that I see in much of the reaction to this event.
Finally, my personal respect for the free exercise of religion by others does NOT extend to violence. I do not support the right of suicide bombers to enforce their view of religion on others. I do not subscibe to either Jihad or Crusade as a legitimate means of worship. I might just as well make the comparison of the behavior exhibited by Catholics in that church with those acts as accept the portrayal of my son's behavior as a "hate crime." Both comparisons are patently absurd. Both behaviors demand apology and deep reflection.Thank you for your time and consideration.
Sincerely,Brian W. Cook, MDThe "hostage taker's" father.