Saturday, April 03, 2010

Pope's preacher says attacks on Catholics are like antisemitism.

When people feel as if their back is up against the wall, they can often resort to desperate arguments in their own defence; but Father Raniero Cantalamessa - whilst defending the Catholic church in the face of growing hostility regarding child abuse - seems to have taken the practice to a new low.

Addressing Pope Benedict and other members of the Vatican leadership at a service in St Peter's, Father Raniero Cantalamessa read a letter he said he had got from a Jewish friend. It said: "The passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of antisemitism."
The survivors of abuse and some Jewish groups have had lots to say about this.

Peter Iseley of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests said: "To compare the discomfort that Vatican officials are finally feeling because of these decade-long cover-ups to the sufferings of the Jewish people down the centuries, especially during Holy Week, which was one of the most fearful times to be a Jew, is beyond even ridiculous."

The Jewish magazine, Tablet, called Cantalamessa "outrageously wrong". It said the church had "moved to cover up, paper over, and otherwise tacitly sanction paedophilia. Like the church, Jews know what it feels like to be victims of collective persecution. Unlike the church, Jews don't know what it feels like for their victimhood to be deserved."

Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of Germany's Central Council of Jews said: "It is repulsive, obscene and most of all offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to all the victims of the Holocaust."

So, Father Cantalamessa has managed to insult abuse victims and the victims of the Holocaust all in one go. That's some going.

What part of this don't the Catholic church get? If they seriously think they are being targeted simply because they are Catholics then they have lost the plot. Because the Jewish people down the ages were persecuted simply for being Jews.
During the High Middle Ages in Europe there was full-scale persecution in many places, with blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. An underlying source of prejudice against Jews in Europe was religious. Jews were frequently massacred and exiled from various European countries.
The analogy Cantalamessa is making is not only ridiculous, it is insulting. And to make it during Holy week, at a time when Holy week coincides with the Passover, is unfortunate timing to say the very least.

Click here for full article.


Steel Phoenix said...

I don't see why either of these groups think they have any right to avoid criticism. I don't care who their imaginary friends are, if they screw up, I'm going to call them on it and to hell with whatever names they call me.

When they make mistakes as individuals, I'll treat them as such, but when they are enabled and/or protected by their church, then what other recourse do we have?

On a side note, Judaism as a whole squandered its sympathy when it insisted upon becoming a nation and building concentration camps of its own.

Kel said...

I did find his comparison with anti-Semitism rather extraordinary.

And I have no difficulty with the Jewish people wanting their own state, it's the fact that they continue to take more and more of the Palestinian people's land which bothers me.

Steel Phoenix said...

Once a religion fuses with a state, we have the problem of criticizing the state being equated with criticizing the religion, and the general view that criticizing a religion is wrong.

I think once a religion declares itself a state, it inherently discriminates against all of the other religions within its borders.

It's hard to say whether the atrocities of Israel should be attributed to Judaism as a whole or not. I don't see many Jews denying that it is their state nor do I see many criticizing its hypocrisy and oppression. Is it possible for a religion to be bad? If so, then we have to be free to criticize them.

If there is a parallel to be drawn here it is that both Israel and the Vatican are hiding behind their nationhood and accusations of religious persecution in order to cover for their crimes. If they succeed, we will see more concentration camps and sexual abuse from priests.

Kel said...

Once a religion fuses with a state, we have the problem of criticizing the state being equated with criticizing the religion, and the general view that criticizing a religion is wrong

I agree, SP. This is what is frequently used as a means of deflecting criticism of Israel's more extreme behaviour. I missed the fact that you were talking of Judaism rather than the Jewish people.