|Christophobes at the Gates|
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “exposé” of “radical traditionalists” as “anti-Semites” indicates a new phase in the war against the Catholic Church.
“Unfounded charges of anti-Jewish sentiments not only malign the innocent. They also create a ‘boy who cried wolf’ syndrome, in that they may well render society insensitive to real bigotry when it does come along. I have known Chris Ferrara and Michael Matt for many years. The notion that they hate Jews is so absurd as to be beneath contempt.”
-Rabbi Mayer Schiller
“It is time for us to recognize the charge of anti-Semitism for what it often is: a political weapon intended to silence critics of liberalism.”
-Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Jesus weeps over Jerusalem
(Posted Feb. 20, 2007 www.RemnantNewspaper.com) By now many readers of this newspaper will have heard of the nonsensical and error-filled “report” on the traditionalist movement by an outfit called the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC’s self-bestowed mission is to rid America of “hate and intolerance,” which is how the far-Left describes any sort of effective opposition to Liberalism’s claim to possession of the entire world.
Karl Keating of Catholic Answers deserves a great deal of credit for being the only spokesman in the Novus Ordo establishment who has been publicly critical of the SPLC smear job.
Keating practiced law before he decided to devote himself full time to Catholic apologetics, and a well-deserved lawyerly contempt is on display in his critique, which appears in “Karl Keating’s E-Letter” of February 6, 2007, under the title “A Botched Report on a Worthy Issue.”
There are, however, serious shortcomings in Keating’s critique, which fails to take issue with SPLC on first principles, as even non-Catholic conservatives have done. If Keating’s critique is any indication, the Novus Ordo constituency of which he is such a prominent representative has failed to grasp that the traditionalist movement is not some dispensable minority group whose fate at the hands of the Liberal inquisition is more or less a matter of indifference to the “mainstream” Church. Rather, this opening attack on the traditionalist movement is an attack on traditional Roman Catholicism itself as the only formidable obstacle to worldwide Liberal hegemony. Hence this article will discuss both SPLC’s “exposé” and Keating’s critique in the larger context of the crisis in the Church and the growing threat posed to her by Liberal social order.
A Bogus “Exposé”
Without a shred of evidence (because there is none), the SPLC “report” spins the tale of a sinister organized “network” of a dozen “radical traditionalist” groups, most of which are legally and otherwise unrelated, and some of which are in direct opposition to the others on certain issues. (I had not even heard of several members of the “network” before the report appeared.)
The non-existent “network,” which is gratuitously accused of “preaching anti-Semitism to as many as 100,000 followers,” is alleged to include The Remnant, Catholic Family News, Fatima Crusader magazine and the Society of Saint Pius X—none of which preach “anti-Semitism” to anyone, much less 100,000 people. In fact, the report fails to present evidentiary quotations from the publications of any of the “dirty dozen” traditionalist “hate groups” assigned to the fictive “network,” which omission should demonstrate to any objective reader that SPLC has no case. (As we shall see, however, lack of evidence does not matter for the preordained outcome of SPLC “investigations.”)
I myself stand accused of “anti-Semitism” for nothing more than defending the Catholic Church’s traditional prayer for the conversion of the Jews (still in use with papal approval) and for objecting, on the pages of this newspaper, that Pope Benedict had “abased himself by entering a synagogue, this time in Cologne, to listen to the vain prayers of liberal rabbis who condone abortion, divorce and ‘gay’ rights.” Typical of the deviousness of the report is that it quotes only my words “abased himself by entering a synagogue” while cropping out the rest of the phrase, which explains why I believe this is so. The only other “evidence” against me is that “Ferrara writes for anti-Semitic journals like The Remnant.” That is, one false charge is used to “substantiate” another—an old trick of the professional defamer.
SPLC also seems exercised by my representation of Theresa Schiavo in the federal litigation that attempted to save her life. In the course of denouncing my book The Great Façade as one of the “two treatises” of the evil traditionalist movement, SPLC thought it important to mention that “Christopher Ferrara was the lawyer for the parents of Terri Schiavo, the woman in a persistent vegetative state who became a cause célèbre for Christian Right leaders who unsuccessfully fought to prevent her feeding tube from being removed in 2005.” Evidently, opponents of euthanasia are presumptive villains in SPLC’s search for “hate and intolerance.”
SPLC’s “Hate Group” Factory
The report appears on the SPLC website under the following heading: “Intelligence Report exposes anti-Semitic ‘radical traditionalist Catholic' movement.’” The “Intelligence Report” is the online and print quarterly by which SPLC adds new villains to its ever-expanding inventory of “hate groups.” I say inventory, because for SPLC “hate groups” are a capital asset. Let me explain.
While SPLC, a nonprofit based in Montgomery, AL, was once dedicated to groundbreaking civil rights litigation, with the waning of the civil rights movement it has morphed into a self-appointed watchdog over “hate and intolerance” and the activities of “hate groups” in America.
By “hate and intolerance” SPLC means any opposition to a dogmatic pluralism that protects the promulgation of every conceivable form of error and vice, while persecuting the defenders of truth and traditional morality. Hence, for example, SPLC has denounced Pat Buchanan as a “racist” whose writings against unrestrained immigration contain “echoes of Nazi ideology” that are “clear and chilling.” SPLC’s quivering antennae are so sensitive to any perceived deviation from political correctness that it has declared the Lord of the Rings film trilogy to be “a glorified vision of white patriarchy” that is alarmingly “Eurocentric.”
By “hate group” SPLC means not only the few bona fide racists and neo-Nazi crackpots it manages to dredge up from the muck of obscurity, but also perfectly respectable groups or individuals, including conservative think tanks, whose opinions transgress the Liberal status quo. Roman Catholic traditionalists certainly fit into the latter category, so it was only a matter of time before SPLC got to us in its hunt for inventory.
The “Intelligence Project” is SPLC’s equivalent of an R & D department. The “Project” literally develops SPLC’s raw goods inventory of “hate groups,” which are then “manufactured” into finished consumer goods in the form of the quarterly editions of “The Intelligence Report.” The “Intelligence Report” is posted on the web and mailed to SPLC’s 300,000 (so it claims) supporters, who are urged to fear, loathe and oppose the latest assortment of “hate groups” by sending SPLC money, evidently so that SPLC can publish the next edition of “The Intelligence Report” identifying still more “hate groups” to fear, loathe and oppose, and so on throughout the market cycle. This fundraising technique produces an enormous flow of donations, far in excess of what it costs to produce “The Intelligence Report.” There’s money in them thar “hate groups.”
So, when SPLC decides to invest in a new capital asset (the newest “hate group”) its R&D team at the “Intelligence Project” will develop that asset—essentially by building up a villain on paper. In fact, the entire market cycle of this operation exists on paper: paper villains du jour are marketed to the market segment, whose members, if sufficiently alarmed and outraged, send back paper checks for deposit into SPLC’s bulging coffers. And it doesn’t matter how insignificant a “hate group” may be in the real world. Many of the “hate groups” SPLC lines up for denunciation are kitchen table operations which would have remained utterly unknown if not for SPLC trumpeting the findings of its “investigations.” (One particularly amusing instance is a gentleman on SPLC’s “radar” whose principal occupations appear to be walking his two dogs in the park and teaching English to Asian refugees.[i]) But once SPLC writers work their magic, even the most inconsequential “hate group” is converted from raw goods to the finished product of “The Intelligence Report,” with its latest loud alarums.
In short, when SPLC undertakes one of its “investigations” into a “hate group,” it is not actually seeking the truth about that group. Rather, it is investing in the acquisition of a new capital asset, without which SPLC could not justify its existence. You see, then, how it works.
SPLC’s Credibility Gap
SPLC, with an annual income of more than $30 million and an endowment of more than $150 million, has itself been the subject of at least three major exposés: in Harpers magazine, Human Events and the Montgomery Advertiser (whose series on SPLC was a 1995 Pulitzer Prize finalist). These exposés variously accuse SPLC of financial mismanagement and improprieties, misleading fundraising, reckless allegations against the innocent, misrepresentations and errors of fact, and bullying tactics of the sort employed by the king of anti-Semite mongering, Abe Foxman.
Speaking of Abe Foxman, he and the chief rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, boycotted a conference on Nostra Aetate hosted by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish convert, precisely because the Cardinal is a Jewish convert. As John Allen has reported: “By boycotting a 2005 event featuring French Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, the former archbishop of Paris who is a convert from Judaism, Jewish leaders showed ‘we don’t have to renounce our dignity,’ the Chief Rabbi of Rome told a national convention of the Anti-Defamation League on Friday…. Di Segni thanked Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, for taking the same position.”[ii] So, according to Foxman and Di Segni, mere Jewish participation in a conference with a Jewish convert to Catholicism is a threat to “our dignity.” Some forty years of Catholic-Jewish “dialogue,” including Pope John Paul II’s visit to Di Segni’s own synagogue, have done nothing to lessen this sort of Christophobia, even though Lustiger is one of the most liberal prelates in the world.
Ironically, no one has assessed SPLC’s agenda more harshly than the conservative Jewish columnist David Horowitz: “The purpose of this fear-mongering is transparent. It is to fill the already wealthy coffers of your organization by exploiting unsuspecting donors into helping you promote leftwing agendas under the guise of civil rights.”[iii] In an Open Letter to SPLC President Morris Dees, Horowitz denounced an SPLC hatchet job on conservative think tanks, noting that the “report is so tendentious, so filled with transparent misrepresentations and smears that if you continue to post the report you will create for your Southern Poverty Law Center a well-earned reputation as a hate group itself.”
Horowitz’s assessment applies with particular aptness to SPLC’s “Intelligence Report” on traditionalists. Indeed, the first mistake to avoid in assessing this “exposé” is to assume that SPLC’s far-Left polemicists are bona fide “investigators” who conduct legitimate “investigations.” They are, rather, professional smear-merchants of the Left.
Which brings us back to Karl Keating’s critique. Keating does not make the mistake of treating the SPLC report as a serious investigation of traditionalists. Quite the contrary, he pronounces it “a mess,” and points out a number of whoppers which show that the “investigators,” apparently led by one Heidi Beirich, know nothing about the Catholic Faith and next-to-nothing about the very subject of their “investigation.”
My personal favorite is from Beirich’s apparent surveillance of a conference put on by Catholic Family News: “apostate priests conducted a rendition of the Latin Mass, a format dating to the Middle Ages…” It is amazing how much ignorance of Catholicism is compacted into this one phrase. (The obvious errors aside, it appears Beirich thinks altar servers in cassocks were “apostate priests.”)
Simply hilarious is Beirich’s identification of blogger and traditionalist-basher Stephen Hand, who was working as a paralegal last time I spoke with him, as “a respected Catholic theologian.” And this, mind you, after a purported “three-year investigation” by Beirich. With good reason does Keating conclude: “[O]ne is led to believe that not only did the people writing the report have no pre-existing familiarity with the Traditionalist movement but that, in all likelihood, not a single one of them was a Catholic.”
Keating is on the right track when he observes: “The greatest fault of the SPLC report is its lumping all Traditionalists into the anti-Semitism category. There are some authentically anti-Semitic people within Catholic Traditionalism, but I also know that they are not representative of the movement.” But let us make an immediate caveat: not only are these “authentically anti-Semitic people” not representative of the traditionalist movement, they are not in the movement at all, but rather regard with contempt those of us who are, as the fulminating hate mail this newspaper receives will confirm.
One can only hope that Keating is merely being arch, therefore, when he proposes that SPLC, which aggressively promotes abortion, “gay rights” and “gay marriage,” hire Catholics to investigate their fellow Catholics for “anti-Semitism.” He writes: “I have a suggestion. Perhaps the SPLC could use a small portion of its substantial endowment to fund an investigatory team consisting of Catholics who know the Church, its history, and the faith and who know how to conduct an investigation that will end up being factually correct.”
An investigation? But why, given Keating’s own conclusion that the few “authentically anti-Semitic people” within traditionalism are not representative of the movement? Keating does not explain this self-contradiction.
If Keating’s suggestion was meant as a subtly sarcastic closing remark instead of a serious proposal, I’m afraid it doesn’t come across that way on the printed page. Catholics on blogs and elsewhere are wondering what sort of “investigation” Keating’s “team of investigators” would conduct, and why it would have to be funded. Is he proposing a salaried “investigative team” of Catholic anti-Semite hunters, perhaps with expense accounts on the SPLC tab—pro-abortion blood money financing a Catholic-on-Catholic witch-hunt? And for what? To “investigate” a few traditionalists who, as Keating himself admits, are atypical? Again, we can only hope Keating isn’t serious.
Keating is to be commended for having the hardihood to lambaste SPLC for its blundering incompetence, when no other spokesman for his constituency was willing to speak out. But by taking the rhetorical stance of a neutral observer who suggests that SPLC’s bogus “investigation” was warranted even if incompetent, Keating has not only contradicted himself but also vitiated what should have been a simple defense of innocent people against a vicious smear by a demagogic, Christophobic, pro-abortion, pro-sodomy, fear-mongering far-Left organization that even Jewish commentators like David Horowitz rightly hold in contempt.
Another problem with Keating’s critique is that while he notes that SPLC has “muddied” the issue of alleged traditionalist “anti-Semitism,” he himself has done so by failing to define the term. Heidi Beirich at least explained to the press that by anti-Semitism she means “hating Jews.”[iv] Under that definition, which is the only reasonable one, virtually everyone SPLC accuses is innocent of the charge, for no true Catholic traditionalist would even countenance hatred of the Jewish people. Surely, Mr. Keating would agree with that proposition.
One must also take exception to Keating’s deduction that “anyone having familiarity with the people who attend, for example, indult Latin Masses will see in short order that almost no one there harbors prejudice against Jews, just as almost no one attending vernacular Masses harbors such prejudice.” While Keating hereby exempts from the category “true anti-Semite” this writer and the editor of this newspaper—both of whom have been members of indult parishes for many years and attend approved Masses each and every Sunday—one must still ask what is his empirical basis for proposing a correlation between Latin Mass indults or vernacular Masses and a reduced incidence of “prejudice against Jews” (another elastic term that really must be defined). I have heard people who attend both indult and vernacular Masses, including Jewish converts, express legitimate opinions SPLC would pounce upon as “prejudiced against Jews.” This kind of anecdotal evidence proves nothing, especially if one does not even define “anti-Semitism” (or “prejudice against the Jews”) to begin with.
Falling for an Old Trick
The Left has long used false allegations of “anti-Semitism” to distract and discredit its opponents, especially Catholics. The most infamous example of this is the libel of Pope Pius XII. As recently reported in National Catholic Register, former KGB general Ion Mihai Pacepa has revealed a KGB plot to portray Pius XII as “‘a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer’ as part of a plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority.”[ia] The libel of Pius XII began, of course, with the play The Deputy, whose producer, one Erwin Piscator, “was a fervent communist with close links to Moscow,” according to Pacepa.
Now the same stratagem is being employed to discredit Roman Catholic traditionalists. The Left wants leading Catholics like Mr. Keating to distract themselves with a debate over how many “anti-Semites” there are in the traditionalist movement, while the entire world is anti-Catholic and the Church’s enemies are surrounding her and moving in for the kill. The worst thing Catholics could do at this critical juncture in Church history is to fall for the same old Liberal trick.
Are Christ and His Church “Anti-Semitic”?
One wonders whether Keating is aware that he has stepped onto a very slippery slope by publicly crediting the idea that the ill-defined “anti-Semitism” of a few unidentified traditionalists is “a worthy issue” for “investigation.” Keating should know better than anyone that it is practically impossible for any Catholic, himself included, to engage in any serious defense of the Church before a hostile “modern world” without incurring the false accusation of “anti-Semitism.” All Catholics of any degree of militancy are potential targets of this libel. Even Bill Donahue of the Catholic League has just been accused of “anti-Semitism,” and has had to post a defense of himself on the Catholic League website.
Catholic teaching itself is a fertile ground for the roving commissions of anti-Semite mongers, who constantly seek to twist into race hatred the Church’s traditional solicitude for the eternal welfare of the Jewish people, which is necessarily combined with a realistic recognition of the fundamental theological opposition between those who follow Christ and the Gospel and those who are determined to reject both.
Consider, for example, the perennial belief of Catholics, based on the teaching of the Fathers, that the temple of the Antichrist will be “the Jewish temple, rebuilt by Antichrist in Jerusalem,” that the Antichrist himself “will probably be Jewish, possibly from the tribe of Dan,” and that he will “seduce many of the Jewish people by attempting to fulfill the political aspirations they held for the Messiah.” This is precisely the sort of statement demagogic critics of the Church would seize upon as “anti-Semitic.” Yet those words appear on the Catholic Answers website in an article Mr. Keating’s organization published in 2004, entitled “The Antichrist,” which bears an imprimatur from Bishop Brom of San Diego.[v]
Now, SPLC denounces an unnamed “bespectacled” traditionalist as an “anti-Semite” merely for noting that “the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia ‘predicts the anti-Christ will come from Jewry’…” But the Catholic Answers article is far more extensive on this point, including these teachings of Hippolytus and Cyril of Jerusalem:
“[I]t is in reality out of the tribe of Dan, then, that tyrant and king, that dread judge, that son of the devil, is destined to spring and arise… Above all, moreover, he will love the nation of the Jews. And with all these [Jews] he will work signs and terrible wonders, false wonders and not true, in order to deceive his impious equals. . . . And after that he will build the temple in Jerusalem and will restore it again speedily and give it over to the Jews….”
“Having beguiled the Jews by the lying signs and wonders of his magical deceit, until they believe he is the expected Christ, he shall afterwards be characterized by all manner of wicked deeds of inhumanity and lawlessness, as if to outdo all the unjust and impious men who have gone before him….”
Why would a Catholic bishop, and a liberal one at that, give his imprimatur to such an article? The answer is that the article in no way expresses “anti-Semitism,” but rather the consensus of the Church Fathers on how, according to the traditional interpretation of Scriptural prophecy, the opposition between two radically opposed world views will work itself out in the time of the Antichrist.
Consider, as another example, the traditional Good Friday liturgy, viewed as “anti-Semitic” by SPLC, in which Catholics pray “for the “perfidious Jews [from the Latin perfidus, meaning nothing more than “unfaithful”] that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ… Almighty and everlasting God… hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people: that acknowledging the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness….”
With papal approval, Latin Mass communities around the world continue to pray every Good Friday that the Jewish people will be rescued from their blindness and darkness. Is that prayer intention “anti-Semitic” or “prejudiced against Jews”? If it is, then so was Our Lord Himself. For it was He, the Jewish Messiah, who prophesied of His own people: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! thou that stoneth the prophets and killeth those that are sent to thee! How often would I have gathered together thy children, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but thou wouldst not! Behold thy house shall be left to thee desolate.” (Matt. 23:37) And it was Our Lord who said to Saint John, the Jewish evangelist: “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan… Behold, I will bring of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie.” (Apoc. 2:9, 3:9).
What is Our Lord saying in these scriptural passages? As the Church teaches, He is not saying that the Jewish people are to be hated, for such hatred would be a grave sin entirely contrary to the Faith. Our Lord wept with grief, not anger, over the foreseen fate of Jerusalem (cf. Lk. 19:41-42). Rather, Our Lord is saying that the Jews who culpably reject their own Messiah—not all Jews by any means—would come to hate Him, and thus would betray their own heritage as sons of Abraham. In consequence of their hatred of Christ, their house would be desolate and their synagogue a synagogue of Satan.
The synagogue of Satan refers, then, to the haters of Christ, not hatred of Jews by Christians, which our religion forbids under pain of mortal sin. Far from hating the Jewish people, Catholics are obliged to love them and seek their conversion so that they can be united with us in the Mystical Body of Christ, wherein, as Saint Paul teaches, “by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles…”[vi] Catholics cannot possibly hate the very people they are entreating to join their eternal family, whose Father has a Jewish Son, born of a Jewish mother.
Yet “The Synagogue of Satan” is the very title of Mark Potok’s lead editorial for the SPLC report. Potok aims to use the very words of Our Lord to incite in his readers the fear and loathing of traditional Catholics, prompting us to wonder if, when all is said and done, it is not Our Lord Himself these witch-hunters regard as the ultimate “anti-Semite,” without having the candor to admit their Christophobia.
What else but an ingrained Christophobia could account for SPLC’s attack on traditionalists because they still defend Our Lord’s unalterable teaching on the Jewish people, reflected in the entire Tradition of the Church—including the Good Friday liturgy, which commands Catholics to love and embrace the Jews by praying that they would come live with us in the household of the Faith.
What else but Christophobia could account for the spate of lawsuits all over this country seeking the removal of Nativity scenes and Crosses from every inch of public ground, and even the banning of the very word Christmas?
What else but Christophobia could account for the endless series of Hollywood movies mocking and blaspheming Christ and denigrating His Church, while Judaism and other non-Christian religions are treated respectfully?
What else but Christophobia could account for the nearly hysterical opposition of Abe Foxman and certain other liberal Jewish leaders to Mel Gibson’s movie on the Passion?
And what else but Christophobia could account for Foxman’s boycotting of a Catholic-Jewish conference merely because it was presided over by a Jewish convert cardinal? As already noted, Foxman and the chief rabbi of Rome shunned the company of Cardinal Lustiger simply and only because Lustiger had had the effrontery to become a Christian when he was a young man.
The “anti-Semitism” such people profess to oppose has nothing to do, therefore, with racial hatred of the Jews—and they know it. Rather, it has everything to do with conversion to Christ as such. The “anti-Semitism” they see everywhere is really the theological opposition of Christ’s teaching to their view of the world. They fear and loathe the Word Himself.
Jews of Good Will Oppose the Christophobes
But there are many Jews of good will who oppose this Christophobic campaign. Perhaps the most dramatic example is Orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin, founder of Toward Tradition. Rabbi Lapin’s public record is full of courageous statements of opposition to the Christophobes. Lapin is “a strong supporter of Pope Pius XII as a righteous gentile, a term he believes should be renamed ‘righteous Christian.’” He has “lamented that the Holocaust Memorial Museum presents anti-Christian propaganda…” Lapin has warned that “the biggest danger to the Jewish people is not Christianity but secular liberalism.”[vii]
Lapin has also denounced the Christophobic double standard of “religious liberty,” noting that “We see obsequious regard for faiths like Judaism and even Islam, while Christianity is treated with contempt.” He protests that “Nationwide, Christmas Nativity scenes are banned from city halls and shopping malls but Chanukah menorahs are permitted. (They are only cultural symbols, not religious, you see.).”[viii]
In comments particularly pertinent to this piece, Lapin, as Wikipedia reports, “argues that Jewish-born liberals have redefined ‘Judaism’ to mean ‘liberalism’—and redefined ‘anti-liberalism’ as ‘anti-Semitism.’ Lapin has said: ‘It is time for us to recognize the charge of anti-Semitism for what it often is: a political weapon intended to silence critics of liberalism.’”
Another example of Jews who oppose the Christophobes is Rabbi Mayer Schiller, who not only subscribes to this newspaper but also has gone out of his way to defend it and the traditionalist movement in general. In addition to the quotation that begins this article, the Rabbi has written: “The Remnant presents a consistent, coherent God-centered, counter-revolutionary world view. In a civilization permeated by evil and decadence it stands firm as an island of sanity.” Rabbi Schiller was prominently featured in a documentary on the Message of Fatima produced by the apostolate of another “anti-Semite” smeared by SPLC: Father Nicholas Gruner. In fact, it was I who interviewed Rabbi Schiller for that documentary, to which he provided key comments on the post-conciliar crisis in the Church that could have been uttered by any Roman Catholic traditionalist.
Jews for Morality, headed by Rabbi Yehuda Levin, is still another example of Jewish opposition to Christophobia. Rabbi Levin, listed as # 7 of Inside the Vatican’s “Top Ten People of 2006,” has worked with Judie Brown of American Life League, numerous bishops and the Pope himself to defend the Catholic party against attack by the forces of political correctness. For instance, when Fr. Paul Marx, former head of Human Life International, was denounced as an “anti-Semite,” Levin came to his defense. As Inside the Vatican notes: “Rabbi Levin’s active support for Catholic causes and values is enough to make Catholics themselves blush.”[ix] Levin himself was widely denounced by far-Left spokesmen for his leading role in organizing opposition to a “Gay Pride Parade” in Jerusalem that was ultimately cancelled. In a letter to Pope Benedict, Levin pleaded for papal intervention in the affair: “We plead for the Most Esteemed Pontiff to strongly condemn the intended upcoming sacrilege…”[x] Not even Catholics refer to the Pope any longer as “Pontiff”—another symptom of the postconciliar malaise in the Church.
One final example: Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation, whose President is the prominent conservative Jewish political columnist Don Feder. This organization has consistently opposed Foxman, the ADL and other Christophobes, and has even decried “Hollywood’s Anti-Christian Crusade.”[xi] As the organization’s statement of purpose declares: “Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation was organized because we recognize that Christians are the last remaining obstacle to the moral deconstruction of America, because attacks on Christians are motivated by hatred for the values they espouse.” Precisely.
Who Are the Real Haters?
It was utterly predictable that Feder would become a target of SPLC’s endless inquisition. Only a few months ago the “Intelligence Report” denounced Feder for “the defamation of homosexuals,” because he had declared in an address to a conference hosted by Vision America that “American society is in a ‘headlong drive to normalize perversion and demonize dissent.’”[xii]
The demonization of dissent from the tyranny of Liberalism is what SPLC is really up to. And there are no more militant dissenters from Liberal tyranny than Roman Catholic traditionalists with their persistent defense of that robust Catholicism so feared and hated by the same Christophobic regime that has “legalized” abortion and “gay marriage” while banning Nativity scenes and Crosses from the public square.
Who, then, is really the hate group in this controversy? Karl Keating needed to address that fundamental question instead of leaving the impression that the only problems with SPLC are exaggeration and investigative incompetence regarding a “worthy issue.” Even rabbis can see that the “issue” is not worthy at all. It is a dark day for the Church when Orthodox rabbis are more outspoken in their defense of Catholics than Catholics are.
Why Is SPLC So Fond of Vatican II?
Still another problem with Keating’s critique is its failure to mention a main thrust of the SPLC report: its attempt to stigmatize traditionalists not only for alleged “anti-Semitism,” but also for their failure to adhere to the supposed “new orientation” of the Catholic Church since Vatican II. SPLC wants everyone to fear and loathe traditionalists because, as Heidi Beirich puts it, they “reject the teachings of the modern papacy” (what teachings?), the Church’s supposed recent distancing of itself “from anti-Semitic teachings [what anti-Semitic teachings?] and the idea of forcing its view of the world on unbelievers” (i.e., Christendom and traditional evangelization). Summing it all up, Beirich refers to “the shadowy world of radical traditionalist Catholicism, also known as ‘integrism’ or Catholic separatism. This religious subculture's teachings have little in common with the modern Roman Catholic Church and its universalistic theology.”
Note well: the pro-abortion, pro-“gay rights” far-Left has adopted the neo-Catholic epithet “integrism,” establishing as a litmus test for Catholics their willingness not to be “integrists,” but rather to embrace the fiction of a “modern Roman Catholic Church” with a new “universalistic theology.” According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a good Catholic is one who believes that since Vatican II the Church has revised her teachings—indeed her entire theology—in ways that uniformly delight the Church’s worst enemies. And “radical traditionalists” are deemed a “hate group” precisely because they have rejected the myth that the Church officially repudiated her own past during and after the Council.
In short, the far-Left wants all Catholics to be “Vatican II Catholics.” That is why, as Michael Matt reports, the first question to him from SPLC “investigator” Rhonda Brownstein (a lawyer, no less) was “which parts of Vatican II The Remnant rejects.” In their ignorance of the immutability of the Faith, which the Council did not and could not change, Brownstein, Beirich, Potok and the far-Left as a whole nevertheless perceive correctly that there is something about the Council and its aftermath which represents a victory of Liberalism over the Church—a victory the far-Left now seeks to consolidate. That should speak volumes to every Catholic.
There could be no clearer confirmation than this “investigation” of the traditionalist movement that the postconciliar aggiornamento has served the aims of the Church’s enemies. Yet, as traditionalists know well, not one of the postconciliar changes in the Church has been imposed upon the faithful by a binding disciplinary command or doctrinal pronouncement. (The Vatican itself now acknowledges, for example, that Pope Paul VI never legally prohibited the traditional Latin Mass.) No Catholic has ever been obliged by the Council or the postconciliar Popes to believe or to do a single thing that departs from the practice of the Faith before the Council.
The far-Left’s truly diabolical strategy of setting up an illusory “modern Roman Catholic Church” and “modern papacy” in opposition to the perennial Faith is, therefore, a startling vindication (however inadvertent) of traditionalist opposition to the aggiornamento and its disastrous consequences. Moreover, by conferring its seal of approval on the destructive ecclesial novelties of the past forty years, the far-Left has rather cleverly enlisted in Liberalism’s war against the Church all the Catholics who have defended those novelties (none of them binding on the faithful) against traditionalist opposition. No Catholic should consent to be placed in that position.
Thus the question now squarely presented to every Catholic, traditionalist and non-traditionalist alike, is this: Do you really wish to be the kind of Catholic approved by the Southern Poverty Law Center? Or, stated conversely: Should you not wish to be the kind of Catholic condemned by the Southern Poverty Law Center? That is, a Roman Catholic traditionalist, which is nothing other than what all Catholics were before 1965. SPLC’s “investigators” know that much, even if they know little else about the subject.
The SPLC’s “exposé” makes it clear that we have entered a new and especially perilous phase in the great conflict between the Church and Liberalism: the phase in which the Church’s enemies will seek to divide and conquer by branding the defenders of the unalterable Faith as “hate criminals,” while offering what only appears to be a reprieve to Catholics who are willing to temporize.
An Appeal for Mutual Assistance
Thanks are owed to Karl Keating for taking SPLC to task. But I would invite him and his colleagues to join with us in recognizing, as even the cited rabbis recognize, that this witch-hunt for “anti-Semitic” traditionalists is not something that will safely pass them by. Rather, it is a warning to all Catholics that if we do not unite for our common defense and the defense of Holy Church against her external enemies, the ever-more-powerful regime of dogmatic pluralism will extinguish everywhere—from the heights of the Vatican to the lowliest parish pulpit—any uncompromising public defense of the Catholic religion, or indeed any religion that seeks to defend something as basic as the natural law.
Consider these developments:
In France, a member of parliament was just fined the equivalent $4,000 for a few critical remarks on “gay marriage.”
A leading French traditionalist has been hauled into court several times for alleged “anti-Semitic” writings, escaping liability each time only because he had used Jewish sources to support his entirely legitimate contentions.
German home schoolers are being taken from their parents and locked up in psychiatric wards.
As WorldNet Daily reports: “Two Christians in Australia have been indicted for criticizing Islam, and another for criticizing Zionism.
“A filmmaker has been threatened with arrest for using the word ‘homosexual’ rather than ‘gay.’
“Now a German priest faces jail time for publicly criticizing abortionists, and in Holland, ‘fornicators’ and ‘adulterers’ are protected classes and cannot be criticized.”[xiii]
In England, as the Bishop of Paisley has warned, the 2006 Equality Act “will force Catholic adoption agencies to place children with same-sex couples and thereby go against the teaching and practice of the Catholic Church… or else face legal challenge and possible prosecution.”[xiv]
Under German and French hate crimes law, criminal cases can be opened against Americans based on the international propagation of website material, leaving the accused subject to arrest if he sets foot in either country.
The New Word Order is relentlessly establishing a universal rule of criminal law to enforce political correctness, along with abortion on demand and “gay rights.” And America will be no exception. EWTN is already censoring its own broadcasts to Canada for fear of hate crimes liability. Meanwhile, the Democrat-controlled Congress is pressing ever closer to the enactment of thought crimes legislation in America. The pending Conyers federal “hate crimes” bill would allow prosecutors to introduce evidence of religious beliefs in “hate crimes” prosecutions involving acts of violence. Abe Foxman’s ADL has concocted the “David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act” (H.R. 245), which was actually passed by the House in 2005 under a different title. Under this legislation, even an alleged attempted assault (no physical contact) carries a ten year federal prison term if the alleged motive was “race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or disability…”All the accuser need do is claim that the alleged assailant “came at me” or “raised his fist and threatened me” in order to trigger federal jurisdiction. And how long will it be before the requirement of physical violence or attempted violence is dropped and words alone become the crime, as they already are in Europe?
Not even purely political speech is safe from repression. Catholic Answers itself has already been subjected to an IRS investigation prompted by the frivolous complaint of the execrable Frances Kissling, merely because it published a voter’s guide on life issues. The recently floated Pelosi lobbying bill would require organizations and even parishes that make broadly defined political action appeals to more than 500 members of the general public to register and submit onerous reports to the government under penalty of fines and criminal sanctions.
And while all this is going on, organizations like the ADL and the SPLC, with its “hate groups” list and “hate groups map,” are clearly paving the way for criminal prosecutions of thought crimes like those now taking place in Europe and Canada.
Vatican expert John Allen, who is no traditionalist, sums up the situation this way: “Can the train-wreck of a church/state crisis be avoided? Benedict XVI is, among other things, a musician, and he has tried to strike the right tone; the question is whether he or anyone else can complete the score, while also managing to stay out of jail.”[xv] As the tyrannical modern state and the tyranny of public opinion combine against Christianity, let no Catholic delude himself that he can placate these forces by agreeing to remain silent about certain aspects of the Catholic Faith, such as the teaching of Our Lord Himself concerning the Jewish people. There will be no refuge of respectability even for the somewhat more politically correct Catholic, nor any friendly accord with the Church’s enemies setting limits to the persecution that has already begun.
As even Rabbi Lapin of Toward Tradition has said apropos Abe Foxman and The Passion of Christ: “What he [Foxman] is saying is that the only way to escape the wrath of Foxman is to repudiate your faith.”[xvi] The same is true on every other front of the war of the Christophobes against Christ and His Church: capitulate or be condemned to the Liberal Inquisition. Unless Catholics, both traditionalist and non-traditionalist, unite and begin a joint counterattack now, it may soon be too late to resist without risking a jail sentence.
The World Needs the Church Militant
But no counterattack can be effective without a revival of the Church militant. Traditionalists understand that at present the laity is an army without generals. We cannot combat the forces arrayed against us with any decisive impact so long as the leadership of the Church remains debilitated by the recently emergent viruses of “ecumenism,” “dialogue,” “inter-religious dialogue” and “collegiality.” Nor will the army increase in numbers and fervor on the strength of an ever-more-degenerate vernacular liturgy (never imposed on the Church de jure) that even culturally literate Protestants find unbearable.
Only the Church militant, in all her authority, power and glory, can lead a counterattack that would deter persecution and save our civilization. This is not triumphal boasting, but rather a matter of common sense readily grasped by non-Catholics. Take, for example, Rabbi Levin of Jews for Morality, who has recently observed: “I am saying with certitude—with a logical certitude—that the group in Western Civilization and perhaps in World Civilization with the most potential to act as a catalyst for a moral counterattack, pushing back the barbarians… are Catholics. You don’t have to be a prophet to understand that.”[xvii] It is a symptom of the depth of the Church’s current malaise that this rabbi sees what Catholics have all but completely lost sight of in the postconciliar delirium of “dialogue with the modern world.”
But the necessary ecclesial revival can and will happen before this world comes to an end. The renowned Italian Catholic intellectual, Antonio Socci, has recognized this in his groundbreaking book Il Quarto Segreto di Fatima (“The Fourth Secret of Fatima”). While Socci set out to refute traditionalist contentions concerning the Third Secret of Fatima, the Consecration of Russia and the crisis in the Church, Socci admits that “in the end, I had to surrender.” Socci is now convinced, along with every traditionalist, that the Third Secret must predict the near-apocalyptic events in the Church since the Council. He is also convinced that when the Consecration is finally done it will be a testament to the power of the papacy as a divine instrument, producing a victory even greater than the one against Islam at Lepanto—“an extraordinary change of the world, an overthrow of the mentality dominating modernity, probably following dramatic events for humanity.” And with this, writes Socci, the Church will undergo “a clear ‘conversion’ to doctrinal orthodoxy after the frightening abandonments following the Council, and, I hold, a return also to adoration, therefore also a return to the bimillenial liturgy of the Church…”
Last December, Socci signed a public manifesto calling for the universal “liberation” of the traditional Latin Mass. The “Socci Manifesto” forthrightly decries “the disaster, the actual cultural destruction, represented by the ‘prohibition’ of the liturgy of Saint Pius V and the disappearance of Latin as sacred language of the Catholic Church” and declares that “the effects were disastrous. The road to incredible abuses in the liturgy was opened.” Socci has delivered a stunning vindication of the traditionalist cause within the very mainstream of the post-conciliar establishment. But many more such breakthroughs are needed before our situation can be reversed—breakthroughs, above all, at the level of the Vatican.
Back in 1998 Mr. Keating wrote these words as editor of This Rock magazine: “The mainstream Traditionalist movement is right about so much (about nearly everything, one is tempted to say), but it is plagued with a few malcontents whose understanding of doctrine and liturgy is proportionate to their docility and sweet-temperedness.”[xviii] Let us grant the validity of that rather elegantly stated objection, while pointing out that there are unfortunate personalities at the margins of every movement, most certainly including those movements of a “Novus Ordo” character. Having granted the objection, however, let us answer it with a much larger one: that a few crackpots who call themselves traditionalists are nothing compared with the legions of crackpots who have celebrated the sacking of the Roman liturgy and the near-total destruction of the Church militant over the past forty years. They comprise a movement all Catholics, not just traditionalists, should have been opposing from the moment it began.
A Fraternal Plea
I conclude with a plea to our non-traditionalist brethren in America to admit openly, as Antonio Socci has done so courageously in Italy, what they must already know in their hearts: that the future of the Church, and thus the world, lies in the recovery of Catholic Tradition. The Church’s human element must be fully reconnected to Tradition if there is to be an end to what Cardinal Ratzinger called “a continuing process of decay that has gone on largely on the basis of appeals to the Council…” The traditionalist movement is right—not because its members have any special merit, but because they have simply gone on being what Catholics always were before the Church was afflicted by that same confusion the enemies of the Faith would have every Catholic embrace as a new orthodoxy acceptable to the world, so that we might all be trampled underfoot as the salt that has lost its savor.
Let Catholics, by the grace of God, overcome the human divisions that have plagued the Church and made her vulnerable to her enemies because of a failed experiment in novelty that no one is bound to continue. All Catholics, whether or not they call themselves traditionalists, must return to Tradition without reserve if they would arm themselves against a world that is warring on the Church as never before. And by the world’s hatred we will know that we have lived up to our duty as confirmed soldiers of Christ. “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19). In our day it is truer than ever that the world’s hatred is the sign of Catholic fidelity, and the world’s approval the sign that a Catholic has lost his way. That is the lesson we should all learn from this affair.
This article of yours on the SPLC and Catholic tradition is one of the best that I have ever read. Thank God that there are still people like you who have the courage to write about and defend the faith against its enemies. If only your words could reach a more wider audience then they do now. Many people agree with you and would stand up and be more vocal if they had the leadership to help them do so.
Sadly, as you well know, this is something that we rarely get from our Bishops. Just recently, for example, the NJ Catholic bishops conference agreed to remain almost silent on the states new "gay marriage" law providing that it was downgraded to a "civil union." The almost absolute silence of our bishops is a devastating shame. Keep up the great work in defending tradition. R. Kearney
February 21: I long have said the SPLC is nothing but a coterie of hyper-hypocritical, Christ-hating, Trotskyite monsters. It is a perfect example of Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s call for revolutionaries to make the long march through the institutions, weaving in slowly, and then when exposed, pleading innocence while simultaneously smearing those who begin to tell the truth about the Christ-hating basis for the subversion. Unlike Ferrara, I see no value ever in the SPLC; it began as a Christ-hating cultural Marxist group and so today is no different than it was at its inception. Inherent in the SPLC at its birth was this recent series of overt Christophobia acts.
The difference is the boldness. Now that SPLC is, in addition to being filthy rich, in bed in with various and sundry Christ-hating academics, journalists, and government officials who also have woven into the fabric of American life, it can be more open in its Christophobia, as well as its hatred of all European ethnic and cultural groups. The SPLC, like a Trotsky or Zinoviev, assumes that its lies and smears will be taken as Gospel and so pushes its war against Christ, calling it tolerance of diversity.
Perhaps The Remnant is producing the Solzhenitsyns to catalogue the atrocities of the boldest and most sanctimonious Christ-hating monsters of our time and place. James Cantrell
February 22: I enjoyed
Christopher Ferrara's article. But I wonder if it was
worth the trouble. I think the SPLC may be a force to
be reckoned with but only in their own minds. I have
been in law enforcement for 26 years and have never heard of
the Southern Poverty Law Center. Maybe they 'educate'
a few high school security guards down South but I'd be very
surprised if they're taken seriously anywhere else. My
advice? Ignore them--everybody else does!
February 23: As a
traditional Catholic and a Southerner I'm doubly damned in
the eyes of the SPLC. Frankly I'd be ashamed to be in their
good graces. But they do have influence. They won't hesitate
to make an accusation of racism or anti-Semitism. Once the
accusation is made, it has to be answered. Since you can't
prove that you're not racist or anti-Semitic, you no longer
have a place at the table. Politics isn't reason, but force.
No one should be influenced by fallacies. But people are.
H. Crews February
24: F. Malone says the SPLC should be ignored
because it has no power. That assertion could not be
more wrong, and I wonder how anyone who read the
articles by Ferrara and Matt could come to such an
erroneous conclusion. The SPLC has the ears of all kinds
of powerful people in journalism and academia who are
full allies in the Christ-hating culture war. In
addition, many law enforcement agencies not merely pay
attention to SPLC ‘intelligence reports’ but also use
the SPLC, as they use the ADL, as an unofficial source
of spying on citizens. The threat to the livelihoods of
people from that has grown with the rise of the
Orwellian ‘hate crimes’ laws, which to be passed require
the lies and distortions and Christ-hating perspectives
of the SPLC and similar groups. What the SPLC wants is to spy and
spread its lies and Christ-hating without any question
of it, its activists, its financiers, and their motives.
F. Malone’s suggestion would give the SPLC everything it
needs to continue to wage war against Christ and for its
form of cultural Marxism. Not only should
continue to call attention to this Christ-hating coterie
of deceivers but it also should call upon others to do
the same. Ignore the SPLC
and it will sneak around and attack even more people
more savagely. Ignoring the SPLC is as reasonable as a
call to ignore Stalin or Hitler.
February 23: As a traditional Catholic and a Southerner I'm doubly damned in the eyes of the SPLC. Frankly I'd be ashamed to be in their good graces. But they do have influence. They won't hesitate to make an accusation of racism or anti-Semitism. Once the accusation is made, it has to be answered. Since you can't prove that you're not racist or anti-Semitic, you no longer have a place at the table. Politics isn't reason, but force. No one should be influenced by fallacies. But people are. H. Crews
February 24: F. Malone says the SPLC should be ignored because it has no power. That assertion could not be more wrong, and I wonder how anyone who read the articles by Ferrara and Matt could come to such an erroneous conclusion. The SPLC has the ears of all kinds of powerful people in journalism and academia who are full allies in the Christ-hating culture war. In addition, many law enforcement agencies not merely pay attention to SPLC ‘intelligence reports’ but also use the SPLC, as they use the ADL, as an unofficial source of spying on citizens. The threat to the livelihoods of people from that has grown with the rise of the Orwellian ‘hate crimes’ laws, which to be passed require the lies and distortions and Christ-hating perspectives of the SPLC and similar groups.
What the SPLC wants is to spy and spread its lies and Christ-hating without any question of it, its activists, its financiers, and their motives. F. Malone’s suggestion would give the SPLC everything it needs to continue to wage war against Christ and for its form of cultural Marxism. Not only should The Remnant continue to call attention to this Christ-hating coterie of deceivers but it also should call upon others to do the same. Ignore the SPLC and it will sneak around and attack even more people more savagely. Ignoring the SPLC is as reasonable as a call to ignore Stalin or Hitler. J. Cantrell
[ia] Edward Pentin, “Smear Campaign: Former KGB General Says Pius XII Was Targeted,” National Catholic Register, February 18-24, 2007.
[iii] “Morris Dees’ Hate Campaign,” FrontPageMag.com. September 16, 2003.
[iv] “Anti-Semitism is ‘hating Jews,’ said Heidi Beirich, a representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center…”, Freeman Klopott, Keene Sentinel, “Anti-Semitism charge thickens plot: Richmond group says accusation unfounded”, February 6, 2007.
[vi] Corinthians 12:13.
[viii]“Religious Freedom is for Everyone-Not just Minorities,” at 1stholistic.com/Reading/prose/A2004/liv_religious-freedom-is-for-everyone.htm .
[ix] Inside the Vatican, January 2007 at www.insidethevatican.com/newsflash/2007/newsflash-jan27-07.htm
[xii]“Intelligence Report,” Summer 2006 at http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=654 .
[xiii] “Diss’ a ‘Gay,’ Go to Jail!,” February 15, 2007.
[xiv] Zenit news report, February 18, 2007.
[xv] National Catholic Reporter, February 2, 2007.
[xvi] “America’s Real War: An Interview with Rabbi Daniel Lapin,” CBN.com at http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/news/040225_passion.aspx .
[xvii] “Leading U.S. Rabbi calls for New International Ecumenism in Defense of Morality,” Lifesitenews.com, January 26, 2007
[xviii] This Rock, September 1998.