Vatican Offical Compares Church Critics to Anti-Semites
Church, Jews both ‘victims of collective violence’
A senior Vatican official told the crowd at a Good Friday service over there that the widespread criticism of the Catholic Church over its alleged systematic cover-up of clerical pedophilia put him in mind of anti-Semitism. “I am following the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful by the whole word,” said the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher of the papal household, quoting a letter from a Jewish friend. “The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt, remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”
(“The more shameful aspects”? As opposed to the less shameful aspects??)
“They know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms,” he also said.
OK, so before we take totally legitimate and rightful umbrage, Cantalamessa was not saying that the critics’ case against the Church was exactly as unfounded (or founded, if that’s your thing!) as anti-Semites’ case against the Jews. He acknowledged the problem of “violence against children, of which unfortunately also elements of the clergy are stained.” Cantalamessa’s caveat was with these critics’ notion of collective responsibility: Just as an anti-Semite falsely and maliciously believes that all Jews are somehow responsible for the behavior of a single Jew, he is apparently arguing that these critics falsely and maliciously believe that the whole Church is responsible for the acts of certain bad-apple priests.
Where Cantalamessa is outrageously wrong, of course—and not a little offensive—is that while anti-Semites believe that most Jews are involved in a global conspiracy to control events, the Catholic Church actually is a global, coherent agglomeration that in the past decades has in multiple places and taking orders from the top of the hierarchy moved to cover up, paper over, and otherwise tacitly sanction pedophilia.
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.
UPDATE: Apparently, if you can read Italian, then you’d know that this article reports that “certain Catholic circles” believe that much recent criticism of the Church comes from a “New York ‘Jewish lobby.’ ”
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.