Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Abortion and the Catholic Right II" - Dr. James Hitchcock and critics

Earlier this year, I drew attention to an article by Catholic historian James Hitchcock: "Abortion and the Catholic Right" (Human Life Review Spring 2007), which observed how the Catholic (re: "traditionalist") Right -- as represented by Joseph Sobran, Paul Likoudis and contributors to The Wanderer & The Remnant -- have been obsessed with their opposition to democratic-capitalism, "neoconservatives" and the Bush administration, to such an immense degree that they now hold the aformentioned issues as being "more pressing" than abortion.

In the Winter 2008 issue, James Hitchcock responds to his critics -- among them Christopher Ferrara of The Wanderer and John Rao of The Remnant. As he observes, "the most common response to my article was simply to change the subject-from abortion to the war in Iraq, the economy, or whatever else seemed important to a particular individual, without apparently realizing that changing the subject exactly proved my point."

Hitchcock's dealings with the "fringe right" and their attitudes toward the Republicans (and/or "neocons") are reminiscent of some recent skirmishes with a few Catholic blogs on the "progressive left" -- politics makes for strange bedfellows. Consider:

In their repeated denunciations of "neo-conservatives" over the Iraq war, right-wing Catholics ignore the fact that neo-conservatives, especially in the pages of their leading publication, The Weekly Standard, are among the few secular commentators enrolled in the pro-life cause (for example, a strong article [November 5, 2007]-not by any means the first-on the Terri Schiavo case). Christopher Manion, a regular Wanderer columnist, regularly charges (e.g., November 15, 2007) that neo-conservatives' attitude to pro-lifers "seldom rises above thinly disguised contempt," an assertion for which he offers no evidence. Only a week before Manion made this claim, The Wanderer itself provided evidence of strong neo-conservative support of pro-life causes without acknowledging it, when it cited a Standard article that was one of the most thorough and effective exposés of Planned Parenthood ever published.

Manion's "proof that neoconservatives are not pro-life consists entirely of raw assertion, on the assumption that Wanderer readers know nothing about the movement except what he tells them. For example, the ecumenical religious journal First Things has over the years published innumerable articles on the life issues, but Manion (January 31) falsely claimed that in its pages '"national greatness' conservatism . . . crowds out the pro-lifers."


Until he did so poorly in the primaries, it was right-wing dogma that neoconservatives were planning to impose Giuliani on the nation, an assumption that was used to justify blanket condemnations of the Republicans. In reality, however, neo-conservatives were predictably divided over the various Republican candidates, and one article in the Standard (October 2, 2007) argued that Giuliani was unacceptable precisely because of his position on abortion, a judgment also tendered by National Review (December, 3, 2007), a magazine that right-wingers dismiss as having been captured by neoconservatives. (Manion [December 13, 2007] distorted the Standard's argument against Giuliani by calling it a "lament.")

The assumption by right-wing critics of the Republican Party (and many on the Left as well) that the party's official pro-life stance is hypocritical is a dogma that, like all dogmas, is irrefutable, in that Republican inaction on abortion proves the charge, while any action is dismissed as a political trick.

And so on and so forth. It comes as no suprise that Hitchcock is lumped together with Fr. Neuhaus and George Weigel, renegade Catholics who wish to replace the saints of the liturgical calendar with "John Locke, David Hume, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig von Mises, and maybe Mickey Mouse."

Hitchcock concludes:

Those who reject electoral politics as a way of combating abortion offer no concrete alternative. Disdaining the work of painstaking, step-by-step political activity, they leave the field to their enemies and direct much of their fire at those ostensible allies who consider the battle still worth fighting.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Does the SSPX formally endorse John Sharpe?

Michael Semin appears to lament that only the SSPX, The Angelus, and other Traditional Catholics, back John Sharpe's work Neo-Conned. The Chambers Initiative, however, begs to differ:
My guess is that Semin will be hard pressed to obtain an official approval from any religious organization, Traditional or otherwise, that officially backs John Sharpe and/or Neo-Conned. If Semin does obtain any, we will gladly post any official endorsement from a Catholic General Superior stating such approval. If there are not any, it is time that Semin and his friends stop acting as if they are running a Church approved movement.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Out of Touch? The Scandal of Leon Podles

In this post we take a break from the political periphery to look at some religious fringe behavior. At the beginning of this year Touchstone magazine came out heavily endorsing Leon Podles' new book Sacrilege (Crossland Foundation), which claims to expose, in excruciating detail, the Catholic clerical sex scandals.

Plenty of reliable and faithful Catholic writers have grappled with this problem. But Podles goes even further and indulges in unsubstantiated reports which undermine his credibility. This even prompted Fr. John Neuhaus at First Things, in his January 2008 commentary, to say:

It is a rambling essay of more than five hundred pages on a potpourri of items picked up from the public media and the blogosphere, including, along with the kitchen sink, stomach-turning details of abuse, mainly with boys, and a scathing, if familiar, indictment from a conservative perspective of liberal depredations that brought things to this sorry pass. Regrettably, the tone is shrill, and even righteous anger does not justify the author’s suspension of caution and charity in attributing motives.

Given Touchstone's otherwise outstanding reputation, it is troubling that the magazine insisted on running a full-page back-cover ad for Sacrilege (with a close-up photo of a man in a clerical color), month after month. No doubt it helps that Podles is a senior editor for the magazine. That may also explain why people who have contacted editors about the ad have simply been ignored. The only response that we could find was a ribald bit of doggerel by S. M. Hutchens (another senior editor) on the Touchstone blog which lampoons Fr. Neuhaus. It's not much of a response to legitimate criticism.

If Podles' book were just an obvious left-wing anti-clerical rant, we would ignore it. What concerns us is that—like other scandal-mongers and fringe commentators we've covered—he tries to pass himself off as a "Catholic in good standing." Yet a little digging reveals some interesting things. Both the book and the Touchstone ad carry a prominent endorsement by Thomas Doyle, author of conspiracy-obsessed work Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church’s 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse. Doyle is a professional Church-basher who argues that Catholicism has suffered from sex abuse from the very beginning, due in large part to its traditional teachings on marriage and clerical celibacy.

The problem with Podles is that he is a theological freelancer who buys into the view that sex abuse is endemic and institutionalized. How is this attitude any different from the heterodox opinions of Doyle? Though he tries to disarm critics by saying that "attacking sexual abuse is not attacking the Catholic Church" (true enough), the tenor of his argument contradicts this stance. For example in the preface to his book, Podles makes the following assertions:

The toleration of abuse was not necessary. It was and is convenient. A canonized saint tolerated abuse. Rings of abusers go back at least to the 1940s in America, and abuse involved sacrilege, orgies, and probably murder (and perhaps even worse). Bishops knew about the abuse and sometimes took part in it. Those who complained were ignored or threatened, and the police refused to investigate crimes committed by clergy.

....The distortions in Catholic life that allowed the abuse to continue with little rebuke are, I think, of long standing; Catholic attitudes, in fact Western attitudes, to morality have been distorted for centuries by seeing morality as essentially obedience to an external law....

....The Vatican helped set the stage for the abuse by cultivating a clericalist mentality that saw the clergy as the real church, and making the purpose of canon law the protection of the rights and reputation of the clergy, not the protection of children from abuse.

One can see where this is headed. So, apparently, did Spence Publishing. Podles admits that they "refused to publish the book they had commissioned" because of gross descriptions of abuse that the author deemed "essential to the book." Spence puts out some excellent conservative works, and it is to their credit that they turned down Sacrilege.

Aside from the potential for voyeurism, such as one finds in pulp "true crime" shockers, there is the fact that Podles' attitude seems disingenuous. It is not surprising that it has been picked up by people who want a stick to beat Catholics with. In addition to Doyle there's A. W. Richard Sipe, author of Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis. Sipe contends that

The scandal of priestly sexual abuse of minors... is primarily a symptom of an essentially flawed celibate/sexual system of ecclesiastical power.... Sex has always been problematic for the Roman Catholic Church.

It is this same author who calls Sacrilege "indispensable for anyone seriously concerned about" the sex scandals. Of course, Podles, Doyle and Sipe overlook the fact that the problems in the Church are part of worldwide moral meltdown and that abuse is just as prevalent (and in some cases even more so) in other religious groups and secular institutions like public schools. This in no ways excuses clerical misconduct, but it does put it into a broader context. What Podles lacks is a sense of proportion. And in something as sensitive as this, a lack of nuance can be disastrous. A far more accurate and dispassionate study of the issue was provided in a special 2004 report by the Catholic League.

The fact that Podles is attacking a real evil is one thing. But there is a point at which criticism becomes self-destructive. Podles has found major allies amongst anti-Catholics, which shows that he may be more concerned with his pet project than in real reform of the clergy. As for Touchstone, up till now they have provided thoughtful commentary on religious and cultural topics. But this current lack of sensitivity is distressing.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Conservatives" Who are Part of the Problem?

As someone once said of Joe Sobran: "He is so far out to the right he's met up with his far left counterparts by way of the back door." The problem here is with conservatives who cease to be conservatives, but are afraid to give up the label, and so they become disingenous and evasive enablers for lunatic ideologies. Not surprisingly Sobran has lost his broad support over the years, but manages to occasionally fool people into thinking he stands for traditional beliefs. For our readers' reference, here are some helpful discussions from the blog Liberty Corner:

Friday, May 30, 2008

The New Anti-Semitism

Actually the new anti-Semitism isn't that "new" (as will be shown below), but it does reflect a change in the direction of anti-Jewish paranoia over the last twenty-five years.

In the decades just after World War II, animosity towards Jews was typically confined to racialist neo-Nazi organizations. Amongst neo-fascists, of the Italian variety, anti-Semitism was less pronounced or simply non-existent. After all, Mussolini's original Fascist Party allowed Jewish members and had no racial program until 1938, when it came under the ideological pressure of its new ally Nazi Germany. Even then, anti-Jewish measures were relatively lenient (when compared to Hitler's program). Part of this was because Jews were a small and highly assimilated minority in Italian society.

But a new synthesis of radical nationalism emerged in the 1980s. Anti-Semitism took a slightly different turn. It became less markedly "racialist," but it was also more widespread. One reason for this change was that anti-Semitism was sold as "anti-Zionism" and opposition to Israel in conjunction with attacks on "capitalism" and America (which was seen as a multi-cultural cesspool as dangerous as, or more so, than Soviet Russia).

Contemporary hostility towards Jews can therefore be seen as part of a broader "anti-liberal" (anti-Western) crusade with roots in a gnostic "traditionalism". This anti-Jewish view is less the product of social Darwinian theories than it is of an apocalyptic political mentality. Jew-haters can be found across the racial spectrum. Even among white anti-Semites and Hitler-admirers there are people who are not your typical racialists. In the Holocaust revisionist camp, Ted O'Keefe—who writes admiring studies of the Nazi Waffen SS—is (or was) in a long-standing relationship with a Japanese woman. Bradley Smith, organizer of the Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH), has a Mexican wife. John Sharpe (leader of the Legion of St. Louis) is married to a Lebanese woman.

While these attitudes might seem less malevolent than "Aryan" race worship, it is in some ways more insidious. For one thing it allows people like John Sharpe or E. Michael Jones to deflect criticism by saying that they aren't "anti-Semitic," as if racial standards were the only determining factor. An excellent response to this rhetorical sidestepping is found on Christopher Blosser's Against the Grain entry for January 19, 2007. The relevant point is made in his comments about the religious anti-Semitism of Fr. Dennis Fahey

A common strategy of those who intellectually flirt with (or worse, embrace) the ideological right is to confine the definition of anti-semitism to a purely racial hatred of the Jewish people, so as to excuse or explain away any other form of animosity toward the Jewish people.... Unfortunately, Fahey's restricted definition of anti-semitism didn't prohibit him from indulging in fantasies of Judeo-Masonic conspiracies so off the wall that Hillaire Belloc was moved to say "The thing is nonsense on the face of it."

Yet another way of understanding the apparent contradictions of anti-Semitism and neo-Nazism is to recall that even Hitler's Germany was far from consistent in its race policies. Berlin was not only allied with the Asians of Japan, but it allowed the recruitment of Crimean Tatars (also Asians) into its armed forced in the war in Russia. Even its anti-Slavism was selective. German Nazis persecuted Poles and Russians, but allied themselves with Slovaks, Croatians and Ukrainians. Ultimately, claims about racial purity are belied by animosities which are driven more by political and cultural factors than purely biological ones. This was certainly the case in Hitler's support for Muslim and Arab nationalists, which has come to light since the publication of Der Mufti von Jerusalem und die Nationalsozialisten ("The Mufti and the Holocaust") by Klaus Gensicke (see book review in Policy Review). When the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, was first received by Hitler in Berlin (where he would take up residence for the remainder of the war), the Nazi leader assured him that "the sole German aim will be the destruction of the Jews living in the Arab space under the protection of British power." Arabs were racially as Semitic as Jews but their cultural and political position was totally different.

Nazi racial views boiled down to an irrational prejudice rather than a "scientific" worldview. Of course, Hitler looked with disdain on non-white Arabs, but during the war he was willing to modify his bigotry to suit wartime ambitions. Likewise we see that since the first Gulf War of 1991, anti-Semites and Hitlerites sought alliances with the Muslim world. They praised the late Saddam Hussein and now support Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (for his anti-Israeli diatribes and promotion of Holocaust revisionism).

This is not to say that racism isn't a problem. The hatred of any racial or ethnic group is an attempt to "simplify" some deep-seated social problem. And plenty of racially-motivated anti-Semites are still around. In fact a lot of them are to be found at events attended by people like Jones and Sharpe who, even as they publicly disavow racism, are nevertheless willing to join with old-fashioned bigots in "common cause" against the perceived global threat of the Jews.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More on Fiore: Partying with Nazis

As noted in our last post, the "traditional Catholic" paper The Remnant has come out endorsing groups involved with Roberto Fiore, who is a major figure in the far-right, not only participating in violent Italian political gangs but in Europe-wide neo-fascism. Some solid proof of this is from a report by an Italian site that describes a 2006 Nazi rock-fest in Italy, attended by Fiore, which featured openly pro-Hitler displays.

During that event, called "Campo d'Azione 2006", souvenir stands sold badges showing the face of Hitler to be sewn onto sweaters as well as books denying the existence of the Holocaust, like the one written by Carlo Mattogno and entitled "Auschwitz: fine di una leggenda" (Auschwitz, the end of a legend). Until very late at night, in the large hangar that during the day was animated by speeches and discussions, we assisted to a very disquieting show featuring several rock bands frantically acclaimed by a crowd performing the nazi-fascist stiff-arm salute and sporting a huge banner, printed for the occasion and stating in large capital letters: "MORE NAZISM FOR US ALL".

But this is nothing new, since Fiore's political beliefs have been an open book for years. Fringe Watch has discussed his activities on a number of occasions:

Awareness of Mr. Fiore as an outspoken fascist is important since he has been trying to inject extremism into Catholic circles since the early 1980s.

The Remnant-Fiore Connection?

In late 2006 the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued "The Dirty Dozen," its expose of alleged political extremism in Catholic circles. As noted previously on this blog, "the Southern Poverty Law Center—being inexperienced in the doctrinal nuances of Catholicism... really does more harm than good in addressing these matters, in that they tar 'traditionalist Catholics' with a wide brush."

Still, there is a sad irony in that some of the SPLC's charges are sticking. One example is Michael Matt's Remnant newspaper, which is nothing if not idiosyncratic. The Remnant has seen fit to maintain neo-fascist and anti-Semitic connections despite growing criticism. And the odd thing is that just a few years ago Michael Matt was denouncing these same trends. What changed his mind? He'll have to answer that himself.

Certain points made about The Remnant by the SPLC are impossible to explain away, like articles which endorse Holocaust revisionism or indulge in paranoid Jewish conspiracy theories (see bottom of this page of the SPLC site). Now, if it had been a one-off thing, a mere journalistic eccentricity, it could be overlooked. But there's a real trend here which has only hardened in recent weeks with Michael Matt's endorsement of a website called Tradizione, Cattolicesimo & Politica, which is in league with the neo-fascist Forza Nuova of Roberto Fiore. For more details, see the May 24 report by The Chambers Initiative.

As much as one might dislike leftists rummaging in the dirty laundry of fellow Catholics, until we see fit to clean it ourselves, we can expect outsiders to complain about the mess. Nor should the SPLC reportage become a red herring. After all, how can Michael Matt's paper treat the SPLC reports as paranoia but do nothing to distance itself from the political lunatics?

To sum up, it was Fringe Watch and other Catholic commentators (conservative and traditional) who warned about this problem long before the professional purveyors of leftwing "tolerance" got hold of it. But people didn't listen. Perhaps they thought it was a nuisance that would just go away. Maybe... but at the offices of The Remnant it hasn't.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Robert Sungenis vs. Bishop Rhoades: a Chronology

  • July 2007 After an extended period of controversy and public argument with former supporters and volunteers to his website, "Catholic Apologetics International", about his derogatory views concerning the Jews, Sungenis was given two weeks by his bishop -- Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades -- to "desist from commenting on the Jewish people and Judaism both online and in all other publications" or his bishop would denounce him publicly.

    Sungenis claimed that after a subsequent meeting with representatives from his diocese and the USCCB, he was allowed to “continue publishing and speaking on those matters of Catholic doctrine which pertain to the Jewish covenant and the role of Israel in salvation history, provided that you take an approach quite different in tone and content from the one pursued in the past.”

  • August 2007 Sungenis published a letter on his website acknowledging that his bishop and the executive director for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs of the USCCB indicated that “I have crossed the line into inappropriate language and accusations” and Sungenis eventually acceded to their assessment of his work, acknowledging that his writings had "caused confusion regarding what is and is not the authentic position of the Catholic Church towards the Jewish people." He also conveyed a willingness to obey their directives by removing his objectionable articles, at least until such time as they can be rewritten with “a human and Christian spirit,” as per the requirements of Catholic canon law (c. 822, 2-3). However, he expressed doubt as to whether he would ever have sufficient time to accomplish that task. Sungenis further declared that his bishop and vicar are "the shepherds God has placed as overseers of my life and work" and that it is "a privilege to obey them." At the end of this letter, Sungenis opted to list seven “theological positions about the Jews” to serve as a “permanent fixture on the website of CAI [now BTF] so that everyone will know where we stand from here on out.”

  • October 2007 - Sungenis publishes a new article claiming that as the bishop did not agree with his viewpoints, he changed his mind and ordered Sungenis to “remove the recently posted letter and that you refrain from publishing on all topics directly or tangentially related to Judaism or the Jewish people.” The letter was eventually removed from his website. However, Sungenis purportedly wrote to the bishop stating that he is not required to obey him if he issues orders that are in conflict with the faith and morals of the Catholic Church, and that Sungenis would only comply under the aegis of a canonical trial. Additionally, Sungenis indicated that he would be "quite happy to expose" to the Vatican the errors he claimed Bishop Rhoades adheres to. According to Sungenis, the bishop did not respond to his proposal.

  • February 7, 2008 Sungenis' bishop replied in writing to a letter from Sungenis' former vice president, Michael Forrest. In the letter, the bishop confirmed that he had been in contact with Sungenis about his Jewish writings and that he had "hoped for a more positive outcome." However, while Sungenis has indicated that his bishop "ordered me to stop writing about the Jews and Judaism altogether", the bishop himself made no mention of whether or not Sungenis was currently under any formal command.

    The primary thrust of Bishop Rhoades' letter was a clarification of his doctrinal beliefs in regard to certain covenantal issues involving the Jewish people. The bishop also judged the statements Sungenis made about him and his beliefs as "slanderous and erroneous." (See: "Bishop Rhoades, Sungenis, and the Jews", by Leon Suprenant Catholics United for the Faith February 23, 2008).

  • January 2008 Sungenis responded with an article entitled My Reply to Bishop Rhoades, claiming that the questions posed to Bishop Rhoades may have been designed "specifically to side-step the most crucial issue at hand" (ibid, p.3) and that the bishop must affirm three statements composed by Sungenis in order to establish his orthodoxy (ibid, p. 12).

  • April 2008 Catholics United for the Faith and 10 individuals (many former colleagues of Sungenis' Catholic Apologetics International) published a lengthy rebuttal entitled "By Sungenis Alone". The authors of the rebuttal claim that Sungenis has been more than satisfactorily answered by his bishop and that the reasons for the bishop's cease and desist order are unrelated to any covenantal issues involving the Jewish people.

    * * *

    Sungenis’ bishop also purportedly threatened to “deprive him of his right to use the word ‘Catholic’ on his website and written material" in the summer of 2007.

    In early fall, 2007 the "Catholic" moniker was removed from the title of Sungenis' organization, which now operates under the name Bellarmine Theological Forum.

Historical summary provided by Wikipedia; a reading of "By Sungenis Alone" is recommended, as it provides detailed documentation on the conflict with his bishop.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Summary of Derek Holland Interview

The following is a response by Matt Anger, creator of Fringe Watch. Mr. Anger is a former acquaintance of Derek Holland, the European nationalist writer and intellectual, who has just been interviewed on the subject of the Middle East by Judith Sharpe of the "In the Spirit of Chartres" (ISOC) committee (see previous post).

Judith Sharpe speaks of "allegations" about Derek Holland. Well, there are the facts, which aren't alleging anything. Derek Holland was Chairman of the National Front (NF) and later a leader of the International Third Position (ITP). He still associates himself with the Political Soldier book, published originally by the NF and recently reprinted by Mr. Holland's associates in the European neo-fascist movement. A new Swedish version has been released with his approval.

The only part where "allegations" come in, perhaps, is where we refer to these activities as extremist. Let's leave off that label for a moment. It is safe to say that the ITP—as well as its predecessor and successor movements—publicly identifies itself with fascism, national socialism (Nazism), and similar ideologies. They are frequently sympathetic to Marxism as well. This is obvious in the case of Final Conflict (with the interesting domain name of, a belligerent skinhead fanzine set up by the ITP in the early 90s. The Third Position movement endorses political revolution, youth cults/cultural subversion, and racialist policies. I think it's safe to say that most people (not just "a few," as is claimed) draw the proper inferences.

If there are any allegations, they come from Mr. Holland. He derides opponents as "cowardly" for being anonymous. This is an interesting attitude. Third Positionists often write under pseudonyms. Mr. Holland has authored some major works of radical nationalist literature under the name of Liam Connolly. I also recall that it was standard practice in the ITP never, or very rarely, to disclose names. Anyone going back through their old publications will be struck by the lack of bylines or the use of fake names.

But why don't we address the topic of the Middle East? Actually, it's Mrs. Sharpes' fault. She does Holland a disservice by mentioning the political controversy up-front, and so one finds it odd that they spend so much time defending Holland's right to discuss foreign policy views before they even tell us what they are.

Should we listen to the message, rather than the messenger, as Holland asks us to? The problem is that Holland and John Sharpe, and their comrades, have never been particularly candid about their other activities. Yet neither will they disavow them. There is the Legion of St. Louis, set up by John Sharpe, promoting its anti-Semitic views (see related commentary). The site is now anonymous. Perhaps Holland will complain to his friend about this.

Mrs. Sharpe and Derek Holland lament the current controversy, saying there is no need for it. But controversy doesn't "just happen." People go looking for it. As for the stated foreign policy and economic positions of John Sharpe and Holland, we're not really interested in them. After all, there are plenty of other non-controversial anti-war commentators and proponents of Distributism we have never bothered to criticize. We we do criticize is the attempted marriage of Catholic faith and oddball political hobbies. If Sharpe, et. al should decide to drop the pretense of advocating Catholic Social Teaching, then we will, quite simply, drop the subject.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Upcoming Derek Holland interview with the "Spirit of Chartres Committee"

The "In the Spirit of Chartres" Commmittee announces on their website an upcoming interview (April 1, 2008) with "Derek Holland/D.L. O'huallachain", on "The Middle East Tragedy from a Catholic, Political, and Historical Perspective: Understanding the Reasoning Behind Mass Murder."

The "In the Spirit of Chartres Committee" (SPCC) was founded by John Sharpe’s parents, John, Sr. and Judith, in 1998. The committee sponsors two annual events in Phoenix, AZ: a “Spirit of Chartres” Pilgrimage modelled on the annual SSPX event in France and a Catholic Restoration Conference.

Among the books promoted by the SoCC: Andrew Hitchcock's The Synagogue of Satan, which "provides a chronological account of the invisible world government operating from within the worldwise Jewish community" (Excerpts from the book can be found here), Michael Hoffmann's Judaism's Strange Gods, Msgr. Jouin's The Holy See and the Jews, the notorious forgery The Protocol of Zion, along with the usual roster of books by Fr. Denis Fahey.

John Sharpe to speak at the 2008 Saint Benedict Center Conference

John Sharpe will be speaking at the twelfth annual Saint Benedict Center Conference, billed as the "the largest gathering of Catholic traditionalists in the United States" held in Richmond, New Hampshire.

For more information on the 'Saint Benedict Center', see Russ Provost's In a response to an inquiry last year, Edward J Arsenault, Moderator of the Curia, Manchester NH responded:

The Saint Benedict Center has no permission or authority to exercise any Ministry on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire. Bishop McCormack has and will continue to do all that he can to encourage people to refrain from participating in any of the spiritual exercises at the Saint Benedict Center.

For my part, I will continue to make it clear that Saint Benedict Center has no affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church in any way.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Anti-Semitism on the Rise in Germany?

Far-Right Attacks Reached New Record in Germany in 2007:
A record number of far-right attacks were perpetrated in Germany last year, according to a former government spokesman turned campaigner. Uwe-Karsten Heye, the founder of pressure group Gesicht Zeigen! (Show your Faces), said about 600 people were attacked by neo-Nazis last year.

Speaking in Berlin Monday, Heye warned about a rise in right-wing extremism, particularly in eastern Germany. According to Heye, there were 11 attacks on businesses run by immigrants in the eastern state of Brandenburg in 2007. "Behind the attacks is a strategy by neo-Nazis to destroy livelihoods and drive out immigrants," he said.

U.S. State Dept. releases report on "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism"

Report: Anti-Semitism on the rise globally CNN. March 14, 2008:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A report from the U.S. State Department details "an upsurge" across the world of anti-Semitism -- hostility and discrimination toward Jewish people.

"Today, more than 60 years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just a fact of history, it is a current event," the report says.

The report -- called Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism and given to Congress on Thursday -- is dedicated to the memory of the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, a survivor of the Holocaust, the extermination of 6 million Jews during World War II.

The report details physical acts of anti-Semitism, such as attacks, property damage, and cemetery desecration. It also lists manifestations such as conspiracy theories concerning Jews, Holocaust denial, anti-Zionism and the demonization of Israel.

"Over much of the past decade, U.S. embassies worldwide have noted an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, such as attacks on Jewish people, property, community institutions, and religious facilities," the report says.

The report also deals with efforts to combat the bigotry, described by Gregg J. Rickman, the department's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, as "one of the oldest forms of malicious intolerance."

The report says violent acts and desecration of Jewish property happen whether there are a lot of Jews or only a few living in the region. Bigoted rhetoric, conspiracy theories regarding Jews, and anti-Semitic propaganda are transmitted over the airwaves and on the Internet.

It says that although Nazism and fascism are rejected by the West "and beyond," blatant forms of anti-Semitism are "embraced and employed by the extreme fringe."

"Traditional forms of anti-Semitism persist and can be found across the globe. Classic anti-Semitic screeds, such as 'The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion' and 'Mein Kampf' remain commonplace.

"Jews continue to be accused of blood libel, dual loyalty, and undue influence on government policy and the media, and the symbols and images associated with age-old forms of anti-Semitism endure."

New forms of anti-Semitism are reflected in rhetoric that compares Israel to the Nazis and attributes "Israel's perceived faults to its Jewish character."

Monday, February 18, 2008

James Hitchcock on "Abortion and the Catholic Right"

"Abortion and the Catholic Right" by James Hitchcock. Human Life Review Spring 2007 -- a study of how the Catholic (re: "traditionalist") Right -- as represented by Joseph Sobran, Paul Likoudis and contributors to The Wanderer & The Remnant -- have been obsessed with their opposition to democratic-capitalism, "neoconservatives" and the Bush administration, to such an immense degree that they now hold the aformentioned issues as being "more pressing" than abortion -- even to the point of, in the case of The Wanderer, celebrating the defeat of Republican candidates.

Some food for thought / discussion:
The opposition of these conservative Catholics to the Bush administration has also led some of them to reject important pro-life allies. In their fierce denunciations of "neo-conservatives," Sobran and Likoudis ignore the fact that neo-conservatives, especially in the pages of their leading publication, The Weekly Standard, are among the few secular people enrolled in the prolife cause. TWS regularly publishes strong and highly intelligent articles against abortion, fetal-stem-cell research, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and other life issues, as well as against radical feminism and the homosexual movement. It is a moral conservatism that is not accidental, since "neoconservatives" are usually defined as people who became disillusioned with traditional liberalism on a variety of issues.

Similarly, Likoudis's dismissal of Santorum as merely a puppet of the White House and of a neo-conservative conspiracy impugned the integrity of a man who had been regarded as one of the most principled and effective Senate champions of traditional moral causes, and it is not at all clear whether Santorum was opposed primarily for his lapse in supporting Specter or for his heresy on other issues. Since his opponent was also pro-life, opposition to Santorum could be justified, but some of his Catholic critics implied that he had to be turned out of office without regard for the life issues.

Economics appears to be the engine that is now driving The Wanderer's stand on public issues, and establishing its priorities. Neither liberals nor conservatives, as those terms are understood in the U.S. today, represent classical Catholic social teachings. But since the U.S. is a predominantly capitalist country, the teachings criticizing capitalism appear more pertinent to our condition than do the teachings against socialism; so, to the degree that the Republican Party champions the free market, some Catholics draw the conclusion that it is in effect immoral to support Republican candidates.

While this is usually considered a liberal idea, in the pages of The Wanderer it has a conservative counterpart that is in many ways almost indistinguishable from the liberal position. The paper stops short of advising readers precisely how to vote in order to achieve true social justice, but its economic ideas seem logically to lead to the conclusion that only strong state action can overcome the plutocratic exploitation of the people, something that has been the premise of left-wing American politics since the 1890s. . . .

* * *
. . . Many, perhaps most, committed pro-lifers are former Democrats who were rejected by their party and found themselves welcomed by the Republicans. Most of those converts are probably not conservatives in a principled ideological way, so that their presence in the Republican ranks has the effect of helping facilitate the "betrayal" of conservative principles that Sobran and others decry.

Hard-core conservatives tend now to hearken back nostalgically to the days of Barry Goldwater, ignoring the fact the Goldwater turned out to be fanatically pro-abortion, as well as very liberal on most other social issues, something that gives pro-lifers little reason to want to be "true" conservatives. Sobran's way of dealing with the life issues can then be seen as the conservative counterpart to the liberals' "seamless garment"-an attempt to persuade pro-lifers to transcend their "narrow" outlook and support a wider agenda.

The widely held, apparently self-evident, assumption that the pro-life movement is the creature of the "religious Right" has blinded even most informed observers to the unexpected and intriguing fact that, for some on the Catholic part of "the Right," the life issues are no longer paramount, if they ever were.

James Hitchcock is a professor of history at St. Louis University, is the author of The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton University Press, 2004).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

E. Michael Jones / John Sharpe's appearance at Catholic U. opposed by SPLC

Catholic University nixes lectures, by Julia Duin. Washington Times February 13, 2008:
Catholic University abruptly canceled an 11-part lecture series, "Building Catholic Communities," on Monday, after the Southern Poverty Law Center complained that two of the scheduled lecturers are anti-Semites.

The university released a statement yesterday saying the lecturers "appear to espouse views that are contrary to the mission and values of Catholic University. In light of this development, the dean of the school decided to cancel the lecture series," referring to Randall Ott, dean of Catholic's school of architecture.

Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, called the school to complain about the participation of E. Michael Jones, editor of the South Bend, Ind.-based Culture Wars magazine, and John Sharpe, founder of the Norfolk-based IHS Press and the Legion of St. Louis, an Internet-based forum.

"We were surprised that Catholic University was allowing two raging anti-Semites on their campus," said Mr. Potok. "A simple Google search will show you the frightening ideology of these men."

"These are not the Latin Mass traditionalists," Mr. Potok said. "These are the people who reject Vatican II reforms. They are out of [actor Mel Gibson's father] Hutton Gibson's world, in saying that the Jews are destroying the world."

Some thoughts:

  • The prospect of "building Catholic communities" as a bulwark against secular culture (and presumably along with it the distributist theories of Chesterton and Belloc) seems innocuous enough. However, given John Sharpe's questionable ideological ties and views on the Jews (as one might gather from past online investigations), together with E. Michael Jones' own contributions, I agree that Catholic University of America is right to be cautious about the involvement of these men with any project.
  • That said, I also think the Southern Poverty Law Center -- being inexperienced in the doctrinal nuances of Catholicism and what constitutes "traditionalist Catholicism" -- really does more harm than good in addressing these matters, in that they tar 'traditionalist Catholics' with a wide brush. Not every "traditionalist Catholic" -- even those within the SSPX -- need be necessarily equated with its worst anti-semitic elements.
  • Many questions here: One being the question of academic freedom and whether a controversial figure with questionable views on the Jews ought to be permitted to speak on a topic other than that involving the Jews? To what lengths does "academic freedom" extend? (The same questions might pertain to Columbia University's invitation to Iranian president to address their university when he visited New York, with his own questionable background).
  • Another question: should Catholic University have done its homework on vetting those speakers at a conference before agreeing to be its host? Instead of cancelling at the last minute in such a manner as to appear to be "the lapdog to the SPLC"?
  • Another question: is it hypocritical of Catholic University to take this measure against figures deemed anti-semetic and not to do likewise with promoting (or hosting) other speakers/productions with anti-Catholic elements? (Georgetown Law School now funds student internships at abortion rights groups, and the controversial “Vagina Monologues” has been performed (or approved) on more than 100 Catholic campuses, including Notre Dame).
  • In his response to the fiasco (Anti-Semitism and Thought Control at Catholic University Culture Wars April 2008), E. Michael Jones remarks:
    When CUA president Daniel M. O’Connell meets with Notre Dame professors in private, he likes to brag about how orthodox and Catholic his university is in comparison to theirs. However, the recent cancellation of the Building Catholic Communities lecture series at CUA shows that there is no essential difference between these universities when it comes to compromising both academic freedom and the Catholic character of the university when subjected to pressure by groups like the SPLC. Father O’Connell, in fact, espouses what might be called the Jenkins doctrine of academic freedom: Vagina Monologues, Si! Oberammergau, No!

    The doctrine gets its name from the hapless president of Notre Dame University, Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, who as one of his first acts in office articulated a position on academic freedom which would allow the performance of the obscene Vagina Monologues but would ban a performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play. Which group thinks that obscenity is a protected form of expression but Passion Plays are not? If you’re answer to that question was the Jews, you have come a long way toward understanding how commissars like Mark Potok can impose Jewish forms of political correctness on Catholic institutions like CUA and Notre Dame. In his book, The Jewish Century, Yuri Slezkine opined that in becoming moderns we had all become Jewish. The same verdict applies a fortiori to Catholic academe in America. Combine the internalization of Jewish values that Slezkine mentioned, as manifested in the mind of John Jenkins, with the normal intellectual cowardice that one finds in Catholic academics and administrators, and you will find a situation where Catholics are eager to denounce other Catholics in a way that would make Stasi informers blush with shame.

    So, it would appear that according to E. Michael Jones (who insists "there is nothing anti-Semitic about anything I have ever said"), 'dem Jews are really to blame after all?
  • It does nothing to bolster Jones' case when forum posters, rushing to his defense, proclaim: ""Southern Poverty Law Center is a communist jew organization. That guy who runs it name Morris Deed is a Jew. Most likely this is another arm of the ADL" (and when the same forum thread -- predictably -- degenerates into a discussion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion).