Skip to comments.The 'Synagogue of Satan' (Are Traditionalist Catholics an anti-Semitic threat?
Posted on 01/18/2007 6:42:00 AM PST by NYer
From a makeshift pulpit inside an Indiana Quality Inn, a baby-faced priest angrily denounces the Jews, saying they mean to "destroy all Christian nations."
In offices in State Line, Pa., an intense, bespectacled man tirelessly recounts how the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia "predicts the anti-Christ will come from Jewry" and warns of the Jews' role in the coming "New World Order."
At a gathering near the Philadelphia airport, men in priests' collars and brown monk's robes rage against the "Judeo-Masonic" conspiracy to destroy the Catholic Church, the "Marxist-Jewish" scheme to wreck American schools, and even an elaborate 9/11 plot, "predicted by the Blessed Virgin Mary 84 years ago."
For most Americans, the world of "radical traditionalist Catholicism" is so remote and little-known -- it entered the nation's consciousness, just barely, with revelations about the strident anti-Semitism of actor Mel Gibson and his father, Hutton -- that it may seem wholly irrelevant to the modern world. Is it really important what a group of people, many excommunicated and most gathered behind the walls of their monasteries and other institutions, think about the Jews? That many believe there was no Holocaust? That some say every pope since 1958 has been illegitimate, and a few even insist the real pope has been kidnapped?
The fact is, it does matter. As explained in a remarkable and sweeping story by the Intelligence Report's Heidi Beirich, the best estimates suggest there are 100,000 radical traditionalists in America, a number that appears to be growing. And while the size of this movement is dwarfed by the 70 million mainstream Catholics in this country, these energetic men and women are having an influence.
For one thing, the open anti-Semitism that characterizes the movement is leaking into other subcultures, some of them especially dangerous.
Last September, Father Nicholas Gruner, leader of the International Fatima Rosary Crusade and a key player in the radical traditionalist milieu, celebrated a special morning Mass at the Washington, D.C., conference of The Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial journal, also attended by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. In February 2006, John Sharpe, head of the Legion of St. Louis and another leading radical traditionalist, sold books at a conference of the racist magazine American Renaissance that also played host to neo-Nazi David Duke. (Last December, Duke spoke to a Holocaust denial conference hosted by the Iranian government.)
In one case, the simmering anti-Semitism of the radical traditionalists may even have affected the thinking of a serial-killing terrorist. A new book by Maryanne Vollers, Lone Wolf: Eric Rudolph: Murder, Myth, and the Pursuit of an American Outlaw, suggests that Rudolph may have been influenced by radical traditionalism, in addition to his known ties to the neo-Nazi theology of Christian Identity.
The movement also may be gaining influence on the larger political scene. A case in point is that of Christopher Ferrara, leader of the American Catholic Lawyers Association. Ferrara, who writes for the anti-Semitic, radical traditionalist journal The Remnant, was the lawyer for the family of Terri Schiavo and a key player, along with Republican and Christian Right leaders, in getting Congress to pass a law to keep the severely brain-damaged woman alive. It was later overturned.
In the United States, we are accustomed to thinking of race as the critical fault line splitting our society. But in the world at large, religion is just as divisive.
From Iraq to the former Yugoslavia to uncounted other regions, religiously based violence has recently torn apart societies that once included people of different faiths living together in peace. Even in the United States, with its strong tradition of religious pluralism, religious conflicts seem to be increasing almost yearly. One would think that radical traditionalists would understand this. After all, Catholics historically have been among the most despised minorities in America, with hatred of "papists" driving the Know Nothing party in the 1850s and swelling the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s to almost 4 million members. The same kind of demonization that Catholics were subjected to in the past is now being practiced by extremist Catholics who describe all Jews as the "synagogue of Satan."
check out the links at the above web site
First Center president and member of the board
Remove me from your ping list please.
This almost explains everything...
I wouldn't get too wrapped around the axle becasue of these guys... Fringe effects at best...IMHO
No question there are certain anti-Semitic tendencies within traditionalism. I think that "gathering near the Philadelphia airport" may be the Catholic Family News conference which I once attended. I was REALLY put off by some of the comments of the speakers, and in particular, the fact that the table next to ours was proudly selling "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion", that piece of crap fakery that keeps rearing its ugly head despite the fact that it is a known and proven fraud.
And the Remnant....well, IMHO that paper is closing in on itself and its owns self-delusions.
But I have to stick up for Ferrara here, in that I've never heard such nonsense from him--and I think the author of this piece is trying to tag him with guilt by association.
This article is inflammatory distortion. There have always been wackos in any religion, but in the Church they usually end up getting excommunicated or silenced (ala Fr. Coughlin, Fr. Feeney, etc.).
"Traditionalists" is a pretty broad category, and the author is making some real leaps in assigning guilt by association. Furthermore, some of the groups he is talking about are not even part of the Catholic Church, having gone their own way long ago.
His purpose is clearly to defame orthodox ("traditionalist") Catholics in general and also to imply that the pro-life movement is a hotbed of anti-Semitism and racism. Nothing could be further from the truth, but truth matters little to leftists like the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Know your enemies ;-)
So, if I understand this correctly, these guys are to the right of David Duke.
Too bad catholicism isn't premillennial. It would end a lot of this nonsense.
I have a question, which I do not ask rhetorically, since I really don't know the answer. Does the "mainstream" of the traditionalist movement openly and clearly condemn antisemitism? For example, have the bishops of the SSPX issued statements or pastoral letters plainly condemning antisemitism? And have they taken steps to purge whatever antisemites may be in leadership positions? have they attacked the "Jews and freemasons" talk that is popular at tha radical fringe?
We often make the point that Muslims, if they are sincere about Islam being a "religion of peace", should be louder in denouncing jihadism and Islamofascism. By the same token, the traditionalists should take the lead in denouncing antisemitism.
Ummm, I think we'll stick with the Divine Comedy over the Left Behind series, but thanks for the offer. ;)
On the contrary, they're often in the vanguard of those stoking these fires. Take for instance this quote from Bishop Richard Williamson of the SSPX:
"God puts in men's hands the "Protocols of the Sages of Sion" and the "Rakovsky Interview", if men want to know the truth, but few do."
Taken from Bishop Williamson's Letter Archive, May 2000
It's clear that this SSPX bishop considers the Protocols to be an excellent and reliable text. It's also seems quite likely that he has promoted this view, at least to some extent, within the Society.
Left Behind isn't exactly theology.
Whasisname LaHay had much more interest in dollars than in accuracy.
Gotcha. Lot of that going around in Christianity, unfortunately.
Marshmallow's right...unfortunately some of the bishops in the SSPX haven't exactly been encouraging in this area. My wife almost walked out of a Williamson homily once for just this reason.
That having been said, I'd say that the way things are shaping up, the "mainstream" of traditionalism is fast becoming indults rather than the SSPX. So it behooves us "indult" traditionalists (and even SSPXers) to speak out a bit more against the wackos so that we're not all painted with the same brush.
I've got no beef with honest folks who differ with certain aspects of Jewish-Catholic relations. I know Ferrara for one is very critical of the Association of Hebrew Catholics. But it's way beyond that in some circles. When you start seeing the Protocols bandied about, you know you're in trouble.
I don't see why the SSPX would have to - these other people, such as Gruner, etc. aren't members of it. To my knowledge, some of them aren't even "traditionalists" in the sense that this word is used in the Catholic Church, usually to refer to liturgical traditionalists. The claim of "antisemitism," based on the words of verious individuals, is being used as a very wide brush to tar a group that is hated by the leftists in (and outside of) the Church.
I'd be equally interested in seeing some of the pro-Palestinian leftist clergy in the ME apologize for some of the anti-Semitic remarks that occasionally make it into the press, but they'll never do that. Furthermore, you'll never hear the left (which is anti-Semitic itself) asking them to do so.
I am not a traditionalist, but Mark Potok is a professional leftist agitator, who makes money by scaring people into believing the next pogrom is right around the corner. I would take anything he says with a huge grain of salt.
SPLC is a bunch of communist agitators. They have a lousy reputation within the pro-gun cummunity for their inability to tell the truth.
Folks, Mr. Mark Potok sent me this message in reaction to my blogpost, which I now want to share with you:
Thanks for the heads up. I have a couple of responses to your response. First, I'm somewhat mystified as to how my editorial got posted to various traditionalist blogs without the bloggers noticing at all that in fact this was just the lead-in to a huge package of news stories about the radical traditionalists. There are, in addition to the editorial, about six highly detailed stories, including one that includes detailed profiles of 12 major radical traditionalist groups. People are taking the editorial as the whole story, and that's not remotely true. I'm amazed at this, but there it is -- there's another 20,000 words or so on this, completely unnoticed.
Here's the url that will get you to the whole package. Three of the sidebars are right next to the main; the fourth, "The Dirty Dozen," is listed in the right navigation bar:
My second point, re your criticism of us for not drawing a sufficient distinction between radical traditionalists and traditionalist, I refer you to the follow paragraph in our main story:
"Vatican II did not ban these time-honored celebrations, and many Catholics who call themselves "traditionalists" continue to worship in this manner in churches that remain an official part of the Holy See (these churches are awarded an "indult" that allows them to continue celebrating the Latin Mass). The vast majority of those who practice Catholicism in this older form are unrelated to the radical traditionalist Catholics who gathered in Philadelphia. Indeed, the groups that gave presentations at the CFN conference preach a theology specifically rejected by the Vatican, and many have been declared schismatic, or officially separated from the church."
I appreciate your comments, your interest, and your courtesy in letting me know what you'd written. I'd be curious to know what you think about the whole report, as opposed to my summarizing editorial up front. Perhaps you could even post it to the traditionalist sites that also, apparently, have mistaken the editorial for the entire package of stories.
Director, Intelligence Project
Editor, Intelligence Report
Mr. Potok...if you're reading this, thanks for the clarification. I will read your stories, and am glad you distinguished between CFN and other traditional groups.
For what it's worth, I'm a self-professed traditionalist. I've been to SSPX Masses, and have been a CFN conference in Philly. But I've no patience for anti-Semitism, and I am losing any patience I once had with both those groups because of it.
Well, I did notice that this editorial was a portal into a much larger story and commented as much above. It is also worth noting that Mr. Potok makes the distinction that he is referring to a small group of catholics, while noting the majority do not share these views.
I grew up with the pre-VCII Latin Mass as a child, and retain fairly clear memories (albeit it through childish eyes) of the Catholic Church during that period. One very clear recollection is that of Palm Sunday when the Passion was read. At that Mass we prayed for the conversion of the Jews. At NO time, was I ever subjected to anti-semitism or any revilement of the Jewish people!
I mention this as an observer to the moder trend of 'traditionalism'. Other than the desire to celebrate the Mass in Latin, I have personally witnessed in this forum, a select group of individuals who consider themselves adherents of 'traditionalism' , castigate the Jews, without any semblance of reason. They have since left FR and opened up their own discussion forum where they continue to attack those who mean them no harm.
While I have not pursued Mr. Potok's articles (other than the editorial posted), he provides fairly solid support for his arguments. In a random search of the Internet, using "gruner jews", I came across many articles. The following statement appeared on The Fatima Network
A June 2 Zenit report relates that a small book of unpublished writings by Sister Lucy was to be released in Italy. The date for publication was scheduled for June 10.
Described as a 64-page booklet entitled “The Message of Fatima”, it was edited by the Carmel of Coimbra and issued by the “Little Shepherds’ Secretariat.”
The report says Sister Lucy had worked on the writings as far back as 1955, at the request of the then Superior General of the Order. The text was sent to the Vatican by the order of Pope Paul VI, but remained “forgotten in the Vatican Archives”, says Father Vechina, Sister Lucy’s confessor, in the book’s Introduction.
In 1982, this same Father Vechina, then-Provincial of the Order of Discalced Carmelites, invited Sister Lucy “to write all the details that refer to the Message of Fatima from the beginning.” The Zenit report did not make clear how Sister Lucy’s post-1982 writings were merged with the 1955 text for this latest publication.
The beginning of the book, according to Zenit, seems to be a conventional recap of the story of Our Lady’s visitations to the children at Fatima in 1917.
But if the Zenit report is true, the book strikes a jarring note when it treats of a certain aspect of World War II.
True, on July 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima predicted the outbreak of a new war “worse” than World War I, which would begin during the reign of Pius XI. But in commenting on World War II, reports Zenit, Sister Lucy is allegedly to have written that history witnessed, “the outbreak of an atheist war against the faith, against God and against the People of God. A war that sought to exterminate Judaism from which Jesus Christ, the Virgin and the Apostles came, who transmitting to us the Word of God and the gift of faith, hope and charity, a people chosen by God, chosen from the beginning: ‘salvation is from the Jews’.”1
This preoccupation with Jews and today’s Jewish religion is foreign to anything we find in Sister Lucy’s previous writings. It is the rhetoric of post-conciliar ecumenism, not that of Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words. It suggests that another hand — other than Sister Lucy’s — scribed this part of the text.
The Jewish religion as practiced today has virtually nothing in common with the religion of the Israelites of the Old Testament, the religion practiced by Jews during the time of Christ. This religion of the Israelites came to an end with Our Lord’s death on the Cross by which He established His New Covenant that made obsolete the Old.
The alleged passage from Sister Lucy thus muddies the waters between the religion of the Israelites of the Old Testament, and the present-day Jewish religion which is primarily based on not the Old Testament, but on man-made works called the Kabbalah and the Talmud. Worse, the Talmud contains unspeakable blasphemy against Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother.
If anyone is 'muddling the waters', it is the author. He has neglected to consider the writings of St. Paul to the Romans, where he talks about the ingrafting. This image appears in Chapter 11 of his Letter to the Romans.
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Here is the definitive statement in Sacred Scripture that when the Old Covenant, which had been restricted to the Jews, was opened up to all peoples in the New Covenant, it did not mean that God removed His special election from the Jews - not even from those Jews who did not recognize Him.
Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
"... let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs for ever."
Here St. Paul states that God Himself "darkened" the eyes of the Jews that they might not recognize Jesus as the Messiah, even down to the present time. "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day." It was God who "hardened" them, "darkened" their eyes. Paul clearly states that in some mysterious way, it was part of God's Providence that some Jews should remain unable to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
Who are we to question God's divine plan?
Don't ping me anymore to your Communist propaganda.
I don't believe ANYTHING that comes out of Morris Deas' organization!
I have been Catholic all my life and have never been subjected to anti-Semitism. I have to admit I feel a little anti-Semetic when I see Jews criticize Catholics and Christians. I understand they may feel threatened, but it's not valid or fair from my perspective.
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This is a load of horse manure.
I'm not especially sympathetic to some of these movements, but they don't waste their time on antisemitism. Actually, people like Fr. Gruner are much too busy bashing the Vatican to worry too much about Jews.
and Catholics have never critized Jews. Have you ever read the New Testament?
Um, I guess I'm an extremist.
There is one on this forum who regularly compares Catholics to Nazis, with no repurcussions.
Actually, I think some definitions are in order. Are we speaking of Pius X traditionalists or conservative Catholics who consider themselves traditionalists because they seek out Latin Masses whether Indult Tridentine or Novus Ordo? My understanding from one who has worked with Ferrara on several articles is that he is of the later group. I am amazed that anyone associated with Catholic Family News would be selling "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," but I have never been to one of their conferences, or met Ferrara. I also find it troubling that anyone calling themselves Catholic would sell this book but then I'm troubled by Nancy Pelosi and those who like to hide the Tabernacle around the corner, down the hall and next to the bathroom.
Sounds like a lot of broad brush painting is going on.
Because I have met several people involved in Assoc. of Hebrew Catholics I'm curious as to what his objections are. Could you point me to an article so I can read it? I live in So. East Michigan so there are a number of groups centered in this area Ferrara has a problem with.
When pre-Vatican II liturgies for Good Friday referenced "perfidious Jews" as bearing some special responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ, that reference was hardly a bedrock of our Catholic Faith. Further, it references a small number of Jews in a crowd in Jerusalem orchestrated by the High Priest of the Temple into responding to Pilate's: What then shall I do with Jesus Christ? by saying: Crucify him! Crucify Him!" The pious Jewish women who were preparing the Passover Seder for their families in towns wherever Jews lived were not referenced as "perfidious." Nor were the Jewish scholars lovingly contemplating Torah with their families or students. Nor the simple Jewish workmen of whatever degree of piety or not who were busy as carpenters, vineyard workers, mechanics, farmers, etc. Nor is "perfidious" some sort of default description of all Jews then and now. Joseph, Mary, Jesus, Peter and each other Apostle, Joseph of Arimethea, St. Paul, St. Stephen and each other Christian before the Council of Jerusalem were Jews by ancestry. Certainly the liturgy did not reference them as "perfidious" simply because they were Jews ancestrally.
Those who recognize Willie Horton as a murderer are not claiming that all blacks are murderers. Likewise, Charles Manson and whites or Carlos the Jackal and Hispanics.
Nonetheless, is it reasonable to assume that many in the Church hierarchy thought, and reasonably so, that many in the pews were not making the appropriate distinctions as to "perfidious" Jews especially a mere two decades after the Holocaust. Shamefully, anti-Semitism (the actual generalized kind) was all too common in the pews back in those days when I was growing up.
Annas and Caiphas may have been Temple officials but that does not bind us as Catholics to honor their remarkable second response to Pilate who said: But I find no fault in this Man! To which, Annas and/or Caiphas replied: Let His Blood be upon us and upon our children! (not that Anyone had authorized Annas and/or Caiaphas to bring curses and punishment upon those not present and therefore not guilty of the specific sins of Annas and Caiaphas and their associates/Misery apparently loved company even then!). Those present and screaming: Crucify Him! bear moral guilt for their sins as do we all. Jesus Christ was crucified for the sins committed and to be committed by all mankind and not just by Jews. Other than Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in the history of all mankind has been sinless and therefore free of guilt for the necessity that God the Father send His only begotten Son to be crucified in atonement for OUR sins?
I sincerely hope that this Mark Potok is not related to the superb Jewish novelist, scholar and University of Pennsylvania professor Chaim Potok who wrote The Chosen, The Promise and My Name is Asher Lev, among others, and a surprisingly conservative and anti-soviet non-fiction account of his experiences visiting Jews persecuted by the soviets which apparently had quite an effect on his own ideology which had been somewhat naive.
Mark Potok, in any event, does not display as sophisticated an understanding of the nuances in Catholicism as Chaim Potok displayed as to the tapestry of Judaism and its schools of thought. This is not surprising since Mark Potok, related or not, works for the egregious Southern Poverty Law Center which lacks a reputation for scholarship or integrity.
Eric Rudolph (who bombed the Birmingham abortion mill and remained at large for several skillful years in the southern mountains) seems rather unlikely to be a Catholic at all much less a traditionalist Catholic (an ill-defined term if ever there was one). He may have meant to name James Kopp, a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism and became a devotee of the Tridentine Mass while hiding in Ireland, participated in Operation Rescue, shot and killed abortionist Dr. Slepian at Slepian's home in suburban Buffalo, New York. That was Kopp's act and not that of other Catholics, much less that of all Catholics.
As one who prefers the Tridentine Mass, I would argue that "Traditionalist" as an adjective modifying "Catholic" ought not to be applied to those merely doing the light lifting of preferring (a matter of taste, really) the Tridentine Mass over the Novus Ordo but rather to those who, whatever their preferred liturgy, are first and foremost Catholics "in communion with the Holy See," recognizing and submitting to papal authority and obedient to a fault in all things moral. This means, at minimum, that "traditional" Catholics cannot be those excommunicated or reveling in their naked defiance of and contempt for papal authority that has always been the hallmark of the SSPX schism.
I have no idea of whether or not Fr. Gruner said Mass at an anti-Semitic conference. For Catholics to shun Fr. Gruner should require no more than his absolute refusal to obey his ecclesiastical superiors despite his sacred vow of obedience taken before God at his ordination. Likewise all SSPX priests and clergy for the same reason. There is no question that some of them, like Bishop Williamson, are also barking anti-Semitic moonbats and Holocaust deniers (therefore out of touch with historic reality as well).
If the answer to any question is a promotion of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as factually true or intellectually respectable, then it must have been an uncommonly silly question.
As always, NYer, may God bless you and yours.
I think too much is read into the term "perfidious." It simply means faithless, and can be just as easily applied to pagans and infidels. In this case, it is a cognitive translation from the Latin, which is not meant to be as perjorative, not simply a statement of fact. It does not have the same import as it would when applied to a forger or double-agent.
I've read books by Chaim Potok - very good author. "My Name is Asher Lev" is very good and amusing, especially when the young artistically gifted kid responds to a bully by drawing a picture of the bully being dragged into hell by demons. He leaves the picture where the bully can find it, and from then on the bully did everything he could to avoid Asher Lev!
As far as Mark Potok, Morris Dees probably said that the SPLC swimming pool needs a new set of marble tile, so go out and find a threat we can make some money on.
And to yours! God bless all of you, on your journey home! Thank you for the support.
I've not seen that one. I'll have to pay closer attention.
Can someone let me know next time these folks have a conference? I want to set up a tinfoil hat stand!
Why does everyone in a black suit w/ a white collar tab, or anyone in roughspun robes have to be Catholic? I'm not convinced here that we're talking about members of our fold.
Typical for the Southern Poverty Law people... Maybe we could follow suit, and use Jim Bakker as our model for any discussion about protestantism.
Great comments, thanks!
God bless you and yours!
He may have written about it in the Remnant, I'm not sure as we don't get that anymore.
But I think there is a chapter in his book on EWTN ("A Network Gone Wrong"--the one with an empty nun's habit on the cover) about it. It's been a while since I read it so I hope I'm not mischaracterizing his argument, but I remember him as saying that organizations like the AHC are essentially "Judaizers"--in the same or a similar sense as the opponents of St. Paul.
I have also met people in the AHC and went to one of their conferences in NYC. Nice folks...and they run the gamut of opinion among themselves. I know Roy Schoeman is somewhat critical himself of *some* of the aspects of the AHC..he's more on the trad side of things.
Which makes a funny dynamic in itself...the trads think you're too pro-Jew, and the Hebrew Catholics think you're too trad. Oh well. :)
Exactly! HUUUUUGE amounts on all sides. Much ink could be spared if people just took it easy and *listened* to what the other person was saying rather than a) jumping to conclusions and b) focusing on being "right" all the time. It really makes me nuts.
Basically the way I use "traditionalist" is....which Mass would you rather go to on a weekly basis...the 62 Missal or the 69 Missal. How other people use it I dunno.