As Pope Benedict makes his historic visit to Israel, several Cardinals, Bishops and priests continue to perpetuate the Church's long history of anti-Semitism. Photographs recently surfaced of Father Angelo Idi wearing a swastika as he makes a hail-Hitler salute at a neo-Nazi rally. He belongs to the same group of Fascists that include Bishop Richard Williamson—who persists in denying the Holocaust. But the Church's Jewish problem is not limited to marginal priests or excommunicated Bishops. At least two of the Church's most influential Cardinals, including one who was in the running for Pope Benedict’s job and who remains a leading candidate to replace him, are overt anti-Semites and proud of it.
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Meridiaga, who is the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has been telling anyone who is willing to listen that "the Jews" are to blame for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners!
The Jews? How did Cardinal Rodriguez ever come up with this ridiculous idea? Here is his "logic." He begins by asserting that the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that "the Jews" had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians.
The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media which they, of course, control to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal. Listen to Rodriguez's own words:
“It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago. Why? I think it's also for these motives: What is the church that has received Arafat the most times and has most often confirmed the necessity of the creation of a Palestinian state? What is the church that does not accept that Jerusalem should be the indivisible capital of the State of Israel, but that it should be the capital of the three great monotheistic religions?”
Rodriguez then goes on to compare the Jewish-controlled media with “Hitler,” because they are “protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against the Church.”
When asked whether he wanted to reconsider his attack, Rodriguez replied: “Idon't repent sometimes it is necessary to shake things up.”
The prime media culprit is, according to Rodriguez, The Boston Globe, which has won numerous journalistic awards for its exposure of the sex scandal and cover-up. The Globe is owned by The New York Times, which is controlled by the Sulzberger family. Hence the Jewish conspiracy.
The problem with this cockamamie theory is that the Jewish community of Boston was very close to, and admiring of, Cardinal Bernard Law, who presided over the archdiocese during the scandal. Law had built bridges between the Catholic and Jewish communities of Boston, and when the scandal was exposed by the very un-Jewish Boston Globe the Jewish community remained largely supportive of Law.
None of the leading media critics, lawyers or politicians who railed against the church was Jewish. Most were Catholic. But that didn't matter to the bigoted cardinal, who along with other classic anti-Semites believes that if there is a problem “the Jews” must be to blame for it.
As James Carrol, himself a Catholic, has characterized Rodriguez's “crackpot” mindset: “When the church has a problem here is the oldest move of all blame the Jews.” Nor is Rodriguez the only current cardinal afflicted with such bigotry.
Cardinal Joseph Glemp, the primate of Poland, has blamed the Jews for Polish communism, alcoholism and collaboration with Hitler. He also accused Jews of trying to kill nuns. Other high-ranking priests, especially in Central America and Poland, have leveled similar anti-Semitic accusations against the Jews and Israel.
These blood libels demonstrate that the Vatican still has a problem with anti-Semitism at the top levels of its hierarchy, even after Vatican II declared anti-Semitism to be "a sin." How can serial sinners like Cardinals Rodriguez and Glemp retain their statures as princes of the Church while continuing to preach blood libels against the Jews?
Anti-Semitism in the Catholic clergy transcends ideological lines. Bishop Williamson and Father Idi are fascists of the hard right. Cardinal Rodriguez is a leftist “liberation” theologist. Cardinal Glemp is just an old fashioned Polish anti-Semite who follows in the footsteps of his predecessors who were also Primates of the Polish Catholic Church (unlike Pope John Paul II, who was also Polish but was philosemetic.)
Pope Benedict is a good man who has generally continued the good work of his two predecessors toward the Jews. But the problem of anti-Semitism is getting worse in the Church, as it is in many parts of the world, especially in Central and South America. The growing influence and success of Cardinal Rodriguez, and the failure of the Pope to condemn his overt anti-Semitism, contributes to the legitimation of this sin among some of the Faithful. The time has come, indeed is long overdue, for Pope Benedict to speak out and to take firm action against the bigots in red hats that are sullying his papacy and wounding the moral authority of his Church.
1. Subsequently, the Anti-Defamation League reported, "In a conversation between Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, ADL explained to the Cardinal that his comments were offensive because they perpetuated an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jewish control of the media. The Cardinal apologized, said he never meant his remarks to be taken that way, and indicated that he would never say it again."