Saturday, April 03, 2010

Department of Really Bad P.R.

Did you hear the new one? First, it turns out that the abused Catholic children were post-pubescent, as if this makes it okay for priests to sexually molest underage children. Then it's that the abusing priests are deviant homosexuals just practicing their homosexuality (blame it on the gays). And now Father Cantalamessa's Good Friday Homily is the height of revolting sophistry. First he tries to deflect the topic he should be addressing. And I quote (bold letters are mine):

I am not speaking here of violence against children, of which unfortunately also elements of the clergy are stained; of that there is sufficient talk outside of here. I am speaking of violence to women. This is an occasion to make persons and institutions that fight against it understand that Christ is their best ally.
Huh? Wouldn't the Good Friday Homily be an excellent place to admit wrongdoing and promise change and justice? I guess not. Then comes the part that has everyone in a tizzy:
By a rare coincidence, this year our Easter falls on the same week of the Jewish Passover which is the ancestor and matrix within which it was formed. This pushes us to direct a thought to our Jewish brothers. 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. I received in this week the letter of a Jewish friend and, with his permission, I share here a part of it. He said: "I am following with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope and all the faithful by the whole world. 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. Therefore I desire to express to you personally, to the Pope and to the whole Church my solidarity as a Jew of dialogue and of all those that in the Jewish world (and there are many) share these sentiments of brotherhood. Our Passover and yours undoubtedly have different elements, but we both live with Messianic hope that surely will reunite us in the love of our common Father. I wish you and all Catholics a Good Easter."
With all due respect, unless this anonymous, mysterious Jew is a Jew for Jesus, no self-respecting Jew would ever say anything of the sort. For Jews, the abuses of the Catholic Church are an instance of "so what else is new?". Father Cantalamessa, no doubt versed in the arts of rhetoric, is being rather elliptical by neglecting to mention that most of the collective violence against the Jews and the antisemitism he is eager to quote was instigated directly by the Catholic Church through the centuries. 
Two, nobody is collectively blaming all Catholics. People for once are blaming the people who need to be blamed, but this is a device that intends to conflate and confuse the innocent people of Catholic faith with the perpetrators and with the people in power who have aided and abetted them.
If indeed a real Jew wrote this despicable letter, which nauseatingly sides with the perpetrators and further denigrates the victims, and which to my ears sounds like an arcane rhetorical conceit, it would be nifty to know who it was so we could excommunicate him or her. Indignation should not be misdirected against the victims, or other minorities (as Church spokesmen have attempted), but squarely against the perpetrators. That a Jew is indignant over the mistreatment of the poor Catholic Church by a justly outraged world is so twisted, so wrong, so perverse, and sounds so utterly false, that my brain is becoming a pretzel just trying to articulate why this homily is so insidious, revolting and destructive.
To compare the people who have a genuine grievance against child rapists and their apologists with antisemites is beyond false. To compare the persecution and hatred of the Jews to the cries for justice in the cases of child abuse by priests is beyond reprehensible. It is obscene.
But then again, what else is new?

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