It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser. After Father Cantalamessa’s embarassing blather about the Church being the victim of anti-Semitism, now it’s Monsignor Babini of Grosseto’s turn to make the Vatican turn red. In an interview with the medieval website Pontifex, the venerable monsignor said what I am beginning to imagine a sizable amount of Vatican cronies actually believe (but are far too prudent to state openly): the pedophilia scandal is a “Zionist attack, given the force and sophistication…they don’t want the Church, they are its natural enemies. In the end, historically speaking, they murdered God.”
It gets better: “Don’t believe that Hitler was crazy. The truth is that the Nazi’s criminal fury was unleashed by the Jews’ excesses and ebezzlement, which strangled the German economy.”
Are you laughing yet, or crying? Babini then goes on to deride homosexuals, predictably accusing them of some sort of lobby to bring down the pope. Freemasons dutifully get theirs. In the end, there is not much to distinguish this interview, published on the internet in the year 2010, from the vitriolic attacks of the pre-war Osservatore Romano, or Der Sturmer.
But there is more than meets the eye here. The website Pontifex is in no obvious way an “official” organ of the Catholic Church. In fact, it’s nothing more than an ultra-traditionalist, obscurantist blog publishing the most disgusting, offensive and retrograde opinions imaginable anywhere in the “civilized” West. They flirt with exorcism, demonology, angelology and satanism. They are obsessed with Jews, homosexuals and sex. Nothing new here.
The interview was promptly retracted – according to Corriere della Sera – by the Italian Episcopal Conference. Apparently, Monsignor Babini denies having ever said such horrible things about Jews. The website Pontifex prompty shot back that Babini and the IEC are in the hands of the Jews. “All it takes is a sneeze by the American Jews for them to recant.”
Strong words by an integralist Catholic website. So strong you’d think the Vatican would distance itself from them immediately if they were making this stuff up. You know, so people don’t confuse bigoted, anti-Semitic Catholic bloggers with actual “official” declarations of the Catholic Church. With such tight control over what is said by the clergy, one would expect no less.
But the interview is still up. Is it a fake? Did Pontifex invent it out of whole cloth to voice their integralist opinions in no uncertain terms, hitching a ride on the back of Monsignor Babini and the good reputation of the Church itself? Would the two largest Italian dailies have published such words without some minimal fact-checking first?
I can’t say. But it isn’t much different from what we read in the Osservatore Romano, the official Church daily, in the not-so-far-away 1890’s: “Anti-Semitism ought to be the natural, sober, thoughtful, Christian reaction against Jewish predominance.” (David I. Kertzer, The Popes Against the Jews) We might also recall the Lefebvrian Bishop Richard Williamson, a holocaust denier, reinstated by Pope Benedict XVI last year. His choice words were: “There was not one Jew killed in the gas chambers. It was all lies, lies, lies.”
And just last week, on Good Friday, the pope’s personal preacher, Father Cantalamessa, had his fifteen minutes of infamy likening public outrage at the Church’s cover-up of pedofilia to “the worst aspects of anti-Semitism.” What are its best aspects, one might wonder?
The Church is spiraling downward in a maelstrom of scandal. It seems every time it opens its big unofficial mouth, it sticks a large official foot in. You can’t get away with this for very long, though. You can’t repeatedly make the same ignorant and offensive claims and then say you didn’t make them, or that they weren’t “official.” You can’t run from the law forever. Richard Dawkins just might catch up with you.