Friday, April 20, 2012

Anthea Butler Excoriates Attempt of Catholic Centrists to Give Cover to Anti-Semitism of Lefebvrists

At Religion Dispatches, Anthea Butler writes, "On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Catholic 'Liberal' Hails Return of Anti-Semitic Group."  Butler, who teaches religion at University of Pennsylvania, and whose work I've recommended here in the past (e.g., here), is commenting on Michael Sean Winters's article earlier this week at National Catholic Reporter carrying the headline, "Welcome Back Lefebvrists."

I noticed Winters's article yesterday, and as I noted in a subsequent posting, so did Betty Clermont in a powerful statement at Open Tabernacle, which points to how both Winters and his NCR colleague John Allen attempt to soft-sell the flagrant, toxic anti-semitism of leading members of the Society of St. Pius X.

Butler's take on Winters's soft-selling of the anti-semitism of SSPX:

Put another way, conservative anti-Semites are more valued and welcomed in the Catholic Church than women religious who engage the world through their faith. I think that says everything about the kind of "sheep" that NCR blogger Winters and the Vatican think are more important to the health of the Catholic Church. Like a really bad train wreck, I can't wait to see how all of this will turn out.

She's absolutely right.  Catholic centrists like Winters will bend over backwards to talk to anyone to the political and religious right of themselves, no matter how outrageous his or her ideas are.  But they'll treat those to the left of themselves as if they are non-existent.  Not in the room.

And certainly not welcome in the centrist power-conversation club.  Nor, as Butler notes, within the Catholic church, for that matter.  When it comes to the disappearance of progressives from the Catholic club, Catholic centrists predictably pretend that those to the left of center have placed themselves outside the club by their disobedience, and that they're ideologically driven (unlike those in the center and to the right of center), and don't deserve to be engaged.

Under the last two papacies, we've seen an ongoing realignment of the Catholic community from the top down, which deliberately seeks to make more and more members of the community unwelcome, while rehabilitating ideas and positions that large numbers of Catholics had assumed Vatican II had repudiated--e.g., anti-semitism.

Butler is correct to state that the simultaneous rehabilitation of SSPX (and its anti-semitism) and the attack by the Vatican on American women religious is a train-wreck in the making.  Quite precisely, it's a train wreck in which we're going to see some very ugly anti-semitism, which many of us had imagined the Catholic church had begun to rid itself of, pulled back into the light of day as the derailed cars are emptied of their freight following the wreck.

If you doubt that, just read some of the comments already piling up in response to Butler's essay, as well as in response to Winters's and other statements at the NCR site about the rehabilitation of SSPX.  In many of these comments, you can see an apologia emerging, which guts the Vatican II documents of their teaching that sister Christian churches are led by the Holy Spirit and other world religions are valid pathways to God, and which tries (astonishingly) to use Vatican II itself to argue for the illegitimacy of any path to God except the Catholic path.

A number of these comments also explicitly state--and this is shocking--that nothing about the Holocaust has doctrinal significance.  The implication: one can be a good and faithful Catholic and ignore the Holocaust.  Or, even worse, one can be a good and faithful Catholic and deny the Holocaust.

This maleficent stuff and nonsense is what Winters and other centrists now want to welcome back into the Catholic church, while they callously define out of the Catholic club even the large percentages of Catholics who approve of and practice artificial contraception.  Because they have been too craven to speak up to challenge the planning process leading to the train wreck, or because they are simply enthralled by power, they have now helped set into motion a situation in which which we're going to see outright denial of the Holocaust reassert itself in the one, holy, and apostolic Catholic church.

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