|The Rise of Militant Christophobia
|Tradition Under Fire from Left-Wing Extremists
Michael J. Matt
|Editor, The Remnant
Jim Caviezel plays Jesus Christ in the film that "outed"
Christophobia in America: The Passion of the Christ
(Posted February 8, 2007 www.RemnantNewspaper.com) My telephone rang one afternoon last fall. The caller identified herself as Rhonda Brownstein—a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups in America and was conducting an “investigation” of the traditional Catholic movement in the United States.
I had only vague familiarity with the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) at the time, recalling that they’d had something to do with forcing Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his Alabama courthouse in 2004.
It came as somewhat of a surprise, then, to learn the SPLC had targeted The Remnant as part of a network of traditional Catholic hate groups, evidently deserving the same fate as Judge Moore’s Ten Commandments.
I was astonished to learn that Ms. Brownstein’s first order of business was to ascertain which parts of Vatican II The Remnant rejects. I couldn’t believe my ears! Compliance with Vatican II is now a litmus test for Far-left organizations that monitor hate groups and report their findings to local and federal law enforcement agencies? I have come to expect such questions from our neo-Catholic critics, but the Southern Poverty Law Center?
Ms. Brownstein continued: Aren’t you concerned that your heroes—Fathers Fahey and Coughlin—are also heroes of the Jew-hating, neo-Nazi movement?
Having been taught from childhood on that it was my sins that put Christ on the Cross, and being reasonably confident that a skinhead wouldn’t know Father Fahey from Father Christmas, I wished Ms. Brownstein a good day.
This was the fall of 2006. By January 2007 the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Intelligence Report” was announcing the findings of a three-year investigation into traditional Catholicism. Therein The Remnant is described as “anti-Semitic” and part of a “Dirty Dozen” network of “hate groups” (made up of everyone from Archbishop Lefebvre and the Society of St. Pius X to John Vennari and Catholic Family News to Joe Sobran to Fr. Nicholas Gruner, Fr. Denis Fahey, Fr. Charles Coughlin and Fr. Leonard Feeney and moving all the way over to Hutton Gibson and beyond) that is at least partially responsible for unleashing Mel Gibson on the world. Huh?
The charges also included rejecting the “teachings of the modern papacy”, opposing Zionism, and “consistently attacking Nostra Aetate”, which, according to the “Intelligence Report,” is “the Vatican proclamation seeking to reconcile with the Jews.”
I don’t know if anyone at the SPLC actually sat down and read Nostra Aetate (the document of Vatican II which deals with Catholic relations with all non-Christians, including Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists and Jews) but I would imagine that if they had, they’d condemn it as anti-Semitic, as well. For as the document declares: “True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ…” According to the lexicon of political correctness this is bald-faced hate speech! So what’s the problem, SPLC? If we have been “constantly attacking Nostra Aetate”, as the SPLC contends, perhaps they should consider giving us a Morris Dees Award.
Another major problem, according to the SPLC, is our "most extreme columnist"-- Robert Sungenis. The SPLC’s “three-year investigation” evidently missed the fact that Mr. Sungenis’ short-lived tenure with The Remnant came to a screeching halt back in 2005 when we terminated our working relationship and removed his work from The Remnant’s website, not because of some bogus charge of anti-Semitism against him, but because of irreconcilable differences over the Society of St. Pius X, the level of authority of certain pronouncements of Vatican II and other traditionalist issues.
The SPLC’s scattergun exposé is all over the place. Fraught with inaccuracies. Spewing so much mud at so many different groups that one gets the feeling they’re just sort of hoping at least some of it might actually stick. Not surprising since, at least according to a recent Human Events exposé, the SPLC is more or less in the business of manufacturing mud. Matthew Vadum’s “Southern Poverty Law Center Pushes Twisted Definition of ‘Hate’” on the Human Events website (December 11, 2006) sheds some light on how this outfit operates:
The SPLC understands the importance of language. It fights what it labels “hate,” “intolerance” and “discrimination,” but it defines those terms very differently than most Americans would. To the center, you practice “hate” whenever you fail to genuflect with politically correct reverence before every human difference.
In the SPLC’s world, armies of the night are forever on the march. Cross-burnings, lynchings and rampant racial discrimination are omnipresent. Those who question the SPLC’s approach to race are blacklisted as contemptible bigots.
The center lumps all sorts of groups on America’s political right together, labeling them enemies of the Republic. Conservative, libertarian, anti-tax, immigration reductionist and other groups are all viewed as legitimate targets for vilification.
Nevertheless, it would be foolhardy to dismiss what the SPLC is trying to do. These skilled fundraisers know perfectly well what comes to mind when most people read words like “hate group”, “racists” and “anti-Semites”— images of brown shirts, white hoods and burning crosses, of course!
This powerful organization with its millions of dollars is evidently attempting to superimpose the loathsome image of lunatical, goose-stepping, cross-burning extremists upon peaceable Americans kneeling in prayer, running rosary beads through their fingers, raising their children—hating no one, threatening no one, wishing no harm to anyone. America’s largest hate group? Please!
Even the SPLC’s own Mark Potok in the “Synagogue of Satan” section of the “Intelligence Report”, which reads like a somewhat desperate attempt to justify to his donors this three-year waste of time and resources, seems to be worried that this one might not fly. He writes:
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.
Okay, Mark, if you say so! Who’s next? The Amish?
The Remnant’s Long Opposition to Hitler and His Insane Followers
So, what to do? A bogus and defamatory link is being painstakingly forged between traditional Catholics and neo-Nazis, racists, militant holocaust deniers, white separatists and, by extension, who knows what else. One might have expected that since The Remnant has never set foot in those fever-swamps (and in fact has consistently inoculated its readership against the fever), we might have been spared this branding as racists in bed with neo-Nazis.
(See photo of Joseph Matt, Papal Knight of St. Gregory, (grandfather of Remnant Editor, Michael J. Matt) receiving the German government’s Bundesverdienstkreuz, the Federal Meritorious Cross, in 1956 for his contributions to the fight against the scourge of Nazism.)
Evidently, the SPLC’s “three-year investigation” failed to unearth a relatively recent editorial of mine which by rights should prompt an immediate retraction from the SPLC. The article is entitled “Enough With Hitler, Already: Revising Revisionist History” and it appeared on Page 13 of our February 28, 2003 issue (Volume 36, No. 3). Consider the following excerpt, which deals with one or two rogue invaders of our movement who'd attempted to hitch their wagons to traditionalism in order to pursue an agenda all their own:
They believe themselves to be well-informed on the “Jewish question” and therefore feel justified, nay, duty-bound, to make the rather Olympian mental leap which would deny that the crimes committed by Hitler and the Nazi Reich are based in reality. These crimes, they tell us, are merely the concoctions of Russian Communists and the “Jewish-controlled mass media,” and to defend Hitler is in some sense, God alone knows which, to be faithful to Christ the King.
It goes without saying that there could not be, in our opinion, a more dangerous attitude nor a more reckless strategy than this. It fosters such a knee-jerk reaction against revisionist history that it quickly dissolves into the very thing which it set out to oppose.
Allow me to recall some personal family history at this point that is germane to the discussion. We are, after all, giving due consideration to a period of time that is only sixty years removed from the present. There are many people living today who remember it well. My recently deceased father, for example—a first generation German-American—spent three years of his life fighting the Nazis in Africa and Italy for the U.S. Army.
Was he—a trained Catholic journalist—the victim of the "Jewish-controlled mass media" at the time? I have in my possession his wartime diary; his sentiments against the Nazis were even more strident because he, like most German-Americans, regarded the Fuehrer’s mad lust to dominate the world as the cause of Germany’s greatest national humiliation.
His father, who immigrated to this country from Germany when he was a young man, spent the war years launching salvo after salvo against Hitler and National Socialism in the Wanderer, and organizing anti-Nazi protests here locally in St. Paul. Hundreds of German-Americans would, at his behest, gather each week to voice total opposition to National Socialism. (The news stories and the accompanying pictures detailing this effort are readily available in the Wanderer archives.)
Were they, too, duped by the Jews?
And when the renowned Hollywood actor, Orson Welles, [see accompanying news photo of Walter Matt (founder of The Remnant) receiving the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement during World War II in the European theatre...against the Nazis] accused the Wanderer of being soft on the Nazis, my grandfather, my uncles and their lawyers took Mr. Welles to court and won. So public and so vociferous had been the opposition to Hitlerism in the pages of the Wanderer that the court proceedings didn’t last long. Mr. Welles paid up. (Back in those days the Supreme Court had not yet made it practically impossible for a “public figure” to win a libel suit.)
I remember as a child listening to Marilee Benziger of the famous Benziger publishing family recount to my parents and to their friend, Father Urban Snyder (R.I.P.), her personal experiences in an underground railroad of sorts that was used to spirit children, Jews and Christians alike, out of Germany during the war. Her stories about the appalling suffering of children under the Nazis were almost unbearable. The Benziger sisters were honored by Pope Pius XII himself after the war for their heroics on behalf of the children’s war relief.
Were these courageous German Catholics also the victims of “Jewish propaganda”, who should have been defending Hitler rather than sorting through the bombed-out shambles he’d made of Europe, looking for half-dead children?
How about Dietrich von Hildebrand, the renowned opponent of Nazism…the man Franz von Papen, Germany’s ambassador to Vienna, frequently described to Adolf Hitler as a “most dangerous enemy of National Socialism”. Does anyone seriously imagine that von Hildebrand was risking his life because of mere “Jewish propaganda” and that he’d somehow failed to notice that “Hitler wasn’t all that bad”?
Apparently so, at least according to a few folks out there these days, some of whom have the audacity to claim to be traditional Catholics, who now insist—sixty years after the fact—that Hitler was maligned, that he was basically a good guy who opposed Communism, and that his evil deeds are the invention of the Jews.
The SPLC wouldn’t have had to dig very deep to find this and dozens of other Remnant articles that form a consistent pattern of opposition to the racist, anti-Semitic skullduggery that the ill-informed SPLC now seeks to hang around the necks of traditionalists.
How ironic that even a casual visitor to the History section of our web site will immediately see that, far from “hating Jews”, The Remnant numbers among its closest friends and advisors, a Jew. The Remnant’s chaplain for almost 40 years was Father Harry Marchosky—a Jewish convert at whose 50th jubilee I delivered the keynote address a couple of years ago. Fr. Marchosky spent his vacations at my family home when I was a child, and became like a second father to me. But somehow, according to the SPLC, which defines anti-Semitism simply as “hating Jews”,1 I’m still a Jew-hating anti-Semite?
Anti-Semitism is a Mortal Sin
If we tradition-minded Catholics were not the sort to care about the fate of the soul, why in heaven’s name would we be engaging in a cause, which, humanly speaking, is irredeemably lost and laughably wanting in power and money? Death, judgment, heaven and hell are the realities that concern us. Anti-Semitism, on the other hand, is hate; and hate is a mortal sin. We reject anti-Semitism, therefore, as it is defined in dictionaries and moral theology manuals old and new, secular and religious.
In fact, I challenge the SPLC to find a single instance of expressed hatred for the Jews printed anywhere in these columns or posted on our web site now or at any time in the past. If they want to hang us from the tree of political correctness for being pro-Christ, pro-Catholic, fine! Guilty as charged. But it is a gratuitous lie to suggest we are racists or that we hate anyone.
I have never in my life committed a ‘hate crime’ but I can tell you this much: thanks to the SPLC, I now know how it feels to be the victim of one! To paraphrase the Duke of Norfolk’s words to Thomas More, this isn’t the Soviet Union, you know; this is America! But America is clearly undergoing a radical transformation in the image and likeness of militant Christophobia, which will suppress freedom of speech, freedom of religion and, ultimately, freedom of thought itself if God-fearing Americans don’t WAKE UP!
Welcome to George Orwell’s nightmare.
The Real Hate Crime
The SPLC’s exposé is entitled The New Crusaders. It was written by Heidi Bierich and includes the following subtitle: “The radical traditionalist Catholics, who reject the teachings of the modern papacy, may form America’s largest group of anti-Semites.”
This subtitle is curious by any standard of Catholic opinion—be it traditional, conservative, or neo-Catholic. Are we to conclude that the SPLC—an organization that seeks to ban the display of the Ten Commandments—in fact blesses and approves the “teachings of the modern papacy”? Does the SPLC share Pope Benedict’s recently stated opinion that legal unions between homosexuals are “dangerous and counterproductive”, for example?
Obviously, there’s something more sinister going on here. Could it be that this attack against our tiny “federation of warring tribes” is actually an attack on Catholicism itself—on 2,000 years of magisterial Church teaching, saints, popes and Catholic history? Are we the last representatives of the sort of Catholicism feared most by the enemies of Christ?
Could it be that our heads are being placed on Traitors Gate to serve as warning to all who refuse to accept that what came before Vatican II must be apologized for and forgotten by those desirous to live in peace under the new regime? Why else would a group that opposes the display of the Ten Commandments be chastising us—CATHOLICS!—for failing to properly appreciate the 16 decrees of the Second Vatican Council and the “teachings of the modern papacy”?
Are they just paranoid? Or do they have such good reason to be frightened of the power of Catholic Tradition that even now they worry it could rise up out of the ashes of the revolution of Vatican II? Is this why we’re being vilified and divided even by powerful non-Catholic entities?
The “Intelligence Report” goes to considerable lengths to exploit the differences between traditionalists and neo-Catholics. It favorably quotes Alphonse Matt, editor of The Wanderer, for example, against yours truly, while curiously glossing over the fact that Joe Sobran and Pat Buchanan (two favorite bogeymen of the SPLC) are lead columnists for that newspaper.
They promote former Remnant columnist turned critic, Stephen Hand, to the level of “respected Catholic theologian”… a factual error that will cause even Mr. Hand to wince.
Most tellingly, SPLC zeroes in on precisely the issues that have divided the SSPX and the Ecclesia Dei societies since 1988, charging Archbishop Lefebvre with hard-right extremism and his followers with rank anti-Semitism, while giving the nod of approval to those “reasonable” and “legitimate” Catholics who just like Latin.
They blast one of the most successful cross-over books in the history of our movement—The Great Façade—and seem to gloat over the fact that its co-author, Thomas Woods, has since, according to the SPLC "Report", retreated from the traditionalist trenches into the tall grass of respectability:
Ferrara remains a true believer. But his co-author Woods told the Intelligence Report in late 2005 that he had cut his ties to Ferrara and had “spent the past 18 months trying to mend fences with people we attacked in The Great Façade.” Woods, who is now the associate editor of the more mainstream magazine, The Latin Mass, declined further comment last September on the theological views he espoused in The Great Façade. But in earlier correspondence with the Report, Woods said he had “no interest in being involved in a ‘traditionalist movement’ that permits no disagreement even on matters not strictly of faith,” adding that he would not “work toward the establishment of a Catholic monarchy in the U.S.”
See the pattern? Exploit the differences, promote the defectors, condemn the champions, intimidate those who can’t be bought, promise legitimacy to those who can, and try to frighten tradition-minded Catholics into either denouncing each other to save themselves from scrutiny or self-censoring themselves into irrelevancy.
After all, a new “Intelligence Report” can always be filed later on against The Wanderer, Catholic Answers, EWTN, Tom Woods and anyone else who still wants to proclaim allegiance to Jesus Christ in the public square. The days of militant Catholicism as legitimate “free speech” seem to be coming to an end for all of us, as the defense of the Church’s teaching on homosexual marriage, homosexual adoption, abortion, the necessity of baptism, etc., gradually becomes criminalized.
Vatican expert, John Allen, is even issuing warnings from Rome along these lines. In a column on what he calls the “criminalization of religious opposition to homosexuality” posted on the National Catholic Reporter’s web site, February 1, 2007, Allen writes:
It’s not much of a stretch to imagine pastors being fined or even imprisoned for statements opposing the rights of homosexuals to marry or adopt.
But it’s not just overtly Catholic thinking that is “dangerous” to the new regime. Using precisely the same rhetorical techniques they used in their expose of traditionalists, an article on the SPLC’s website entitled “Hawking Racism” by Alexander Zaitchik, depicts even the mainstream conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan as something akin to Osama Bin Laden:
Once again, to make his case in State of Emergency, Buchanan relies on a trove of extreme-right sources. His urgent call for thwarting the “invasion” of non-European immigrants leans heavily on material written by hate group members or postings on hate sites, with citations to nearly every sector of the hate movement, from neo-Nazis to neo-Confederates. He cites the work of white supremacist James Lubinskas; Edward Rubinstein of a white nationalist think tank called the National Policy Institute; Clyde Wilson, a board member of the racist and secessionist League of the South [from which Tom Woods, a founding member, has also distanced himself, according to SPLC]; and Wayne Lutton, a veteran immigrant- and gay-hater. Buchanan also quotes Lutton’s anti-immigrant hate journal The Social Contract.
The Bible is already ‘hate speech’; Christianity is intolerant; the magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church for 1,965 years are anti-Semitic; teaching children the Catholic religion is child abuse; chastity training is emotional abuse; and immigration reform and pride in the South are racist. One need not be a prophet to see where this is heading. A totalitarian regime, capable of rivaling the former Soviet Union in its intolerance of opposing views, is positioning itself for a takeover of our country and the entire once-Christian West.
Rise of the Militant Christophobes
We are witnessing the rise of institutionalized Christophobia—a fear and loathing of the teachings of Christ and Christianity. And unless Christians turn off the TV, stop drinking the Fox News Kool-Aid, and stand up for their beliefs, we may all end up in the Gulag with Jimmy Carter in the cell to our left and Hutton Gibson in the cell to our right.
It’s time to wake up!
The mighty EWTN is already censoring its own programming in Canada. Politicians in “Catholic” France are being fined for daring to suggest homosexual unions are less than desirable. German homeschoolers are being thrown into jail or locked up in psych wards. Catholic adoption agencies from Boston to the UK will soon have to close their doors or be forced to allow homosexual adoptions. And on and on it goes.
Meanwhile, it is the Pope who is, as the courageous Rabbi Yehuda Levin, father of nine and founder of Jews for Morality recently recognized, the only logical choice to lead the whole world out of this morass.
The Ball is in Peter’s Court
The situation is admittedly bleak. In the time we have left here above ground, however, we must determine where we stand. But in order for this to happen we need to know what the Church since Vatican II is really teaching.
What is needed more than anything else in the world today is an authoritative judgment, issued “from the chair” of Peter, declaring whether or not the Church still considers the Old Covenant to have been revoked, whether or not the Church considers that salvation can be found through the merits of non-Christian religions, and whether or not Rome still maintains that there is only one true Church—the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
This is the crux of the problem!
How can we defend ourselves against the charge of “rejecting the teachings of the modern popes”, for example, when these popes have rarely used their offices to authoritatively teach anything?
We stand accused of anti-Semitism for heeding Christ’s 2000-year-old command that all nations—including the Jewish nation—be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Has the new Church officially and authoritatively rescinded this divine mandate? If so, only a binding ex cathedra pronouncement to this effect could make it official, so that we would know exactly where we stand. But, of course, no such pronouncement will ever come, because no such pronouncement is possible. How long will the Vatican let impressions of change obscure the reality of what the Church has always taught?
We urge friends and critics alike—Catholics and non-Catholics, Jews and Protestants—to join their voices to ours as we petition the Holy Father to sound a certain trumpet once again, and lead the world against the enemies of all that is good and holy. Universal Indults can wait! Everything else can wait, except this! Your Holiness, please! The world must hear the truth.
In the meantime, traditional Catholics can rejoice over one aspect of these developments! When the Far-left, abortion- and “gay” marriage- promoting enemies of the Ten Commandments and Christ the King at SPLC agree with the neo-Catholics that an insignificant band of traditionalist “misfits” is to be deplored, we can have certitude that God is with us, that we were right to resist the regime of novelty these past forty years, and that our cause is just.
Our Catholic mettle is being tested, however. Will we turn tail and run for the high grass? Or will we stand firm, look into the faces of our accusers, and raise our voices to utter the “hate speech” that so excites their fear and loathing: Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!
St. Thomas More, pray for us!
1 “Anti-Semitism is ‘hating Jews,’ said Heidi Beirich, a representative of the Southern Poverty Law Center…” Freeman Klopott, Keene Sentinel, “Anti-Semitism charge thickens plot Richmond group says accusation unfounded”, February 6, 2007 .