April 7, 2010
Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Catholic Archbishop of Honduras, says more about himself than the recent paedophilia scandals plaguing the Vatican and Catholic Church - the potential papal candidate, who may well stand a good chance of replacing Pope Benedict in the future, blames the Jews, and uses all-to-familiar antisemitic language to do so. He's been blaming the Jews since at least 2002.
Like many, the Cardinal uses the problems between Israel and Palestine as a convenient hook on which to hang his hatred. The modern Vatican, he says, due no doubt to its concern for the welfare of all people (it's not trendy to burn those who follow religions different to one's own at the stake these days, after all, and those damn bleeding-heart liberals are liable to take issue), supports the people of Gaza. This means, in his peculiar mind at least, that it must also be fundamentally anti-Israel - therefore, Jews felt the need to "get even" by stirring up popular hatred against the Catholic Church by bringing what he probably thinks are a few isolated cases of priests sexually abusing children into the public eye.
As American publication the Jewish Journal points out, this is really quite an impressive leap of the imagination even when made by a man with Cardinal Maradiaga's highly-developed paranoia and antisemitism. The scandals in the news recently have come from all around the world - Ireland, England, Germany included - such global organisation would require the existence of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy so ridiculous that even the madder sorts of antisemites no longer consider such an entity real or even possible (or not in public, at least) for fear of looking like idiots. Unless, that is, he believes we did it with the help of some other group opposed to the Vatican - perhaps the Freemasons, the Knights Templar or even the Martians. He seems sufficiently insane for it to be no great surprise should he advocate such a theory in the future.
"...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?" asks the crazy Cardinal. He aks, "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?" What tool did the Jews use, according to Maradiaga? That old, tried-and-trusted method - the media. Maradiaga points his finger particularly at the Boston Globe, a newspaper owned by the New York Times which is published by Arthur Ochs Salzberger, Jnr. "Oh, these clever Jews!" says the Jewish Journal whimsically, also saying the Salzbergers "were once a Jewish family."
Cardinal Maradiaga's accusations are so bizarre, paranoid, mad and stupid that they seem laughable at first. But, sadly, we know all too well that a man in his position can cause untold and widespread damage by spreading this sort of rubbish. Some people will believe what he says, and in a world which to a large extent already connects all Jews with what it rightly or wrongly sees as Israel's disproportionate and aggressive policies in Gaza, these are the sorts of words that can lead to physical attacks and the strengthening of old fears and prejudices that have not yet gone away. It's taken far less in the past.
Pope Benedict, who has shown evidence that he wishes to continue the good work carried out by his predecessor Pope John Paul II in building bridges and friendship between Catholics and Jews in these times when all religious faiths are threatened, needs to take action against Cardinal Maradiaga immediately. Bishop Richard Williamson, a Holocaust-denying British priest who also uses Gaza as an excuse for his hatred towards the people he calls "enemies of Christ," was temporarily excommunicated by the Vatican. Though the lifting of the excommunication caused outrage among both Jews and enlightened people of other faiths or no faith, the Pope made his feelings on those who deny the Shoah clear when he said "any denial of this terrible crime is intolerable." He also stated that he deplores any form of Holocaust denial and that all Catholics should hold the same view and expressed his "full and unquestionable solidarity" with the Jewish people.
If the Vatican truly wishes to transform itself into a modern institution and seeks to distance itself from the sort of antisemitic hatred that it was frequently associated with in the past, it needs to cut its ties with the old-fashioned paranoid Jew-hatred of Cardinal Maradiaga and his hate-filled ilk. That he has been allowed to spread vile, plainly antisemitic filth of this type for eight years is an outrage. Right now, when the Vatican is doing its best to rid itself of one stain on its reputation, it could do itself a lot of good by also removing the Cardinal from his position too - the modern Catholic Church should have no place for a man with views such as his own and if the Pope genuinely holds the views he put forward when dealing with Bishop Williamson, he needs to take action.