No matter what the Pope would do, it wouldn’t be enough for this lot

This there a sadder city in North America than Detroit? 

They have a dreadful pro-abortion "Catholic" governor who has helped to make their state’s economy the worst in the country, they are bleeding businesses and people, the mayor of Detroit… well…

And then there is their newspaper, the Freep.

This is an editorial from the Detroit Free Press Editorial Board, so it represents the official stand of the paper.

My emphases and comments.

February 6, 2009

In demanding that British Bishop Richard Williamson recant, the Vatican did little [No matter what the Vatican would have done, for some it would never have been enough.] to mitigate the public relations damage done by the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to return this Holocaust-denier to the church. Williamson has never repudiated his outlandish views about the extent of Jewish suffering under the Nazis. Taking them back now would show nothing but political expediency. [Because for some in the Fourth Estate, there is no such thing as changing your mind unless you are a liberal.  They can change their mind in any way they want, but conservatives are forever guilty for any past crime.] The Pope ought to acknowledge his own error and reinstate the ex-communication of Williamson.  [And that would be just HOW?  Williamson was excomm’d for an entirely different issue that had NOTHING to do with his views, historical or theological.  They want the Pope to treat Williamson with the injustice with which they are accustomed to treat the Pope.]

The pope’s decision to lift Williamson’s excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church last month, along with those of three other bishops appointed by an ultra-conservative breakaway archbishop more than 20 years ago, has caused an international uproar. Williamson recently told Swedish TV that no Jew was killed by gas chambers during World War II. He insulted the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in Nazi death camps by stating that only 200,000 or 300,000 perished.

For a crackpot to spout this nonsense is troubling — for a person invited back into the church by the pope to do so is outrageous and dangerous.  [Because sinners shouldn’t be invited to belong to any Church.  Right?]

[Now watch this incredible cheap shot….] History makes the pope’s actions even more significant. As a teen-ager, Pope Benedict was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth. When the Pope visited Auschwitz, he did little to ease Jewish concerns about anti-Semitism, making no mention of his personal experiences during the war or explicitly asking forgiveness on behalf of Catholics or Germans. Many Jewish groups had also accused the wartime-era Pope Pius of indifference to Jewish suffering under the Nazis.  [This simply STINKS of bigotry.]

Pope Benedict should not be judged by his brief, and compulsory, membership in the Hitler Youth.  [Liars.  Why did they bring it up?  This is mendacious.  It is precisely this point that they want you to carry away: the Pope did this because he is really a Nazi.  He’s German after all.  And now this Williamson thing?  Well… you know what that means!] Nothing in his record suggests prejudice or malice toward anyone. Still, his own experience ought to compel him to show greater sensitivity to the grotesque inhumanity of the Holocaust, or risk fomenting anti-Semitism and damaging the progress in Catholic-Jewish relations made by Pope John Paul II.

He can start by permanently barring a prelate who desecrates the memory of millions of Jews from the church.   

The Church or the Pope could never do enough to satisfy the people who wrote this yellow hit piece.

If the Pope were to flail himself in sackcloth and rub gravel through his hair at the Western Wall, it would not be enough for them. 

Were he to exhume Pius XII and posthumously excommunicate him , it would not be enough for them.

And since this is really because they hate the Church and the Pope because of the Catholic teaching on abortion and contraception, were the Pope to give a contribution to Planned Parenthood and then toss condoms from his window to the crowd below during his Sunday Angelus, well… it would not be enough for them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Man, it’s not surprising, but it’s sickening nonetheless. It amazes me how shameless reporters are in discussing Hitler Youth. These guys at least mentioned that it was compulsory, but they still obviously mentioned it to sow seeds in people’s minds, that maybe he was supportive of Hitler, instead of telling the real story of how that experience affected him. It’s disgusting, cheap sensationalism. Satan and the media make for a beautiful marriage, don’t they?

  2. Magdalene says:

    I sense some bitter ex-Catholics behind this. Don’t want that Church telling them what to do!

    But the Church in MIchigan has truly had more than its share of hardships in the internal realm; I know how hard it was to find a Mass in one town where my relatives live, where I would not leave upset.

  3. veritas says:

    Perhaps one should mention that Hitler greatly admired Henry Ford and especially his very anti-semitic writings. It is about as relevent to the subject of discussion as most of this exercise in smear by association.

  4. BillyHW says:

    Wah! Wah! That mean old Nazi wants to take our gay sex away! Wah! Wah!

  5. CecilSaxon says:

    I found your site by pure chance. I have to say the commentary you provide is very insightful and your entire site is really quite entertaining as well as informative!

    In regards to the present situation I believe you are spot on- keep up the great work!

  6. prof. basto says:

    I must confess that when I read this I became very angry, and lots of expletives came to mind. I think that others perhaps feel the same.

    Mainstream Media, enough arleady!

  7. Scott W. says:

    Fr Hunwicke pegged the sheer irony of a media that usually relishes tales of dark inquisitions and the crushing of freethinking through excommunication suddenly finding a love affair with the concept.

  8. David says:

    “And since this is really because they hate the Church and the Pope because of the Catholic teaching on abortion and contraception, were the Pope to give a contribution to Planned Parenthood and then toss condoms from his window to the crowd below during his Sunday Angelus, well… it would not be enough for them.”

    Father–you need kudos for this line: Hilarious. The image of the Pope throwing condoms down to an adoring crowd after the Angelus is–well–hilarious.

  9. JoyfulMom7 says:

    Father, excellent commentary, but I am concerned about your blood pressure!

  10. Brian says:

    When I read things like this (and the comments which followed the editorial at the Freep) I don’t become angry. I become sad. Sad that these people allow themselves to become so worked up over issues that they haven’t even taken a few seconds to attempt to understand and sad that they have so closed themselves to grace. One of the commenters said he is a former Catholic now a Jew and that the only thing possible is excommunication forever. This statement alone shows a fundamental flaw in his understanding of both Christianity and Judaism. I am reminded of the prophet Hosea who wrote, “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

    As Christ was hated by the world, so will we be hated. As time goes on, I more and more understand what St. Peter was referring to when he wrote, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:14) I am learning to rejoice in my sufferings for Christ.

  11. kate says:

    The Holy Father is carrying the Cross of Christ.
    I’ll be increasing my prayers for him.

  12. Joshua says:

    >>This there a sadder city in North America than Detroit?

    Eh, yes. How about Seattle? Pro-abort “catholic” Washington State Governor Gregoire. A pro-abort, pro-gay Seattle Mayor Nickels. An electorate that just passed a “right to die” aka “Doctor assisted suicide” initiative. Presently pending bills in the Democrat controlled legislature that expand all homosexual, lesbian and transgendered “rights” and the Governor says she will sign it. Both US Senators from the state call themselves “catholic” but are pro-abortion, too. Heaven help us.

  13. Chironomo says:

    I have said it before and will say it again… this is not about them (critics) “misunderstanding” the resonas why the SSPX Bishops were excommunicated. It is not about their “outrage” at the offense against the Jewish people caused by Williamson’s comments. It is not even about their fear of the SSPX entering the Church. It is about finding any excuse to criticize and attack the Catholic Church, particularly by invoking cultural sensitivity and political correctness. In their eyes the point is to destroy the moral authority of the Church, and of any religion in general (this is why their invoking the offense against the Jewish people is so cynical…they could truly care less about them, particularly when it comes to their views on Gaza, the Palestinians, etc…). Their goal is to “shame” the Pope into retreating and bending to secular pressure. I surely hope he does not.

  14. Tzard says:

    With this I wonder if it would really be a good idea or not for the Vatican to be “better” at being more involved in the press. As you see, no matter what has been said or is said, things like this come out.

    And as it is with most lies: While you can express 20 lies in a sentence of 7 words, it’ll take pages to respond to all these lies. And even then, you’d not convince those who have chosen their particular path.

    I went and checked what the new Archbishop of Detroit has said recently here, and found an interesting speech at an interfaith luncheon. No mention of this “crisis” at all, but it expressed nothing but praise for his jewish friendships and their traditions.

    Perhaps this is the way to go – keep speaking the truth, rather than getting dragged into fruitless discussions with the representatives of our enemies.

  15. Chironomo says:


    All that may be true… but have you BEEN to Detroit? It is not just a morally bankrupt city, but a fiscally AND physically depleted one as well.

    And the rumors are true… you really CAN buy a house in Detroit for under 3000 dollars…

  16. Tom lanter says:

    Fr. Z.;

    I will be glad to see this group of Catholics, Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Pii X, in full harmony with Rome, thirty four years is long enough. We could learn much from them. They have a strong faith and seem to be righteous people.

    Please God bring the Orthodox home too, let the church breathe with two lungs again. A thousand years is too long.

    Why are we surprised when the world kicks against the gourd? We know this will continue until the return of Christ Himself.

    As far as Freep is concerned, contact >>> David Hunke, publisher, ceo [at] he is the man with the check book. Nothing appears in print without his approval. You might ask him how he would feel if his religious/cultural/ethnic group was treated like The Detroit Free Press treats Catholics, assuming that he is not of our faith.

    And also enquire if his paper could print an article or two on the Catholics who were also killed in Hitler’s death camps this would be a scoop, the first ever for an American newspaper.

    Tom Lanter

  17. LCB says:

    There is 1 thing that will please our tyrants in the 4th estate.

    Capitulate. Leave the Church. Curse Christ and Swear By The Genius Of The Emperor.

    It’s not enough that the Pope be tolerated. Rather, He. Must. Agree. And to do so is to bow down and worship the prince of this world, the prince who those who are anti-Church serve.

  18. Considering how many Catholics get their catechesis from papers like the Free Press, I think it is imperative that we write a letter to the editor on things like this.

    I’m hoping Abp Vigneron will see the article and respond with some charitable corrections. Not only can the Freep editorial board benefit from it, but so can those Freep-educated Catholics.

    If I can find time tonight, I may write in. However, I don’t know if it will be too late. Chances are, responses may be printed tomorrow, or….perhaps they will wait until next Sunday.

  19. Clinton says:

    One good thing that has come out of all of this is that we have a much clearer picture of who is willing to treat the Holy Father
    and the Holy See with the respect and consideration they deserve. We have seen groups formed to dialogue with the Vatican
    abandon their mission to pose, hysterical, for the press. We’ve seen bishops, historians, press and theologians who should be
    lining up to urge fairness and calm simply stand by and watch the Pope take this beating. We’ve seen officials from various
    governments (oddly, ones that insist on the absolute separation of Church and state) presume to instruct the Pope on what he
    must do to redeem himself in their eyes. All this is to the good — for we can more clearly see where our friends are.

  20. Tim Ferguson says:

    The Detroit Free Press recently announced that they are only going to be doing home delivery of the newspaper four days a week. Revenues are down, as is readership. The mainstream media is, day by day, in decline and seeking readership by getting more and more outrageous.

    Yes, Detroit is a sad place with a glorious history. The civic motto, based on a letter of a Catholic priest (Fr. Gabriel Richard, one of the cofounders of the University of Michigan and the man who brought the printing press to Detroit and published its first regular newspaper) after the 1805 fire that levelled the city, is “Speramus meliora, resurget cineribus.”

    The political, economic and cultural situation of Detroit is certainly full of ashes and hope seems remote. Scandals plague our City Council, most of whom are under federal investigation. Our former mayor has just been released from jail and the unfolding of that particular scandal continues unabated. Whole neighborhoods are now depopulated – there has been an increase in sightings of coyotes within the city borders! The automotive industry is in freefall.

    Yet, ecclesiastically, we’ve just welcomed our new archbishop, Allen Vigneron, and hopes run high. Pray for Detroit – for Michigan.

  21. Mitch says:

    With the increase in religious dialogue in recent decades the Catholic Church and its’internal decisions seem to be open to debate on the public forum in such a way that seems unprecedented. As a proud Catholic who loves my Pope I get highly offended when everyone who is not a Catholic has an opinion (usually negative) about our Magesterial positions and decisions. Catholics are the scapegoat for everything nowadays. And too many sit back and take it. This in part has to do something with opening the Church to the world in modern times. Everyone acts entitled to criticize the Pope and try to force his hand with malicious articles, lies, and cruelty. Everyone else has the answers and solutions to the world’s problems as long as they are not a Catholic. Are all our virtues, disciplines, and values really so harmful to the world? It was wrong to give our faith to the whole world to judge, we should have kept it to ourselves and left the windows shut. My two unimportant cents.

  22. Perhaps it’s more a compliment than a criticism that people sometimes are so shocked and outraged to uncover an alleged sinner within the One Holy Apostolic Roman Catholic Church. Is there any other organization on earth in which the presence of a sinner would be thought shocking or surprising?

  23. HQD says:

    It breaks my heart that people simply look at one issue concerning a periphery of Church Affairs and makes it their personal crusade to bring her down. She wasn’t popular in the first century and apparently not in the twenty-first century. Fellow readers and Fr. Z, I’ve a feeling that it will unite those who want to remain faithful to the Church through thick and thin. If it alienates some, then IMHO, they weren’t faithful Catholics to begin with. Overall, it was an internal affair and if folks can’t handle that, then they are taking this incident WAY too seriously (in the sense that the Holy Father is a bigot, etc.).

    That Hitler Youth comment is an extreme cheapshot and is such a cruel tactic to undermine the struggles that HH had to endure in post-war Europe.

  24. Kazimer says:

    I have read both The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News since in grade school.

    While I realized the freep ( Detroit Free Press) was/is liberally minded, I still read it for other columnists knowing trying to not hold them hostage to the those that present editorial opinions.

    However, this editorial from The Detroit Free Press was the final straw for me.

    I am through with this rag of a paper.

    I will know look to The Detroit News as traditionally they are more conservative in their editorial and overall positions.

    Still, if they follow the freep’s ways, they too will be jettisoned.

  25. Sid says:

    Tim Ferguson is making a very cogent point: Newspapers are loosing customers, fast. Fiddle dee dee, but I wonder why?

    As I’ve said before, be optimistic. When a movement on its deathbed, it screams all the louder.

  26. jedesto says:

    In his Swedish TV interview, Williamson focused on counting how many Jews died, or not, in Nazi gas chambers, or otherwise, during WWII. Now he is attempting to delay his day of reconing with the Vatican and to buy time for himself by insisting on his re-examining the “historical record” of the period. He does not deny that “x” number of Jews died, so is he implying that there are quantitative degrees of anti-Semitism?

  27. TMB says:

    My folks, who live in the Detroit Suburbs, cancelled their subscription to the Detroit News(/Free Press) several years ago because the paper is palpably slanted and the coverage biased.

  28. Satan and his stooges get all the more vile when the Pope is doing something they really don’t like. The more the complaining from the secular atheistic press, the better the Pope is doing. That’s a tell-tale sign. Yes, we must all put up with this trash, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Think how the early Christian lived when their very life was on the line every day for just being Christian. We haven’t reached that point, not quite yet anyway. Every real Christian today is called to practice their white martyrdom on a daily basis. Remember to pray for our Holy Father so he has the strength to withstand the assaults.

  29. Mark says:

    The SSPX/Williamson problem has become very exploitable to the “mainstream” media. I’m seeing more loose associations between anti-semitism and Traditional Catholicism in general, in many places. The equation of Traditional Catholicism = rejection of Vatican Two Council = rejection of Nostra Aetate = anti semitism is often made. People who are not Catholic, and who thus often don’t distinguish between the bodies such as FSSP and SSPX, and other “minutia”, are susceptible to this kind of propaganda. Once an association of this kind is made, it’s often very difficult to unmake.

    Having said that, I think that Traditional Catholics should seize this opportunity and publicly repudiate, as opportunity allows, all forms of anti-semitism, including Holocaust denial. Especially those of us who run blogs. Any silence on this issue associates us with the views of SSPX Bishop Williamson, by default.

    We shouldn’t allow this self inflicted wound to fester. Neither should we let our Jewish neighbors suspect that we harbor any ill will towards them. The ball remains firmly in our court on how this situation develops.

  30. thomps says:

    Metro Detroit is a sad place. I spent 4 years there in the 80s when I attended college at Marygrove. I now live across the state in a town that lies on the shores of Lake Michigan. Politically the city is as bad as Chicago in terms of corruption with the difference that in Chicago things still get done depite all the corruption. It’s interesting that both the greater Chicago and greater Detroit areas both have high populations of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. That makes for some interesting dynamics. It would be a great thesis paper for some energetic student to examine press coverage in these two towns about these three different groups. From an unscientific personal observation I would say that in Detroit, the Catholic Church gets more slams than the other two in the press.

  31. MarkAA says:

    This Free Press editorial is just bizarre. Since when do secular media writers deign to tell churches whom to include and exclude? What chutzpa to tell the Roman Catholic Church who it is allowed to have as members, and who it must keep on the outside. I work in news media and simply find this freakish. They’re honestly telling the Pope and the cardinals to not let the guy be within the Church because of his views. In essence, they’re saying, he should go to HELL because he holds unapproved political/historical views. What’s that about? I suppose they would tell the U.S. President to disenfranchise people who hold unusual beliefs? It’s just beyond the pale. Thanks Fr. Z!

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