Because this week wasn’t bad enough already…

Okay… lemme get this straight.

In midst of this controversy, the Pope’s preacher stands up Good Friday, not at all a controversial day for this pontificate, and… like Joe Biden with an open mic… compares the present persecution of the Church to the persecution of the Jews.

Please… someone … tell me that no one vetted Fr. Cantalamessa’s sermon today and that he was bobbing and weaving out there all by himself.

Please bring Fr. Lombardi more coffee, ’cause it’s going to be a looong night.

Hell’s Bible now has their quote for the rest of Holy Week.

I can just picture a back office of editors at the NYT, sitting around with cocktails and dreaming about how the Vatican could possibly make this worse.

"Well…. maybe what if a, like, cardinal or…. watzit… monsignor? …. nah… never happen.  No one could be that…"

"WHAT?" they ask, pouring more shots.

"Well… what if someone in the Vatican compared their problems to… wait for it… the Holocaust."

[gales of laughter… the sound of more ice tumbling in glasses]

"[sniffing]… sigh… good… yah… never happen…."

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Animadversor says:

    Oy, veh!

  2. Mike says:

    From the NYTimesonline:

    “Father Cantalamessa quoted from what he said was a letter from an unnamed Jewish friend. “I am following the violent and concentric attacks against the church, the pope and all the faithful by the whole word,” he said the friend wrote. “The use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt, remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.””

    I guess your take, Fr. Z, is right, but after having spent a week last year in an ADL-Archdiocese of Washington (DC) seminar, I am not all that broken up by this. Many of our Jewish brethren will only be happy when we agree that they don’t need Christ, that he’s not the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and the “only name under heaven” that can save souls. They want to vet our prayers, our saints, our popes. Seriously.

    I have zero truck with anti-Semitism; it’s rancid stuff, highly offensive to God.

    Perhaps the Papal preacher’s friend was reading the online comments at the NYTimes.

    That’s foul stuff, and yes, mindful of historic hatreds that marred the 20th Century for all time.

  3. Jaybirdnbham says:

    Maybe I’m missing something obvious… and I don’t know verbatim what he said, but here is a cut and paste of what Fox news website says:

    “The Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa said in a Good Friday sermon, with the pope listening to him in St. Peter’s Basilica, that a Jewish friend has said the accusations remind him of the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.””

    Sounds like Fr. Cantalamessa was only passing along what a Jewish friend had commented, and didn’t come up with it himself. If that’s all he did, what’s wrong with it? Like I say, maybe I’m missing something obvious, but I don’t understand what y’all are getting worked up about.

  4. Sandy says:

    Father, you’re priceless! Love your humor that we desperately need during these dark times. It’s either laugh or cry; or some of each.

  5. PhilipNeri says:

    Fr. Z., I am just returning from the Vatican’s Good Friday service. . several of us friars gave communion. . .I have to admit that I only caught parts of Father’s homily b/c I was sitting directly behind the main altar. My take on it is that he was referencing a comparison someone else had made. Though it’s possible my bad Italian just missed the whole thing…Fr. Philip, OP

  6. Fr. Cantalamessa’s Jewish friend was right, and Cantalamessa was right to mention it. Let Hell’s Bible say whatever they want, because no matter what Cantalamessa, the pope, or anyone else says or does, nothing is going stop the NY Times from beating the drum roll for new goose stepping fascists that are coming to power.

  7. Athanasius says:

    They should have given Fr. Cantalamessa a pink slip years ago. In 2006 he preached a sermon in which he said “God does not love himself, because that would be narcissism.” (Rome, June 10, 2006 Trinity Sunday – A Close Mystery) Complete and absolute heresy, directly contrary to Vatican I’s teaching, God is the first and proper object of His love. Nobody in the Vatican sees that? Nobody catches this guys ridiculous comments? Its not because he is a heretic, it is because he is ignorant of anything before Vatican II.

  8. Dave N. says:

    Appallingly clueless. The Joe Biden comparison’s a classic.

  9. EXCHIEF says:

    If what Father said is what has been quoted I don’t see it as all that harmful. First of all he attributes the comment to a Jewish friend and, second, the comment that attacks on the Church and the Pope remind him (the Jewish friend) of anti-semitism is not all that far off base. There have been concerted efforts against Jews for 2000 years. With today’s mass media the criticism of the Church/Pope is piling up rather quickly. If the comment really compared the attacks against the Church to the holocost that’s obviously another story.

  10. TNCath says:

    I must say that, when I saw Father Raniero approach the ambo to speak, I thought, “Oh no! Not HIM again.” While I am sure he is a holy man who has done much good in his lifetime, I have never been particularly impressed with anything he ever said.

    I’m certain The New York Times and the NCR are going to love this.

    When they finally remove the foot from Father Raniero’s mouth, I have a suggestion as to where they need to put it, and, consequently, get him out of the Vatican.

  11. lofstrr says:

    The comparison to what the Jews went though is unfortunate. The better comparison would have been to what Catholics went though during WWII under the Nazis when they had the temerity to speak out about what was happening to the Jews.

    Today, when Catholics speak out for another defenseless group that is being mass murdered, the unborn, we are again being ridiculed at best and being painted as dangerous at worse. There are already nutcases on secular boards like the comment threads for yahoo news that are saying that Catholics should be rounded up and killed. That is not an exaggeration. Those posts are already happening.

    There is a sense that all this is happening all over again but Fr Cantalamessa had the groups mixed up.

  12. Ttony says:

    Father, are you reacting to what Fr Cantalamissa said, or to what the American press says that he said?

  13. mitch_wa says:

    The Rhetoric of many anti-Catholics is indeed approaching the level of hatred, stupidity, and anger of many anti-Semites throughout our last century. I don’t think it is a bad comparison, maybe just bad timing (but even then… maybe no so much).

  14. THREEHEARTS says:

    Sorry, but Fr got carried away, his rhetoric often is a trifle wonky. Is he not a claimed charismatic. At one time last year he stated that there is no need for the Church to be afraid of the Charismatic beliefs. I ask when they preach about slain in the spirit, could some one tell me when God deals in death and not with it. Twice in scriptures we can find sinners forcibly prostrated. In the Gospel of John where the neer-do-wells who were to lay hands on Jesus were struck down by His “I am He”. Saul off to the kill the people of God in Damascus. What a way for us to see a probable paucity in his homilies.

  15. Margaret says:

    IN FULL CONTEXT the quote is fine. But these guys need to get just little PR-savvy and realize that a quote that could be damning when pulled out of context will necessarily be pulled out of context. It’s as simple as that.

  16. Henry says:

    TNCath: “I must say that, when I saw Father Raniero approach the ambo … ”

    When I saw him, I said to my wife — remembering his sermon last year (or the previous one) on feminist issues — “Just as well, this will be a good time to go out to the kitchen and fix my (meager, of course) lunch and finish it before the intercessions.” So I missed his Joe Biden moment(s).

  17. I must admit, I turned him off during the sermon and waited for the Intercessions.

  18. Animadversor says:

    Well, upon a close reading, what Father Cantalamessa in fact said seems pretty unobjectionable, as well as I can glean from what the Times has written. But the the interpretation, the “spin,” that is woven throughout the article, that’s something else. I think the point is, that Father Cantalamessa ought to have been more acutely aware, especially lately, that what he says is likely to be presented in a way that might be called distorted, and therefore he ought to have been more careful to make it more difficult and less tempting to engage in such distortion. He would not be the first “senior Vatican priest” to quote the words of someone else and then to have those words treated as though he himself had said them.

    Am I the only one to notice, that the reporters that the Times assigns to cover the Church often seem to be only a passing familiarity with some of our customs and expressions? I’m thinking of such awkwardnesses as “a senior Vatican priest,” “Wearing the brown cassock of a Franciscan,” and “giving a service at the Vatican.” One could go on….

  19. Animadversor says:

    I meant “seem to have only a passing familiarity….”

  20. RichR says:

    Fr Z.,

    You crack me up. I love this blog.

  21. The letter the preacher read out, (from a Jew) compared the attacks on the church with the FIRST SIGNS of anti semetism. Not with anti semetism per se.

  22. Winfield says:

    Sylvia Poggioli of NPR just reported on the sermon and simply quoted what Fr. Cantalamessa said without noting that he was quoting a Jewish friend. A listener not already familiar with the story would never know that the quote is attributable to anyone other than Fr. Cantalamessa.

  23. Oneros says:

    Wow. It is extremely disturbing how many of the people in this thread are actually DEFENDING the gaff, which even Fr Z himself has recognized as such.

    This sort of rank-closing and defensiveness proves the delusion and institution-fetishism that has been accused.

    Major structural reform is needed NOW.

    Yet groups like VOTF (which are apparently having all sorts of prayer vigils all over the country today:, which do NOT seek to change any Church teachings, are often villified by conservatives.

    They might lean liberal, I don’t know, but their platform is totally compatible with orthodoxy, and so I see them as a tolerable alternative to groups like “We Are Church” or “Call To Action” which are outright heretical.

    Something’s gotta give, and since it isn’t going to be doctrine, it’s going to have to be discipline. And the status-quo-preservationists will not be remembered well by history.

  24. SonofMonica says:

    You think that defending someone who has been LIED ABOUT is “institution-fetishism?”

    Quit trying to pretend that you don’t hate the Church, and just go read NCReporter.

    There is no gaff, here. What there are, are FABRICATIONS by the media, including NYT, MSNBC, Times, and NPR.

    What you don’t seem to understand is that the “structure” and the “institution” of the Church were divinely created and are inseparable from its doctrine. Neither you nor the media will be successful in bringing it down. Jesus promised.

  25. Janol says:

    From the NYTimesonline:
    “Rabbi Riccardo di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, … laughed in seeming disbelief when asked about Father Cantalamessa’s remarks.
    “With a minimum of irony, I will say that today is Good Friday, when they pray that the Lord illuminate our hearts so we recognize Jesus,” Rabbi Di Segni said, referring to a prayer in a traditional Catholic liturgy calling for the conversion of the Jews. “We also pray that the Lord illuminate theirs.” “

  26. Laura says:

    While I, as a sympathetic Catholic, can understand the intent of the words–the comparison, these very intelligent men at the Vatican can’t pretend to be oblivious to the fact that in our ‘sound bite’ world, this is only going to make the Church look weaker– as though she is claiming to be a victim.

    I think the Vatican needs to suck it up and deal with the problems, not cry.

    And to go around crying, “whaa, the media lies about us… waa” per the comment above will accomplish nothing, either. The media does what it does. We should be smarter then that.

  27. Thomas S says:

    “Yet groups like VOTF, which are apparently having all sorts of prayer vigils all over the country today, which do NOT seek to change any Church teachings, are often villified by conservatives.”

    Are you trying to eclipse Fr. Cantalamessa is ridiculousness with that line?

    I agree that mere whining about the MSM’s treatment of the Church is pointless. The attitude that is frequently expressed that we should somehow be silent in the face of SLANDER against the Holy Father is repugnant to me and a sin against the 8th Commandement. So to hell with the whining, I’d much prefer to beat the MSM with the facts and dump their bodies in the gaping holes in their stories.

    And yes, that’s figurative speech. These people aren’t worth risking my soul over.

  28. emily13 says:

    Well, maybe I can add a little good news, not at all related to this story.

    Yesterday at the Chrism Mass (I was not in attendance) our Bishop’s homily drew a standing ovation (not something I am at all a proponent of during the Mass…and so I have mixed feelings about it) following his homily. This appeared today in our local paper:

    Unfortunately, word has also followed today that Bishop Zubik has been hospitalized today with kidney stones and was unable to be at Good Friday services and will be unable to celebrate the Easter Vigil tomorrow evening.

  29. Good Gawd. The comparisions were not drawn by the Vatican but by a JEW!! Wakey Wakey folks!

  30. Dauphin says:

    This isn’t what we should be talking about on Good Friday. Ignore the hyenas in the media. Eventually they’ll tire of torturing the church and move onto something for a while.

  31. Joshua08 says:

    VOTF is anti-celibacy, wants a more democratic selection of bishops, and their whole “role of women in the Church” sends up a red flag…if not agitating for ordination, what are they agitating for? They want structural change in the Church. They want the laity to be running the Church, at least in part. But the juridical-canonical status of clerics is not separable from their sacro-ontological character…the Church is by divine institution one where those in holy orders have a claim to rule. They are not just sacramental dispensaries after all.. As for as this preacher. What he said I think is true, but imprudent.

  32. Laura says:

    Catholicteuchtar, in reading the letter from his Jewish friend, Fr. Cantalamessa is not only saying it but preaching it.

  33. Thomas S says:

    I forgot to say in my previous response:

    I was expecting something disasterous when I saw the headlines concerning Fr. Cantalamessa, but was rather underwhelmed when I saw the actual quotation. I don’t doubt the media will try to make hay with it, and that it would have been prudent to omit it from the sermon, but I just didn’t find it all that stunning or outrageous. And to be fair to Fr. Cantalamessa, he didn’t mention the Holocaust as Fr. Z’s fictional dialog did.

  34. Laura says:

    Thomas S, I totally agree with you. But we are sympathetic Catholics… and *are* seeking the truth of the matter, not looking for fuel to fan the fire.

  35. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    His choice of comparison may not have been ideal, but his point is exactly right.

    the media has gone from blaming the guilty individuals to blaming and denigrating the whole of the Church and its beliefs

  36. Peter in Canberra says:

    I take the point other posters have made, that what Fr Cantalamessa said had specific context.

    However I think Fr Z is on the money. This is a war, its battleground and tactics are the media. The household of the Vatican are all the ecclisiastical equivalent of public/civil servants. They SHOULD be SMART (?as wise as the children of this world?). They shouldn’t lead with the chin.

    This was STUPID.

    And I’m not sure why it needed to be mentioned on Good Friday even if it were true.

    Vale Fr Cantalamessa.

    Also on comments regarding journalists and knowing the subject matter. This is not unique to the Church stories. They are for the most part, in my experience LAZY and not particularly smart. They do not understand logic or truth.

  37. tired student says:

    Fr. Cantalamessa’s been the Papal Preacher since 1980 and there have been no prior incidences like this? He must’ve let on about his anti-Semitism some other time. I also think that Fr. C’s “friend” is similar to the imaginary friend four year olds have.

    What Fr. Cantalamessa said is reprehensible. There is no comparison between the current crisis, which is the Vatican’s own undoing, and the Shoah. The current crisis is a grave loss of face for the Church but it is not the evil taking of innocent life. It is utterly bizarre that a preacher would reclaim the very abuse that some Catholics have historically meted out on Jewish people in the name of the Church.

    The NYT should report on this. If Vatican officials have to stoop to this level to try to defend the Church then such officials deserve an upbraiding in the media. No sympathy here for Fr. C, and the media is well within its bounds to call this one out.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    The fact of the matter is that over the last 50 years, the church has done herself more damage than any newspaper could. We can stop now–we have weakened ourselves to the point that a newspaper can really hurt us. Time to stop being idiotic suckers. Any time.

    We are letting the church and the things that happen within her be defined on the world’s terms, which is, and always has been all wrong. Vatican II–or the spirit of it, no one can tell the difference anymore–was a crock.

    Rather we should be defining the church, and by extension the world, on the Church’s terms, which is the old gold standard. Problem is, the church doesn’t seem to remember what her terms ARE! I can tell you: they’re in scripture and the old mass; they’re in the old sayings that have appeared about us for millenia. Almost none of the 20th century made sense. WE just have to think, and I don’t know if most people can anymore. That’s the most frightening part.

    In the second century it was said of us:

    “They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not commit infanticide. They have a common table, but not a common bed. . . . They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. . . . To sum it up: As the soul is in the body, so Christians are in the world. The soul is dispersed through all the members of the body, and Christians are scattered through all the cities of the world. . . . The invisible soul is guarded by the visible body, and Christians are known indeed to be in the world, but their godliness remains invisible.”

    Where is that? How did we get from that to the abysmal whining state we find ourselves now?

  39. JonM says:

    Where do I begin. First though, I want to be clear that I don’t doubt that the Priest meant well; I understand what he is getting at but…

    I can replace a light by smashing it with a hammer and prying out the casing – or I can just do it the right way by unscrewing the bulb.

    1) What in the world does this have to do with Good Friday? Do we need a history lesson of an aspect of the 1940s even in a Good Friday homily? Can anyone honestly say this was more illuminating than pressing ‘play’ and watching Mel Gibon’s The Passion (indeed a film vilified by the arch weakling USCCB)?

    2) The comment is plain wrong.

    a) At the moment, we are not in concentration camps working as slave labor for an insane totalitarian regime.

    b) The persecution of Jewish communities in the 1930s-1940s, which was resisted by Pius XII by the way, was political. The Nazi’s sought to reach the base emotions to gain control over the German people. Promoting the idiotic racial purity ideology supplanted God, made the state the ultimate font, and in the process required scapegoats. On the other hand, persecution of the Church is the ultimate advance and design of evil. Satan hates us because the Church is the means by which we come to know Christ and cling as hard as possible to Him to obtain eternal salvation.

    3) It only serves as a most exploitable event for those who hate the Church on so many levels.

    a) Implicitly can be taken to suggest Christ is not necessary for the salvation of Jews.

    b) ADL et al can scream insensitivity and demand another non-constructive visit to a Jewish synagogue

    c) Almost assuredly, wimpy prelates will do back flips to appease the world by spouting heresy after heresy

    If the Priest is trying to say that we are headed for a new round of persecutions, just say it! Stop for the love of God comparing everything to one group as if they have a monopoly over suffering. Talk about our history, the witness of saints, that Jesus told the Apostles (and us) that the world hated Him long before it hated us, that we are of course not greater than Him and so we should expect no better treatment.

    Prepare us to accept martyrdom. Help strengthen us so that we really will not fear a mob that flays us, rips out our limbs, and does other horrific things.

    Teach us the faith

    Bottom line, this is a good example of Modernism’s grip. It compares everything to the world as if such is required for any constructive discourse.

    Again, my metric: Would a Rosary be better instead (uhm, YEAH)? Then change the homily or pray to Mary to contemplate exactly what the Faith is about.

  40. Peter in Canberra says:

    post script

    Just heard the ABC radio news here (Saturday morning Australia, Australian Broadcasting Service aka super lefty government-funded anti-christian) .

    Lead story –
    -Vatican compares attacks on Pope to Holocaust (untrue but Fr Z predicted it)
    -Fr Lombardi making [having to make] clarifications “Fr Cantalamessa’s personal thoughts, not official etc”
    -Simon Wiesenthal Centre closing with “comments are not acceptable etc”

    Instead of getting airplay on the message of Salvation we get this.

    Happy Easter Holy Father !

    thanks Fr CantalaMESSUP

  41. Oneros says:

    “VOTF is anti-celibacy,”

    They are anti-MANDATORY-celibacy. That’s not a heresy.

    “wants a more democratic selection of bishops,”

    Neither is this. It’s been done in history. Whether that means lay voting or just the local clergy or chapter of canons is up for discussion. But the Vatican appointing all bishops will not last forever.

    “and their whole “role of women in the Church” sends up a red flag…if not agitating for ordination, what are they agitating for?”

    They aren’t agitating for women’s ordination, though. Expanded roles for women could include everything from the role of Priest’s-Wife to more executive positions on the various committees and boards which handle much of the administrivia in the Church.

    “They want structural change in the Church. They want the laity to be running the Church, at least in part. But the juridical-canonical status of clerics is not separable from their sacro-ontological character…the Church is by divine institution one where those in holy orders have a claim to rule. They are not just sacramental dispensaries after all”

    Many models have been used through history, including with the secular lay STATE having much say in it all. I don’t think we want that, but the laity could certainly control finances, have a say in the appointment or sacking of priests, etc etc.

    No one is trying to say they would replace the Magisterium or take on a doctrine-defining role. But they could definitely be given a much broader role in the administrative bureaucracy.

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    Oneros. Give it a break. VOTF is a joke. A front for CTA. Did you know that here in Michigan, the VOTF meetings are the exact same meetings as the CTA meetings? Same folding chairs, same heretical butts in those chairs, same donuts, same coffee, even the same damn newsletter, the works. It’s called, I guess, multitasking, huh?

    It’s an old trick of the left. And of certain breeds of snakes. Puff up, make a lot of noise, and viola, you look bigger.

    You either know this because you’re in on it, or you’re very very very naive and I have a tropical paradise in Michigan for sale–just for you! Sooo, which is it?

  43. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, Oneros. I’ve had it with incoherent idiots for this year. My quota is shot already and it’s only April. So, you’re skating on thin ice.

    If you want a lay-driven church, be honest. Go be a Baptist. You’ll love it. And it’ll be an honest choice for you, feeling like you obviously do. All the politics you could ever want, lay-performed everything and cake too. But be warned: they don’t put up with snakes and criminals like we apparently do.

    [Personally, I think may last sentence there is what keeps about 10% of our worst heretics in the church. The protestants would never put up with likes of them.]

  44. Mike says:

    Just read the entire homily. He’s all over the place. Grade: C+…His major points are somewhat close to PC-goofy…close, not there, but close…

  45. xsosdid says:

    That’s just…embarrassing. He may have had a finer point in mind, but the listener shouldn’t have to interpret!

  46. spock says:

    Very sad. Such a verbal faux pas. These gaffes are bad news. I have to agree with “tired student” above. This should be called out.

  47. Magpie says:

    I recommend this article to anyone interested in the agenda of VOTF:

  48. Father, you should be lucky that Fr. Cantalamessa isn’t Joe Biden! :-)

    Having said that, though, this gaffe wasn’t necessary for Holy Week. Indeed, I remember reading somewhere on this blog in the comments section that this is distracting from the main points of Holy Week (no, main point): Jesus and His Sacrifice on the Cross.

    Perhaps by disseminating all of this junk, the newspapers (and maybe we ourselves) have done this quite well. I just pray that the journalists will remember to seek out the truth here — not profit from the hype.

    And I pray that all of us (Catholic and non-Catholic) will remember to not only seek the truth but to make sure that the news will not distract us from Jesus, who must ultimately heal the wounds of this scandal.

  49. To @dhgyapong:

    Thanks for giving out the text of the homily. I am sure that fellow bloggers will be quick to jump on it! :-)

    And now that I have read it, I can understand why you think that the quote was acceptable in its context.

    However, whether it was a gaffe or not (now I am leaning towards the side of the “non-gaffe”), it still stands that these abuse allegations are very disturbing problems that are distracting us from the main point of Holy Week.

    I just pray that it won’t distract us that much.

  50. Geoffrey says:

    Fr. Cantalamessa’s homily was beautiful, and his comments were not a “gaffe” at all. Why should we be afraid and watch everything we say because the secular media will rip it to shreds? The truth cannot be edited, but it often needs to be explained…

    Now, was this prudent? Maybe, maybe not. Was this a fair comparison? Maybe not yet, but the way things have been going lately, perhaps soon…

    I think a more better comparison to the Shoah would be the genocide of unborn babies.

    In the word of Venerable Pope John Paul the Great: “Be Not Afraid!”

  51. skellmeyer says:

    OK. Where’s the problem in the talk again?
    I don’t see one.

  52. TNCath says:

    Geofrey: “Now, was this prudent? Maybe, maybe not. Was this a fair comparison? Maybe not yet, but the way things have been going lately, perhaps soon…”

    The point Father Raniero was trying to make was obviously NOT meant to be an insult to the Jews. Rather, he was recounting a letter written to him by an unnamed Jewish friend. In this letter, the friend empathized with Father Raniero regarding the recent the attacks on the Holy Father and connected it with “the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.”

    That said, considering the already super-sensitivity of recent events in the Church, coupled with the super-sensitivity of the Jews whenever mention is made of their persecuting, I would think the LAST thing the Pope, the Vatican, Father Raniero, and Catholics in general needed was someone stirring up this hornet’s nest. Right or wrong, there was NO WAY the press wasn’t and isn’t going to have a field day taking the story out of context and making it look like the Church is comparing itself to the persecution endured by the Jews.

    Geoffrey asks, “Why should we be afraid and watch everything we say because the secular media will rip it to shreds?”

    I agree. However, we don’t have to assist them in doing so, either.

    In short, I think it would be safe to say that Father Raniero arrived at an erroneous conclusion thinking that what he said would be accurately interpreted, favorably received, have a beneficial spiritual effect on the Church, or aid in healing the wounds inflicted on the Church (by herself and others) by this present crisis.

  53. TNCath says:

    CORRECTION: “That said, considering the already super-sensitivity of recent events in the Church, coupled with the super-sensitivity of the Jews whenever mention is made of their persecution…”

  54. Animadversor says:

    @ tired student

    He must’ve let on about his anti-Semitism some other time.

    I am hard-pressed to find any evidence here that Father Cantalamessa is anti-semitic. He seems rather to be suggesting, by way of quoting the words of his Jewish friend, that certain attacks currently being made against the Church seem to stem from an anti-Catholicism that bears some of the marks of anti-semitism, and that this is deplorable. Father Cantalamessa remarks, “They [the Jews] know from experience what it means to be victims of collective violence and also because of this they are quick to recognize the recurring symptoms.” How are these the sentiments of an anti-semite?

    There is no comparison between the current crisis, which is the Vatican’s own undoing, and the Shoah.

    Huh? Where did Father Cantalamessa mention the Shoah. Did I miss it? Please tell me if I did. In any case, the “current crisis” was not being compared to the crimes committed against the Jews. Certainly to be deprived unjustly of your property, taken from your home to a concentration camp, and there tortured and finally murdered are things much worse than to have unjust accusations made against you, even accusations of very grave crimes. Rather, as noted, a certain anti-Catholicism was being compared to anti-semitism with regard to “the use of stereotypes, the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt.”

    I have to ask, did you even read the article in the Times?

    You also suggest that Father Cantalamessa lied about the existence of the letter, and even the existence of the Jewish friend. Where is your evidence? You ought not to accuse someone of lying without good proof.

    You’ve now unjustly called Father Cantalamessa a lying anti-semite in front of however many people read this blog, and you ought to apologize, sir.

    “Tired student,” you are plainly very tired. Give yourself—nd it—a rest.

  55. JARay says:

    My local Radio has just spoken about this. I’m speaking about the Australian Broadcasting Commission (if I just said ABC you’d get the wrong crowd). Their comment was that this sermon was the most cack handed attempt to explain away the abuse allegations which have been hurled at the Church and the Pope in particular.

  56. doanli says:


    Think Western journalists will conduct any investigations of pedophiles amongst themselves?

    They also remind me of the Pharisees and Saducees of old. So self righteous, like they’re so lily white themselves…

  57. tired student says:


    Yes, I cannot for sure accuse Fr. C of making up his reference to a Jewish friend in his sermon. Maybe the papal preacher was telling the truth. Maybe I should give him the benefit of the doubt. However a sermon, especially a high-profile one such as Fr. C’s Good Friday sermon, should be more rigorously pleaded. He did attribute Girard, which is good. However, “my Jewish friend” isn’t a solid attribution. Such non-references will inevitably raise the suspicion of listeners. The use of a non-reference such as an anonymous friend challenges the veracity of his overall sermon. This would be true even if Fr. C relayed non-controversial observations of his friend.

    True, Fr. C did not mention the Shoah in his sermon. Yet the consequences of anti-Semitism have frequently been genocide against the Jewish people. The Shoah has been particularly prominent in these genocides and is quite recent in history. To insinuate that the Church’s persecution by the MSM is akin to the persecutions endured by Jewish people over the centuries is absurd. Even though the MSM frequently (and sometimes grossly) misrepresents the actions of prelates with respect to the abuse crisis, the MSM is not openly inciting violence towards the Church. For the Church to reclaim anti-Semitism as a metaphor for its current struggles is a bizarre re-appropriation of a violent past the Church is only beginning to confront.

    Fr C’s preaching also reflects a disturbing trend I’ve seen in Passiontide/Holy Week preaching. Most EF churches I’ve attended are careful to preach according to nostra aetate during Passion Sunday, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday. Now I’ve run into a parish where the priest throws around words like perfidious in his bulletin. Granted, Fr C’s reference to Judaism was not malicious in that respect. However, indiscriminate and non-contextual preaching about Jewish people and Judaism during Passiontide and Holy Week could be at best bad preaching and at worse anti-Semitism. Fr C’s sermon does not set a good example for the preaching priests should deliver this time of year.

    I apologize for my insinuation that Fr. C’s friend is imaginary. I still reserve that his statements were at best grossly ignorant of history and its ramifications. To minimize or unjustly reclaim another group’s suffering as your own is, in my view, an act of prejudice. Fr C crossed that line, and I’m not willing to back him up on it.

  58. Norah says:

    Fr Cantalamessa is a charismatic; maybe they aren’t as aware as the rest of us of what has been happening in the world for the past few weeks.

    His gaffe made me think of Cardinal Schonborn bringing the late Pope John Paul into the current “pin the abuse on Benedict XVI” by relating that Cardinal Ratzinger begged JPII to let him proceed against an abusing priest and allegedly commenting to Schonborn later “the other side won.” At the time I wondered what was Schonborn’s game and now I wonder about Fr Cantalamessa.

    My Australian Broacdasting Commission news email had this take on it:

    Pope Benedict’s personal preacher has compared criticism of the Pope over the Church’s widening paedophilia scandals to “the collective violence suffered by the Jews”.

    Speaking in a Good Friday sermon in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Father Raniero Cantalamessa quoted from a letter he said he had received from a Jewish friend.

    He says his friend wrote that the the shifting of personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt reminded him of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism.

    Angry reaction

    Jewish communities around the world have reacted angrily.

    Rabbi David Goldberg, from the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London, says the comments are out of touch but not malign in intent.

    “My reaction is now more one of sorrow, that a man could have made such a pitifully inept analogy to try and defend the church,” he said.

    Rabbi Marvin Hier from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in the United States agrees.

    “The Church should know better,” he said.

    “There is no comparison between collective guilt assigned against the Jews, which resulted in the death of tens of millions of innocent civilians, to the so-called accusations levelled against perpetrators,” he said.

    Rabbi Marvin Hier says to make the remarks on Easter Friday in Saint Peter’s Basilica is outrageous, even if Father Cantalamessa was quoting a Jewish friend.

    “It’s like, I will quote the Jewish friend who says the world is flat. Doesn’t mean I need to quote it on Easter Friday in the presence of the Pope,” he said.

    “It’s a stupid remark and the comparison is ridiculous. It’s a person who doesn’t know history.

    “The difference is that tens of millions of people died because of the other comparison, because of the collective guilt.

    “Here, there’s no collective guilt. The charges have been levelled against priests who have abused their calling and the hierarchy that covered it up.”

    Rabbi Hier called for a high-ranking Vatican official to denounce the comments.

    “If for some reason the Pope doesn’t want himself [to] say that the comparison is shameful, because he himself has been brought into the scandal involved in the priests, he could have the Vatican secretary of state say it,” he said.

    The timing and nature of the controversial sermon has not been lost on the Jewish leader closest to the Vatican.

    The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, reportedly laughed in seeming disbelief when asked about Father Cantalamessa’s remarks.

    He told the New York Times, “With a minimum of irony, I will say that today is Good Friday.

    “When they pray that the Lord illuminate our hearts, so we recognise Jesus, we also pray that the Lord illuminate theirs.”

    The Vatican’s official spokesman says the comments were the priest’s “private thoughts” and do not reflect the church’s official position.

  59. Athelstan says:

    1. I first became acquainted with Fr. Cantalamessa’s work when THE MYSTERY OF GOD’S WORD was slipped into the required reading for my MA moral theology class. I thought it was problematic in certain respects. In much the same way I have come to regard some of his preaching, but I must say this homily is unusually so.

    I think Fr. Z has identified the problems with such a comparison. Even put into the mouth of a sympathetic Jew, it’s a comparison best left unspoken. And what Fr. Z didn’t say, JonM did. I think it’s an unfortunate gaffe.

    2. Whatever VOTF started out out as, it soon became a kind of Potemkin storefront for the usual Call To Action suspects.

    I recall back when I used to be on their mailing list and I received a mailing with this juicy quote featured prominently: QUOTE for our time: “As women we have heard the powerful message of our church addressing the dignity and reverence of all persons. As women we have pondered these words. Our contemplation leads us to state that the church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of the church.” Sr. Theresa Kane speaking to Pope John Paul II in October 1979 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City. See Commentary for more.

    I emailed them promptly to ask if VOTF was endorsing women’s ordination. I received a terse one line response saying that they were not, but that they were not taking the quote down. Judge for yourself.

  60. chantgirl says:

    As to allowing the laity to be involved in the hiring/firing of priests, I can say from experience that this is a horrible idea. As the daughter of a former Lutheran minister who later converted to Catholicism and was ordained to the priesthood, I saw firsthand that the Lutheran congregation (who did hire/fire their pastors) would punish the pastors for preaching that the congregation didn’t like (over abortion etc.) by docking the pastors’ pay or threatening to relieve the pastors of their positions. Essentially, the pastors were held hostage as to what they could preach about by the “parish councils” who determined if they would be able to support their families. Our priests have a difficult time speaking the truth knowing that some in their parishes will write nasty letters or withhold contributions if they preach on touchy subjects. Let’s not make it any more difficult for them to speak the truth. Our priests do not need to be bought by the majority opinion as congressmen are by lobbyists in Washington.

  61. Peter in Canberra says:

    I hadn’t apprehended Fr Cantalamessa is a charismatic. But that makes sense – many charismatics in my experience eschew the use of reason within the practice of religion, rather preferring to “let the Spirit move them”.

    @ Geoffrey

    I would wait a little longer before we bestow the appalet of “the Great” on Pope John Paul II.

    He did many good things. But there are so many things he did, and didn’t do, that make me shake my head and wonder. Extraordinary ministers (now very ordinary), altar girls, Assissi. Kung, Curran, Weakland, Chittister all roaming free. Lefevre the only one to suffer canonical penalty.

  62. Makemeaspar says:

    ok I have to comment. The Charismatic Renewal Movement was started on College Campuses by students primarily. At that time in the 70’s EVERYONE was very experience oriented.

    TODAY those who have stayed in the Charismatic Renewal Movement(its only a movement so has no particular doctrines), Have nurtured and grown in their Catholic Faith. Here in Michigan we have some of the largest and oldest Charismatic Groups and they are also the biggest supporters of Orthodoxy, the best Papists and the major suppliers of new Priests.

    They also people the Traditionalists Movement in Huge numbers. They are learning latin in droves. They are bringing more new Converts to the Faith and standing up with thier pocketbooks, Bodies and minds to protect the Church.

    EWTN was founded by a Charismatic(Mother Angelica). The Charismatic Catholics I know won’t let their Daughters become altar boys, they have large families, and they ALL pray their Rosaries Daily.

    So if Poor Archbp. C is Charismatic, that has nothing to do with his speech-writing ability.

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