Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Are They Afraid of Pope Francis? 10

Pope Francis greets friend,
Rabbi Abraham Skorka 
Last week a group of “traditionalist Catholics” disrupted an interfaith service in the Catholic Cathedral of Buenos Aires Argentina marking the 75 anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night in which Nazi mobs attacked and burned over a thousand German synagogues and countless Jewish owned shops and homes as Adolf Hitler notched up his campaign that resulted in the murder of six million Jews in Nazi concentration camps. 
Members of the Society of Saint Pius X, a schismatic movement within the Catholic Church that rejects the teachings of the Second Vatican Council began shouting traditional Catholic prayers as Catholic Archbishop Mario Poli, joined by Catholic clergy and faithful welcomed Rabbi Abraham Skorka—a personal friend and collaborator of Pope Francis—and other rabbis and Jewish faithful in the service.  The disruption was seen as a personal attack on the papacy of Pope Francis who has renewed and revived interest in interfaith cooperation. 
The Reverend Christian Bouchancourt, the South American head of the Society of Saint Pius X said that welcoming Jews to the Cathedral was a desecration of the space that had been consecrated for Catholic Worship.  Bouchancourt and his followers proclaimed that “followers of false gods must be kept out of the temple…” 
Rebel Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre who in 1970 established the Society of Saint Pius X is famous for his rejection of the liturgical reforms in the Roman Catholic Church, but his more fundamental rebellion is against the Decrees of the Council itself, particularly those which sanctioned Religious Freedom and Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogues.  Lefebvre, a French Royalist was a notorious anti-Semite and anti-Semitism is fairly common among “traditionalist Catholics.”  The history of French anti-Semitism is closely tied to the Royalist factions and in the late 19th century manifested itself in the Dreyfus affair in which Catholic Royalists framed a Jewish artillery officer, Alfred Dreyfus for treason.  Collaboration of conservative Catholics with the Vichy regime during the German occupation of France in World War II marks another sad chapter of Catholic anti-Semitism.  Most recently, Society of St. Pius X Bishop Richard Williamson denied that the Nazi extermination of European Jewry ever happened.  He was later dismissed from the Society for unrelated charges. 
Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism are common among traditionalist and neo-traditionalist groups.  When I look at some of the bête noire sites I regularly check—Les Femmes, Restore DC Catholicism, Eponymous Flower—we see that their undeclared agenda is not fidelity to the Church but a sort of Tea Party Catholicism that is set upon a social agenda most often at odds with the Church’s magisterium.   Racist comments are not rare on these sites any more than other forms of social bullying.  Indeed this is the real objection that most neo-trads have not only to the post-Conciliar Liturgical Rites, but to the vision of the place the Church has in the modern world as the Herald of God’s Kingdom of Justice and Peace.

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