NPR’s Hit-Piece on the Pope

I’m an avid, if not overly-supportive, listener of public radio.  Every morning I drive to work listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition”.  Today it was a struggle to keep my mind on the road, as I listened to a hit-piece on the Pope’s decision to lift the excommunications of the four SPPX bishops.  I will be writing a letter to the editors of NPR’s “Morning Edition”.  I also wanted to share this ridiculously unfair bit of ‘reporting’ with the American Catholic reader.

Click the “Listen Now” link to listen to this tripe.

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31 Responses to NPR’s Hit-Piece on the Pope

  1. Chris M says:

    I stopped listening to NPR specifically because of their slanted take on religion in general and Catholicism in particular. I used to enjoy Morning Edition daily as well.

  2. Anthony says:

    Between this and Hans Küng’s “if only Obama were pope” comment, I think I’ve heard enough.

    NPR: one more reason to be a libertarian.

  3. Mark DeFrancisis says:

    I thought the piece was actually not that unfair, given how the media generally handles reporting on religion.

    I also respect Lehmnann and Kasper very much.

  4. According to CNN, the Vatican has issued Williamson a “recant or we remove your priestly powers” order. Harsh stuff, but then the SSPX supposedly yearn for the pre-Vatican II Church, in which such a order would have been much less surprising.

    Perhaps a “Pope Issues Bull Getting Medieval on Old Fashioned Bishop” headline could be worked up…

  5. Matt McDonald says:

    I would bet that this is the order in question:

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/02/note-from-vatican-sec-state-on-bp-williamson-holocaust-and-the-pope/

    Which states:
    “Bishop Williamson, for admission to function as a bishop in the Church, will have to also, in an absolutely uneqivocal and public way, distance himself from his positions regarding the Shoah, which were not known by the Holy Father in the moment of the remission of the excommunication.

    translated by Fr. Z

  6. Mark DeFrancisis says:

    The world’s “chatter” bears fruit.

  7. John Henry says:

    “which were not known by the Holy Father in the moment of the remission of the excommunication.”

    Don’t they have Google?

  8. John Henry says:

    To be clear, my complaint is that this was handled very poorly, and that more research should have done. I am not suggesting bad faith; just an egregious lack of judgment by some of the staff involved.

  9. On the very NPR site to which we were linked is the news story that Benedict has now required Williamson to recant his holocaust denials before he is re-instated. So much for your characterization of the NPR piece as a “hit piece!” Sounds more like good, solid advocacy journalism. Get all the facts, and then try it some time.

  10. “which were not known by the Holy Father in the moment of the remission of the excommunication.”

    Don’t they have Google?

    Surely the Pope knows that the SSPX unambiguously declares that “the Jews” committed “deicide.” He should demand that they recant that absurd position as well, as it gets more to the heart of the SSPX’s anti-Judaism.

  11. Being the curious sort, I wanted to see if Michael’s accusation above was accurate.

    There’s an article on the SSPX website on the question, link here:
    http://www.sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/jews_guilty_of_deicide.htm

    The key passage, it seems to me, is:

    The Jews were consequently directly responsible for the crucifixion. Deicide is the name given to the crime of killing the person who is God, namely the Son of God in His human nature. It is those persons who brought about the crucifixion who are guilty of deicide, namely the Jews.

    St. Matthew’s Gospel states very clearly, not only that Pilate considered Jesus innocent of the accusations made against him, but also that the whole people of the Jews took the responsibility of his murder upon their own heads. Indeed, to Pilate’s statement: “I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it,” the response is immediate: “And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and upon our children.” (Mt. 27:24, 25) The Gospel teaches us, therefore, that the Jewish race brought upon themselves the curse that followed the crime of deicide.

    However, in what does that curse consist. Surely it cannot be that there is a collective guilt of the Jewish race for the sin of deicide. For only those individuals are responsible for the sin who knowingly and willingly brought it about. Jews of today are manifestly not responsible for that sin.

    This strikes me as an overly literal approach to the passage, and I think they are clearly wrong to reject wording in Nostra Aetate farther down in the article (despite the fact that I’m not clear that their interpretation is actually out of sync with NA) but the above does not strike me as fundamentally out of line with Catholic teaching so far as I am aware. It’s an unfortunately aggressive formulation, certainly, but I’m not clear that it’s untrue.

  12. Darwin:

    1) The article you cited (which is, of course, the one that I was referring to) makes two entirely contradictory claims: a) “the Jewish race brought upon themselves the curse that followed the crime of deicide,” and b) “Surely it cannot be that there is a collective guilt of the Jewish race for the sin of deicide.” How is “the Jewish race” bringing a “curse” upon “themselves” NOT a matter of “collective guilt?” The article is nonsense. It attempts to soften its anti-Jewish point at the end but there is no way around it.

    2) Unlike the SSPX, the Church does NOT use the word “deicide” in its discussion of the crucifixion of Jesus.

    3) Nor does the Church use the idea of a Jewish “curse” anymore.

    When it comes to Judaism, the SSPX IS fundamentally out of line with Church teaching. Any reconciliation that is in the works should include the SSPX repudiating these views.

  13. I was thinking about this over dinner (ugh, now I’ll have schismatic digestion), though I write now having read Michael’s points above as well:

    It strikes me that while the main points of the SSPX article are not out of keeping with Church teaching, they do underline the main problem with the SSPX: a pride which insists on their own interpretation of everything and openly reject Vatican II and later statements even when they’re not necessarily in contradiction with what they actually believe.

    In the article, they start out insisting that “the Jews” are guilty of “deicide” and under a “curse” as a result. Their reason is basically that since this language was used at some points in Church history, they don’t want to cede it even if it’s not generally used now. They then turn around and define “deicide” to simply mean that the Jews of the 1st century behaved as described in the Gospels, which is hardly in contradiction to the Church. They define the “curse” resulting from this as continuing to adhere to an incomplete version of the truth: not acknowledging the revelation of Christ.

    What this comes out to is a protracted exercise in stiff-necked-ness. They want to continue using the terms “deicide” and “curse” basically out of sheer cussedness, and blame the Church for not doing the same, yet the actual doctrine they assert is not really out of keeping with the Church’s at all. The real problem is the stubborn insistence on using terminology (“deicide” and “curse”) which is fundamentally associated with notions of collective guilt and collective punishment in the context of antisemitism.

    And it’s that pride and insistence on stating things their way and denouncing everyone who doesn’t that will have to go if they’re to be successful in rejoining the Church.

  14. Tito Edwards says:

    Darwin,

    I couldn’t agree more. Excellent analysis of the hair-splitting and obtuseness of the S.S.P.X.

  15. Darwin,

    Or perhaps they are anti-semitic.

  16. I’m certainly sure that there’s a larger percentage of SSPX who are seriously anti-semitic than there is of the general Catholic population — just as with Eastern Catholics and Orthodox. Unfortunately, there’s a history of anti-semitism in many Christian traditions, especially heavily old fashioned or ethnic communities.

    However, the piece I linked to didn’t strike me as being seriously anti-semitic so much as being committed to defending past vocabulary even when it is not worth doing. And also a reactionary tendency that wants to take “unworldly” stands simply to make a stink.

    I don’t think I would agree that the SSPX is fundamentally out of line with Church teaching in regards to Judaism — at least not officially. I’m sure a certain percentage are.

  17. John Hetman says:

    How amazing…NPR is prejudiced against the Church!! Maybe it’s time for you to move your dial.

  18. Alan Phipps says:

    I’m not convinced that Williamson’s particular views don’t reflect some sort of general tenant within the SSPX. Not after I read comments like the one on this post:

    http://rencesvals.blogspot.com/2009/01/statement-in-support-of-hl-bp-richard.html

    Sure, not everyone who attends their chapels would subscribe to this. But it’s definitely out there.

    -Alan

  19. Matt McDonald says:

    When it comes to X, the Y are fundamentally out of line with Church teaching. Any reconciliation that is in the works should include the Y repudiating these views.

    Fill in the X with whatever heresy you prefer, there’s surely to be found a substantial portion of the Y group who practice it and are still considered to be in communion with the Church.

    While we abhor anti-semitism, when members of the SSPX hold views which were long held in the Church, and say things like “deicide” even if we’re not comfortable with it… is it possible that we are playing at semantics to a certain extent? Given the massive disorder after the council, how was a Catholic to know which practices should be abandoned and which should not, when your local priest or professor was abandoning ALL OF THEM? I think we have the benefit of JP II and Benedict XVI to help us understand that, but the SSPX has been operating without that benefit, it will take time for them to learn what things to set aside. I think perhaps there are many who are visibly in union with the Church who have abandoned far too much.

    For example, properly understood, the Church has always taught that outside Her, there is no salvation, she is the means to eternal life. When’s the last time you heard that preached? So perhaps, that the SSPX is trying to maintain these teachings which have been so much abandoned in the name of “tolerance”, in so doing they engender a reaction even when they speak the truth about the Church’s teaching, at the same time they may tend to be somewhat extreme in their defence of Church teaching, to the point sometimes of distorting it. This is not acceptable, but it is certainly understandable.

    The SSPX is correct in the vast majority of their understanding of Catholic teaching, which is a lot more than I can say about a great many diocese and religious orders.

  20. Matt McDonald says:

    Interesting (Posted by Jerry on Fr. Z’s blog here).

    “There have always been jews that have converted (to the Catholic faith) and if they have really converted, they make magnificent Catholics. Because as St. Paul says in the Epistle to the Romans, the religion of God is in their bloodstreams. And when a jew truly rediscovers the Catholic Faith, He’s coming home in a way that no gentile is coming home. He’s coming back to Our Lord, and the Apostles and Our Lady who were all Jewish. The Catholic faith was founded by Jews. And when jews come back to it, their coming home…a gentile can never be at home in the Catholic faith in the same way that a real Jewish convert can be.”—Bishop Richard Williamson interview with Bernard Janzen 2003

  21. Don the Kiwi says:

    A hit piece for sure.

    But hey, what’s new? The Church has been handling this sort of crap for nigh on 2000 years.

    Love Mark Shea’s comment – “The ever diminishing IQ of the secular media” – or words to that effect.

    Having said that, there is a lesson here.

  22. Matt McDonald says:

    More updates from Fr. Z’s blog here:


    You may be encouraged to know that all the articles regarding Judaism have been removed from the SSPX website.

    Breier
    Comment by Breier — 5 February 2009 @ 9:54 am

    This may be a sincere act of correction, or a covering of posteriors… perhaps we should assume the best intentions, and thank God for the removal of potential scandal to the Faith.

  23. This may be a sincere act of correction, or a covering of posteriors… perhaps we should assume the best intentions, and thank God for the removal of potential scandal to the Faith.

    We should not “assume best intentions” because we are dealing with the SSPX’s openly anti-Jewish beliefs. They should be made to repudiate those views as they are a fundamental contradiction of the Gospel.

    Matt, since when are you into “assuming the best intentions” when it comes to dissidents?

  24. Matt McDonald says:

    Michael I,

    This may be a sincere act of correction, or a covering of posteriors… perhaps we should assume the best intentions, and thank God for the removal of potential scandal to the Faith.

    We should not “assume best intentions” because we are dealing with the SSPX’s openly anti-Jewish beliefs. They should be made to repudiate those views as they are a fundamental contradiction of the Gospel.

    Matt, since when are you into “assuming the best intentions” when it comes to dissidents?

    Since when are you opposed to it? Oh, since they’re on the right…

    Actually, if womynpriests removed all reference to women priests from their website, I would be willing to assume they have the best intentions, and thank God for the removal of potential scandal to the Faith.

    Did you consider the distinction that the SSPX claims to be anti-“Talmudist” rather than anti-semitic or ethinic Jew? Perhaps you’d care to comment. Williamson’s 2005 statement seems to contradict any legitimate case of racism in their position (that is of the organization, not with regard to individual members).

  25. Sure, I’ll comment: Notice I said “anti-Jewish” not “anti-semitic.”

  26. Matt McDonald says:

    Michael I,

    so, if you’re acknowledging that the SSPX position is regarding the Jewish religion and not the ethnic Jews, then how exactly do you find it a fundamental contradiction of the Gospel?

  27. Matt McDonald says:

    Michael I,

    is it just emotion then, or an actual reasoned understanding?

  28. SSPX priest expelled due to remarks on the Holocaust

    Great news.

  29. Matt McDonald says:

    Michael,

    Indeed

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