Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Slurs and Libels - Open Season on the Catholic Church

On my way in to work this morning I listened to the most astounding minute or so of dialogue between Nicky Campbell, a normally fairly informative and incisive interviewer and Stephen Smith, chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. I was so amazed at this ill-informed and frankly twisted piece I have transcribed the dialogue (and yes, I do have better things to do with my time). You can listen for yourself here for the next 7 days (it's 2 hours 43 minutes into the broadcast).

Nicky Campbell: Jewish groups are criticising the Pope’s decision to lift the excommunication of a British bishop who said that the Nazi death camps did not exist. Bishop Richard Williamson made his comments recently on Swedish TV. The Holocaust Centre has condemned the decision as indefensible. It coincides with holocaust memorial day today. Stephen Smith is Chairman of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. Stephen, good morning.

Stephen Smith: Good morning Nicky

Nicky Campbell: The Pope reinstating Richard Williamson - this seems on the face of it extraordinary…

Stephen Smith: Yes it does particularly on Holocaust Memorial Day, today, when we reflect on what a tragedy and a trauma the Holocaust was in human history to find that a bishop is being reinstated who actively denies the fact that the gas chambers existed is absolutely astounding and outrageous, actually.

Nicky Campbell: Why is he saying this is, is this a political position he has?

Stephen Smith: Well it must be, simply because the gas chambers are an historical fact, and bishop Williamson was seen to reinforce his views recently on Swedish TV….

Nicky Campbell: …he said that no more than 200,000 died....

Stephen Smith: …yes no more than 200,000 died but he categorically denies that the gas chambers existed. Now denial is part of the cycle of genocide. What happens is that you create an ideology of hatred towards people be they Jews or Gypsies or whoever it might be in Darfur today. You then exclude them from society. You then kill them and then you deny that the facts actually are the facts. It’s all part of that cycle so for the Catholic Church that was so, in many ways, implicated in the Nazi regime as part of its Concordat with the National Socialists in the 1930s - we look back at that history and say well the Catholic Church could probably have done more to stop it, it didn’t. Now, 64 years after the liberation of Auschwitz it reinstating a bishop who denies it happened, it actually doesn’t bode well for the future.

Nicky Campbell: In some countries you could be arrested for that, but lets move on. To National Holocaust Memorial Day [there follows a discussion of the comparisons between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto]

Let me state for the record that I accept fully that the Nazi regime was evil, that the Holocaust is a fact of history and that the gas chambers did exist. The finer points I am happy to debate. May I also state I think Bishop Williamson is an idiot if he believes what he is said to believe. But back to the programme....

Here are the distortions or libels I've counted:
1. No context is given to the lifting of the excommunication - one would think the Pope were doing it merely to annoy or worse;
2. Bishop Williamson is being 'reinstated' (To what? A diocese? No, just communion with the Church);
3. This outrageous 'reinstatement' is being timed to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day. Deliberately;
4. The Catholic Church is implicated in the Nazi regime;
5. Having been implicated in the Nazi regime, the Catholic Church then did little to stop the Holocaust;
6. Having 'reinstated' a Holocaust-denying bishop, the Catholic Church in some way is going to be 'implicated'in future genocides

Can you add any others I've missed?

The dangerous thing about this stuff is that it enters the zeitgeist. There are plenty of people now wandering around the UK as a result of hearing this who think that a Holocaust-denying Catholic bishop has been reinstated by the German (nudge-nudge) Pope and it was deliberately done to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day.

I don't think we are long away from the point where the Catholic Church is accused of abducting children in order to incorporate their remains into communion wafers. You read it here first.

Do complain to the BBC if you feel the urge. Much good it will do us.

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Blogger Ponte Sisto said...

I am completely aghast! I am really lost for words. No, one comes to mind, but it's not repeatable.

It's easy to feel gloomy about these vile slurs, not just from this, but from the many "Catholicphobes" (there, I've invented a word so that HM Govt can make it an offence to do or say anything anti-Catholic); but, let's not forget we have the Holy Spirit to lead and comfort us.

Lies were told about Christ. It's the devil's best way to make an arse of himself.

5:57 PM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

The martyrs suffered worse, I guess, Philip. We always have the Holy Ghost to guide us.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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God bless,

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8:08 PM  
Blogger dillydaydream said...

So,Mr Campbell goes on to compare Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto.

That reminds me of the old joke from the Sloane Ranger handbook. What's the difference between a Range Rover and a hedgehog? Answer - on a hedgehog, the pricks are on the outside.

In the Warsaw Ghetto, the pricks were on the outside.

Would that this were true of Gaza, or indeed the BBC.

9:20 PM  
Blogger Ponte Sisto said...

You have a well-deserved award waiting here.

1:02 AM  
Blogger Paulinus said...

Philip that is very kind

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is time we got the push for EWTN to be easier to receive to crack on a bit. Perhaps some more wider Catholic Radio too.

Then we can this sort of keich behind and at least have give the other broadcasters a benchmark on factual reporting and current affairs coverage from the Church's perspective and about the Church's perspective.

5:56 PM  

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