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Alan Dershowitz

 
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: WILL THE NEXT POPE BE AN ANTI-SEMITE?

Alan Dershowitz, posted Feb 25, 2013

 

The election of a 78-year-old “interim” pope—the dean of cardinals Joseph Ratzinger—really marks the beginning of a two-year campaign period for the next pope, who is likely to be far younger and serve for a much longer period of time. It is not too early, therefore, for all civilized people who are opposed to bigotry to demand that Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, 63-year-old archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, be taken out of any consideration for the papacy. To put it most simply, Rodriguez is an out and out anti-Semite. He campaigned actively for the job this time and because of his young age - - he is 63 years old - - he will probably be a leading candidate in two years.

Rodriguez Maradiaga has said that “the Jews” are to blame for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! The Jews? How did Rodriguez Maradiaga ever come up with this ridiculous idea? Here is his “logic.” He begins by asserting that the Vatican is anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. It follows, therefore, that “The Jews” had to get even with the Catholic Church, while at the same time deflecting attention away from Israeli injustices against the Palestinians. The Jews managed to do this by arranging for the media—which they, of course, control—to give disproportionate attention on the Vatican sex scandal. Listen to Rodriguez Maradiaga’s own words:

“It certainly makes me think that in a moment in which all the attention of the mass media was focused on the Middle East, all the many injustices done against the Palestinian people, the print media and the TV in the United States became obsessed with sexual scandals that happened 40 years ago, 30 years ago. Why? I think it’s also for these motives: What is the church that has received Arafat the most times and has most often confirmed the necessity of the creation of a Palestinian state? What is the church that does not accept that Jerusalem should be the indivisible capital of the State of Israel, but that it should be the capital of the three great monotheistic religions?”

 

Rodriguez Maradiaga then goes on to compare the Jewish controlled media with “Hitler,” because they are “protagonists of what I do not hesitate to define as a persecution against The Church.” When asked whether he wanted to reconsider his attack, Rodriguez Maradiaga replied: “I don’t repent… sometimes it is necessary to shake things up.” Recently, while running for pope, he has offered a tepid apology for his insensitivity toward Jews. But it is too little and too late. In any event, no apology could ever erase the mindset that could produce such an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

 

The prime media culprit in Rodriguez Maradiaga’s bizarro world is the Boston Globe, which has won numerous journalistic awards for its exposure of the sex scandal and cover up. The Globe is owned by The New York Times, which is controlled by the Sulzberger family. Hence the Jewish conspiracy. The problem with this cockamamie theory is that the Jewish community of Boston was very close to, and admiring of, Cardinal Bernard Law, who presided over the arch diocese during the scandal. Cardinal Law had built bridges between the Catholic and Jewish communities of Boston, and when the scandal was exposed by the very un-Jewish Boston Globe the Jewish community remained largely supportive of Law. None of the leading media critics, lawyers or politicians who railed against the church were Jewish. Most were Catholic. But that didn’t matter to the bigoted cardinal, who - - along with other classic anti-Semites -- believes that if there is a problem “the Jews” must be to blame for it. As James Carrol, the distinguished columnist for the Boston Globe who is himself a Catholic, has characterized Rodriguez Maradiaga’s “crackpot” mindset: “when the church has a problem - - here is the oldest move of all - - blame the Jews.”

Nor is Rodriguez Maradiaga the only current cardinal afflicted with such bigotry. Cardinal Joseph Glemp, the primate of Poland, has blamed the Jews for Polish Communism, alcoholism and collaboration with Hitler. He also accused Jews of trying to kill nuns. Other high-ranking priests especially in Central America and Poland have leveled similar anti-Semitic accusations against the Jews and Israel.

These blood libels demonstrate that the Vatican still has a problem with anti-Semitism at the top levels of its hierarchy, even after Vatican II declared anti-Semitism to be “a sin.” How can serial sinners like Cardinals Rodriguez Maradiaga and Glemp retain their statures as princes of The Church while continuing to preach blood libels against the Jews? Would a Cardinal who advocated gay marriage or abortion not be defrocked? Why not defrock those Cardinals who themselves commit the sin of anti-Semitism? This age-old problem will not go away, unless the Vatican takes action to enforce its parchment protest against anti-Semitism.

 

As a Jew, I have no standing to, or stake in, whether the pope is conservative or liberal on Catholic doctrine, but I and all other people who care about Catholic-Jewish relations do have standing and a major stake in assuring that an anti-Semite is never considered for such a high calling. Just as there was a universal outcry when the former Nazi Kurt Waldheim was elected to the presidency of Austria, so too should there be a universal outcry if this cardinal, whose rants could comfortably have been published by Der Stürmer, were to be elected head of the Catholic Church.

 

If Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga were to be elected pope, all of Pope John Paul II’s good work in building bridges between the Catholic Church and the Jews would be destroyed. This should not be allowed to happen. The campaign against this bigot must begin now.

 

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His latest book is Rights From Wrongs.

 
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