Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mel Gibson's priest opposes "Holocaust myth", alleges Jews undermine Catholic Church

Over the years, the question of whether Mel Gibson is a bigot has been raised in several contexts. First, when he made his film version of the Passion Play, he and his defenders portrayed this as merely the act of a devout Catholic, not an act of anti-Semitism.  Next, when he spewed anti-Semitic statements ("the Jews are responsible for starting every war") at a Jewish police officer who was arresting him for drunk driving, his defenders claimed that he was so drunk that he didn't know what he was saying. Now, with the publication of extensive audio apparently of Gibson using abusive, misogynist and racist language, threatening his girlfriend with death and defending his having punched her in the face as being justified, those prior defenses are wearing pretty thin. (Of all these offenses, his alleged punching of his girlfriend is by far the worst, so I am reluctant to list it in the same category as the others. A violent attack on a woman holding a child is a crime of a much high order than hate speech.)

With respect to his views concerning Jews, I have doubted Gibson's good intentions from the time of his Passion of the Christ, first because of the Jewish-Christian conflict its release and publicity campaign deliberately set up, second, because of the contents of the film, and third, because I know a bit about the traditionalist Catholic movement.  That movement, in spite of its name, does not advocate a return to a familiar Catholicism (at least to those old enough) of Latin masses and fish dinner on Friday.  In fact, it is a cult-like reactionary group which opposes the Vatican, promotes bizarre conspiracy theories and has ties to extremist, sometimes violent, political movements.

One important clue as to Mel Gibson's world view in general and his feelings about Jews in particular is provided by who he chose to serve as the priest of the traditionalist church he had built in Agoura Hills, near his home in Malibu.  (That church, which is private and not associated in any way with the Roman Catholic archdiocese or any other recognized Catholic denomination, has been funded extravagantly by Gibson , reportedly to the tune of $64 million dollars [read here and here.]  Gibson is solely in charge of what takes place within it.).  Gibson chose a priest named Louis Campbell (read here), an activist within the far-right traditionalist movement who had previously served as priest at Hutton Gibson's church in Stafford, Texas.  Father Campbell advocates extreme anti-Jewish and anti-modernist views, as evidenced by his "Sunday Sermons", which are published on a traditionalist website called  These sermons are presumably of the same sort as the ones he gave at Mel Gibson's church.

In one outrageous sermon (read here), Campbell goes so far as to state his opinion that the Holocaust is a myth promoted by Zionists and an absurd list of "prominent Jews", designed to undermine the church, negate the message of Christ and absolve the Jewish people for deicide.  ("Zionist interests have flooded the world with the concept that the real holocaust took place in the 1940's.")  Campbell contends that the antidote for this myth was provided by Mel Gibson:

   "The Holocaust myth is now being challenged mightily by the movie 'The Passion of the Christ.' The Jews (and we do not speak of all Jews, but of many influential Jews such as Abe Foxman and the ADL, Rabbi Schmuley Boteach and Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Museum, and those who have control of the media) had almost succeeded in blotting out the name of Jesus from the consciousness of the people. The public had been carefully programmed through a relentless round of movies, documentaries and books, so as to have the guilt of the Holocaust constantly in mind. 'Schindler's List' and the abominable book "Hitler's Pope" in so demeaning and desecrating Pius XII's good name, are perfect examples of this. They had turned the tables on us. Rather than the Jews being reputedly responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, we now had Christians, especially the Roman Catholic Church, bearing the guilt for the Holocaust.
    "But with one fell swoop, this marvelous movie struck a nearly fatal blow to their carefully executed plan of convincing the world that the Holocaust is the pivotal event, the defining moment in human history, thus displacing the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ from that exalted position. This is the real explanation for their rage against Christ, and against this movie. They are afraid that Christians will begin to realize once again that the true Holocaust, the one perfect and acceptable sacrifice to God our Father, took place two thousand years ago on Calvary's hill, when Jesus Christ shed His Precious Blood for the sins of the world. All human beings, whether Jews or Gentiles, of every place and of every time, must go to the foot of the Cross of Jesus and acknowledge Him as the Messiah, if they are to be saved.
    "The Holocaust myth and the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary are unalterably opposed to one another. If the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is the one perfect Sacrifice acceptable to God, the true Holocaust, and the one defining moment in human history, the Jewish Holocaust cannot be the unique event they claim it to be. It was a terrible atrocity, a great human tragedy, but not a perfect sacrifice offered to God; it was not redemptive; it cannot save anyone; it was not a holocaust, certainly not The Holocaust.
    "But even the Vatican II church cooperates, resulting in its own demolition. John Paul II has apologized to the Jews for the sins of Christians against them, and has absolved them from the necessity of believing in Jesus Christ. Much was made of his "historic" trip to Jerusalem where his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum was celebrated by the media. 'The awful truth is this--that John Paul II and the New Vatican accept the myth of the Holocaust, thus denying the uniqueness and efficacy of the Sacrifice of Christ on Calvary, and of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.'"

In this sermon, Campbell cites a column on the Lew Rockwell website written by Christopher Manion (read here) as the source of his thinking on this subject.  (Manion is a paleo-conservative blogger associated with a group called Catholics for Ron Paul.  Read here.)  After reading both, I see why he cites Manion.  Campbell was essentially restating Manion's idea of comparing the Holocaust to Christ's death in terms more suited to a fire and brimstone sermon than an opinion column, and taking Manion's idea of Jews denying "Christ's Holocaust" to a higher level of hate.  Here's Manion, purportedly warning Jews not to do what Campbell, after reading this, accuses them of doing:

"(E)very Jew who does not proclaim Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior is denying the Christian view of the Holocaust – in other words, Jews might fear that Christians view them with the same virulent scorn that many Jews heap on "Holocaust Deniers" like Gibson’s father.  
"Hence, when Gibson, the son of a modern Holocaust denier, makes a film about the perfect Holocaust of Christ’s Passion and death, contemporary observers – and not only Jews – might be tempted to consider "The Passion of the Christ" a blasphemous affront to the modern Holocaust and an insult to the suffering and death of six million Jews under Hitler.
"If Jews think we Christians hate them for not loving Jesus, no wonder they’re upset! That would mean that we want to punish them as the perpetrators of the perfect Holocaust – Christ’s Passion and death on the cross."

So Campbell, after reading that, actually does call Jews Holocaust deniers for their disbelief in Christ's "Holocaust", then complains that Jews are using the "myth" of the Nazi Holocaust to negate their collective guilt for killing Christ.  Campbell uses this rationale as a way to praise Gibson's Passion as an effective counter to this Jewish conspiracy.  He then goes on to somehow connect this bizarre conspiracy theory to the promotion of both Communism and abortion:

Why is the death of the Jews a uniquely horrible event, an unspeakable atrocity beyond all others throughout human history? Why will they not allow the term "holocaust" to be applied to the deaths of millions of innocent children who die in their mothers' wombs as victims of abortion? Why do we not see museums dedicated to the Ukrainians, or to the tens of millions of Christians and others who died in the Soviet Union?

Even when attempting to strike a moderate, compassionate tone with respect to Holocaust victims, Campbell can't help but add a disquieting note of uncertainty as to the actual historicity of their fate:

If six million Jews died in the death camps under the Nazis we must have compassion for them.

If Campbell doesn't know that the Holocaust occurred, I must conclude that he doesn't want to know.

Reading some of his other "Sunday sermons" on the Daily Catholic website, one finds Campbell promoting bizarre conspiracy theories alleging Jewish interference in the Catholic Church. In one, he actually claims that Cardinal Augustin Bea, who was one of the church leaders responsible for liberalizing church teachings at Vatican II, was secretly a Jew himself. (Read here.)  Campbell absurdly cites (via another source) an obscure Egyptian newspaper called Al Gomhuria which made this claim and alleged that Bea's true family name was "Behar".

Another of Campbell's sermons lashes out against the very idea of religious freedom, one of the fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution, implying that the nefarious unseen hand of the Masons is behind its promotion, and that it intrinsically opposed to Christianity (read here):

"Religious freedom as a fundamental human right - it sounds like something from the Declaration of the Rights of Man of the French Revolution, something you would expect from the U.N., and not from the Vatican. Actually it is a Masonic doctrine, which has overtaken the true Catholic doctrine on religious freedom. But it is one of the most important pillars of the pontificate of our putative pope, John Paul II, without which his ambitious ecumenical and inter-faith program would collapse."

In his sermons, Campbell repeatedly promotes an ardent anti-Zionism rooted in an opposition to the existence of Israel in particular, and to Jewish power in general.  He considers both to be part of an anti-Christian holy war.  Even while using sometimes violent imagery, he connects his anti-Zionism to his purported desire for peace, which he differentiates from  John Paul II's peace activism:
(A)lthough he never fails to promote his famous "civilization of peace and love," John Paul II supports the false claims of Jewish Zionism, thus contributing to the cause of war in the Middle East. For if, as the Church has always taught, the Scriptures say that the promises were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His Church, how can it be said at the same time that God promised Jerusalem to the Jews? To affirm one interpretation is to deny the other. To support the false claims of the Jewish Zionists is to deny the Church its inheritance and to scandalize the little ones-faithful Catholics.

He follows this odd plea for peace with a prayer to bring on Armegeddon and punish Zionists and their supporters, who he depicts as defying God's will:

Yes, God has something to say to presidents, prime ministers and potentates who ignore His laws and have an exaggerated sense of their own power and importance:

"And now, O kings, give heed; take warning, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice before Him; with trembling pay homage to Him, lest He be angry and you perish from the way, when His anger blazes suddenly. Happy are all who take refuge in Him!" (Ps.2:10-12).

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle!

Campbell's peace activism seems to have its limits. In a sermon he gave on Passion Sunday, 2004, Campbell predicted a holy war in which Jews would be violently punished for rejecting Christianity:

"Israel's ultimate act of defiance against God was its rejection of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, which broke their Covenant with God and merited for them the seven-fold covenant curses. Jesus Himself foretold this when He thundered woes against the Scribes and the Pharisees, declaring that upon them would come "all the just blood that has been shed on the earth" and that "all these things will come upon this generation" (Mt.23:33-36).

"The Apocalypse of St. John, the last book of the Bible, gives us an account of the struggle between those who hold to the Old Covenant, symbolized by the harlot dressed in purple and scarlet, riding upon the scarlet beast, and the holy and immaculate Bride of Christ, the Church of the New Covenant. The Old Covenant fails as the covenant curses described in Leviticus fall upon unfaithful Israel, initiated by the opening of seven seals by the Lamb, the sounding of seven trumpets by the angels, the roar of seven thunders (although St. John is commanded not to write what they spoke), and the pouring out of seven bowls of wrath upon the earth by the angels. Jerusalem, called Babylon in the Apocalypse, is utterly destroyed. St. John echoes the words of Jesus: "And in her was found blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain upon the earth:" (Apoc.18:24)."

Campbell connects this prophecy to the post-Vatican II Catholic church, alleging that it is largely illegitimate because of its acceptance of the legitimacy of Judaism:

"(B)ecause of widespread infidelity and apostasy within the Church, the bowls of God's wrath are already being poured out anew upon the earth, in particular because the Modernists who have taken over the Vatican have nullified God's judgments by recognizing the apostate Jews as "the people of the covenant," and "our elder brothers in the faith." They tell them that there are two valid Covenants, theirs and the Christian Covenant. Thus they deny Jesus Christ and make Him out to be a liar..."

While couched in the language of biblical texts and traditional Catholic teachings, Campbell's views, and those of the Gibsons and many other traditionalists, are actually a thing apart from what most would think of as traditional Catholicism. The traditionalist movement, which is entirely a reaction to external threats which they believe to have infiltrated the church to destroy it from within, devotes itself to a very great extent to promoting conspiracy theories about this perceived attack. Thus, in the name of promoting traditional Catholicism, traditionalist Catholics instead promote a sort of cult designed to counter Jewish and Masonic conspiracies, crypto-Jewish cardinals and secretly Communist popes. To call that "traditional" is a stretch. The stuff that the Gibsons believe is not a return to an earlier form of Catholicism, but a descent into pseudo-religious paranoia.

In a sermon called "The New Judaizers", Campbell writes (read here):
"The Modernists at the Vatican have denied their heritage as the true heirs of Abraham by pretending that Catholics have some kind of spiritual relationship with the Jews and the Muslims because we are all 'children of Abraham.' This is deceitful and scandalous, confusing Catholics, and leading the conciliar church deeper into the darkness 'where there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth' (Mt.8:12). "

The Gibsons and their brand of traditionalism pray for the destruction of the modern Catholic Church with its acceptance of Jews and rejection of Jewish collective guilt. They not only pray for the "perfidious Jews" to be converted, they also pray for those who refuse conversion to be destroyed among other agents of the Antichrist.  They glorify the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition, and await something comparable, only much much larger, to finish the job.

That these horrible, hateful views have the seal of approval of his father, his priest and his faith must play a role in Mel Gibson's belief that his expressions of hate are acceptable.

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