A Vatican official has courted controversy by likening anti-Catholic sentiment at the sex abuse scandal currently plaguing the church with what he called the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism." Jewish leaders have denounced the Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa's comparison, made during a Good Friday sermon in the presence of Pope Benedict, with Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League calling it "grotesque." But the remarks illustrate the extent to which the church feels it is being unfairly attacked over its reaction to the abuse charges. Does the comparison have any merit?
What an offensive comparison: Is it really necessary to point out what a "moral offense" this is, says Susan Jacoby at the Washington Post. Jews were "punished, as well as murdered, for acts they did not commit." Catholic bishops "aren't being punished at all, for acts they did commit." This attempt to play victim backfired badly, not least because the church hierarchy has done all it can to seek "plausible deniability" rather than accept responsibility.
"The Vatican playing victim in the court of public opinion"
Catholics are being persecuted, though: The Church has reacted badly, says Raksha Shetty on CNN-IBN, but the "sense of being victimised and persecuted... is justified." When priests travel to the United States, they must now give the immigration authorities a "written undertaking... as to the purpose of [their] visit." When suspicion like this has shifted to "blameless priests and devotees" you begin to suspect a "modern-day inquisition."
"Persecution all over again"
This priest forgot the lessons of Jesus: The rest of Fr. Cantalamessa's homily was "impressive," says Francis X Clooney in America Magazine. He reminded us how Christ, "as priest and victim," died to end violence. But in bringing up the abuse scandal, he forgot that Christ did not "label himself victim, or ask for sympathy." And church leaders who attempt to "bathe themselves in the aura of the suffering of Jesus and other Jews" do no good at all.
"Preaching to the Pope: the other 95% of what Fr Cantalamessa said"
SEE MORE OPINION BRIEFS ON THIS TOPIC:
• Catholic leader: Gays, not pedophiles, are the problem
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- This is what happens when Republicans actually enact their radical agenda
- Russia is stealthily threatening America with nuclear war
- How I dug myself out of debt — and stayed that way
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- Why so many Christians won't back down on gay marriage
- If Scotland leaves the union, is Northern Ireland next?
- Mike Huckabee's head-scratching advice to Christian voters
- The Obama administration's nonstop incoherence on ISIS
Subscribe to the Week