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Anti-Semitic comments deserve clear, strong condemnation

The Church, from parish to pope, must deny anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan a pulpit. And those who facilitate anti-Semitism, such as Fr. Michael Pfleger, must be punished.

Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan and Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago are pictured in a Feb. 19, 2017 and Jan. 6, 2018 panel photo. (CNS photo/Karen Callaway, Chicago Catholic/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

“Those who call themselves ‘Jews’, who are not really Jews, but are in fact Satan: You should learn to call them by their real name, ‘Satan;’ you are coming face-to-face with Satan, the Arch Deceiver, the enemy of God and the enemy of the Righteous.”  — Louis Farrakhan, Saviours’ Day speech February 26, 2017

On May 9, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan spoke at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church in Chicago at the invitation of Fr. Michael Pfleger. Pfleger invited his “brother and friend,” following Farrakhan’s ban on social media, to take the pulpit to address the issue of free speech. In a bizarre rant, Farrakhan banged on about “Satanic Jews” and being in “Facebook jail.” Cardinal Archbishop Blase Cupich condemned the prominent anti-Semite’s comments and blamed Fr. Pfleger for hosting Farrakhan without consulting the archdiocese.

Cupich—not Father Pfleger—apologized to our Jewish brothers and sisters. And yet, in a shining example of leading from behind, Cupich neither suspended nor removed Pfleger from ministry at St. Sabina’s.

Anti-Semitic comments deserve condemnation and demand apology. Cupich is right to issue both publicly. But he faulted Pfleger—no stranger to radical politics and controversy—for failing to consult his archdiocesan superior, not for giving Farrakhan the pulpit. This defies belief. Farrakhan’s Jew hatred is open, obvious (“bloodsuckers” and “termites”) and spans decades. He has the constitutional right to spew his bile in America. He does not have the right to do it in a Catholic church.

Cardinal Cupich, however well-intentioned, misses the point. Permission for an anti-Semite to speak at a parish is not the issue. Ecclesiastical permissiveness that allows the pastoral tail to wag the dog, is. It is to the shame of the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Catholic Church in the U.S. that the message and the man found a place at St. Sabina’s.

The Archdiocese of Chicago issued a statement saying:

There is no place in American life for discriminatory rhetoric of any kind. At a time when hate crimes are on the rise, when religious believers are murdered in their places of worship, we cannot countenance any speech that dehumanizes persons on the basis of ethnicity, religious belief, economic status or country of origin.

Nice and formal. And weak. We are not talking about hate crimes generally, or even religious violence. Both exist and ought to be condemned. The presence of Louis Farrakhan and the very specific current of hate that is anti-Semitism should not be diluted in generic language of the universal. It is a historical fact that anti-Semitic words are often only few steps removed from the gas chamber (or any other pogrom over the centuries).

It simply will not do to say “there is no place in American life for discriminatory rhetoric” only to allow the giving of a pulpit to an anti-Semite to go unpunished.

Anti-Semitic insults and attacks do not occur in a vacuum. They come freighted with the history of six-million Jews murdered in the Holocaust and countless Jews elsewhere over the ages. And they are on the rise. In Germany, violent anti-Semitic attacks have surged more than sixty percent. And in France, offenses against Jews increased by seventy-four percent last year alone. It is no coincidence that both nations have experienced massive Muslim migration. The latest European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights report demonstrates that Muslims originated a majority of these attacks (thirty percent). Perpetrators with left-wing sympathies came in second (twenty-one percent) and those with right-wing views followed (thirteen percent). This is not the story we get in mainstream Western media.

Of the EU report James Kirchick of the Brookings Institution observed;

Few political leaders or journalists or other public figures are willing to state the obvious fact that the main source of anti-Semitism in Europe today is not among the usual suspects on the far right but the red-green alliance, where the primeval Jew hatred of Muslim immigrants is excused away by the anti-Zionist cosmopolitanism of the secular left.

This is as true in Europe as it is in the United States.

The socialist anti-Semitism of British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is cousin to that of Muslim congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar in the United States. Both Tlaib and Omar continue to denigrate Israel and its supporters (“all about the Benjamins”) and support groups such as the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (Hamas calls for the annihilation of Israel). Meanwhile, hate crimes against Jews in the U.S. spiked thirty-seven percent in 2017. In Brooklyn, violent attacks against Hasidic Jews are increasingly common.

Equally disturbing is the indifference to the persistence of anti-Semitism. Its polluted currents in national and world politics—cooling in societal apathy—have congealed into institutional acceptability. This is dangerous. And diabolical. It is simply astounding that mere decades after the industrialized murder of millions of Jews—survivors remain with us still—anti-Semites would be elected to Congress. Less surprising—for reasons both political and philosophical—is the unholy alliance between the Socialist Left and Muslim advocates (i.e., Linda Sarsour of the infamous Women’s March).

The veneer of acceptability that activists in Congress and elsewhere give anti-Semitic views contributes to societal indifference. And as the violence against Jews increases all over the world, it is not enough to condemn words. The Church, from parish to pope, must deny anti-Semites like Farrakhan a pulpit. And where, as here, it is given him, those who allow it—Father Pfleger—must be punished.

Following Farrakhan’s rant at St. Sabina, Phil Andrew, the director of violence prevention for the Archdiocese of Chicago said, “I know that words matter. The First Amendment allows for free speech, and as a nation we celebrate that. But it comes with responsibility.” True enough. But when anti-Semitism is given a place under the roof of a Catholic parish, it is inherently irresponsible. More, it is the smoke of Satan clouding the call to fraternal love for our ancestors in faith.

If words matter, and if we truly mean “never again” in response to the Holocaust, then as Catholics we must actively defend our Jewish brothers and sisters at every turn. Let’s start with Father Pfleger and Louis Farrakhan at St. Sabina’s. Saying “sorry” is not enough.


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About Timothy D. Lusch 8 Articles
Timothy D. Lusch has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Saint Austin Review, New Oxford Review, Crisis, Toronto Star, Michigan History Magazine, and numerous other publications online and in print.

6 Comments

  1. Whether it’s the clerical homosexual scandal (notice I didn’t just say “abuse of minors”)…or this lapse in “closure.” This highlights the effectiveness of the Metropolitan/Episcopal alert/response system.

    “No, no. Np proselytization! He must accompany Fr. Pfleger and even Farrakhan…” (disembodied voice of indeterminate origin).

    BTW, Farrakhan is NOT just an anti-Semite but anti-white and yes…anti-lesbian and anti-homosexual. He is NOT just an anti-Semite.

    It was Cardinal George who brought back Pfleger after suspending him …after Pfleger threatened “to leave the Church.” A long delayed good riddance for someone who has a concession stand in the Catholic Church vs priesthood in a parish!

    Watch the Church in Chicago get hit with a hate speech charge/lawsuit… but NOT Farrakhan! A Shepherd of the flock in Chicago? A Liabilities Magnet!

    But hey, at least Pfleger didn’t burn a gay pride flag. There would have then been an attempt to put Pfleger (after tossing him out as pastor) in a center for evaluation (looney bin) like Cupich towards Fr. Kalchik.

    Catholic of Chicago (and America, because he’s now Cardinal America) wake up! Ask Cupich to step down before you get the bill!

    Cupich, you are watching your wife (the Church) get punched in the face and beat up on your own front lawn by one of your employees! Your response? To reference a word used by St Paul in another context…”garbage.”

  2. Wrong problem for the wrong solution. The local Church should have a policy on who can speak in the temple and why. But inviting them to speak elsewhere, such as the hall? What about encountering the other even if he says things with which we disagree? Dialogue?

  3. If Farrakhan was a white supremacist spouting his vile racist, antisemitic and bigoted drivel, he would be a pariah and lucky to get a stand on a street corner as a sop box to spout his venom, like a drunken mentally ill hobo (and rightly so, I might add).

    So why the double standard? Why is he given a pass because of his skin colour and religion? Racism, racial ideology and antisemitism are intrinsically evil, as affirmed by the Magisterium of the Church repeatedly (suhc as the Encyclical Summi Pontificatus by Pope Pius XII) and therefore cannot be justified by anyone, for any reason.

    • Summi Pontificatus (https://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_20101939_summi-pontificatus.html) states:
      “59. Hence, it is the noble prerogative and function of the State to control, aid and direct the private and individual activities of national life that they converge harmoniously towards the common good. That good can neither be defined according to arbitrary ideas nor can it accept for its standard primarily the material prosperity of society, but rather it should be defined according to the harmonious development and the natural perfection of man. It is for this perfection that society is designed by the Creator as a means.”

      and

      “67. Undoubtedly, that formation should aim as well at the preparation of youth to fulfill with intelligent understanding and pride those offices of a noble patriotism which give to one’s earthly fatherland all due measure of love, self-devotion and service. But, on the other hand, a formation which forgot or, worse still, deliberately neglected to direct the eyes and hearts of youth to the heavenly country would be an injustice to youth, an injustice against the inalienable duties and rights of the Christian family and an excess to which a check must be opposed, in the interests even of the people and of the State itself.”

      The U.S. government (“the State”), as well as its media, education, and finance, have been subverted by anti-Christians since at least the early 1900s, and its noble prerogative compromised. It is the duty of good Christians to oppose this disorder. A significant subset, but not all, rabbinic Talmudists and atheist Ashkenazi have helped instigate this subversion, with supporting evidence being their overrepresentation in the aforementioned sectors when normalized for population, as well as their own documented words and deeds. We should not be dissuaded by howls of “anti-Semitism” or “racism” when opposing those who act to subvert our faith.

    • it’s *were a white supremacist. Zionism is defined clearly in Sura 5:51. If you think ZIONISM which is Atheistic Communism is an actual religion, you’re a clown. If you think Khazar turkik converts to Judaism are Joshua’s original 600K you need to re-read John Chapter 8. You also may want to consider the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life are family trees, they were people. The fall of man and original sin was race poisoning and blood mixing. You can cry about it all you want; NAGA in the Hebrew means to lie with. Eve didn’t eat an apple, my grammar student, She F’D SATAN and had CAIN. You can collaborate this simply by reading Deuteronomy Chapter 7 in the KJV. http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=5&verse=51#(5:51:1)

  4. Well hatred of and discrimination against any group based on their race is evil, It is not immoral and sometime obligatory to criticize organized groups for immoral and criminal behavior. If such criticism is made illegal, violence inevitably will irrupt against these protected groups. Antisemitism has become a weaponized word to attack criticisms of the immoral and criminal behavior of some self-identified Jews and organized Zionism and the Israeli government.

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