02 April, 2010

What Cantalamessa actually said

In the Washington Post I read,

At a solemn Good Friday service, Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher likened the tide of allegations that the pontiff has covered up sex abuse cases to the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism."
An extended quote from the homily isn't there; it's chopped into bits and pieces. Fortunately, the Italian news media are up to the job. In La Corriere della Sera I read:
Ho ricevuto in questi giorni la lettera di un amico ebreo e, con il suo permesso, ne condivido qui una parte. Dice: "Sto seguendo con disgusto l'attacco violento e concentrico contro la Chiesa, il Papa e tutti i fedeli da parte del mondo intero. L'uso dello stereotipo, il passaggio dalla responsabilità e colpa personale a quella collettiva mi ricordano gli aspetti più vergognosi dell'antisemitismo. Desidero pertanto esprimere a lei personalmente, al Papa e a tutta la Chiesa la mia solidarietà di ebreo del dialogo e di tutti coloro che nel mondo ebraico (e sono molti) condividono questi sentimenti di fratellanza".

A few days ago, I received a letter from a Jewish friend, and I will share part of it, with his permission. He says, "I am following with disgust the violent, targeted attack against the Church, the Pope, and all the faithful from the entire world. The recourse to stereotype, the passage from responsibility and personal guilt to collective guilt reminds me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism. I wish therefore to express to you personally, to the Pope and to all the Church my solidarity as a Jew in dialogue, and of all those in the world of Judaism who share these sentiments of brotherhood (and they are many).
Either Cantalamessa was lying, or the comparison was made by a Jewish acquaintance of his, who subsequently gave permission for Cantalamessa to quote from the letter at Mass.

You will in fact get some idea of this if you read far enough into the Post's article. However, it isn't enough to distinguish Cantalamessa's thoughts from his friend's. Worse, if you merely read the headline (Pope's preacher: Accusations akin to anti-Semitism) or the front-page summary, you're likely to be misled—as I was initially.

Update: Out of curiosity, I visited the website of L'Osservatore Romano, since the media outlets mentioned that the Vatican Newspaper printed the entire homily. You will find the text here. To show how the media have blown this completely out of proportion, here is my translation of the title and an excerpt from the homily:
Men must ask women for forgiveness

But there is a violence still graver and more diffuse than that of the youth in the stadiums and public squares. I do not speak here of violence against children, of whom not a few elements of the clergy have been wretchedly marked; of this there is already enough talk outside these walls. I speak of violence against women. This is an opportunity to let the people and institutions who fight this aware that Christ is their best ally.

This is about a violence much graver inasmuch it occurs often behind the walls of the home, unknown to all, when it absolutely cannot be justified with pseudo-religious or cultural prejudice. The victims find themselves desperately alone and defenseless. Only today, thanks to the support and encouragment of many organizations and institutions, some find the strength to come out into the open and accuse the guilty.

Much of this violence has a sexual basis. The man believes that he shows his manliness by growing angry with the woman, without realizing that he shows only his own insecurity and cowardice. Even when he confronts a woman who has erred, what a difference between the behavior of Christ and that still going on in certain places! Fanaticism invokes stoning; Christ, to the men who presented him with an adulteress, answers: "You who are without sin, throw the first stone against her" (John 8.7). Adultery is always a sin that two people commit, but for which only one has always been punished (and in certain parts of the world, still is).
And so forth, for the vast majority of the homily. It was only at the end that he turned to the letter from his friend.

1 comment:

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