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Sunday, December 28, 2003

Anti-semitism: Another Obstacle to SSPX Reconciliation

The issue of "Little Simon of Trent" was raised by John Allen Jr. in his latest column, "Word from Rome":
In 1475, the northern Italian city of Trent, where less than a century later the great Council of Trent would launch the Catholic Counter-reformation, was home to a thriving Jewish community. In March of that year, the two-year-old son of a German tanner disappeared. On March 23, Holy Thursday, the leading exponent of Trent’s Jewish community, a scholar named Samuel of Nuremberg, found the child murdered in a neighborhood with a number of Jewish families. He made the mistake of reporting the crime to the authorities, whereupon he and a number of other prominent Jews were accused of killing Simon as part of an occult Jewish ritual.

The dark legend of ritual child murder was a staple of medieval anti-Jewish propaganda. The accused Jews were seized, tortured, and eventually burned to death. The two who confessed under torture were given the grace of having their heads cut off instead. In response, the rest of the Jewish community pronounced an interdict on Trent (in Hebrew, cherem), prohibiting Jews from living there, and fled into exile. . . .

In 1588, Pope Sixtus V authorized celebration of a memorial Mass for “little Simon,” and Trent began holding annual processions in his honor on March 23. Books and pamphlets were produced as late as 1955 recounting the horrible “crime” of the Jews and celebrating little Simon as a martyr to Jewish perfidy. . . . It wasn’t until Sept. 28, 1965, that the archbishop of Trent officially declared the cult suppressed. 1

Bill Cork posts some further research on "Little Simon" and the blood libel myth, including a German woodcut from 1493.

Bill also notes that various racist websites have perpetuate the story, which comes as no suprise. More disturbing is the fact that there are some "Traditionalist Catholics" who subscribe to the Blood Libel. He mentions, for example, an online archive of Fr. Feeney, which along with articles on ritual murder publishes excerpts from the Nazi-era newspaper Der Sturmer [1934].

Bill Cork also mentions a published letter by SSPX Bishop Williamson, in which he allegedly endorses the scurrilous Protocols of the Elders of Zion ("God puts in men's hands the 'Protocols of the Sages of Sion' . . . if men want to know the truth, but few do"), and to another webpage of the bishop citing his denial of the Holocaust and saying of the Jews: "Their grave defects rendered them odious to the nations among which they were established. All this makes us think that the Jews are the most active artisans for the coming of antichrist."

The SSPX and the Catholic "traditionalist" movement has been a topic of discussion on this blog for some time now. Critical as I have been of "radtrads", I -- and, I expect, many of my readers -- are sympathetic to the concerns they express about the state of the liturgy and the post-Vatican II Church. Their desire for traditional renewal is echoed by orthodox Catholic organizations like Adoremus, Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

Bill Cork's post raises what I think is one of the biggest obstacles to restoration of the SSPX to communion with Rome: a persistent and re-occuring link with anti-semitism, which F. John Loughnan has been documenting for some time now. 2 Those who have left the SSPX to reunite with the Church pray for an end to the schism and the reconciliation of those they left behind; Cardinal Ratzinger has expressed this hope as well. However, in April 3, 2001, the Cardinal complained of "acute hardening" and "narrow-mindedness" of members of the SSPX. This disturbing contempt for the Jews displayed by some of these members, as well as leaders like Bishop Williamson, is further evidence of this troubling hardening of heart. 3

From the new blog Against The Grain

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