The Society of St. Pius X and Antisemitism
How "good" people compartmentalize evil.
January 13, 2013 - 7:00 am
Cults: The Mind Enslaved, Part V
Since November 6, 2012, I’ve joined many friends who just don’t watch the news anymore. It seems the country is doing just fine without my frenzied attention to politics and that even in my absence, Drudge reached the billion-hit mark, though I could have sworn I made up half his tally!
Becoming a “news-hermit” was inspired by Roger L. Simon referencing Andrew Breitbart: “Politics is downstream from the culture.” Contributions to healing America need to be cultural: authentic spirituality and more caring dedication to family.
After two months of the Internet Media Diet, I doubled the marinara splashes on my copy of Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook, whose recipes and philosophy are a prescription for what America really needs. I also managed to scribble the first 90,000 words of an old-fashioned romance novel, my intended stake-in-the-heart to pop-culture’s obsession with contrived love-triangles, the sex appeal of paranormal lovers in varying states of post-burial-decay, and the loss of faith in unique, everlasting devotion.
Yesterday, I was jolted from this peaceful stint as “Vampire-Book-Slayer” by a very disturbing email. All levity aside, the Ghost of Sophie Scholl shook me from slumber and I questioned whether one can always, in good conscience, abandon the social realm.
The Catholic Herald UK reports that Bishop Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the largest group of “Traditional Catholics,” hosted a conference in Canada on December 12, 2012. The paper observed:
The head of the traditionalist Society of St Pius X has called Jewish people “enemies of the Church”, saying Jewish leaders’ support of the Second Vatican Council “shows that Vatican II is their thing, not the Church’s”.
Bishop Bernard Fellay, the society’s superior general, said those most opposed to Rome granting canonical recognition to the SSPX have been “the enemies of the Church: the Jews, the Masons, the modernists”.
He said these people, “who are outside of the Church, who over centuries have been enemies of the Church”, urged the Vatican to compel the SSPX to accept Vatican II
Anticipating objections, the SSPX Superior in America issued this press release:
During a 2-hour conference given in Ontario, Canada on December 28th, 2012, Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society St. Pius X, commented on the relations between the Holy See and the SSPX during the last two years.
During the conference Bishop Fellay stated “Who, during that time, was the most opposed that the Church would recognize the Society? The enemies of the Church. The Jews, the Masons, the Modernists…”
The word “enemies” used here by Bishop Fellay is of course a religious concept and refers to any group or religious sect which opposes the mission of the Catholic Church and her efforts to fulfill it: the salvation of souls.
This religious context is based upon the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the Holy Gospels: “He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth.” (Matthew 12:30)
By referring to the Jews, Bishop Fellay’s comment was aimed at the leaders of Jewish organizations, and not the Jewish people, as is being implied by journalists.
Accordingly the Society of St. Pius X denounces the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism or hate speech made in an attempt to silence its message.
Because of my thirty years in the SSPX before leaving in 2008, I knew this denial of the organization’s antisemitic world-view was patently misleading. I resisted writing a response. In the middle of the night my husband’s radio, like Marley’s Ghost, clanked its own recrimination – an interview of journalist Tuvia Tenenbom by talk-show host John Batchelor about the book I Sleep in Hitler’s Room: An Amerian Jew Visits Germany.
Reviewed at PJ Media by Bruce Bawer and National Review Online by Jack Fowler, Tenenbom’s chronicle of his six-month assignment in Germany deeply disturbs. Expecting to enjoy the company of enlightened, successful, and pacifist natives, the author was horrified to discover that antisemitsm is a nearly ubiquitous, barely concealed focal point of contemporary social perspective in Germany.
Hearing the extent to which Nazi ideology still thrives in Germany shocked me. It shouldn’t have. I understand how and why people accept the tenets of antisemitism and that letting go of it is not primarily the work of logic and reason, but rather of correcting the emotional imbalances that are “filled” by this hateful doctrine.
Growing up in the heart of Silicon Valley, California, where ethnic diversity was the norm and personal Jewish friends were numerous, under the influence of members of the SSPX, at age 13 I accepted the conspiracy theory that the world is financially, politically, and culturally controlled by “the Jews.” Along with spiritual goals of religion, a key preoccupation of many Traditionalists is the re-establishment of Catholic political structures. The historical explanation given to me of how Catholic Europe was “corrupted with modern democracy” was that Freemasons, particularly the Jewish Masons, undermined the Christian States.
As a young woman in the SSPX, seeing “the Jews” as the hidden cause of “modern society” was as much a part of what it meant to be a Traditionalist as refusing to wear pants or believe in the Trinity. Having accepted the spiritual orientation of the SSPX mentors who appeared to be otherwise animated by the desire to love God, I didn’t stop to question their geopolitics.
My experience with antisemitism in the organization was not subjective; concrete examples of this orientation abound. Particularly in France I never heard distinctions made between “Jewish leaders,” as the U.S. superior suggests, and the Jewish people taken as a whole. The conviction resulting from my formation was not that “the enemy” was a handful of anti-Christian leaders who happened to be Jewish, but rather that the Jews were a monolithic entity, communally preoccupied with subjecting the world to anti-Christian domination.
The irrefutable indication of the Society’s true orientation towards antisemitism is notorious Holocaust denier Bishop Richard Williamson. The prelate was expelled three months ago, but only because of disagreements with the SSPX concerning its relationship with Rome. For nearly forty years, superiors of the SSPX ignored Williamson’s vilification of the Jewish people. It is true the SSPX “silenced” the bishop following his public denial of the Holocaust, but prior to this exposure, nothing was ever done to remove him from posts of influence. Williamson’s over-arching obsession with the Jews was never publicly refuted or considered an obstacle to his directing the formation of young priests and faithful.
The antisemitism of the SSPX is at times explicit, but more often part of the accepted intellectual framework in which the group “fights the modern world,” of which the Jews are considered the primary architects. There is a crucial lesson to be learned here, one that coincides with the alarm raised by Tenenbom.
There are people attached to the SSPX who wholeheartedly embrace hatred of the Jewish people. Of far more serious concern and number are the priests and faithful who disagree with the antisemitism. These members are ashamed and angered by this ideology. They appeal in vain to their pastors, asking that offensive literature be removed from book stores and lamenting the difficulty of drawing family and friends to the “Faith” because of sermons and conferences that touch on this geopolitical aspect of the SSPX’s core thinking.
In spite of this, these members continue to worship in SSPX churches and place their children in the group’s schools. The key to understanding this behavior lies in the nature of the human mind once it becomes “cultic.” Cults do not simply fill the mind with error, but fundamentally transform the manner in which the brain processes information. Within the SSPX, one speaks of the Jews as the causal agent of the destruction of the Christian political social order and source of modernization of the Church. Bishop Fellay did this publicly during his talk in Canada. Members deny that this blaming of the Jews is antisemitism. They call it “the Counter-Revolution” or an aspect of “the Social Reign of Christ.”
At some point in their association with the Society, Catholics are confronted with the fact that the SSPX fosters the same perception of the Jews that historically resulted in their near-extermination in Europe. As processors of oxygen, as carbon-based entities, these souls recognize that the Holocaust was a bad thing and that any ideas or people who soften the horror of the Holocaust or the ideas that led to it can’t be good. This means that they have to take responsibility for continuing to associate with the Society which supported men such as Bishop Williamson. Repudiating the group has a very high price. First there is the internal condemnation by a conscience conditioned to see the SSPX as the last true Catholic locus in the world, the only way one can save his or her soul. There is also a social price in the shunning or alienation by family and friends. The greatest obstacle is having to recognize that years of one’s life may have been “wasted” in a group that embraces a racism incompatible with authentic Christianity.
Instead of paying this price, the mind simply changes reality; the Holocaust is attenuated. Members object that their particular chapel or pastor is only focused on the Faith and never speaks of “the Jewish question.” Others argue that they only go to the SSPX for the Latin Mass, for the beautiful ceremonies, and to avoid what they dislike about the “mainstream Church.”
But this compartmentalizing comes at an even higher price. Like a sort of “Horcrux,” it splits the very mind so members must live in two realities: the group’s tolerance of antisemitism and the story members tell themselves about how “good” they are.
Nobody joins a cult. Most people who become entangled in such groups do so for good reasons; change the world, serve God more authentically, etc. There comes a moment when the mind recognizes that this primary goal serves as the justification of the unjustifiable. By this time, the perceived benefits outweigh the “remote” evil. Members enjoy the “luxury” of social, spiritual, economic, and emotional fulfillment without taking responsibility for the consequences of objectifying Jewish people.
The Nazi movement functioned exactly like a cult, twisting minds into a dualism, an ability to compartmentalize evil for the sake of self. The pub owner told himself Hitler was never going to actually influence anybody so no harm could come from selling beer to the Nazis. The good housewife knew no harm would come of her Jewish neighbors from having to register, so she celebrated her husband’s new job with the Party and enjoyed the extra food on her table. The Holocaust was only the final consequence of rationalization and blind fidelity to a cultic group.
It is first in the mind and heart that one becomes a bystander; that the integrity of the soul is bargained for personal gain. Long before antisemitism actually lays a hand on our neighbor, it has corrupted our own duty to the truth, twisting the mind in the process. Compartmentalizing antisemitism while telling ourselves we are serving God is the unadulterated sign of a cultic mind. We already know the cost of this particular cult, it is in the millions.
Check Out the Previous Installments of Jeanette Pryor’s Ongoing Series: