1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

Slandering the Catholic Church: Where Left and Right Meet

By August 10, 2010

Follow me on:

I suppose it was inevitable: Every time Mel Gibson shoots his mouth off, every newspaper, radio, and television reporter starts jockeying for position, hoping to be the one to land an interview with Hutton Gibson, Mel Gibson's father. Hutton Gibson is a certifiable crank, and, at 91 years old, he doesn't seem to mind letting everyone know that.

This time, the "winner" was the Political Cesspool radio program—itself a hotbed of crackpottery. Set up with a series of questions about homosexuality and Freemasonry, Gibson declares point blank that Pope Benedict XVI is a Freemason working to destroy the Catholic Church from within (in part by creating the Novus Ordo Mass), and a homosexual who covered up clerical sexual abuse within the Church because of his own sexual preferences.

But what about the fact that Pope Benedict has restored the Traditional Latin Mass and has done more to confront the scandal of clerical sexual abuse than any Vatican official? That, declares Gibson, is just more proof that he's a "slippery character." Now that the Holy Father is getting bad press, he's covering his tracks.

That's the great thing about conspiracy theories: You can explain away any inconsistency by assuming that the subjects of your conspiracy theories think in the same convoluted ways that you do. You can also damn people for doing things that you would normally approve of: So Hutton Gibson, who wants to see the Traditional Latin Mass restored, finds Pope Benedict's restoration of the Mass to be proof of the conspiracy, while left-wing critics of the Catholic Church join Gibson in declaring that the Holy Father is a homosexual, even though they normally approve of homosexuality and attack the Church for declaring homosexual activity a sin.

Don't look for logic or consistency: The whole point of a conspiracy theory is to have your cake and eat it, too. Conspiracy theorists of both the left and the right can declare themselves morally superior to the Catholic Church, while indulging their own desire for slander.

There's a word for that: It's called "detraction," and it's a mortal sin. Left-wing critics of the Catholic Church, of course, don't care about sin, except when they can accuse the Church Herself of it; but those like Hutton Gibson, who regard themselves as more Catholic than the Pope, have no excuse for engaging in such behavior.

August 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm
(1) David Aaron says:

Claiming that the Pope is a Mason is a favorite of traditionalist Catholic conspiracy theorists. This in spite of the fact that the Freemasonry could care less what doctrine the Catholic Church preaches let alone the form of its liturgy. It is non-sectarian. Conspiracy theory is a window on the twisted souls of those who promulgate it.

August 10, 2010 at 2:31 pm
(2) Edward.Fullerton says:

And mr ,Richert knows all things!.We, thanks too the hired hands,cf,see scripture.

August 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm
(3) Edward.Fullerton says:

Certifiable crank,and,Richert talks/accuses hutton and others of slander!!!!!!.

August 10, 2010 at 2:38 pm
(4) Edward.Fullerton says:

See,Benedict XI.Didn’t want too know the heretical,world council of churches.

August 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm
(5) Edward.Fullerton says:

Arian Heresy.St Anasthasia was on the road for forty years!.They who should have defended the fort have betrayed it,Sante .John.Fisher.Quote/unquote.Mr s.p.Richert .alluded to respect ,but,in his own way commits the (sin).

August 10, 2010 at 3:14 pm
(6) valdes says:

Why is defending the Pope such a priority? He is a mortal mman. His worthiness must be proven. How can he serve god if he cannot confront the charges against him. Isn’t god going to judge all? This Pope defense is wasteful. There should be a much better way to adress the molestation issues in the church.

August 10, 2010 at 3:15 pm
(7) Edward.Fullerton says:

Correction ,Mr.Richert ,my last,Benedict XV-1915-or there-abouts.

August 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm
(8) JacksonB says:

Excellent article and thanks!

August 10, 2010 at 7:01 pm
(9) TRAD says:

Dear Mr. Richert:

Although Hutton Gibson’s remarks might certainly be classified as hyperbolic, it is easy to understand where he is “coming from.”

Just prior to Vatican II, the Church had been a remarkably cohesive and strong institution. Weekly Mass attendance worldwide was at 59% compared to less than 20% today. In Quebec, for example, where the Church not too long ago had been a pillar of the province, attendance has dropped from an astonishing 88% to 22% today. A priest there openly supports legalized abortion with the apparent tacit approval of his bishop.

With Vatican II and the mad rush by the “reformers” to ape Mainline Protestantism, it was almost as if executives of a thriving corporation inexplicably decided to dump their highly successful business model in favor of adopting that of a competitor spiraling towards Chapter Eleven.

Who ever heard of such a thing or could explain it? Today, Mainline Protestantism is withering on the vine as its remnants have become a collection of crypto-athiests, feminists, neo-pagans and pantheists.

So the question is: Why wasn’t Vatican II reversed when it became evident what an unmitigated disaster it had become; the most egregious self-inflicted wound to any institution in all history? I believe this is what Mr. Gibson was getting at. Those of us old enough to remember the old days, and those sufficiently devout within the faith (at least then), are in shock.

As well meaning as you are, sir, you attempt to defend the indefensible. A faithful remnant still survives though. As Moses said to his erring flock: “We must begin again.”

August 10, 2010 at 7:10 pm
(10) Scott P. Richert says:

“TRAD,” you’ll get no argument from me over the changes in the Church in the past 40 years (including the change in the Mass—my family and I attend the Traditional Latin Mass). But if you think that those changes began with Vatican II, you’re mistaken. Their roots run much deeper.

Pope Benedict understands this, and his discussion of the “hermeneutics of discontinuity” is a much more nuanced approach to the problem than the sledgehammer taken by some of my fellow traditionalists.

All of that said, if you think I’m attempting to “defend the indefensible,” what are you attempting to do in defending Hutton Gibson’s slander? It’s not “hyperbolic” to call Pope Benedict a Freemason and a homosexual; it’s either true or untrue.

August 10, 2010 at 7:15 pm
(11) Scott P. Richert says:

To take just one example: Many traditionalists blame the clerical sexual abuse scandal on Vatican II. But the John Jay Study of clerical sexual abuse found that the vast majority of cases were confined to a single cohort of priests, born between 1925 and 1950 (and thus brought up with the Old Mass and in the “Pre-Vatican II” Church) and ordained between 1950 and 1975 (thus, mostly before any changes effected by Vatican II).

To point to Vatican II as a dividing line, and to condemn (as many traditionalists do) anyone who was involved in the council, is simplistic at best.

August 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm
(12) TRAD says:

Mr. Richert:

Yes, I made the mistake of not having read your biography prior to posting. For that I apologize and commend you for your faithfulness. I have no problem with indult traditionalists.

I, of course, have no knowledge of what the pope’s “sexual orientation” is, and I have no reason to doubt his faithfulness to his vows over the years. So the issue is irrelevant to me. I too find Mr. Gibson’s remarks along those lines to be offensive, though perhaps his crankiness can be excused to some extent by his advanced age.

I agree that the rot that fertilized Vatican II (obviously) existed at the time of the council, and had taken considerable time to have reached that point. Although not as well-versed as you in such matters, I am aware of much of the history behind the council.

In regard to the “pedophilia” (90% boys) crisis, here I must respectfully take issue with you. I have little doubt that there were some priests with unnatural sexual urges prior to Vatican II. However, before having partaken in such depravity they would have thought long and hard, fearing the consequences: not the temporal ones, the eternal ones. Vatican II destroyed faith and thus lifted such inhibitions which stood between these perverts and their potential innocent victims.

Although most of these priests were raised before Vatican II, most of their actions came in its wake. I do not buy this rationalization that before Vatican II such matters happened all the time too but were “covered up.” No! I was there. I was a kid then.

Not only had no priest acted in any improper way towards me, I had never even heard any gossip or allusions to such matters from other kids, including altar boys. I never received any warnings about “bad touches” from my devoted parents. Such matters were never even thought of then.

By the way, my sympathies always lay closer to Walter’s than Alphonse’s. Who was it again who admonished: “You will know a tree….”

August 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm
(13) Scott P. Richert says:

“TRAD,” you write, “most of their actions came in its [Vatican II's] wake.”

That is true, but it’s misleading. I wish it were that simple. I have been researching and writing about the clerical sexual abuse scandal since 2002, and I haven’t found any study that contradicts the John Jay Study concerning the annual count of incidents reported and priests accused. The Jay Study shows that between 1950 and 1960, the angle of the rise in both the number of incidents and the number of priests accused is roughly the same as the angle between 1950 and 1981, when both the number of incidents and the number of priests accused hit their peak.

The biggest single jump in both numbers occurred in 1959. For incidents, but not for priests, there’s another jump that matches it in 1970.

The Jay Study also found that, by 1993, the number of accused priests and number of incidents had fallen to the same level as 1950. Since then, they have declined well below the level of 1950, even though Vatican II was never repealed (and has had another 30 years since the height of the scandal to “destroy faith and lift such inhibitions”).

The common factors in all of this are cultural changes that were at work in both society and the Church. Those cultural changes played an important role in the “hermeneutics of discontinuity” following Vatican II, but they were already at work before the council.

By the way, Al Matt is a good man and a close friend. I like much of the work that The Remnant does, and I occasionally correspond with Michael Matt. Despite the Matt family feud of years past, it doesn’t have to be an either/or. Both The Wanderer and The Remnant do good work, and both are desperately needed today.

August 10, 2010 at 11:01 pm
(14) Lance says:

The Church would do well to decelerate antagonisms with the Masons – whether Mel Gibson’s father equates them with homosexuals or whatever. In Austin, The Knights of Columbus and Scottish Rite Masons have worked together as crisis volunteers at Brackenridge Hospital (now run by Seton Healthcare – as in Mother Anne Seton ), and a local monsignor received the Mason’s Community Builder Award (the highest honor for a non-Mason). If you claim to love the USA, you can’t hate the Masons who were mostly responsible for setting it up – can’t have your cake, and eat it too !

August 10, 2010 at 11:38 pm
(15) Bill Rose says:

Saying that Pope Benedict has done more than any Vatican Official to “hunt down” child molesters is laughable. It’s like saying Benedict has gone after molesters 100 x 0. The answer is still 0. The Catholic Church has an abominable reputation (at best) for handling priest abuse on children. Rationalizing by saying other churches have the same problem only adds to the fact that the church does not take this problem seriously. I am Catholic and no longer give money to the Church because I feel the Church aids criminals and provides defense for some of the worst monsters this world has seen. No more… I will not support a church that does not take this problem seriously.

August 11, 2010 at 1:52 am
(16) ogden lafaye says:

An indult? Everytime they lie they are using a blanket indult permanently granted from the very beginning. The Catholic Church cannot survive without the LIE.

Remember: In 300 years the Roman Catholic Church will refer to these times as one in which the church was falsely and malignantly attacked by atheists, non-believers, government and Satanic enemies of Christianity.

They will say:

“Against a massive effort to discredit the piety and chasteness of the clergy with accusations of heinous crimes, the church and her followers fought a protracted battle against this evil… eventually triumphing in the name of Jesus and to the greater glory of the mother church.”

August 11, 2010 at 8:52 am
(17) TruthIs says:

All those in favor of the Vatican I have one thing to say..

You all get what you deserve!

If you stopped being led along by the media and all the hype
and if you actually read a book on the history of the church
you would see how bloodthirsty and cruel this institution
was…and still is!

So go!

Send your children off into the arms of the depraved men!

You are too blind to see the truth!

They rake you over for your money and use up your
little ones for pleasure.
And still you run off to their demonic institutions failing and unwilling to investigate just who and what these beings are!

You..like ordinary cattle blissfully walk towards your own

August 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm
(18) shadow_man says:

Homosexuality is not a sin according to the Bible. Scholars who have studied the Bible in context of the times and in relation to other passages have shown those passages (Leviticus, Corinthians, Romans, etc) have nothing to do with homosexuality. These passages often cherry-picked while ignoring the rest of the Bible. The sins theses passages are referring to are idolatry, prostitution, and rape, not homosexuality.

(Change *** to www)

August 12, 2010 at 12:05 am
(19) Sheila says:

Fatima., Lourdes., and our previous Pope warned that ‘the smoke of Satan has entered the Church’. Russia has spread her errors throughout the world. But, to whom do we go to? We’ve already been told in scripture who to go to. I will continue to pray for our Holy Father, the clergy and all families. We are promised that ‘the gates of Hell shall not prevail.’ People that beleive as hutton believes or anyone else that choose to believe the nonsense is simply being careless, lazy or intellectually dishonest. It started with Adam and Eve..went on to Cain and Able…and continues.. we have imperfect members in our Church. We reform as the pilgrim Church that we are and move forward. It’s God’s Church and no misguided erroneous comments or criminal action of any individuals is going to keep me or my family from the Holy Eucharist.

August 12, 2010 at 10:43 am
(20) LayDominican says:

Poor Hutton. He is getting to the age, when his mouth speaks and the brain is else where. I don’t know why the press gives him room on their pages. And of course, the enemies of the Church descend on this tripe like hungry vulters

August 13, 2010 at 1:02 pm
(21) Moses Omwange says:

I think people should know that rising to the level of Papacy, the chair of St Peter, demands a lot. That is a very sensitive seat whereby it took time to get one who is fit for it. Let Pope Benedict XVI keep with his spirit/ charism. People like Hutton Gibson are only utilizing freedom of speech. My dear Catholic faithfuls, lets not be shaken by mere propaganda. Keep our Pope always in prayers.

August 16, 2010 at 8:31 am
(22) TRAD says:

Mr. Richert:

When you refer to the number of accused priests and the number of alleged incidents in 1950, are you referring to contemporaneously made allegations or ones made years after the fact?

Thank you.

August 16, 2010 at 9:48 am
(23) Scott P. Richert says:

“TRAD,” for the purposes of determining the distribution of both priests accused and number of alleged incidents, the John Jay Study includes all allegations, whenever they were reported. They are ascribed to the year of the alleged incident, not the year of the report.

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