02 December 2012

Cardinal Ravasi, Giulio Meotti and a case of manufactured anti-semitism?

There's a famous quote attributed or misattributed Mark Twain to the effect that  a lie can go around the world while the truth is still getting its boots on... Whether he said it or not is immaterial but the internet means that a lie is around the world before you've even got the boots out of the wardrobe

If you google the words Ravasi and Herod you will get 1 240 000 hits all of which relate to a  Cardinal and an alleged blood libel.  The story passed me by until two days ago when I saw this post The Vatican On Gaza israel Is A Baby Killer on Snoopy The Goon's blog Simply Jews.

I like Snoopy a lot: He is a very entertaining blogger. We will disagree on a number of issues, I am sure,  but I have no doubt that we would set aside any differences over numerous libations of the chummiest kind. I would stress here that nothing written here is a criticism of Snoopy

Regular readers will also realise that my views on the Catholic Church when I choose to write on the subject (or any subject these days) are, to put it mildly, less than favourable. I was born and raised a Roman Cathoic but the Vatican and I parted company well over 30 years ago.  I am very much prepared to think the worst of the Church so it is unusual for me to go to its partial defence.

Ordinarily I would have the noted  post in question, filed Ravasi under the category of idiot and left it there had my hackles not been raised by a rather hysterical comment by another reader to the effect that "the Vatican (and Christians in general) now believe that Jesus was a "Palestinian" and wants the Palestinians to  finish the job Hitler started"

But enough of this preamble.

On 21 November a journalist called Giulio Meotti wrote an opinion piece for  Israel National News under the incendiary headline

The Vatican on Gaza: Israel is a Baby-Killer”

The article goes on to say:

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture, commenting on the war between Israel and Hamas, delivered a severe attack on the Jewish people: “I think of the ‘massacre of the innocents’. Children are dying in Gaza, their mothers’ shouts is a perennial cry, a universal cry”.

The Catholic Church high official equated Israel’s operation in Gaza against terror groups with the New Testament story of Herod’s slaughter of Jewish babies in his effort to kill Jesus. Ravasi, who is one of the most popular Catholic cardinals and the director of the Church’s policy on culture, called Israelis baby-killers in a shameless form of anti-Semitism which subtly accuses the Jewish State of trying to murder the new Jesus, symbolized by the Palestinian people.

Ah and then he goes on to say that:

The Vatican official’s modern blood libel against Israel was delivered during the presentation of Pope Benedict’s new book about the life of Jesus. However, Ravasi's theme – the Jews as Herod, who killed all the innocent babies because his heart was set on killing Jesus – was much beloved by Medieval organizers of pogroms.

So Meotti states that Cardinal Ravasi  was commenting on the the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas and only then that it was at  a presentation relating to the launch of a new book by the Pope on the life of Jesus.

it is interesting to note that Giulio Meotti's article seems to be the only one in anything remotely like the mainstream press that reported on what appears to be a heinous attack on Israel. The only  other references are wnd.com which carries the Meotti article and a comnentator on rightside news who links to the wnd.com item and mentions Ravasi in passing.

What about Ynet? Nothing
Jerusalem Post? Not a sausage
Haaretz? Nada
The Jewish Chronicle?  Rien

And yet Meotti'sword is taken, pardon the expression, as Gospel

There is one other news agency which covers the incident in question and that is the Zenit News Agency a Fench concern which deals has the objective  " to inform about the world seen from Rome,"

In an informative  article in French  titled

"L'Enfance de Jésus" de Benoît XVI : plus qu'un cadeau de Noël ( "The Childhood of jesus by Benedict XVI: more than a Christmas Present)

 Zent describes that Cardinal Ravasi was one of several speakers at the launch of the Pope's final volume of this trilogy on the life of Jesus. Basically the book for those with a mature understanding of their catholic faith. It is not until  twoards the end of the article that there are two paragraphs which seem to provide the "smoking gun" which confirm Ravasi's "vicious"attack

Il a précisé que les évangiles de l’enfance de n’étaient pas seulement un texte « informatif », mais « performatif » : il s’agit en effet d’un livre qui implique le lecteur parce qu’il témoigne d’une histoire toujours actuelle.

Pour illustrer, il a donné l’exemple du « cri des mères dans le massacre des innocents », qui est un cri « éternel, perpétuel » : « c’est un cri universel, qui résonne encore de nos jours. Les enfants meurent à Gaza et le cri des mères est le cri continuel... Voyez, le récit ne se termine pas là, dans ce contexte historique », a-t-il fait observer.

 This is my translation.My written French is far from perfect but I have done my best to double check for idioms

"He stated (or specified) that the childhood gospels are not just an instructional work but performative*.  It is** indeed a book that involves the reader because it bears witness to a story that is always  current.

To illustrate he gave the example of the "scream of the others during the slaughter of the innocents"***   which is a universal, perpetual scream. it is an eternal scream which resounds even today. Children are killed in Gaza and the screams of the mothers is the scream continued. See the story does not end there in some historical context, he observed

* I'm )not sure what he means here by using "performatif" but it is defined as performing an action by stating I can'tt hink of a better translation)

** Il s'agit de can mean simply it is in an emphatic sens a bit like writing IL EST)

*** This is a reference to Matthew 2:18 "In Rama was there a voice heard,lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." From the King James Bible)

So what is Ravais saying? Is he saying Herod kiled babies and those "evil"Israelis doing the same in Gaza? You certainly can spin it that way as Meotti has done so successfully. But then look at the context.We are at the launch of a book on the infancy of Jesus. One of the events chronicled in the New Testament is Herod's response to the birth of Jesus by murdering babies (albeit only in the Gospel of Mark and not in the other three ).  Given the lack of reference to the young Jesus outside of the Nativity and its prelude it is something that the Pope cannot have failed to mention in his book.

Or is he simply saying that the agony of the bereaved mother repeats itself time and time again and using what was a topical event in the region to illustrate this point and without any subtext?

I would go with this interpretation given the context and the subject matter being discussed. It is a bad analogy and one that laid the Cardinal wide open to criticism but a bad analogy does not a monster make.

The Vatican itself has sought to clarify  matters:

In reference to the article by Giulio Meotti under the title “The Vatican on Gaza: Israel is a Baby-Killer”, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi categorically denies having said or implied this assertion.
In presenting Pope Benedict’s most recent book, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, did comment on the following phrase “In our own day, the mothers’ cry to God continues unabated” (The Infancy Narratives, p.113). In doing so, he elaborated with humanitarian concern and in light of the news of recent days: “This cry of the mothers who have lost dramatically their children has returned again and again throughout history, and has done so again in these days in Gaza.”

Ravais should be careful how he resents things but again a bad analogy does not a monster make.

Let's go back to Meotti's article

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture, commenting on the war between Israel and Hamas, delivered a severe attack on the Jewish people: “I think of the ‘massacre of the innocents’. Children are dying in Gaza, their mothers’ shouts is a perennial cry, a universal cry”.

Meotti is is twisting Ravasi'swords and presenting them as if they were an official statement  on the Israel/Gaza conflict. it is only after a fair defree of angry rhetoric that he gives any passing reference to the context in which the original statement was made.

There are plenty of concrete examples of anti semitism in the Vatican's closet (Alois Hudal Joseef Tiso Little St Hugh of Lincoln.Youdon't need to manufacure them as Meotti has done

Giulio Meotti is clearly a friend of Israel and that is to be commended. But a perusal of some o fhis other  Op Eds leads me to consider that Israel needs his friendship like it needs a case of teriary syphilis.

 Here is Meotti from Israel National News again

On churches being turned into mosques across Europe

...The church of Saint-Eloi in the French region of Vierzon will soon become a mosque. The diocese of Bourges has put on sale the church and a Muslim organization, l’Association des Marocains, made the most generous offer to buy the site. The church of Saint-Eloi is located in an area inhabited by Turks and Moroccans. It’s the “de-Christianization” of Europe, which is naturally followed by its gradual Islamization and increasing anti-Semitism. Of 27.000 inhabitants in the town of Vierzon, only 300 go to church once a week.

In the past decade, French Catholic bishops formally closed more than 60 churches, many of which are destined to become mosques, according to the research conducted by the newspaper La Croix.
... To understand this historic process one has to see the number of churches converted into mosques.In the Netherlands, more than 250 buildings where Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists have prayed for centuries, have changed owners.... Today more than half of the Dutch population is “buitenkerkelijk”, it means free from any religious affiliation, as well as Catholics decreased by 70 percent.

... The main mosque in Dublin is a former Presbyterian church.
In England, 10.000 churches have been closed since 1960. By 2020, another 4.000 churches will close while there will be, it is predicted, 1.700 new mosques, many of which will arise on former churches. 

To mention just some churches turned into mosques, there is the Central Mosque of Brent, the St. Marks Cathedral which is now called New Peckham Mosque and the former Wesleyan Methodist Church. The mosque of Disbury in Manchester was a Methodist church, and a Catholic church in Sydney, Nova Scotia, will become a mosque. In Clitheroe, Lancashire, the municipal authorities have granted permission to turn an Anglican church into a mosque.

And so on ...Run for your lives here'sEurabia! Or simply that churches have falling attendance so what do you do with them? Let them rot?

Interestingly he fails to mention the Brick Lane Mosque which started as a Hugenot church in the 18th century. It changed hands among christian denominations until the late 9th century whenitbecame a synagogue. Once the Jewish community  moved out of the East End it became a mosque in 1976 and services the large Bengali community in the area.

Or here he is on Hollywood as a hotbed of antisemitism

His evidence?Viggo Mortenson and Vanessa Redgrave oh and others have made arsehole statemnts about Israel.

And so on. Giulio Meotti comes across as a hysterical jerk. He is of course free to say what he likes.It is a shame that so many give him credence


SnoopyTheGoon said...

Good job that. Linked to complete the picture. Thanks.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks Snoopy Meotti is another hack who distorts the truth to fit his own agenda. Israel doesn't need him.

But thanks to that head case Norcross for raising my hackles

avaeadie said...

I genuinely apreciate this blog! I read a post regarding the supposed quote just as the cease fire in Gaza was happening and I have been looking for the proof with other sources myself ever since with no success...

jams o donnell said...

You're welcome