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A deeply offensive and ignorant comparison

By Scott Tibbs, April 5, 2010

The New York Times reported on April 2 that "a senior Vatican priest speaking at a Good Friday service compared the uproar over sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church... to the persecution of the Jews." This is both deeply offensive and ignorant on many levels, and the priest should repent and apologize.

The attacks on the Catholic Church over the sex abuse scandal are nowhere near as severe as the persecution and mass murder perpetrated against Jews throughout history, including the blood libel and so forth. Even if the Holocaust had never happened, there would still be a long and bloody history of persecution directed at Jews.

In fact, the sad reality is that the Holocaust was not a unique moment in history. It was certainly a horrific escalation of anti-Semitism, but it builds on the foundation of centuries of persecution of Jews. The Nazis did not wake up one day and decide out of the blue to murder 6 million Jews. Anti-Semitism has been deeply ingrained for centuries. Jews were slaughtered on a mass scale, expelled from some European countries, banned from economic activity, and forced into ghettos long before Adolf Hitler was ever born.

The comparisons of the attacks on the Catholic Church and the persecution of Jews is not apples and oranges. It is a comparison of raisins and watermelons. Catholics are not being rounded up and slaughtered, confined to ghettos, or expelled from their home countries. Catholics do not face systematic persecution as well as angry mobs that kill them with support of the dominant religion and the governments of Europe. To compare even the most unfair criticism of the Catholic Church's handling of the sex abuse scandal to centuries of persecution faced by Jews is disgusting.

It is also important to remember that the Catholic Church has historically been one of the primary perpetrators of anti-Semitism including violence and murder. Jews were slaughtered during the Crusades and mercilessly persecuted during the Inquisition. For an organization that has a long history of persecuting Jews to compare the heat it is taking to that very persecution is self-centered and depraved.