Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ferrara Repudiates Holocaust views of Bishop Williamson and Sungenis - 2009

In February, 2007, Christopher Ferrara wrote an article entitled Christophobes at the Gate, that heavily criticized a 2006 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on “radical traditionalists” who preach “anti-Semitic hatred” (see: The Dirty Dozen) The SPLC article listed Robert Sungenis as its first example and singled him out as “one of the most rabid and open anti-Semites in the entire radical traditionalist movement.”

While Ferrara voiced some valid criticisms of the SPLC report (as did Karl Keating), he failed to defend Sungenis by name and also made a statement that raised a few eye-brows: “virtually everyone SPLC accuses [of anti-Semitism] is innocent of the charge…”. Virtually everyone.

Eventually, in July, 2007, Ferrara publicly defended Sungenis against the specific charge of anti-Semitism, asserting that “Bob is no anti-Semite.”1 To our knowledge, Ferrara has never publicly criticized Sungenis in regard to his persistently offensive treatment of Jewish issues. And, with the exception of the narrow defense noted above, neither has he publicly defended him.

However, after Bishop Williamson of the SSPX recently created a firestorm of controversy for the Church (and the traditionalist movement in particular) by making statements very similar to those previously made by Sungenis about Jews, Ferrara apparently felt compelled to publicly criticize Williamson and to repudiate his ignorant and offensive views in January of 2009 (see: Triumph and Tribulation).

Below the reader will find statements made by Sungenis on the Holocaust that are very similar to those made by Bishop Williamson:

R. Sungenis (2002): "the figure of six million Jews dying under Hitler's regime is even admitted by informed Jews to be mere propaganda." (link)

R. Sungenis (2005): “I have my doubts that it was 6 million [Jews killed in the Holocaust]… Hitler hated the Jews, not only for what he saw as a youth, but because the Jews had a stranglehold on European finance and banking for many years. 
There are some stories, however, that suggest these Jewish banking familes actually helped Hitler in his quest, since their objective was to ellicit [sic] world-wide sympathy so as to migrate European and Russian Jews to Palestine, their long-sought goal which they have, indeed, accomplished.” (link)
R. Sungenis (2009): "it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that six million Jews were killed in Nazi internment camps." (link)
R. Sungenis (2009): "I suggest you stop blaming it on the nation who excised [the Jews] and start looking at what the Jewish people do to get themselves excised." (link)
R. Sungenis (2009): "As for Germany's relationship with the Jews, well, the Germans treated the Jews very nicely when the Jews were excised out of Russia and migrated to Germany. Then the Jews turned on the Germans because they got a better deal from someone else." (link ; a very similar statement was repeated in Ask Your Questions About the Jews)
R. Sungenis (2009): “I suggest you read the unsanitized accounts of what really happened [in the Holocaust]. When the Jews and Jewish sympathizers start showing proof that the Nazis killed 6 million Jews by gassing them, instead of jailing people for even bringing up the question, then you can talk about the Nazis and I’ll listen.” (link)

On February 19th, 2009, Sungenis even had the gall to imply that the Pope may actually be in agreement with him when it comes to the Holocaust:

R. Sungenis: "The pope made no mention of the '6 million' figure that has become such a hot issue in the Williamson affair. The pope did the right thing. In reality, it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s 600,000 (according to a recent report by Meyer) or 6,000,000." (link)

(Please click here for more on what the Pope has said about denial and minimization of the Holocaust. Click here for proof that the Pope is not at all in agreement with Sungenis in regard to the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust. More problematic quotes and background about Sungenis’s views on the Jewish people may be viewed here and here. )

As “evidence” for his assertion that the figure of six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust is “mere propaganda”, Sungenis cited thoroughly debunked “statistics” that purport to “prove” that “there was no large difference between the number of Jews living [in Europe] in 1939 as there were living in 1948.”

In Triumph and Tribulation, Ferrara debunked these claims, critically noting that those who make such claims evidence “what appears to be a lack of even cursory research” and that “anyone with even a superficial knowledge” of the facts should know better. (More information about the number of Jews living in Europe before and after the Holocaust may be found here.)

Ferrara then went on to make these strong statements:

traditionalists have not refrained from critical observations concerning certain statements and actions of the conciliar popes. That criticism is in keeping with the due liberty of the members of the Mystical Body, and indeed their duty to speak out when they believe in conscience that the common good of the Church is being harmed, even should that harm involve acts or omissions of the Supreme Pontiff himself. It would a fortiori be a dereliction of duty for traditionalists not to exercise that same liberty with respect to statements from within our ‘movement’ merely because they come from a fellow traditionalist, even if he were a bishop. For to remain silent in the face of what Bishop Williamson has said would be to endanger the entire cause to which we have dedicated ourselves by allowing it to be attached to his errors.

Bishop Williamson has eliminated himself —and for no good reason—as a credible public spokesman for the Society in the Catholic or secular communications media, or in any other significant public forums open to other traditional clergy.

Not only this newspaper, but every journal of traditional Catholic opinion, and above all the Society itself, must clearly and unequivocally declare—as I do here and now—that Holocaust revisionism, wacky conspiracy theories, and other such nonsense will have no part in the traditionalist movement. (Note: Some of Sungenis’s “wacky conspiracy theories” may be viewed
here. "Other such nonsense" from Sungenis may be viewed here and here.) We must also implore Bishop Williamson to reconsider and personally repudiate the outrageous statements he has published to the world despite the many entreaties that he cease and desist. This is not a question of the Bishop’s freedom of opinion, but rather of the consequences to countless innocent bystanders from a heedless exercise of that freedom. Yes, the Bishop has spoken only for himself; but others, however unjustly, will be made to pay the price for what he has said, and they will go on paying it for a long time to come. The Bishop should have foreseen this, but now it is too late to prevent the damage. All he can do is make amends. If he cares about the Church and the traditionalist faithful, as he surely does, then he will not allow himself to become a stumbling block on the road ahead.

Ferrara is to be commended for his unequivocal, public repudiation of the ignorant and offensive views propagated by Bishop Williamson. We would also note that one could very easily substitute “Robert Sungenis” for “Bishop Williamson” in most all of the quotes above and they would stand equally well. In fact, Sungenis has publicly propagated more ignorant, dishonest and offensive material about Jews than Bishop Williamson has (see here and here). And we are unaware of any occasion on which Williamson has slandered even those Jews who enter the Catholic Church (see here, for one example where Sungenis has done so).

In closing, it is worth noting that the Vatican has rejected Bishop Williamson’s apologies to date as insufficient (article). He has thus far refused to forthrightly retract and apologize for his ignorant and offensive statements. Sadly, the same is true of Robert Sungenis. In fact, unlike Bishop Williamson, Sungenis has even gone so far as to state that “no one” will change his views of the Jewish people - even if he withdraws some of them from public view “for the sake of peace.” (See Saying "Peace" When There Is No Peace.)


1 It should be acknowledged that Ferrara somewhat distanced himself from Sungenis in this letter to the editor. However, in the process, he understated how much association there has been between them: “[Sungenis] contributed exactly one answer to one question about the Catholic Faith on my organization’s Web site.” In 2005, Sungenis actually contributed two answers to Ferrara’s web site that are still there (click here) and there have been other areas of collaboration between Sungenis and Ferrara as well. See: Are Ferrara and Sungenis a Team?