More on Magnanimous Mel

Sorry, but I really can’t stand the guy. This important little article tells how the director of The Passion based many scenes on the writings of an antisemitic nun, Sister Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824).

The bedridden visionary, who is said to have borne the stigmata and the wounds of the Crown of Thorns, is a particular source of contention for Gibson because of her depictions of Jews as bloodthirsty and venal. In “The Dolorous Passion,” for instance, she “sees” Jewish priests passing out bribes to get people to offer false testimony against Jesus and even tipping the Roman executioners. She also describes seeing Jesus’ Cross being built in the courtyard of the Temple in Jerusalem. (Some of those details were found in an early script, but it could not be determined whether they made it into the final cut of Gibson’s film.)

And Emmerich’s 19th century biographer, the Rev. C.E. Schmoeger, wrote about how she had one vision of an “old Jewess Meyr,” who confessed to her “that Jews in our country and elsewhere strangled Christian children and used their blood for all sorts of suspicious and diabolical practices.”

Mel actually carries a piece of cloth from Emmerich’s habit wherever he goes. The money quote comes when he’s asked about her antisemitism.

“Why are they calling her a Nazi?” he is quoted by New Yorker writer Peter Boyer as saying. “Because modern secular Judaism wants to blame the Holocaust on the Catholic Church. And it’s revisionism. And they’ve been working on that one for a while.”

News to me, but I guess Mel must know, or he wouldn’t have said it….

The Discussion: 5 Comments

This is perfectly in keeping with much of early modern writing about christianity, which came part in parcel with decrying defamatory statements against judaism.

basically, it’s like this: the christians are christians in 16th centurey and later only so far as they are different than the jews.

March 5, 2004 @ 1:07 am | Comment

Well, the small little part that Mel forgets is that Sister Anne CAN be compared to an Anti-Semite for propogating the blood libel.

Calling someone out for anti-Semitism for writing and supporting blood libel is not revisionism, but just a sad fact.

For those that don’t know, the blood libel has been going on for centuries against Jews, and still goes on today in the less enlightened countries in the Middle East – Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq. The blood libel contends that Jewish people kidnap young children and use their blood for religious ceremonies, usually for Passover wine.

March 5, 2004 @ 2:03 am | Comment

If it’s ‘news to you’, it shouldn’t be

Jewish leaders have welcomed the Pope’s apologies for the past misdeeds of the Catholic church – but expressed disappointment that he did not make specific mention of the church’s role during the Holocaust. Rabbi Lau said he was “a little bit disappointed” that the Pope had made no mention of the Holocaust or the controversial role of Pope Pius XII, who many Jews believe turned a blind eye to the Nazi death camps. . . . He called on the Vatican to open its archives to allow investigation of the church’s role during World War II.

Or Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles, who said:

“Pope Pius XII sat on the throne of St. Peter in stony silence, as the trains carrying millions of unsuspecting victims criss-crossed Europe en route to the gas chambers. . . . Not once did the Pope lift his voice in unequivocal terms to protest the deportations and murder of the Jews . . .”

Or Daniel Goldhagen who claims that the Church and the pope:

“failed during the Holocaust … because they believed the Jews to be evil and harmful, and because they did not object in principle to punishing the Jews substantially.”

and who calls for “material restitution” from the Church and claims that the Church must rewrite the New Testament to remove the “ferocious antisemitism . . . spread throughout the text.

The arrogance of that last statement is breath-taking.

And there’s plenty more of this sort of thing — although, Gibson’s attribution of this slander (and slander it is) to “secular Judaism” is an over simplification. There are plenty of secular non-Jews (and some “progressive” Catholics) spreading this revisionist crap.

In fact, among other things:

Pius XII . . . set up a refugee committee in Rome, which he placed under charge of his secretary, Father Leiber, and his housekeeper, young Mother Pasqualina. In his book, Pie XII avant l’Histoire, Monsignor Georges Roche reports that this committee enabled thousands of European Jews to enter the United States as “Catholics,” providing them with efficient documentation service, including baptismal certificates, financial aid and other trans-national arrangements. The French historian estimates that by 1942 more than one million Jews were being housed, on Vatican orders, in convents and monasteries throughout Europe. British historian Derek Holmes reports that Jews as well as Italian partisans of underground guerrilla movements were dressed as monks and nuns, and taught to sing Gregorian chants.

The Pope himself set an example by taking care of some 15,000 Jews and Italian dissidents at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope’s summer residence, as well as

The words of Albert Einstein bear consideration:

Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks…

Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.

Gibson, though a deeply religious man, is a movie star for Christ’s sake. Attributing his views to the Church is as unfair as attributing the vapid rantings of many of the Holliwood left to the Democratic Party.

March 5, 2004 @ 11:22 am | Comment

BTW, your comments still aren’t processing html tags properly. The above bock quotes came out all fucked up.

March 5, 2004 @ 11:24 am | Comment

Sorry about the tags, Conrad – will try to fix when I have more time.

The topic of the church’s role in the Holocaust is a true can of worms and I won’t go there. All I’ll say is Goldhagen’s book is absolutely not representative of Reform Judaism, and I’ve never heard of any Jews blaming the Holocaust on the Roman Catholic Church or trying to spread the idea. What I have heard is that Pope Pius could have done more, and that he often closed his eyes to what was happening. Even the Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw in the second volume of his huge biography makes this argument. Anyway, I am not taking sides. If you don’t see it as inappropriate for Gibson to make statements like the ones I cited — well, we’ll just have to agree to see it differently.

As for your comment that he’s just “a movie star,” I’m afraid with this movie he has assumed a grander role than that, as the man who will breathe new life into his Christian cause. Just look at how they presented the movie to evangelical pastors and how it is being promoted as a recruiting tool. It goes well beyond your usual Hollywood flick.

March 5, 2004 @ 1:20 pm | Comment

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