Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson’s blog is raising a storm of protest. His facts do not lie but they add up to a heinous falsehood.
In his weekly post, Williamson wrote that “the killing of Jesus was truly ‘deicide’ ” and that “only the Jews (leaders and people) were the prime agents of the deicide because it is obvious from the gospels that the gentile most involved, Pontius Pilate, … would never have condemned Jesus to death had not the Jewish leaders roused the Jewish people to clamour for his crucifixion.”
Williamson failed to write that Jesus was a Jew, his followers were Jews, his friends and his supporters were Jews. The whole story takes place, as it were, within one family. Why would Williamson give this hate-inducing, one-sided picture? Possibly he cannot face his own complicity — the complicity of all people — in Jesus’ death. Certainly Williamson is anti-Semitic. He previously denied the existence of gas chambers and the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
How did he get that way? He grew up in the church. He heard hate-inducing readings from the New Testament times without number. This invective goes hand-in-glove with worship. A toxic equation results: the more you love Jesus the more you will despise Jews.
I invite you, Bishop Williamson, to make the following thought experiment. Imagine yourself in a Protestant church during the Sunday liturgy. You hear the lector read from the Holy Scripture (strictly imaginary):
Therefore the Catholics started persecuting Jesus, because he was doing such things on the sabbath. … For this reason the Catholics were seeking all the more to kill him, because he was not only breaking the sabbath, but was also calling God his own Father, thereby making himself equal to God…. After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Catholics were looking for an opportunity to kill him. … No one would speak openly about him for fear of the Catholics…. [The blind man’s] parents said this because they were afraid of the Catholics; for the Catholics had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the church…. The Catholics took up stones again to stone him. When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Catholics, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”
Horrific, isn’t it? As you know, Bishop Williamson, these modified examples come from only one of the Gospels. Passages in other Gospels, in Acts, and in the Epistles carry on in the same vein. This analogy offers an inexact parallel, but you can hear how cruelly it identifies Catholics with fear, violence, persecution, and murder.
Thank God such passages as these are not part of our sacred writings! I only invite you to make this thought experiment to help you feel the horror of this kind of vilification. We harm the Jews, yes, to our shame, but we harm ourselves as well, for violence begets more violence. Let’s work together for the day when no group of people is violated as an aspect of worship.