This Sunday’s edition of the Manchester Union Leader ran an article about Saint Benedict Center entitled “Richmond religious sect rejects ‘hate group’ label.” My intention in this brief statement is to correct some of the factual errors and libelous disinformation that made its way into the piece.
As part of her effort of getting different sides of the issue, the journalist telephoned me for an interview, and allowed me to respond to the false claims made against us by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which continues to put us in a false light as a “hate group.” That the SPLC itself is taken at all seriously in these matters is a shame, as the organization is an ideologically driven, left-wing fundraising enterprise masquerading as a human rights organization.
The SPLC is itself a hate group, which specializes in demonizing people and organizations — notably, conservative ones — in order to frighten its liberal base into donating money to the SPLC. This procedure of creating liberal hysteria and then profiting from it has appropriately been called “manufacturing hate.” The organization has been discredited by its own antics, such as putting Ben Carson on one of their lists as an “extremist,” vilifying the entire Tea Party movement, and putting the (Catholic) Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM) and the (Protestant) Family Research Council (FRC) on their “hate map.” This last action was partially responsible for a real act of hatred perpetrated against the FRC by deranged gunman Floyd Corkins II, who attempted mass murder in the offices of the pro-family group because, as he said, the SPLC said that they were “anti-gay.”
Thankfully, the FBI discontinued its practice of listing the SPLC as a source for information on hate crimes.
When the SPLC first began to profile Saint Benedict Center as a hate group, we countered its long list of lies, innuendo, and other foolishness on our web site.
To my categorical rejection of the label, “anti-Semite,” the SPLC’s Mark Potok recently said, “He’s the leading anti-Semite there.” This is a vicious and unfounded calumny from a shamefully dishonest man who has never been here or interviewed us, yet who claims expertise on us — even on me personally. Our interest is to share the Catholic truth with Jewish people and all others so that they might enter the Catholic Church, live devout sacramental lives, and go to Heaven. Conversion to Jesus Christ and His true Church is our message to Jew and Gentile alike. Where is the hate there? It is purely manufactured.
The Union Leader quoted passages from a 2004 Boston Globe story which itself was riddled with false information. Additionally, that earlier piece cited Mr. Douglas Bersaw giving his private opinion — not a position of Saint Benedict Center — that six million Jews did not die in the Holocaust. Based on this, the Union Leader asserts, “[the] Slaves of the Immaculate Heart also has [sic] been accused of being Holocaust deniers.”
The accusation is an absurd one. Our website has literally thousands of postings on it — from books to long articles to short columns and news stories. I personally have authored hundreds of these pieces. Not one of them features or endorses “Holocaust denial,” or the sort of historical revisionism that goes under that name. Our focus is on defending and propagating Catholic tradition, Christian social order, and the salvation of souls, none of which fits into the SPLC’s narrative.
There are factual errors in the article. For instance, IHM Media is not an apostolate of Saint Benedict Center, nor does it “print the material that the Slaves and St. Benedict Center promote.” Neither did Father Leonard Feeney teach at Boston College, as the article alleges. These are fairly minor errors.
Thomas Bebbington, director of communications for the Diocese of Manchester, was quoted in the article as saying that Saint Benedict Center is “in direct conflict with [non-specified] Catholic teachings.” If the quotation is accurate, it is a misstatement which constitutes a calumny against us, as is the assertion imputed to Mr. Bebbington that our founder, Father Leonard Feeney, “broke with Rome,” and that he was reconciled shortly before his death. The lifting of canonical censures against Father Feeney took place over five years before his death, and he was not, as a condition for that canonical reconciliation, asked to recant anything he had taught. This is amply documented in the book They Fought the Good Fight, by Brother Thomas Mary Sennott, which bears the Imprimi potest of Bishop Timothy J. Harrington, Ordinary of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts.