February 11, 2009

Clarifying a Calculated Disaccord

The following letter is by Mrs. Rosa Gillibrand to the German media-personality Michel Friedman, first posted at her husband's blog Catholic Church Conservation, which is among the few we have blogrolled. Roncesvalles is not a Catholic blog in the sense Catholic Church Conservation is. As the description in the header says, it is about news and views from the German backwaters, and biased ones, for that. So let me put Mrs. Gillibrand's letter in a German perspective by providing information, which a blog that focuses mainly on theological matters can and will not provide.

Michel Friedman, in his early fifties now, used to be a German lawyer, CDU politician and Vice President of the Council of Jews in Germany. He then broke into chat-show hosting and was, with his razor-sharp mind, aggressive interviewing style, flamboyant looks, and an ego as big as the Mount Everest, a huge success. Friedman's family had been saved by Oskar Schindler.

In 2003, he was trialled and convicted in a case of cocain usage, involving forced prostitutes from Eastern Europe. He then withdrew from all public offices, publicly apologized and asked for "a second chance". Predictably, German television, shallow and whorish as it is, allowed him a comeback. Recently, he has, somewhat predictably as well, acquired new attention through his vocal condemnation of Pope Benedict.

Michel Friedman is, to put it cynically, important, even invaluable for the German society. Why? Because he mirrors, like nobody else, the deeply ingrained antisemitic resentments of the otherwise oh-so tolerant and enlightened Germans who see, by Friedman's mere existence, their credo once again affirmed that antisemitism is the Jews' fault. I have a hunch that Friedmann deliberatelly caters for this resentment, but I may be wrong.

However, here is Rosa Gillibrand's remarkable letter:
Dear Dr Friedmann

I have always carried the name Friedman with pride; I am a Catholic and received the name Friedman by marriage. So dear was this name to me that I kept my passport with the name Friedman for four years after my husband had died, because it seemed to me an honour as an Austrian to carry this name. It therefore stands to reason that I cannot be an anti-Semite; at present, I am writing a book about the Jews of Linz in Austria.

I am ashamed of what you have said in your highly emotional and angry statements in the broadcast of the Kerner Show on ZDF. You call the SSPX, nazis, fascists and anti-Semites. It seems to me that you do not understand what the whole affair is about as I assume that you are a secular Jew and you have no knowledge of what is actually taking place. Just as the Germans under National Socialism have attacked the Jews without any reason, you have attacked and defamed a group of deeply believing Catholics.

It is apparent for you Vatican II means an opening to the world- you are an outsider and this is a simplistic view. I, as an insider, have experienced what had happened to the Catholic Faith- the removal of everything symbolic and sacred from the liturgy. What does this in actual fact mean? I have tried for over twenty years to come to terms with it and to overlook the shambles in the Rock Masses, Carnival Mass, Clown Masses, Sing-song Masses- everyone holding hands and Dance Masses, until I could not bear it anymore. Vatican II Masses became more and more banal, saying less and less and becoming emptier and emptier of spiritual content with a self-made and truncated rhetoric from the priest and a happy-clappy community. If I wanted to hear rock music, I would go to a rock concert- I don’t need the Church for this.

In my search for a Mass with content, where the sacred is still sacred and where the liturgy is still treated in a decent and dignified manner, I found by chance the Fraternity of St Peter. As however most of the liberal inclined bishop held them down with an iron fist and permitted few Masses in the Roman Rite, and as, for instance, in Brussels the Fraternity of St Peter is forbidden to celebrate through the obstinacy of the local Cardinal, I have found again by chance, the SSPX who possess their own church in Brussels independent from the grace and favour of the Diocesan bishops. The latter are set to continue their secular and liberal course, free and cheerfully, despite the fact that their churches are becoming emptier and emptier.

My religion matters to you- it possesses a liturgy which according to Michael Davies, “is the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”. I do not expect any understanding from you but I expect, at least, the respect that you would give to Orthodox Jews. To simply pour dirt onto the SSPX and call them nazis, fascists etc. which I must ask you to withdraw. You are making this statement solely on the basis of an eccentric bishop who denies many other things besides the Holocaust, (9/11, Pearl Harbour) or wishes to impose on them a different interpretation. As far as I know, the US has not taken him to court for this. In any case, should I meet him here again in Brussels- he was here a year ago- I would assure you that I would speak to him that I was married to a Jew and that 45 of his relatives perished. This would mean 45 of the 300/400 thousand that he specified.

You are attacking a group of faithful Catholics (the same disposition and more, you can find in your own faith, among the Orthodox Jews, but you are silent about them.) When I accompanied my husband to Stamford Hill in London- as a doctor, he had to visit an old Jewish lady who had been in a concentration camp, my reception there was not in the least friendly- no-one shook my hand, I was left standing in a corner and the children were clearly afraid of me (as I was not Jewish) and they tried not to come near to me. Contrary to you, I have not criticised their environment or behaviours but tried to explain it to myself.

Why don’t you come forward with the truth why you pour your hatred over the SSPX- because of the Good Friday prayers which are only prayed once a year by the priest in Latin for the Jews. Nb it is the priest who prays this prayer together with ten other bidding prayers. I would appreciate it if you could just once also say prayers for us, the unbelieving gentiles, or do you not pray any more....

I should be grateful.
Mrs Rosa Gillibrand, formerly Friedman
Thank you, Mrs. Gillibrand!

Gudrun Eussner says in an email that she found many of those things in a synagogue that are dear to a traditional Catholic with his Latin Mass as well (article in German).

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