The article below appeared in the October 3, 2013 issue of the weekly National Catholic newspaper “The Wanderer” (201 Ohio St., St. Paul, MN 55107)- yearly subscription $75. It is reprinted here with permission from the author.
A Catholic Deacon and Family Court Judge Belies His Faith
The City (Rochester’s Aternative Newspaper) featured an Interview (September 4-10, 2013) with now retired Monroe County Family Court Judge Anthony Sciolino, an ordained deacon of the diocese of Rochester, NY, which demonstrated his ignorance of and outright denials of Catholic doctrine together with his false revisionism of history resulting in his “scathing picture of the Catholic Church’s anti-Jewish bias over many centuries.’ His recent book ( The Holocaust, the Church and the Law of Unintended Consequences ) and his Interview simply vent his disenchantment with the Catholic Church and its alleged “Christian complicity in the Jewish Holocaust”. His book is is not serious scholarship but just another screed by a clerical dissenter blackening the reputation of the Catholic Church. He follows in the wake of Rolf Hochhuth, a former member of the Hitler Youth, and later Communist, who wrote his infamous play “The Deputy” which began the campaign to smear Pope Pius XII. Hochhuth and other anti-Catholic bigots (some calling themselves liberals) only confirm historian Arthur Schlesinger’s famous axiom that “Anti-Catholicism is the Anti-Semitism” of liberals and “secular progressives”. So from Judge Sciolono, we hear the same calumnies: the Catholic Church is anti-Semitic, the New Testament villifies the Jews, Pope Pius XII did nothing to oppose Hitler or save the Jews , and German Catholic leaders aided Hitler’s totalitarian regime. Forget the clear teaching of the Church that no Catholic can be anti-Semitic; that the head of the Church Pius XI condemned Nazism in a famous encyclical, that an enormous amount of documentation shows that Pius XII saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives, and that leading Catholic intellectuals such as the Jewish convert John Osterreicher, the philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand, and such theologians as Karl Thieme vigorously denounced Nazi racism and anti-Semitic discrimination while noting in the face of the Gestapo the Jews remained “most dear to God” because of their fathers. Sciolino’s simplistic and flawed analysis of anti-Semitism uttterly falls to distinguish between diverse intellectual and political movements: Anti-Semitism; Anti-Judaism; and Anti-Zionism. That a few German Catholics (even some dissenting priests) early favored Nazism only reveals their betrayal of Catholic teaching just as we have today dissenter-priests in the diocese of Rochester who betray Catholic doctrine. Similarly, one can not ignore Jews and Jewish organizations who continually attack the Catholic Church, promote atheism, do abortions, and promote contraception, homosexuality, same-sex marriages, and euthanasia and are seen to contradict the best traditions of Judaism. A real expert on the Holocaust, the Jewish scholar Lucy Dawidowicz has argued convincingly that the Holocaust was not the product of European Christianity but rather of European rejection of Christian and Catholic ideas of the person and the State. Pace Sciolino, historians have demonstrated that Hitler and Goebbels’ two major obsessions were the destruction of Jewry and the Catholic Church. An excellent antidote to Deacon Sciolino’s rants can be found in the book The Persecution of the Catholic Church in the Third Reich : Facts and Documents translated from the German (Pelican Publishing Company, Gretna, Louisiana, 1973).
Judge Sciolino’s reception of a master’s degree from St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry does not impress in view of its faculty’s well-known departures from Catholic teachings. He may boast of having been ordained to the Catholic diaconate, but it was as a deacon that Judge Sciolino deviated from Catholic teachings on homosexuality by allowing (for the first time in NY State) homosexuals to adopt children. His participation in the scandalous 1997 Conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries (NACDLGM) hosted by Bishop Matthew Clark and the Diocese of Rochester singled him out further as an apologist for homosexuality in defiance of Catholic teaching. The Conference brought together priest, religious, and lay Homosexual activists and sympathizers from throughout the United States. It gave encouragement to the holding of other NACDLGM conferences as well as New Ways Ministry and Call to Action Conferences in other cities – all groups intent on changing the sexual morality of the Church. Sciolino writes the “primary function of the church is to help form the consciences of believers” while clearly rejecting the Church’s forming his conscience. He says “Catholicism is my DNA” while rejecting papal infallibility which is an article of Catholic faith. He distorts Vatican II’s teaching regarding the salvation of non-Catholics and contradicts Catholic doctrine opposed to the ordination of women to Holy Orders. He is, however, correct to observe that the Holocaust happened because too many Christians “failed to practice their faith.” Deacon/Judge Sciolino- to use his own words- has “talked the talk” of Catholicism, but “failed to walk the walk”. His book and his City Interview featuring unfortunate historical stereotypes constitute just the kind of anti-Catholic polemic that can seriously poison Catholic-Jewish relations.