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“Neocon” Critics of The Passion of the Christ
by Matt C. Abbott
25 March 2004

Lev Navrozov, Scott Shore, Charles Krauthammer and William Safire have all criticized The Passion.

I tend to shake my head when I hear someone described as a “neoconservative.”  A neoconservative, to me, is the same as a “fiscal conservative.”  In other words, neoconservatives/fiscal conservatives are, in reality, not conservatives at all; they are liberals, albeit a bit more sophisticated in their arguments than the ordinary, run-of-the-mill liberal. They support Republicans insofar as Republicans promote a particular type of foreign policy, or a particular view of economics.  But neoconservatives seemingly have little or no concern about the moral law and the evils that are destroying our culture – abortion, contraception, assisted suicide, pornography, and the homosexual agenda.  And, for all practical purposes, they are anti-Christian.

These neoconservatives, like their liberal counterparts, have a problem with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.  The film is anti-Semitic, they assert.  Oh, yes -- they also say it is pornographic and sadomasochistic (!).

Columnists Charles Krauthammer and William Safire are considered neoconservatives. Both have blasted Gibson and the film.  As have Scott Shore and Lev Navrozov.

In a March 19 column on NewsMax.com, Navrozov states the following:

…I wrote the March 5 column [“Dissenting View on Gibson’s Passion”] not to disprove or disparage this kind of mysticism [that Christ died to save us from our sins], but to show that Gibson’s film restores what the Catholic Church rejected 40 years ago (Vatican II) and what had been a cause of, or a pretext for, anti-Semitism for about two millennia... So, Gibson is the new pope of the Catholic Church, and his movie is the new Renaissance of Christian art, complete with Bach and Michelangelo!.. A Catholic who rejects the Catholic Church of the past 40 years is not a Catholic. Hence Gibson, his father…and those who approve Gibson’s film, running counter to Vatican II, are not Catholics…

Forty years ago, the Catholic Church moved along the [Lev] Tolstoyan path. By announcing that Jews did NOT crucify Christ, Vatican II implied that the whitewashing in the Gospels of Pilate and shifting the blame at Jews or THE Jews is not THE Truth, for it is important to keep to the spirit of Christ’s teaching, and not the letter. It is in the spirit of Christ’s teaching not to hate, but to love Jews, who gave to the world St. Mary, Christ and his apostles, as well as the Old Testament (the bulk of the Holy Bible).  Those who consider themselves Catholics, but reject Vatican II and accept everything written in the Bible as THE Truth have been thus nourishing the denial of Christ. This makes them resort to anti-Semitism in order to stop this denial. Thus the vicious circle continues, while anti-Semitism may become one of the factors leading to Nazism, unless the Chinese nano-annihilation of the West comes earlier.

A couple of points here.  First of all, Navrozov insinuates that the Catholic Church, prior to Vatican II, taught that the Jews were collectively responsible for Christ’s crucifixion.  Not so.  The teaching of Vatican II on the subject does not in any way contradict previous Catholic teaching; it merely reaffirms that the Jews were not collectively responsible for the crucifixion.  Rather, it is our sins that killed Christ.  Period.

Navrozov also seems to suggest that those who approve of Gibson’s film must have a problem with Vatican II.  This, of course, is preposterous.  Some Catholics reject the Council, but most do not.  (It should be noted that Catholic liberals are the ones who often misrepresent the Council’s teachings.)  And the many, many Protestant Christians who have seen and appreciated the film obviously do not recognize Vatican II as such; if they did, they would be Catholic.

If Gibson wanted The Passion of the Christ to appeal only to “pre-Vatican II” Catholics, it would almost certainly have been a total flop.  But Gibson marketed the film to Protestants as much as he did to Catholics.  And I’m glad he did so.
Finally, Navrozov fatuously states that those Catholics who “accept everything written in the Bible as THE Truth have been thus nourishing the denial of Christ.”

Huh?  You mean, if a Christian believes in the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture – as he or she should – it is “nourishing the denial of Christ?”   Navrosov is basically saying that authentic Christians aren’t truly Christian; rather, they‘re anti-Christian.  And, of course, they’re anti-Semites.

Such modernist nonsense! 

Even “Vatican II” Catholics, like me, believe that Sacred Scripture teaches the truth.  To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which quotes extensively from Vatican II documents):

The inspired books [of Sacred Scripture] teach the truth. ‘Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures’ (no. 107).

But is The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic?  Not according to “Vatican II” Catholic Dr. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Holy See’s press office, who said that the film is “a cinematographic transcription of the Gospels.  If it were anti-Semitic, the Gospels would also be so.”

Indeed.  And that is the consensus of the vast majority of Catholics and Protestants.

I would submit that the aforementioned neoconservative critics, like their liberal counterparts, are attempting to mask their contempt for the truths of Christianity and the moral law by using sophistry to ridicule Gibson, his supporters, and the film itself.

Maybe one day they’ll come to their senses.

Matt C. Abbott is the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee and the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League.

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