.- The endorsement of Senator John McCain by a Catholic-bashing Texas minister won swift rebuke from the president of the Catholic League and a Jewish leader concerned about his âvicious and inflammatoryâ anti-Catholicism.
Both compared the minister to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
On Wednesday Pastor John Hagee endorsed Senator John McCainâs bid to become the Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 election.
Senator McCain responded to the endorsement by calling Hagee âthe staunchest leader of our Christian evangelical movement,â praising Hageeâs pro-Israel stance.
President of the Catholic League Bill Donohue harshly criticized the endorsement.
âThere are plenty of staunch evangelical leaders who are pro-Israel, but are not anti-Catholic. John Hagee is not one of them,â Donohue said on Thursday. âIndeed, for the past few decades, he has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church. For example, he likes calling it âThe Great Whore,â an âapostate church,â the âanti-Christ,â and a âfalse cult systemâ.â
Donohue said that in Pastor Hageeâs latest book the minister claimed Hitler was a Catholic who murdered Jews while the Catholic Church did nothing. âThe sell-out of Catholicism to Hitler began not with the people but with the Vatican itself,â wrote Hagee, according to Bill Donohue.
Donohue criticized the remarks, saying, âFor the record, Hitler persecuted the Catholic Church and was automatically excommunicated in 1931âtwo years before he assumed powerâwhen he acted as best man at Joseph Goebbelâs Protestant wedding. Hitler even bragged about his separation from the Church. As for doing nothing about the Holocaust, Sir Martin Gilbert reminds us that Goebbel denounced Pope Pius XII for his 1942 Christmas message criticizing the Nazis (the New York Times lauded the pope for doing so in an editorial for two years in a row). Much to Hageeâs chagrin, Gilbert also says that Pius XII saved three quarters of the Jews in Rome, and that more Jews were saved proportionately in Catholic countries than Protestant countries.â
Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, echoed Donohueâs criticisms. In a Friday statement, Rabbi Kula said, âJust as Jews and other people of good will have appropriately demanded that Barack Obama unambiguously renounce and reject the endorsement of Minister Louis Farrakhan because of his bigotry and rabid anti-Semitism so Jews and other people of good will should demand that John McCain renounce and reject the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee because of his vicious and inflammatory anti-Catholicism.â
Rabbi Kula said Pastor Hageeâs position on Israel âdoes not mean he should be given carte blanche to denigrate and malign another religion.â He continued, saying, âBarack Obama showed his integrity when he rejected Minister Farrakhanâs hate whatever the political costs and sensitivities. John McCain is also a man of integrity. He needs to similarly reject Pastor Hageeâs hate whatever the political calculations and consequences.â
In a Friday statement Bill Donohue said Senator McCainâs opponent for the nomination, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, had expressed âdisappointment and surpriseâ that Hagee had not chosen him. Donohue also compared Hagee to Louis Farrakhan, wondering why the candidates were fighting over the endorsement of such a figure.
Donohue also called on McCain to shun Hageeâs endorsement.
âJust this week, McCain repudiated the remarks of talk radio host Bill Cunningham,â Donohue said. âHe should now repudiate Hageeâs long record of bashing Catholicism. After all, George W. Bush apologized for speaking at Bob Jones University, and Hagee makes Jones look like a lightweight in the ring of bigotry."