.- An influential Texas pastor who endorsed Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain has denied allegations he is anti-Catholic.
Rev. John Hagee, pastor of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, has been accused of anti-Catholicism by Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Donohue argued that Hagee “clearly distorts” Catholic teaching and misrepresents Church history, especially concerning the actions of Pope Pius XII during the Second World War.
Hagee said his statements about the Catholic Church had been “grossly mischaracterized.” His words about the anti-Christ and a “false cult system,” he said, were references to “those Christians who ignore the Gospels.”
In his recent book, Hagee wrote that “most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.” When asked about this statement during an interview with the New York Times magazine, Hagee said he was trying to express “the fact that Christian anti-Semitism — both Catholic and Protestant — contributed to an environment in which Nazi racial anti-Semitism could flourish.”
Hagee released an extended self-defense in a March 13 statement that said the accusations of religious bigotry made against him were “slanderous.”
“I am not now, nor have I ever been anti-Catholic,” he said in the press release. He cited Cornerstone Church’s social service center that feeds the hungry and clothes the needy, most of whom Hagee said were Catholic.
“I personally supported a convent for over ten years providing complimentary housing for elderly, retired nuns,” Hagee said. “Many of you remember the day of honor that we had for those nuns in this church for their lifetime of service to God. These are not the acts of someone who is anti-Catholic.”
Hagee said he had dedicated most of his adult life to “eradicating anti-Semitism from Christianity,” stating that his statements critical of Catholicism were directed to that end.
“As part of this effort, I have criticized the past anti-Semitism of the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church,” he said.