A Washington Post columnist has called out the Catholic Church for alleged anti-Semitism in selecting its next pope.
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist and blogger, questioned why no Jewish people were considered to replace retiring Pope Benedict XVI in an online column, “Catholic Chutzpah: Vatican Snubs Jewish Candidates,” which was published Monday.
Rubin, who often writes about political and Israeli issues, claimed Jewish people were deliberately ignored for consideration of the most powerful position in the Catholic Church.
“I looked at the list of cardinals who are potential contenders to be the new pope,” Rubin wrote, “and was immediately struck by what I did not see: a single Jewish person, man or woman, being considered.
“It seems that anti-Semitic discrimination is alive and well in the Catholic Church if Jewish people have no chance of attaining this holy post,” Rubin wrote. “In fact, I can’t name a single Jewish person who holds any office – minor or significant – in the Catholic Church. And when is the last time that any pope took a strong stand on Israel?
“I guess Vatican City is like one big country club, or a Palestinian rally: No Jews need apply!”
Canon law states that any male who has been baptized is eligible to become pope, though popes traditionally are selected from the church hierarchy.
At least 10 frontrunners were identified as potential successors to Pope Benedict XVI, whose resignation, the first by a pope in nearly 600 years, took effect Feb. 28. His successor will be chosen by 115 cardinals in a secret election, known as a conclave, by early March.
Rubin’s article was removed from the Washington Post’s website after it received more than 5,000 comments in one hour, most of which were negative, ripping into Rubin’s lack of knowledge about the church.
Catholic and Jewish leaders quickly condemned Rubin’s article through press releases and via Twitter.
“Does this woman not understand how our selection process for pope works?” said William Maher, bishop for the Los Angeles diocese. “It helps if you’re an actual member of the church, for Christ’s sake.”
“Secular Jews already control Hollywood, and now they want to control our beloved Church?” said William Donohue, president of the Catholic League, in a statement posted on its website. “It’s time for Catholics to stand up and say, Enough is Enough!”
“To be fair, not many Catholics are actively involved in our synagogues,” said Rabbi Jay D. Harmeyer of Mishegas K’nish Synagogue in New York City.
The Washington Post’s ombudsman, C. Murph Brown III, said the article was removed on the advice of the Post’s lawyers. However, he defended the article as typical of Rubin’s columns.
“Mrs. Rubin is one of the Post’s most prolific, thought-provoking and provocative columnists,” he wrote in an email. “From claiming that Jews hate Sarah Palin, claiming President Obama hates Israel, blaming the Anders Breivik attacks in Norway on Muslims, tacitly endorsing genocide against Palestinians. She even accuses everyone here of anti-Semitism, including other Jews, if we don’t provide her bagels in the morning.
“It seems ridiculous to me that she should be singled out for this one article.”
Rubin also defended her article by email.
“Child molesters are OK, but Jewish people are not OK with the Church?” Rubin wrote in an email. “Are you telling me Jerry Sandusky is a better choice than Jerry Seinfeld? The Church picked a former Hitler youth for pope. How is that not anti-Semitic?”
Rubin was not the only columnist to question the Catholic Church’s selection of pope.
Jezebel, a website focusing on women’s issues, also took aim at the Catholic Church’s selection process that excludes female Catholics.
“The real issue here is why not one woman was considered,” wrote columnist Marcine D’Arcy. “It seems the Catholic Church remains a good-old boys club: sexist and misogynist to the core.”