"SNAP’s Last Gasp!" The Pope’s "Crimes Against Humanity"

Proving the point of the new Catholic League report, “SNAP Exposed,” SNAP leaders have sought a “crimes against humanity” charge against the Pope.

“The great mass of people . . . will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” (Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, Ch. 10, 1925).

I wish I could begin this by saying it’s the last time I will write about SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In some of the comments posted after “SNAP Judgements Part II,” several readers pointed out the irony of its timing·. On the same day it was posted – and on the very heels of a blistering Catholic League report, “SNAP Exposed” – the leaders of SNAP did far more than Catholic League President, Bill Donohue could ever do to expose SNAP’s true agenda.  SNAP itself has demonstrated the very point of “SNAP Exposed.”

Assisted by what Bill Donohue called “the most radical leftwing legal organization in the nation” – the New York based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) – SNAP has petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute Pope Benedict XVI and other Vatican officials for “crimes against humanity.” In the petition, CCR attorney Pam Spees described the complaint:

“Crimes against tens of thousands of victims, most of them children, are being covered up by officials at the highest levels of the Vatican.”

I had to pause after reading this. I’ve read such claims in regard to the Catholic scandal a hundred times, but this time something seemed hauntingly familiar, not just for its untrue content, but for its tone. I had read this same propaganda delivered with the same effect somewhere before. And then it struck me. It was in a speech delivered by Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. I wrote of it in “Catholic Scandal and the Third Reich: The Rise and Fall of a Moral Panic” in May of 2010. The speech was delivered in Berlin on May 28, 1937. Here’s an all-too-familiar excerpt:

“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

The speech was quite effective in its original German, its orator bedecked in the uniform and insignia of the Third Reich, an immense swastika waving in the wind behind him as he fired up the mob. In the moral panic to follow, 325 Catholic priests from every diocese in Germany were arrested and sent to prison on trumped-up sex abuse charges.

The propaganda campaign was later exposed as a gross exaggeration of a few real cases. In the end, less than six percent of those accused were found guilty, and even many of those were later exposed as based on false witness and phony evidence.


In a new post, “A Touch of Deja Vu” on his A Ram In the Thicket blog, writer Ryan MacDonald called upon readers to

“Pay a little attention to the details and look for common denominators, and then sometimes a light just goes on in your mind.”

A light went on in my mind when I compared SNAP’s latest attempt to fire up the mob with that speech by Joseph Goebbels. What prompted Hitler’s Third Reich to target the Catholic Church and priesthood? It certainly wasn’t to protect children from real or even imagined sexual abuse. What was behind the Nazi propaganda campaign was a 1937 encyclical by Pope Pius XI entitled “Mit brennender sorge” – “With burning concern” – in which the Pope spoke forcefully against the Nazi ideology that was sweeping Europe. The encyclical was smuggled out of Rome into Germany and read from every pulpit in every Catholic parish in the Third Reich in 1937. It was this that prompted Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda to divert public attention against the Church by creating a “moral panic,” a term used “to identify a social alarm created artificially by amplifying real facts and exaggerating their numbers,” according to sociologist, Massimo Introvigne.

By the time World War II was over, according to Introvigne, the moral panic created by Goebbels aroused far more indignation than the charges that remained against a relatively small number of priests. Eight years after his anti-Catholic rant, Joseph Goebbels murdered his wife and children, then, like Adolf Hitler before him, took his own life.

The terror of the Third Reich was over, but the lesson in mob manipulation and propaganda tactics was well learned. The Church and Pope have been a frequent target ever since. Just before Pope Benedict’s historic visit to England to beatify Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman last year, British atheist Richard Dawkins was given a soap box by The Washington Post to declare the Catholic Church “a child-raping institution.” Dawkins added:

“This former head of the Inquisition should be arrested the moment he dares set foot outside the tin pot fiefdom of the Vatican, and he should be tried in an appropriate civil court.”

Does this sound like civil discourse to you? The language of moral panic and false witness has not changed much since Hitler’s reign of terror, and SNAP’s latest attempt at media manipulation contains all of its elements in tone, style, and content. Everyone with a heart of justice sees this, but not everyone can write of it. Sometimes I find it helpful to be in a position of having lost everything. When there is nothing left to lose or protect, we are free to speak and write the entire truth. This is the truth.

With unusual candor and exasperation, a Vatican spokesman has called SNAP’s petition against the Holy Father “a ludicrous publicity stunt.” That summed it up well.

SNAP leaders should be embarrassed by the clear transparency of their agenda. In a comment on “SNAP Judgements Part II,” writer Jamil Malik raised an alarm about the clarity of this agenda and called it “SNAP’s last gasp.” He has seen such tactics before. “I can only conclude,” he wrote quoting the Vatican’s statement, “that SNAP itself is now little more than a ludicrous publicity stunt.”


As I write this, the news is reporting that the Vatican has named a new bishop-elect for my diocese, the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. It is Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci, presently Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Center. I know little about him, and hope and pray that he is a man of strong faith and moral courage. From this moment on, he will be in my prayers and I ask you to pray for him as well.

But more than one TSW reader has alerted me to something ominous and contrived. In just about every news item and posting about this development, there are one or two comments posted by members of SNAP. These comments are highly negative, and all bear the same terminology, careful to include terms like “child rape” and “Church cover-up.” The comments demean the bishop-elect just because of the diocese he comes from, claiming that Rockville Center has “a terrible history” of “child rape” by priests and “cover-up” by bishops. When Spero News Service reprinted my recent post, “SNAP Judgements Part II,” a writer identified as “MN_SNAP” posted this comment for example: “MacRae is just another enabler of child rapists.” There was no attempt to refute my facts or respond to my reasoning.  It was just hysteria and name-calling.  Fortunately, some other commenters informed SNAP that they had just proven the very point I made in that post.


I cannot see any of these comments myself, of course, because I am a prisoner and have no online access at all. But when I was alerted to them by some TSW readers, I asked a trusted contact to go online and analyze these comments. Sure enough, in just about every media venue reporting on the Vatican’s naming of our new bishop, the report is followed by one or two nasty comments by SNAP members. The comments are seemingly everywhere from the most obscure blog posts about the appointment to the Wall Street Journal’s news ticker mentioning it.

These comments all contain the same keywords as though they were launched by some group with a formula for attack. The Catholic League’s Bill Donohue exposed some of this formula in “The Truth About Snap,” in the September 2011 Catalyst. There was one line especially that should make anyone resent the Goebbels-like manipulation going on.  This was the advice of one SNAP leader on how to stage a media event:

“Display holy childhood photos . . .  If you don’t have compelling holy childhood photos, we can provide you with photos of other kids that can be held up for the cameras.”

I mentioned such contrived tactics in “When the Gloves Come Off on Catholic Blogs.” There are those with an agenda – and they are few, but loud – whose daily grind includes “seeding the Internet” with negative and formulaic comments containing the words “child rape” and “cover-up by bishops.” The comments are left on just about every media article and high-traffic blog post with news about any development in or about the Catholic Church. The names of the commenters are both few and familiar, and they seem to be everywhere.

Sometimes these comments are posted just to bait the rest of us into providing an ongoing platform. Sometimes the best response is to follow these comments with a more positive comment of our own without even acknowledging the negativity – treating it as though it were invisible or has absolutely no impact. This, I think, is a most effective strategy for dealing with anti-Catholic voices online, especially those of dissident and self-serving Catholics. Believe me, people with egos can’t stand being ignored. (Please don’t ask me how I know this!).


In its latest publicity stunt, SNAP leaders unwittingly demonstrated the truth of the Catholic League report, “SNAP Exposed.” In a September 13 press release, the Catholic League detailed many of the factual distortions in SNAP’s complaint about the Holy Father. Those facts speak for themselves, and a terrific analysis of them can also be found at The Media Report, the site of David F. Pierre, author of the landmark book, Double Standard profiled here on These Stone Walls.

The Catholic League is doing a great service to the Church by publishing the truth in the face of a highly distorted and manipulated moral panic. One of the recent commenters on TSW wrote that the Catholic League site should be linked on the Home Page of every Catholic blog and website. I agree. After I posted “SNAP Judgements Part I,” another reader wrote in response, “I just joined the Catholic League.” I was very happy to see both comments, and I urge TSW readers who are not members of the Catholic League to join it. There is a link to it under “Related Links” on the TSW Home Page. In the culture war, the Catholic League is often all that stands between the truth and the propaganda of a moral panic out to destroy the Church.

I’ve been writing a lot about the scandal in the Catholic Church, and the true details are disturbing enough. There is no need to nuance or exaggerate them. When I wrote in “SNAP Judgements Part II” about the case of Father John Geoghan, “ground zero” of the American Catholic Scandal, some readers stressed the failures of his bishops in their comments. This is a matter the entire Church has to own, including his brother priests and even his parishioners. Father Geoghan had free will, and moral culpability for his sins, but too many of us looked the other way.  We were all too concerned for the scandal and its stains on the Church to see the extent to which this man’s reason and judgement were compromised.

But as other writers have pointed out in these pages, “greed ranks right up there with lust among the Seven Deadly Sins,” and in the end, only God can sort out which drove the Geoghan scandal and his 130 accusers. Holding that case up as the norm, however, and judging every other accused priest in light of its sensationalism, is the sin of SNAP and SNAP’s enablers in the news media.

By the way, you might be interested to know that the story of the 1937 Third Reich propaganda campaign by Joseph Goebbels was sent to me last year by a clergy sexual abuse survivor – one of several now reading These Stone Walls – who feels rather strongly that SNAP stopped speaking for him and ceased representing his needs as a victim long ago.

He is not alone in that assessment. “Scott,” a sexual abuse survivor, posted a lengthy and heartfelt comment on my post, “SNAP Judgements Part II,” and his central message is clear:

“There will be no true justice for victims until we move beyond the false notion that the Church and priesthood have been a special locus of sexual abuse, a myth that has benefited no one but personal injury lawyers and their enablers in SNAP and VOTF . . . It is time to turn off the TV cameras, send the lawyers packing, stop vilifying the new class of lepers we have created among the accused in our Church, and act like the Catholic Christians most of us strive to be.” Amen! (The “Amen” is mine!).

Among the many astute comments on “SNAP Judgements Part II,” reader Jeannie Ash wrote in regard to SNAP’s charge against the Pope. “People are of no mind for this,” she wrote, and added:

“There are so many agencies and movements whose disguises are being torn off to expose them for the greedy people that they are. It is not just the United States. The entire globe seems to be growing aware of this confrontation of moral good vs. evil.”

Jeannie might be on to something here. The Book of Revelation, Chapter 13, speaks of a beast – “a false prophet” – who produces great signs “to deceive the people.” The number of the beast (Revelation 13:18) is “a human number.” It is 666. We’ve seen this beast before in human history, and it didn’t die with Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler.

I hope I’m not the only person to have noticed: the Center for Constitutional Rights – the radical group representing SNAP in its childish, self-serving, misguided, and poorly informed attack on the Church and Pope – is located at 666 Broadway in Manhattan.

Goebbels Propaganda Against Catholic Priests


About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE


  1. Gail Ramplen says:

    All the best to you Father. You are constantly in my prayers. God bless.

  2. Kathryn says:

    Here’s an idea that I did recently. I called one of the SNAP people on the phone (she put her phone # after one of her comments). I had a calm discussion with her-(although I felt emotional inside)- about what she thinks about priests who were sent to jail with no trial. She admitted she had to do more research on that!

  3. jamil malik says:

    It came as a great surprise to see a quote with my name on it in this post. Thank you once again for a lucid, reasoned and intelligent analysis. You write with great power and the authority of truth. I agree with others who commented that the 666 Broadway address of SNAP’S lawyers is ironic and chilling.

  4. Connie says:

    Dear Fr. Gordon,

    Thank you for this honest piece about SNAP. I have long believed they were funded by the Lawyers that gained the most in these law suits.

  5. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Can’t add another thing to this great column and great comments. I am learning a lot.

    And the hair on the back of my neck stood straight up at the last line of your column too. Satan lives among us. But Christ lives among us too.

    Keep on keeping on Fr. Peace and blessings to you.

  6. Mary Jean Scudieri says:

    They are committing crimes against the innocent! They are guilty of what they accuse!It is ludicrous for them to think that they have all of the church believing their lies. They are lying to the true victims by perpetuating their false accusations against our innocent priests. It is for greed and the free flowing money that the church is so readily willing to hand out. Snap has made God’s House a den of thieves with the selling out of innocent souls.
    You are a true man of God, Father and we support you with all of our hearts by spreading your story near and far.God bless you
    and may He keep you in the palm of His Hand!

  7. Helen says:

    Bless You, Fr. Gordon, for once again enlightening us to the “Truth”. I’ve learn more, from You, than anywhere/anyone else, I beleive.

    Thank You for Your faithfulness to the Lord and His people.. I am just heart-sick at what the world is doing to our beloved Church. Many hearts are breaking.. Jesus only wanted love and unity…and look … what happened to Him IS happening to us..but I am so afraid it will get much worse.

    You blew my socks off with that last line showing the address of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Shivers all over… pretty scary stuff. Thank our LIVING God, that we have HIM!!

    Once again, I thank You, Fr. Gordon. How many hearts/minds You are moving… You ARE a God-send!

    In His Heart,

  8. felipe carvajal says:

    The following sentence from the Papal letter “With burning concern” caught my attention.

    ” And today we again repeat with all the insistency We can command: it is not enough to be a member of the Church of Christ, one needs to be a living member, in spirit and in truth, i.e., living in the state of grace and in the presence of God, either in innocence or in sincere repentance.”

    Father Gordon, I believe, is doing all of the above.

  9. Lionel (Paris) says:

    All these short films are really beautiful; thank you Father! but the stories you let us know about are very afflicting and depressing…
    The US Clergy is living a real persecution; God help you!…
    It is all so unfair; in someway, you are martyrs!
    I pray for you and sympathize with your suffering…

  10. Keith says:

    ALLELUIA! Fr. Gordon, once more your gift with words of truth are lifted up to the glory of God. Perhaps only those who have been accussed can understand a bit of the depth of you have been plunged into, but all the peoples can benefit from the graces that pour through your exposé on SNAP, VOTF and BishopsAccountability. It is realy a wonder that so many of the non-ordained readers of TSW have been motivated to seek on their own the truths of which you speek. I am so glad to hear that even the TRUE victims, are now seeing through the facade of lies that are perpetuated. Your newly apponted Bishop, comes from my home diocease, and the announcement was delivered and within the the same announcement the local radio commentator said that he had a call out to the local head of SNAP!!!!!!

  11. Jeannie Ash says:

    Part of the problem has been that the media has been complicit, as you note. In an article reported on EWTN today, it shows that nearly all the search engines and social engines have censored religious messages, so trying to even do a search on this could prove very difficult.

    I apologize for quoting most of the article here but I wanted Father Gordon to see it as soon as he could:

    “Christian ideas and other religious content face a clear and present danger of censorship on web-based communication platforms,” said the National Religious Broadcasters’ report “True Liberty in a New Media Age.”

    If Christian content is “censored” by new media platforms like the iTunes App Store, Facebook, Google, or internet service providers, “the Good News of the Gospel could become one more casualty of institutionalized religious discrimination,” the broadcaster organization’s president Frank Wright said in the report’s foreword.

    The National Religious Broadcasters was founded in 1944 to oppose government regulations and policy decisions by major broadcast networks which impeded the ability of evangelical ministers to buy radio airtime.

    Some new media companies have banned Christian content, while others have public positions that make censorship “all but inevitable.”

    Except for the microblogging service Twitter, all the new media platforms and services examined have policies “clearly inconsistent with the free speech values of the U.S. Constitution,” the report said.

    New media companies are responsive to “market forces” and the demands by “pressure groups calling for censorship” of otherwise lawful viewpoints.

    As examples of “anti-Christian censorship,” the report cited the Apple iTunes App Store’s removal of the Manhattan Declaration app that defended traditional marriage. The store also removed an app from Exodus International that said that homosexuality is inappropriate conduct which can be changed through a spiritual transformation.

    Internet search engine giant Google refused to accept a pro-life advertisement from a Christian organization in England and its China-based internet service has blacklisted some religious terminology. The company’s advertising guidelines explicitly bar the phrase “abortion is murder” on the grounds it is “gruesome language.”

    The report also cited Facebook and other outlets for a policy that bars ads for “politically religious agendas.”

    Meanwhile, Facebook has partnered with gay rights advocates to halt “anti-homosexual” content and it is participating in gay-awareness programs. This suggests that Christian content critical of homosexuality, “gay marriage” or other practices will be at risk of censorship.

    Apple, Facebook, MySpace, Google, Comcast, AT&T and Verizon all prohibit “hate speech,” which the National Religious Broadcasters report called a “dangerously undefined and political correct term” that is often applied to “stifle” Christian communicators.

    “The ongoing technological convergence of these various new media platforms suggests that these free speech-inhibiting practices and unconscionable policies will be further entrenched unless corrective action is taken immediately,” the report said.

    The report suggested that companies should follow a “free speech paradigm” guided by the basic First Amendment rules, even where those do not strictly apply to private businesses. It also suggested federal legislation or regulation to forbid “viewpoint censorship.”

    “When we started our John Milton Project for Religious Free Speech, I sensed a gathering storm building, with ‘new media’ companies like Apple, Facebook and Google considering the option of censoring Christian content off their sites,” National Religious Broadcasters’ senior vice president Craig Parshall said on Sept. 13.

    “Now, a little more than a year later, after finishing our extensive study, I am convinced that religious free speech rights will face a First Amendment hurricane if action is not taken immediately.”
    (End of quoted article 10/4/11: “Report: Facebook, Google, Apple Censor Religious Speech”)

    Rather than see this as a reason to be glum I find it something of a supernatural nudge to both feel emboldened to keep fighting on AND to remember that with it so big and so overwhelming there is no greater reminder that we are to be humbled by our helplessness and use the primary weapon in our disposal.

    I was looking forward to reading this article this morning (see Father’s quote about ego and don’t ask how “I” know about this either! grin) and coming into work something rather amazing happened :
    I was driving into work and the most gorgeous rainbow appeared in the midst of very gray clouds. As I was smiling at this I came upon a rise and a sudden glare of sun nearly blinded me so I put my breaks on. Literally less than a second later, where I would have been was a dog who had escaped from his petite owner. Had the rainbow not caught me with its reminder of hope, the sun (beaming through a cloud like one of what I call “God beams”) not blinded me, moving me to brake where I normally am cruising fairly comfortably, this would have been a pretty sad or scary morning.

    The message of this article is similarly filled with gritty reminders and supernatural coincidence. It also reports how these times DO have an historical precedent. Yet even with our shoddy education that is revising and withholding history,keeping people ignorant of that precedent, there is STILL this global conscience that is aware of something off kilter. As faith grows both conscience and truth sensing become more intense and more immediate. We forget sometimes that God has more than just media and indoctrination to awaken and educate. Some have been shaken by burning bushes and some have suddenly encountered stars shining down like spotlights while they peacefully herd sheep.

    Some start a column because despair convinces them that their voice has been silenced and imprisoned forever and their faith vulnerable, but they have to at least try to share that voice that yearns to speak still.

    The global conscience is pricked because souls exist in everyone and Satan always overplays his hand and inadvertently brings many to see truth even through the thick fog of hype, hypocrisy and secular misdirection.

    Ultimately good does trump evil and we forget over and over that if we are NOT to be anxious and worried, this does not mean ‘except for those times when things are really messed up, then go ahead because I hear ya’.

    We pray for things and often find them not answered in the glorious blazon of descending angels, heralding trumpets and joy filled delirium. Instead, all too often our own habits are nudged and coaxed and we find ourselves having to participate in our ‘miracles’, sometimes new habits in ourselves BEING those miracles.

    THIS column, now a habit for Father AND a habit for more and more readers, despite its humble beginnings and certainly no aid from search engines or social media support, is just such a miracle. From the belly of the beast one who was put there and seemingly left to fade into oblivion, comes this one voice that would make David look at his slingshot and smile.

    God bless you, Father. Thank you.


  12. M says:

    Thank you for your lucid and calm appraisal of the current challenge facing us all.
    Truth is clearly under attack.

  13. Cheralyn says:

    Thank you once again Father Gordon for shedding light on SNAP. One of the many sad things that has come from SNAP is that even some practicing Catholics, that do not take the time to really listen to what’s going on, actually believe the lies that SNAP spreads. Father please let us know if there is anyway, we the Laity can help end the injustice and hate that SNAP is causing for our Priests, Bishops and Holy Father. God bless you and you remain in my daily Prayer,
    Cheralyn , Spiritual Mother of Priests

Speak Your Mind