Let’s carefully think our way — one step at a time — through this rather outlandish little story from The New York Times, the one that ran under the headline, “Funeral for Ex-Nazi in Italy Is Halted as Protesters Clash.”
It would be hard to imagine a more controversial figure in the context of modern Europe than an unrepentant Nazi. Thus, using the logic often associated with the powers that be at the Times, this man must have something to do with the hard-right Roman Catholic Church. Here’s the top of the story:
ROME – To shouts of “assassin” and “murderer,” the hearse bearing the corpse of Erich Priebke, the former Nazi who died under house arrest in Rome last Friday, wound on Tuesday through the streets toward a church in a tiny hilltop town 20 miles south of Rome. Police officers in riot gear had to hold back enraged citizens who kicked and punched the vehicle as it passed.
Eventually, the funeral was halted, Italian news media reported. Afterward, protesters and hard-right sympathizers battled in the streets. It was unclear when — even whether — it would actually take place.
For a while, it did not seem as if the former SS captain, associated with one of the most gruesome massacres of civilians in World War II, would find anyplace to rest in peace. The Diocese of Rome refused Mr. Priebke a public funeral in a church.
So, step one. The Diocese of Rome — as in the real local Catholic diocese — said “no.”
Let’s continue — carefully.
… (Up) stepped the Society of St. Pius X, a Roman Catholic group that rejects the church’s modernizing overhauls — in particular, the teaching that absolved Jews of responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus — and agreed to celebrate a furtive funeral in the town of Albano Laziale.
Now you remember the Society of St. Pius X, of course. This is a group of radical traditionalists that has been excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
In this case, strangely enough, we know that because of the very next statement in this Times report.
The Society of St. Pius X is no stranger to controversy. During his papacy, Pope Benedict XVI devoted considerable energies to bringing the group into the fold, and the church has never fully abandoned that effort.
Logic! Perhaps it is best to paraphrase the wise Professor Digory thoughts in “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” in the classic C.S. Lewis series “The Chronicles of Narnia.”