The Lepanto Institute and the Sin of Judas

The Lepanto Institute and the Sin of Judas February 14, 2017


The name “Lepanto” always makes me think of rabbits.

For as long as I can remember, every time I hear “Lepanto” I automatically picture a knight in full jousting armor, holding an enormous dead chestnut-colored buck rabbit by the big hind feet and using it to smack people upside the head. “The Battle of Lepanto” brings to mind a whole field of knights in full jousting armor, hitting each other with rabbits. I couldn’t say why until I remembered that the French for “rabbit” is “Lapin.” It’s similar to my habit of thinking about cats when someone mentions French cake, or of appetizers when I hear the French word for “sofa.”

My second thought, when someone mentions Lepanto, is to back toward the nearest door. “Lepanto,” like “remnant,” is one of those words that doesn’t mean anything harmful in itself, but if you find a person who’s fond of calling it to mind, you’ll find someone who likes to beat people with metaphorical rabbits. The people who love to mention Lepanto, in my experience, are the people who passive-aggressively pray Rosaries at pop musicians and think Muslims are human garbage. “Remember Lepanto” tends to be used as a Catholic cloak for bigotry, similar to “Remember the Alamo” being a secular cloak for anti-Mexican prejudice. “Remember Lepanto” is a rabbit to the face of anyone who isn’t a certain shade of xenophobic.

It has not escaped my attention that there is an entire organization called “The Lepanto Institute.” I at first imagined that The Lepanto Institute was an actual institute, a school or insane asylum or experimental rabbit farm or something, but as far as I can tell it’s only a website. It was a website I sought to ignore, just like “The Remnant” or “LifeSite News,” but being a Catholic with a Facebook account means you can never truly ignore any of those things. Being a Catholic with a Facebook account means getting rabbits hurled at you right and left.

Yesterday, all my friends were commenting on a particularly rabbity meme put out by the Lepanto Institute.

The meme shows a picture of Judas Iscariot– the most scraggly big-nosed antisemitic caricature of Judas Iscariot I’ve ever seen– kissing or possibly sniffing the most Caucasian-looking Jesus I’ve ever seen. Jesus is making a hilarious annoyed face. Below the meme is the Bible verse:

“And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and convenanted to give him money. And he promised. And he sought opportunity to betray him in the absence of the multitude.” (Luke 22:3-6)

Across the meme is printed “JUDAS ISCARIOT. Patron saint of social justice.”

This puzzled me.

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