In a heated September 5th interview with MSNBC's Alex Wagner, Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, who is currently surfing a wave of mainstream media appearances due to his strong criticism of the push from the Obama Administration for U.S. military intervention in Syria, defended his planned September 11th, 2013 keynote address at a "gala dinner fundraiser" to be held during a controversial [also see 1, 2] conference organized by a fringe, schismatic Catholic organization accused of virulent anti-Semitism, the Fatima Center.
According to a new report, Ron Paul's association with Fatima Center leaders, including Fatima Center head Father Nicholas Gruner -- who has espoused Holocaust denial, traces back at least as far as 1998.
During the September 5th interview, MSNBC's Wagner confronted Paul with the fact that the Fatima Center has been called a "hard-core anti-Semite group" and has in the past published writing suggesting that Jews should be stripped of certain civil rights -- a suggestion also once made by one of the speakers, Father Paul Leonard Kramer, who will join Ron Paul at the upcoming Fatima Center "Path To Peace" conference to be held September 8th to 13th in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
Former Congressman Paul responded to MSNBC correspondent Wagner's challenge by flatly refusing to reconsider his planned appearance at the Fatima Center conference and by accusing Wagner of "Catholic bashing."
Also joining Former Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) at the event will be speakers who have promoted Holocaust denial and portrayed global warming as a hoax that will be used to justify a Jewish and Israeli-led genocide of most of the Earth's population, and who reject the long-established scientific fact that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Fatima Center head Father Nicholas Gruner, and other top leaders associated with the center, have for over two decades promoted claims that a global conspiracy of wealthy "apostate Jews" and Freemasons -- who are alleged to have financed Hitler and the Nazis and hold a "Hitler-like doctrine of exterminating the gentile races and repopulating the Earth with their own kind" -- is plotting to institute a "New World Order" global government under the command of the anti-Christ.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks far-right, racist and anti-Semitic groups, identifies the Fatima Center as part of the "'radical traditionalist Catholic' movement, [which is] perhaps the single largest group of hard-core anti-Semites in North America."
That SPLC characterization was based in part, on the organization's landmark 2006 report, by SPLC researcher Heidi Beirich, Radical Traditionalist Catholics Spew Anti-Semitic Hate, Commit Violence Against Jews, which was careful to note that such "Radical Traditionalist" Catholic groups deviate substantially from official Catholic Church teachings, positions, and doctrine, and can be considered a fringe tendency within the stream of orthodox and Traditionalist Catholic groups as well.
Gruner, a defrocked Catholic priest who has repeatedly portrayed the Vatican as at least partly controlled by the alleged satanic conspiracy, recently went on record suggesting that the commonly-accepted Jewish death toll in the Holocaust had been substantially inflated. As Father Gruner explained to the Washington Free Beacon:
Are we talking about the six million Jews that are alleged to been killed by Hitler? A question that nobody has been able to answer for me, is how can you have six million die, and have 13 million left, when you only had 13 million to start with? I think it's impossible. But you know, I'm open-minded. I'll listen to somebody who can prove it otherwise.
Father Gruner is not the only Holocaust denier scheduled to speak at the upcoming Fatima Center along with Ron Paul. Another is Catholic lawyer Robert Sungenis -- who has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as "one of the most rabid and open antisemites in the entire radical traditionalist movement."
In a document posted in 2011 on his personal website, Robert Sungenis wrote, echoing Gruner:
What I question is whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. I simply find that figure hard to believe, not only because the then current records show that the worldwide Jewish population in 1948 was virtually the same as it was in 1940, but also because there is easily obtainable documented evidence that only a few hundred thousand Jews lost their lives in Nazi internment camps.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, Sungenis has also stated:
The statistics show us that there was no large difference between the number of Jews living in 1939 as there were living in 1948, so how could six million Jews have died between those two periods?
In June 2011, Sungenis' views on the Holocaust led to a last-minute cancellation of a UK Orthodox Catholic conference scheduled to be held at Westminster Hall. Sungenis and Father Paul Kramer had been invited to speak at the event.
Also in 2011, Father Gruner's Fatima Center published an op-ed in defense of Catholic traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson, of the Society of St. Pius X, who was then on trial, in German court, for a statement he had made during an interview on Swedish television:
I believe that the historical evidence, the historical evidence is strongly against, is, is, hugely against, six million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler.
In the March 28, 2011 Fatima Center op-ed, author Edwin Faust stated that "there is a paucity of physical evidence" concerning the Nazi use of gas chambers and went on, "Most accounts of the gas chambers at concentration camps are anecdotal."
Faust then described Bishop Williamson's reliance on the so-called "Leuchter Report", a pseudo-scientific study conducted by the American Fred Leuchter, who had established a career in designing and building execution system used by states with capital punishment.
Although discredited, the 1988 Leuchter Report -- which is celebrated in Holocaust denial circles -- purported to disprove Nazi mass-gassing of prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp. Leuchter had little or no engineering or scientific training relevant for making such an assessment.
Faust's Fatima Center op-ed reserved judgment on the validity of the Leuchter Report, but went on to portray Bishop Williamson, Fred Leuchter, and noted Holocaust denialist Ernst Zundel as victims of persecution who "discovered that it is dangerous to speak freely about certain things".
While recent scholarship has shed light on the moral complicity of the Catholic Church in helping stoke anti-Semitism and for failing to publicly speak out against Nazi persecution and extermination of Europe's Jews, the Vatican nonetheless acknowledges that Hitler and the Nazis killed roughly six million Jews and has formally apologized for its inaction.
Holocaust denialism is not the only crank theory promoted by Fatima Center leaders.
In an April 2011 broadcast of the Center's "Fatima Today" show, Nicholas Gruner and Father Paul Leonard Kramer, who works closely with and often makes public appearances with Gruner, discussed their belief that global climate change is a hoax, perpetrated by members of the alleged global Jewish Freemasonry conspiracy -- which they suggested includes Henry Kissinger, Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, Former Vice President Al Gore, and Former U.S.S.R. head Mikhail Gorbachev -- to justify the killing of up to six billion people by, according to Gruner, "starvation or by guns or by gas chambers or by whatever."
Speakers slated for the upcoming Fatima Center conference go further still. Two speakers joining Ron Paul at the event are Catholic lawyers Robert Sungenis and John Salza, who are in the Catholic vanguard of a movement of "geocentrists" who reject the heliocentric model of the Solar System (that was accepted by the Roman Catholic Church centuries ago) and maintain that the Sun and all the celestial objects in the heavens rotate around the Earth once per 24-hour period.
In 2010, Sungenis and Salza could be found, along with several of their Protestant geocentrist counterparts, at the First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism, held at the Hilton Garden Inn in South Bend, Indiana. Sungenis is author of the book (and website by the same name) "Galileo Was Wrong."
As researcher Rachel Tabachnick described in an August 23, 2013 report on the upcoming Fatima Center conference in Niagara, ON, the original roster of speakers scheduled to join Former Congressman Paul at the event also included professed neofascist Italian politician Roberto Fiore, various far-right American radical Catholic traditionalists associated with the Fatima Center who have also promoted anti-Jewish variants of "New World Order" conspiracy theory, and the President of the John Birch Society John McManus.
Another notable event speaker will be Father Karl Stehlin, Society of St. Paul X District Supervisor of Eastern Europe, who in 1998 stoked a controversy concerning Christian crosses placed in a field bordering on the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz. In defiance of Catholic authorities, Stehlin blessed crosses placed at the site by Polish citizens who promoted the view that "Jews controlled the government and the church."
In addition, speaking at the event will be Barbara Skurnowicz, President of the Michigan group Healthcare Professionals For Vaccine Choice -- a group which fights against mandatory vaccination and promotes the claim, generally considered to have been disproved, that certain vaccines can trigger autism in children.
The Fatima Center "Path To Peace" conference will not be the first time that Ron Paul has collaborated with leaders from the Fatima Center and the John Birch Society, in promoting "New World Order" conspiracy theory, according to new findings from researcher Rachel Tabachnick.
In 1998, five of the leaders scheduled to speak at the upcoming "Path To Peace" conference, including Father Nicholas Gruner, appeared in the John Birch Society-produced 30-minute conspiracy video "The United Nations: A Look Into The Future", which promoted a United States withdrawal from the United Nations. Playing a starring role in the video was Ron Paul. Reports Tabachnick:
Scenes in the JBS film change to black and white when United Nations bullies in dark sunglasses come to snatch children from their homes and force them to go to public schools. Depictions of the United Nations' infiltration are interspersed with images invoking Nazi Germany.
Nor is it Paul's first brush with hate groups or hate speech. In 2008, during his first presidential bid, Congressman Ron Paul came under heavy criticism due to anti-Semitic and racist newletters published in his name in 1990s.