Society of St. Pius X at Center of Radical Traditionalist Catholic, Anti-Semitic Movement

Traditionalist Catholic groups are scattered around America and the world. But only a handful preach anti-Semitic hatred.

Spokane, Wash.
Formed in 1978 when radical traditionalist Francis Schuckardt bought a Tudor-Gothic building on a bluff overlooking northern Spokane, Wash., St. Michael's Parish has long been a center of extreme-right Catholic activities. Schuckardt, who argued that the liberalizing Vatican II church reforms were part of a demonic conspiracy to destroy the church and inaugurate an atheistic world order, lost control of the group in 1984 during a major scandal: Four young male acolytes accused him of sexual assault right around the same time that a newspaper published an exposé that detailed abusive cruelty inside the compound, including severe beatings of children and one case where a child was fed rotten carrots and then made to eat her own vomit. Schuckardt's successor is Mark Pivarunas, who was consecrated a "bishop" in defiance of the Vatican by renegade Mexican Archbishop Moises Carmona Rivera. Under Pivarunas, St. Michael's Parish has remained an anti-Semitic organization, selling books like John Vennari's The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita, which details a "Judeo-Masonic" conspiracy to destroy the church. On the group's Web site are Pivarunas writings that condemn Vatican II for "promot[ing] the work of the anti-Christ" and for its efforts to reach out to Jews and Muslims even though, he argues, those religions have "persistently attacked the Catholic Church throughout history." At a St. Michael's conference last October, Australian John Lane gave a talk earnestly recounting how he had learned "about the Protocols of Zion [a book alleging a Jewish plot to take over the world], I mean, the whole story." Lane also spoke reverently of meeting Hutton Gibson, the actor Mel Gibson's father and a hard-line anti-Semite. Pivarunas chimed in with a condemnation of Pope John Paul II's outreach to Jews, which included a visit to a German synagogue. Such attitudes aren't new at St. Michael's. In the mid-1990s, when the religious scholar Michael Cuneo visited, his official guide told him: "We know that Freemasons and Jewish leaders have wanted for centuries to bring on a one-world government, and we know that the Church was the only thing really standing in their way." St. Michael's, which is part of the larger Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen, has 800 lay adherents, a cloistered residence for nuns, a church, and an academy for students from kindergarten through high school.

Los Angeles, Calif.
Tradition in Action was formed in 1995 by Marian Horvat and is dedicated to creating "counter-revolutionaries" -- people willing to fight changes in the church, starting at the time of the French Revolution, that were supposedly wrought by Masons, Jews, and "other seminal secret forces." Horvat was joined in 1996 by a Brazilian church scholar named Atila Sinke Guimarães, who like Horvat was a former leader in the far-right Catholic anti-abortion group, the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, which threw them out in 1998. Tradition in Action is particularly angry with the late Pope John Paul II, arguing that before him the Catholic Church "was vigilant for 2,000 years against the enmity of the synagogue." Horvat helped Guimarães launch the 1997 English edition of his In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, an attack on the Vatican II reforms. Guimarães moved to the United States to join Horvat in 1999, and has been here ever since. Guimarães has also been writing for John Vennari's Catholic Family News since 1998, and for Michael Matt's The Remnant since 1999. Guimarães, Vennari, Matt and Horvat collaborated in the 2000 anti-Vatican book We Resist You to the Face, in which the four authors "respectfully suspend obedience to the Pope" and declare themselves in a "state of resistance" to the Vatican II reforms. The book also condemns John Paul II for accepting gun control and the United Nations, and even for allowing pop singer Bob Dylan to perform for him. Tradition in Action goes further than that, however. On its Web site, it cites approvingly church actions against Jews over the centuries, listing a series of religious edicts condemning Jews for usury and blasphemy, and banning marriage between Catholics and Jews. In the same vein, the site approvingly quotes the infamous 1492 edict of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic monarchs of Spain, that expelled from the country all Jews who declined to convert to Christianity.