More Sensitive Than Thou

June 2001

You may remember our April New Oxford Note (“Diversity Trumps the Eucharistic Christ”) concerning Jenny Richardson, who has celiac disease. There’s no need to repeat what we said other than to remind you that we quoted Tim Unsworth, a regular columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, who accused the Catholic Church of being “insensitive.”

But Unsworth repeated his “insensitive” charge in another passage that we didn’t quote: “Good God, where do we get these rigid, insensitive authority figures [such as Cardinal Ratzinger and Cardinal Law] with souls as cold as a witch’s bosom? The ruling on Jenny would sicken a Pharisee.” For these words Unsworth got beat up in the letters section of the Reporter (March 30). Maria Leonard said she was “dismayed.” Was she upset by Unsworth’s cardinal-bashing, by his insensitivity to Catholic sensibilities? Oh no. She was annoyed by his equating Pharisees with “rigid, insensitive authority figures,” for that reflected “anti-Jewish…undertones.”

And Philip A. Cunningham (of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College) objected that Unsworth’s use of the word Pharisee is “an old Christian parody,” is “stereotyping,” and “perpetuates Christian denigration of Jewish tradition.” Moreover, it is “the last bastion of Christian ‘teaching of contempt’ for Jews.”

Golly, could the ultra-p.c. Tim Unsworth, Mr. Sensitive Himself, be an anti-Semite? Well, they didn’t accuse him precisely of that, but they might just as well have. For sure, Leonard and Cunningham made it clear that they are More Sensitive than Unsworth.

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New Oxford Notes: June 2001

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