The head of a controversial organization that critics describe as anti-Semitic defended his activism and questioned the facts behind the Holocaust one day after former Rep. Ron Paul was asked about participating in a conference organized by the group.
The Fatima Center, a "grassroots association of Catholic priests and lay people," is hosting a conference in early September at which Paul will give the keynote address on September 11th. The organization has published articles claiming that Jews are attempting to undermine the Catholic Church on behalf of Satan and that "Zionist billionaires" are guilty of "financially raping" Russia’s people.
Father Nicholas Gruner, who runs the Fatima Center, rejected the allegations that his group was anti-Semitic in an interview with the Free Beacon on Friday.
"I object to the charges absolutely, no question about it," Gruner said. "I am not anti-Semitic … I’m not against any particular people, race or nation because of their people, race or nation."
However, Gruner added he is skeptical that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
"What exactly is Holocaust denial?" Bruner said. "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?" Bruner continued. "I think it’s impossible. But you know, I’m open-minded. I’ll listen to somebody who can prove it otherwise."
He also requested the spelling of Free Beacon Editor In Chief Matthew Continetti’s last name, remarking that "it sounds like an Italian name, is that right?"
Paul blasted his opponents for engaging in "demagoguery" and "falsehoods" in a Reddit discussion on Thursday after the Free Beacon reported he is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the "Fatima: Path to Peace" conference on September 11.
Paul called the reports "disturbing," though he also added that he had not read them.
Additionally, he suggested that his political opponents might be behind the criticism of the Fatima Center and indicated that he still plans to speak at the event.
"The article that came out yesterday is disturbing, and I have not read it yet, but the question is raised—exactly who is making the allegations," wrote Paul, in response to a question about his scheduled speech. "I have not yet sorted it out, and it makes me uneasy, but frequently the opposition uses tactics which are pure demagoguery and falsehoods, so I’m looking into it."
Bruner praised Paul to the Free Beacon, saying that he has "read [Paul’s] material for 20-years-plus."
Paul previously came under fire anti-Semitic and racist newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and 1990s.
Requests for comment from Paul’s office were not returned.