Former Rep. Ron Paul said he still plans to speak at an upcoming conference hosted by a Canadian fringe organization that has been accused of anti-Semitism, even after the group’s leader denied the Holocaust last month in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon.
Paul is slated to give the Sept. 11 keynote address at the conference organized by the Fatima Center, a "grassroots" Catholic group whose leader was suspended by the Church in 1996.
Paul said he would go ahead with his planned speech during an interview with MSNBC’s Alex Wagner on Thursday, noting that he often speaks to groups with which he has personal disagreements.
"I even talk to Republicans and they disagree with everything I say," said Paul. "I’m going to a conservative Catholic group that is pro-peace and want to hear my foreign policy and my take on economy."
Paul added that he "wouldn’t be on this station [MSNBC] if I had to have a litmus test."
Wagner said that, unlike the Fatima Center, MSNBC has not published columns "opposing Jewish naturalism, about Satan's plans against the [Catholic] Church, among which include the granting of full citizenship to the Jews."
Paul said the allegedly anti-Semitic columns were part of "disagreements within the Catholic Church" and told Wagner that it "sounds to me like you have me on here to bash Catholics."
"You ought to be more courteous to them and give them a break," Paul added. "Why can't we have discussions with people that might have a difference?"
The former congressman said he has been falsely and unfairly smeared as anti-Semitic ever since he was first elected to congress in 1976.
"I’m totally innocent," he said. "The first month [in 1976] they put my picture in a magazine with a swastika."
The Fatima Center has been criticized for publishing articles accusing the Jews of working on behalf of Satan to try to undermine the Catholic Church, and claiming that Russian citizens were "financially raped" by "Zionist billionaires."
In an Aug. 22 interview with the Free Beacon, the Fatima Center’s leader Fr. Nicholas Gruner said he was skeptical that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.
"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?" said Gruner. "I think it’s impossible. But you know, I’m open-minded. I’ll listen to somebody who can prove it otherwise."
"I have too much respect for my intelligence to go along with some stupidity," Gruner added. "I don’t know what it is you don’t get yourself? Is it a crime to say that 13 minus six plus six equals 13—that you can generate 6 million Jews in five years? … I don’t think they have those abilities, just like the rest of mankind doesn’t have it."
The Catholic Church suspended Gruner in 1996, meaning that he cannot perform the functions of a priest in good standing. The Vatican issued a rare public "reminder" of the suspension in 2001, reportedly due to concerns that some unsuspecting clergy members might accidentally attend the Fatima Center’s conference, which took place in Rome that year.