Introvigne's reply: the Transylvanian Society of Dracula  

by Miguel Martinez

On May 29, 1998, I received the following reply, quoted here in italics (I have taken the liberty of numbering the various points Introvigne raises; some items have already been dealt with inside the text and are not repeated here). My comments follow in normal type. 

1) Cesnur International's board of directors currently includes (and the information is a matter of public records): 

Dr. Massimo Introvigne 
Prof. Eileen Barker 
Dr. J. Gordon Melton 
Prof. Reender Kranenborg 
Mr. Michael W. Homer 
Prof. Régis Ladous 
Dr. Jean-François Mayer 
Prof. Luigi Berzano.


I never denied that CESNUR has international branches. Speaking about the international branches of the organization, I see Mr Introvigne does not comment on the hypothesis that the French branch is "entirely Masonic" (a hypothesis which I quoted with considerable reserve).

Jean-François Mayer, by the way, is a rather interesting character. The "Solar Temple" found him to be sufficiently on its own wavelength to mail him their suicide note. Mayer also was very close to Monsignor Lefèbvre (see Sodalitium, n. 35, Oct.-Nov. 1993).

He has recently left the cult-apologetics business, and some of his writings are quite interesting. We have also been told that he is a much nicer person than Introvigne, which I believe is an important point.

Professor Kranenborg is one of the bona fide scholars I mentioned before.

Eileen Barker has a lovely working relationship with Reverend Moon's transnational corporation.

2) It is curious that we insist that we are not a Catholic association and when this is confirmed by outside sources (such as Mons. Fitzgerald - but it would be honest to quote his letter in full) it is hailed as a great discovery. 

The rest of Mons Fitzgerald's letter can be found on Internet, and adds nothing of interest. I always hesitate to include material taken from Internet, since it is hard to prove its authenticity. I therefore thank Mr Introvigne for having done so. As far as the question of CESNUR being Catholic is concerned, two facts are of interest. I can think of no other organization "independent of any church" where the by-laws lay down that the president and director must belong to a certain church. This has nothing to do with whether the Vatican approves of Mr Introvigne, which it does not. Similar considerations hold true for Introvigne's repeated appeals for a "theological" approach to cult issues.

3) For your information the web site is managed - and paid for - by CESNUR International, not by me personally. 

I do not have a patent lawyer's mindset, so I am afraid I do not fully appreciate the point, whether CESNUR's website is managed by CESNUR Italy or by CESNUR International. What would be interesting would be further comments on who pays for CESNUR, international: is it still the same Piedmont government that pays for CESNUR Italy?

4) Martinez is obviously not familiar with sociological literature on apostates, otherwise he would realize that it is not a derogatory but a technical label. 

My article does not deal with the technical use of the term: even as such, the definitions used in "sociological literature" still have no relationship either to me or to the individuals I know of who used to belong to cults. I am interested in Introvigne's use, which is derogatory.

5) I am fed up, and have no intention, to entertain personal controversies. 

I understand that Mr Introvigne feels fed up whenever any of his work is discussed. This has always been his reply to criticism by anybody. One of my favourite Introvigne replies was to the French psychiatrist, Abgrall, who noted the relationship between CESNUR and TFP. Introvigne said "these are obviously delirious ravings which require no comment" ("Il ritorno dei giacobini: il rapporto della commissione parlamentare belga d'inchiesta sulle sette", Cristianità, n. 269, Sept. 1997, p. 7). 

"Delirious ravings" - it is after all co-author Giovanni Cantoni's own curriculum, in Libertà religiosa, 'sette' e 'diritto di persecuzione (p. 149) which tells us that:

"Between 1962 and 1966, he directed the collection of essays published by Edizioni dell'Albero in Turin, of which he is one of the founders and which he left when this initiative ceased to be aligned [with his ideas]. It was through this instrument that he introduced into Italy the writings of - among others - Thomas Molnar, Francisco Elías de Tejeda y Spínola, father Roger-Thomas Calmel O.P. and, above all, those of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira" 

"Above all" 

This curriculum also shows a rather surprising secondary aspect: ultra-Catholic Cantoni boasts of having introduced into Italy the basic publications which would later have inspired the non Christian far right - those of Jean Servier and Mircea Eliade.

As far as "personal controversies" are concerned, there is only one, and this was started by Mr Introvigne himself. Mr Introvigne, referring to the sentence against me and Canal Plus, says that "in fact, as mentioned earlier, court decisions have established that some of these accusations [made by Mr Martinez against New Acropolis] are not true". Mr Introvigne is calling me personally a liar, using a court decision which - as amply shown at the beginning of this text - said something quite different: it implicitly confirmed the authenticity of the documents attributed to New Acropolis by saying that a series of expressions contained in them were worrying; it also explicitly refused to consider whether allegations against New Acropolis were true or not. Which leaves some room for doubt about who is lying.

Mr Introvigne' statement: "apostates associated with the anti-cult movements such as Miguel Martinez occasionally boast that their public activity has been a crucial factor for the membership crisis of New Acropolis in France" is both false and personal.

Having called me an apostate, he implies that the insults levelled by Bryan Wilson against "apostates" apply to me, and I leave it up to Mr Introvigne to prove, for example, that I have a ghostwriter.

Before making such glaring mistakes about me, Mr Introvigne could well have consulted me: "Although largely shaped by their socialization into the anti-cult subculture, the narratives of the apostates are not irrelevant, and I certainly do not suggest that they should be ignored. However, they should be placed in the proper contexts and compared with other sources." He not only ignored my narrative, albeit "largely shaped" by my supposed "socialization into the anti-cult substructure"; he also attributed a narrative to me which I never made. This is simply not scholarship by any standard.

Since there is nothing personal in my reply to these personal attacks, I must suppose that Introvigne's problem is with controversies in general. However, not even this is true: in recent years, he has written hundreds of pages of controversy against what he calls the "anti-cult movement". So I am left to imagine that Introvigne only gets "fed up" when controversy starts flowing both ways.

6) I also find quite fun that he quotes books about TFP published by the Fraternity of Saint Pius X -- is the latter not a "cult" by his own standards? 

Any author should be proud to quote his sources. In my writings, I have always given credit to Introvigne, not only when I quote him, but even when I get an idea from him. When I mentioned these Catholic traditionalist sources, I knew very well that they would be used against me. However these sources are important because they are by people whose ideology is not far removed from that of Introvigne himself. They know the milieu personally. And they have access to TFP material, which they quote accurately. I could easily have quoted this material directly, without mentioning any secondary sources, much as Introvigne today repeats Doctor Plinio's words and ideas without mentioning their source. I preferred not to do so.

I personally disagree with Catholic traditionalists, for much the same reasons as I disagree with TFP/Alleanza Cattolica. Introvigne does not know my standards for judging a cult; however, whether he agrees with them or not, he does know the standards of other cult critics. And he should be aware that Catholic traditionalists generally speaking do not fall within these standards (they do fall within Introvigne's standards, since in his writings he lists them along with Satanists, Scientology and other groups). Catholic traditionalists do not proselytize, they have no secrets (unlike TFP), they do not break up families, and they do not leave people bankrupt. And they do not call themselves "sociologists" only because they write occasionally about societal issues. 

After reading Introvigne's reply, I purposely added Orion to the list, which will certainly give Introvigne further food for sideskipping the main issues.

7) Best regards (also from the "late" Dr. Melton that I met last week)  

Massimo Introvigne

The aside on the "late" Dr Melton seems to be an ironical reply to an inference that he died. I did not even mention him in my document, so the humour of this statement falls rather flat. Maybe Mr Introvigne got confused by Methodist pastor Gordon Melton's tomb-like specialization in vampirism: it appears to have been Melton who got Introvigne involved in becoming president of the International Transylvanian Society of Dracula. By the way, I got a quick correction at least on that one from Introvigne: he says he is only the president of the Italian chapter of the International Transylvanian Society of Dracula. In any case, I certainly believe that at least this title is quite authentic.

A comment on Introvigne's book on Dracula sheds some interesting light on how Alleanza Cattolica's old boys lend each other a hand. Militant Marco Respinti writes regularly in the right-wing daily Il Secolo d'Italia (the official paper of the former Neo-Fascist party, Alleanza Nazionale), promoting what right-wing critics have called "Catho-capitalism". Apparently little do with Dracula, but Respinti finds a way to give his colleague some free publicity. He calls Introvigne's work "highly scientific"; Introvigne's study on Satanism becomes "monumental". He is "a tireless investigator, a detective not of the impossible, but of the only-too-possible, a capable founder of a school". His studies "provide the best, indeed the only, true keys for interpretation". CESNUR becomes "a network of international academic organizations". And in studying Dracula, Introvigne has exerted "a colossal intellectual, cultural and scientific effort"; this "great expert" is of course "president of the Italian section of The Transylvanian Society of Dracula" (Marco Respinti, "Nemici di Satana", in Il Secolo d'Italia, June 29, 1997, p. 17, quoted in Sodalitium, Dec. 1997, p. 68). Respinti then goes on to admit the whole purpose for which CESNUR was set up. Congratulating CESNUR on having helped to achieve the acquittal of Italian Satanist Marco Dimitri (an unlovable but apparently harmless individual), Respinti explains that the 'anti-cult movement' starts by persecuting Satanists, but then 

"ends up by going beyond in a disorderly fashion, as can be seen in certain recent cultural accusations against such very important Catholic movements as Opus Dei, the Society for the Defence of Tradition, Family and Property, the Focolarini movement, Communion and Liberation and even Mother Teresa of Calcutta" 

Which very neatly sums up our whole thesis on why Introvigne has become a cult apologist.