Mel Gibson's Dad is one Mad Max
Houston Press July 24, 2003
BY WENDY GROSSMAN
The pope isn't Catholic. John Paul II, the man most people believe to be
pope, is really an imposter. He's deliberately plotting to destroy the
Catholic Church from within. Catholics have been lied to, and they have
been robbed. These are the messages Hutton Gibson preaches in his
crusade to save the souls of his fellow Catholics.
>From his home in northwest Houston, he mails out his eight-page
newsletter titled "The War Is Now!" He has 600 subscribers worldwide.
He's also authored the self-published books Is the Pope Catholic? and
The Enemy Is Here, which features a cover with a map of Italy and an
arrow pointing to Rome.
He's gained international notice in some segments of the theological
community from his years spent denouncing the pope as an imposter.
"Whenever you say 'plot,' people automatically think 'nutcase,' " Gibson
explains. "But there's no way this could happen by accident. There's no
way this was not rigged."
However, Hutton Gibson gets recognition far beyond his scholarly
arguments about Catholic conspiracy theories. He also happens to be
Mel's old man -- he's the father of one of the most established
superstars in Hollywood, and he lives right here in the Houston area.
The elder Gibson doesn't believe the holocaust happened and thinks the
idea of evolution is ridiculous. He likes detective novels. The
84-year-old closes his blue eyes when he talks, often slipping into
Latin. Instead of saying hello or using any other greeting when he
answers the phone, he just says the last four digits of the number in a
brisk military tone.
The missal Gibson uses is in Latin. The prayer book's battered spine is
covered in masking tape; his 11 children have torn out hunks of its
While he avidly tells of his crusade against the Catholic leadership,
Gibson refuses to talk about his family or his famous son. Mel
reportedly was outraged when The New York Times Magazine recently
interviewed his father; the New York Post reported that Mel Gibson
declared the Times story a "hit piece" on him and that the newspaper had
harassed his father. The Times story quoted the elder Gibson calling the
pope a "Koran kisser" and implied that he sounds a bit like the
obsessive-compulsive, newsletter-writing, Catcher in the Rye-collecting
character Mel played in Conspiracy Theory.
The elder Gibson's unique life would seem suited for big-screen
His mother, an opera singer, died in New York City before he was two.
She had slipped in the shower and injured her neck. "It was a rather
large neck," Gibson says. Gibson's father manufactured brass plumbing
supplies until he went out of business in 1928. He died almost ten years
Gibson was third-best academically in his high school class, graduating
when he was only 15. "Nobody's ever going to get me into a classroom
again," he says.
Gibson studied for the priesthood at a mission 20 minutes outside
Chicago. He intended to become a missionary, but he balked at the idea
of being sent to New Guinea or the Philippines. "I just lost it," he
says. "I did not want to go."
He went after lots of other work. Gibson delivered telegrams for Western
Union, planted trees for the Civilian Conservation Corps and built
houses for the forestry department. During World War II, he was a first
lieutenant in the Army Infantry and Signal Corps based in New Caledonia
Gibson married after his military discharge. The couple planned to have
12 kids and a Saint Bernard. "We never made it," he says. They had only
11 kids. "We did get the dog." But the dog was run over two weeks later.
He told his kids that he wanted 100 grandchildren. Thus far, he's the
grandfather of 48 and has 15 great-grandchildren. He doesn't buy any of
them Christmas presents.
He worked on the railroad as a brakeman for 24 years, until he slipped
off a steel platform covered in oil and snow. He was forced to retire
because of the injuries.
The sixth of the Gibson children, Mel, described his dad in a Playboy
interview as "just a regular guy who worked long hours, supported a big
family and kept us all in shoes and foodÖHe's a bookish guy. Uses words
I've never heard of."
In the interview, the younger Gibson told of a strong disciplinarian.
His dad once got so angry at two of Mel's siblings, he knocked their
heads together. "He told them they were not allowed to talk to each
other for six months, and if he ever saw them even looking at each other
he would beat the shit out of them. And they didn't communicate at all
for a real long time. When they finally did, they were the best of
friends. It worked."
In 1968, Hutton Gibson took his disability money and the cash he had won
on Jeopardy! and moved to his mother's native Australia. He didn't want
his eldest son drafted in the United States.
"They had a draft in Australia, too, but they were a little more
humane," Gibson says. "He couldn't see from here to the wall, but they
would have taken him anyway. So I figured, why should he go? I saw what
happened to my war -- they just gave it away."
But Gibson's new war -- a religious one -- began in Australia. Gibson's
kids came home from Catholic school with a catechism titled "Shalom."
"Shalom," Gibson says, clearly horrified. Shalom is the Hebrew form of
aloha, meaning hello, good-bye and peace.
"Shalom," Gibson repeats again, as if it were a four-letter word. He
declared the catechism heresy. It's what spurred him to look at the
documents from the Vatican II Council and examine the changes in the
Vatican II was a series of meetings between 1962 and 1965 to update the
church, although Gibson said it went against God's will. "Nowhere did He
say we would accommodate to the times."
One of the main changes was that mass would be said in the language of
the congregants, rather than in Latin.
"The Vatican Council called for a full, active and conscious
participation in the liturgy," says Monsignor Frank Rossi, chancellor of
the Diocese of Galveston-Houston. Priests no longer turned their backs
on the congregation for mass, but instead faced them. Parishioners got a
more active role in the church.
"The first changes that came in were very subtle," says Jack Davignon, a
traditionalist Catholic and coordinator for Saint Michael the Archangel
Chapel in Spring. "It was like putting a lobster in water, then bringing
the temperature up slowly. At first, you didn't notice the water was
Gibson believes the church has changed so much that the Holy Ghost
doesn't recognize it. He argues that the church had been fine for
thousands of years and it didn't need to change to pander to a few
people who didn't want to learn Latin.
He joined the Latin Mass Society, a small group of older people who
supported the Latin mass. He was appointed secretary and authored the
newsletter. The group kicked him out because he was too outspoken,
particularly against the pope. "It's not just my salvation -- but a lot
of other people's [salvation] depends on it," he says. "It does me no
great deal if everyone else goes to hell. I'm not just out for myself."
While his religious campaign was escalating, his life in Australia was
becoming more difficult. Gibson says the country was beautiful, but jobs
were becoming harder to find.
His son-in-law found work outside Houston. And a few years ago, Gibson
decided to move to Texas with his daughter's family. What sealed the
decision was his discovery of a church in the southwest part of Houston
that offered a traditional mass that Gibson recognizes. Those churches,
he says, are impossible to find in Australia.
After the death of his first wife about ten years ago, Gibson fell in
love with a woman at the church and they were married in 2001. He says
he should have done it sooner. They live in a new home with lead-crystal
candlesticks and fake grapes on the dining room table.
Sitting in the dining room with his eyes closed, Gibson says the
Vatican's new dogma is as "self-contradictory as a square circle." He
says the Vatican II Council was "an act of foolishness, stupidity,
defiance and deliberate rejection of Christ."
Mel Gibson, in his Playboy interview, defended his father's books as
canonically and theologically sound. "Everything he was taught to
believe was taken from him in the sixties with this renewal Vatican
Council," the son said. "The whole institution became unrecognizable to
him, so he writes about it."
While he has supporters who say his arguments are based on fact, some of
them have trouble with his notion that the pope isn't really Catholic.
The more recent popes may not have acted like Catholics, Davignon says,
"but we can't say that there is no pope."
Father James Gordon, a traditionalist priest who runs Mater Dei Chapel
out of his house near Gulfgate Mall, says of John Paul II, "Good, bad or
otherwise, his tushie warms the chair of Saint Peter."
Rossi argues that the new mass is actually more traditional than the
traditional mass. The old mass has more scripture readings, longer
prayers, more incense and more bells. He laughs at the idea that the
Holy Spirit has left the church. "Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the
church," he says. "So the Spirit will not leave the church."
He trusts Jesus to keep his word.
Inside the Vatican recently reported that Nigerian Cardinal Francis
Arinze has drafted a major disciplinary document that will end "do it
yourself" masses and will encourage wider use of the traditional mass.
Some traditionalist priests in the area think that's a step in the right
direction, although the monsignor at the Houston diocese says he doubts
it will lead to a resurgence of old Latin masses. And so does Gibson.
But Gibson doesn't trust anything that comes out of the Vatican.
Gibson says that the destruction of the church is a sign of the
Apocalypse. And as soon as the church is destroyed, the world will end.
"I figure that as long as there's one [true] Catholic in the world, it
hasn't finished," he says. "So I'm trying to keep it going."
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