Archbishop Dolan’s Critics Freak Out
In November, following the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, critics of the New York archbishop went ballistic. Here are a few examples:
NPR was worried that Archbishop Dolan is “overtly conservative,” and Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times fretted about his “confrontational approach.” Dissident Catholics were upset as well: New Ways Ministry said the vote “sends an ominous message”; Call to Action also saw his election as “ominous”; Sr. Maureen Fiedler said “we now have our very own Catholic version of the ‘Tea Party’ movement”; DignityUSA concluded that Dolan’s election meant the hierarchy is “out of step” with Catholics. Similarly, the Human Rights Campaign, a gay secular group, said the vote meant the hierarchy is “out of step.” Not to be outdone, the website of the Tucson Citizen accused Dolan of evincing an “arrogant” attitude in winning (it is true that he was caught smiling).
SNAP, the professional victims’ group, opined that Dolan’s “winning personality obscures his terrible track record on abuse.” Marian Ronan of Religion Dispatches said his election is “not a good sign,” and her colleague, Sarah Posner, concluded—and this really is ominous—that “the bishops are targeting families with loved ones who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” The Internet site Lez Get Real called Dolan “the Vatican’s spin-doctor,” and the website of Time had a headline which read, “More Bad News for Obama 2012: Catholics Elect Dolan.” Edgeboston.com picked up the AP piece, but chose to give it a new headline: “Catholic Bishops’ Vote to Mean Harder Church Stance Against Gay Families.” And atheist Susan Jacoby sweated over the fact that Dolan will be treated by the media “as if he is the voice of all American Catholics.” She needs to get used to it.
It was tempting to conclude that some in the asylum had escaped. More likely, it meant these are not good times for those who have sought—in many cases their entire adult life—to turn the Catholic Church, and America more generally, upside down and inside out. They gave it their best shot, but they lost. Maybe it’s time they retired.
The duplicity on the part of the media and civil libertarians ran deep in 2010, giving further credence to the “double standard” the media holds for certain protected groups.
We noted that the story of a nun who was accused of embezzling $1.2 million from Iona College was much more popular than the story about a rabbinical court in Brooklyn giving orders to its members not to report crimes to the police. The story on the nun was carried on the front page of Google’s “New York” section, Yahoo!, the Associated Press, UPI, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, the New York Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, and dozens of other media outlets. The story on the rabbinical court was picked up by the New York Daily News and Gothamist.com.
Moreover, it is okay during election years for African-American ministers to endorse politicians in their churches, and it is okay to spend public funds for prayer rugs and foot baths for Muslims. The time has come to end the duplicity.
Sarah Posner, a writer for the website Religion Dispatches, was furious with the United States bishops for imploring Congress to move forward with health care legislation, but reiterating the call for protection of conscience rights and the unborn.
She spoke derisively of their commitment to “life-giving” health care; she argued that their real “motive” is to “normalize and expand their agenda on reproductive care”; she accused them of pursuing a “divide and conquer strategy”; she contended that they seek “to portray themselves as the heroes” after “they’ve absolved themselves of responsibility for holding the House bill hostage.”
Elton John told Parade magazine that Jesus was gay. “I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems.” We noted that Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to call Jesus a homosexual is to label Him a sexual deviant. But what else would we expect from a man who previously said, “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely.”
Writer Paula Kirby took shots at the Church in a piece for the Washington Post/Newsweek blog “On Faith.” Writing in response to the Archdiocese of Washington’s decision to cut benefits to future employees to avoid providing services to same-sex couples, Kirby wrote for the Catholic Church “nothing short of a theocracy will do.” She took an unwarranted shot speaking to the Church: “You want to influence public policy on sexuality and childcare? Fine. Get persuading. Though in the light of the endless stream of revelations about your own failings in these areas, I can only hope it’s a very long time indeed before anyone in a position of power repeats the mistake of looking to the Roman Catholic Church for guidance in matters of sexual morals and child welfare.”
Michael Wolff, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair, wrote a column bashing the Catholic Church on his own website Newser.com. Wolff began his column fairly stating: “In an age when all religions must be treated by right-thinking people with the greatest tolerance and respect, much of the reaction to the sexual abuse story in Europe and the Pope’s involvement with it, is, nevertheless, deeply and specifically anti-Catholic.” Wolff then proceeded into a bigoted rant: “There might not be a Church, as we know the Church, without sexual abuse. The Catholic Church equals sex abuse.”
In an interview with the British newspaper the Guardian, atheist author Philip Pullman was asked if he thought the sex abuse scandal would change the Catholic Church. Pullman responded: “I hope so…. In one way, I hope the wretched organisation will vanish entirely. So I’m looking on with a degree of dispassionate interest.”
On Beliefnet, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote about his upcoming visit with Pope Benedict XVI. In his piece Boteach discussed the sex abuse scandal and certain rules that the Church should adopt to stop the problem. One such rule was: “No priest should be allowed to be in alone with a child. Period. If a priest needs to speak to a child alone, the door must never be locked and there must always be the possibility that they can be intruded upon by outsiders.” What Boteach never mentioned was that since the mid-1980s the abuse rates have dramatically declined and the Church has been very successful at curbing recent abuse.
A video titled “The Pope Song,” performed by British comedian Tim Minchin, debuted on YouTube. During the song animated figures of the pope, bishops, cardinals, priests and nuns dance and in a few instances, the pope and cardinals expose their genitals. The “F” word is used repeatedly throughout the song with one of the phrases being, “f*** the motherf***ing pope.” We wrote to YouTube asking how this video could pass its decency standards, but were left with the explanation that it was not in violation.
On the Huffington Post, Rev. Dr. Cindi Love wrote an article on the failure of the bishops to take care of the sex abuse scandal. In the article she said that it appears that Pope Benedict XVI was “an enabler himself” of sex abuse.
She then lectured the Church hierarchy: “Pedophiles go free while Catholic priests are put on trial for disagreeing with the Church’s position on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their relationships. Extremist radicals kill doctors who provide abortions, and the church’s objections is nary a whisper. Innocent children still line up in Catholic schools and churches where the vetting process for leaders is ill-defined and inconsistently applied. There is much work to do and most of it must start with the Pope.”
On the Washington Post/Newsweek blog “On Faith,” Susan Jacoby wrote a misleading piece on the Church’s opposition to legislation in several states that would extend the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases. She noted that the Church is opposed to such legislation solely because it would hurt the diocesan finances, when in fact such legislation unfairly singled out the Church, while safeguarding public institutions.
She also noted that the New York bishops opposed a bill that would extend the statute of limitations in the state. What she failed to note was that because this bill also covered the public schools, unions representing the public school establishment and other public institutions opposed it.
On the Huffington Post, Clay Farris Naff wrote that the Vatican’s handling of sex abuse cases did not match Pope Benedict XVI’s apologies to victims. In doing so, he made over-the-top generalizations that insulted the pope. Ironically, Pope Benedict is credited by serious observers as doing more to bring about needed reforms than anyone else.
On the Huffington Post, Michele Somerville wrote a piece on the sensuality of the Church, the sex abuse scandal and the Church’s treatment of homosexuals. The following are a few of her comments:
• At the fore of every Catholic church in the world, one beholds an image of Jesus spread open, nearly naked on a cross. Creamy angels and a God we eat. Could a religion be more carnal, more sensual?
• It is inevitable that the tension between Catholic sensuality and its hierarchy’s commitment to repression should give way to perversion.
• Because perpetuating the idea that any sex outside heterosexual marriage is a sin allows the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church to ensure that Catholics continue to feel morally unfit to discern. It keeps Catholic women powerless and fecund. It keeps the priesthood a precious, over-trusted caste comprised of lonely, sometimes arrested, and, too often, not quite fully human men.
• The hierarchy mercilessly punishes members of its Church for the transgression of being born gay.
• For all we know, Jesus of Nazareth was gay.
On the Huffington Post, Michelle Somerville asked whether or not parishioners should continue giving donations to their Church. Her reasoning was, “People whose opinions on Catholic things I most value have exhorted me to stop putting money in the basked at Mass, and I am starting to think they’re right.” By not donating, she writes, that she doesn’t have to worry that her money is bankrolling the “consiglieri who get bosses off the hook when they’re charged with pimping out children” nor will it contribute to the “Vatican snitches who spy on women in convents.”
In an article on RHRealityCheck.com, Angela Bonavoglia discussed an apparent “gender apartheid” in the Church. She stated that: “If ever there were doubt about the relationship between the Catholic Church’s spectacular failure to address the clerical child sex abuse crisis and the church’s glaring system of gender apartheid, the Vatican put it to rest in July. Engendering a firestorm of criticism, their new canonical guidelines for handling and punishing the most ‘grave crimes’ in church law revealed just how enraged the hierarchy is at women who dare to challenge them.”
AOL news writer, Paul Wachter, compared Pope Benedict XVI to Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a pro-terrorist anti-Semite. These comments came after CNN fired Octavia Nasr for praising Fadlallah as “one of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot.” Wachter asked whether CNN should be consistent and fire anyone who praises Pope Benedict XVI since he “covered up the clerical rape of young boys and whose anti-contraception proselytization has contributed to the deaths of millions from AIDS.”
Movie critic Roger Ebert and John Nolte of Breitbart.com lampooned Salon.com film reviewer Andrew O’Hehir’s feverish take on “Secretariat,” a movie about the famed horse. O’Hehir called it a “honey-dipped fantasy vision of the American past,” and claimed that “it’s legitimate to wonder exactly what Christian-friendly and ‘middle-American’ inspirational values are being conveyed here.”
Most of the movie’s reviews don’t merit entry in the Annual Report, nonetheless, they revealed a phobia, at best, about religion. While O’Hehir’s review was the most apoplectic, others shared his view, among them were: the Sarasota Herald, the New York Times, and Newsday, all of which noted the apparent Christian overtones with distaste.
On the website of Esquire magazine, a column was published entitled, “Do Priests Masturbate?” The first line of the story read: “They do at my church—all over the place. Nuns, too. It’s fairly distracting. I’m thinking of lodging a complaint.” The article concluded by saying: “Some do confess their sins, but most seek comfort in the Holy Book, which advises a priest with unholy thoughts to ‘remain silent, but cleave nightly unto the spine of thine copy of Torso that thou keepest hidden in thine mattress ticking’ (Genesis 1:1).”
Actress Lindsay Lohan appeared on the cover of the Spring/Summer edition of the French fashion magazine Purple posing as Jesus with a crown of thorns on her head and her hands outstretched. Not only was the pose inappropriate, it hit the newsstands the week before Lent began.
Harper’s Bazaar featured a series of photos showing prominent designers being depicted in scenes from Pedro Almodovar’s films. One designer, Jean Paul Gaultier, was depicted as a nun and said, “I am the nun of the religion of fashion. Actually, a mother superior.” In the photo, as in the movie, the nun is sitting next to a scantily clad woman under a crucifix and a picture of Jesus.
The Philadelphia Trumpet ran a piece by Gerald Flurry that accused the Vatican of smuggling Nazis following World War II. Flurry also stated that Pope Pius XII “was by far the greatest Nazi smuggler” of the time and took a shot at Pope Benedict XVI for considering him for sainthood despite his “despicable history.”
On the AlterNet website, Harriet Fraad of Tikkun magazine wrote an article trying to figure out what was behind priestly sex abuse. She began by stating that the Church has had a “2,000 year history of sex abuse” and asked “why has the Church been plagued by so much pedophilia—predominantly homosexual?” The article then said the Church could “reasonably be taken to task for being an ideology that justifies the exploitation of women in the household.” The article also alleged that the “Catholic Church hierarchy (priests, bishops, cardinals and the Pope himself) has not yet been held accountable, publically [sic] and appropriately, for the crimes committed on their watch over several decades: crimes of molestation, rape, assault and yes, torture of children.”
Time ran a cover story on Pope Benedict XVI titled, “Why Being Pope Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry: The Sex Abuse Scandal and the Limits of Atonement.” The piece was strewn with misinformation and falsehoods.
The writers, Jeff Israely and Howard Chua-Eoan began the article by speculating whether the pope would apologize for the behavior of abusive priests and that the pope couldn’t apologize for fear of damaging the magesterium and papal power. Yet the article quoted the pope apologizing for such priests. Citing the pope’s apology regarding wrongdoing by some Irish priests, Time posited that he didn’t apologize “for anything he or, indeed, the Holy See may have done, much less the mystical entity called the Church, the bride of Christ.” But the article never addressed why the pope would apologize for an offense that he never committed: it just assumed that he was guilty and, worse, refused to admit it.
The article also asked: “Why didn’t the church simply report to the civil authorities the crimes its priests were suspected of committing?” For the same reason every other institution—religious and secular—didn’t. They followed the zeitgeist of the day and put the accused in therapy and returned him to his post when it was completed.
Time ran a piece by Tim Padgett blasting the Church on the subject of women’s ordination. Padgett described the Church as “misogynous” and that it is represented by a bunch of “homophobes wearing miters.” Padgett went on to say that denying women the right to become priests was evidence of its “increasingly spiteful rhetoric of bigotry.”
Bloggers for Psychology Today were asked to come up with plot-lines for sitcoms they would enjoy. The exercise was no doubt intended to be fun, but one struck a chord with Catholics. “Altered Boys” was among the winner’s list. The teaser boasted “Just think of what Hogan’s Heroes did for Nazi POW camps. We transpose that fascist hilarity from the waning days of WWII to the Catholic Church with a light-hearted look at pedophile priests. Join our crew of wacky (but clever) altar boys as they outwit the lecherous men who are constantly devising ever more outlandish plots to introduce them to ‘the holy sacrament.’ Timely, provocative, controversial: This one can’t miss!”
Sinead O’Connor wrote an open letter to the pope about the sex abuse scandal. She claimed that he was dishonest when he said that the Church did not act “quickly nor decisively” when dealing with the alleged misconduct of some priests. She said, “in fact church authorities acted extremely quickly and decisively, but in protection of rapist priests and the church, not of children.” She concluded by saying, “As long as the house of The Holy Spirit remains a haven for criminals the reputation of the church will remain in ruins.”
People magazine featured a picture of Harrison Ford dressed as a nun for Halloween.
Lindsay Lohan posed as a nun licking the barrel of a gun on a poster for the movie “Machete.”
In the “Weekend Arts” section of the New York Times, there was an article about a satirical comedy group, Capitol Steps, that was playing in New York City. The piece described some of the skits, none of which apparently dealt with Catholicism. Nonetheless, in a color photo accompanying the article, there was a picture of a man grabbing the breast of a woman dressed as a nun in full habit (three men dressed in bizarre attire were also in the picture). The gratuitous picture had nothing to do with the show’s description.
On April 8, the Portland Press Herald ran an article noting the groups’ upcoming performance in Portland, Maine using the same picture to promote the group.
Boise Weekly featured a painting of Sarah Palin on the cover dressed and posing as the Blessed Virgin. The painting also depicted Palin with devil horns, a gun in one hand and wearing an upside-down cross around her neck.
On the front page of the “Week in Review” section of the New York Times, there was a piece on health care titled, “Is Failure Forgivable?” Accompanying the article was a photo of President Barack Obama with his finger pointed upwards. Superimposed in the background was an illustration that showed an illuminated cross; a halo over President Obama’s head was also depicted. A small picture of the White House was shown at the bottom of the cross.
Pope Benedict XVI was portrayed covering his ears, eyes and mouth in a cartoon by Taylor Jones that ran in the Westerly Sun.
The Jewish weekly The Forward ran an article by Raphael Mostel in which he claimed that Pope Pius IX “earned a place” in hell for the “kidnapping” of Edgar Mortara in 1858. Mostel did not reveal the fact that Mortara was baptized because the Catholic servant girl in the household thought he was dying and in need of salvation. He was subsequently taken from his family because the Church, at the time, judged that a baptized Christian could not be raised in a Jewish home. Moreover, Mostel failed to note that Mortara developed a father-son relationship with Pius IX and even became a priest.
The Akron Beacon Journal ran a cartoon by Mike Luckovich showing the pope trying to divert attention from the sex abuse scandal by announcing that he would play in the Masters Golf Tournament.
Clay Bennett of the Chattanooga Times Free Press had a cartoon showing people walking into Mass. The church’s sign reads, “All Clergy Undergo Thorough Background Checks.”
The Times Herald ran a cartoon by John Cole saying that the pope was as deaf as the victims of Father Murphy in Wisconsin when it came to listening to claims of priestly sex abuse.
The Washington Examiner ran a cartoon by Nate Beeler showing a priest with a lip mark on his collar. A woman says to him, “Father! That better be lipstick and not Juicy Juice on your collar!”
The Hartford Courant ran a cartoon by Bob Englehardt showing Christ being nailed to the Cross with a nail shaped like the pope.
After being charged with defending Father Marcial Maciel in numerous publications, Bill Donohue replied to all of those who accused him; Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, sexually abused seminarians and fathered a child. In 1997, Donohue wrote a letter in the Hartford Courant taking issue with the newspaper giving credibility to some of Maciel’s accusers who said that he told them that he had papal permission to have sex with them. Other than Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times, who acknowledged Donohue’s statement, we heard nothing.
Mike Peters drew a cartoon that ran in the Foster’s Daily Democrat with the pope saying, “Here’s my church and here’s my steeple. If you’ve been abused…Just call my P.R. people.”
Paul Berge of the Philadelphia Gay News ran a cartoon showing the pope reading a paper with the headline referring to the sex abuse scandal. Behind him a cardinal is saying, “Let’s look at the bright side: we’re still allowed within 2,000 yards of schools, parks and playgrounds, aren’t we?”
Bill Schorr ran a cartoon in the Maine Sunday Telegram depicting a priest and a boy on opposite sides of the confessional. The priest says to the boy, “Forgive me, child…For I have sinned.”
Adam Zyglis ran a cartoon in the Buffalo News of the pope playing a shell game asking “Can you find the abuse?”
The Green Bay Press-Gazette ran a cartoon by Joe Heller showing Pope Benedict XVI plugging his ears while holding letters regarding the Father Murphy scandal and other pleas to remove abusive priests.
Cagle Cartoons ran a cartoon by Bill Schorr showing Hansel and Gretel arriving at a house made of candy with a smiling priest waiting at the front door.
The San Francisco Chronicle ran a cartoon where a father tells a priest that priests should be allowed to marry so that they could understand parents’ anger with the sex abuse scandal.
The Commercial Appeal ran a cartoon by Bill Day which showed the pope hiding people under his cassock with the word “Coverup” stamped on it.
The Times Union ran a cartoon by John DeRosier showing the Vatican throwing a nun off a ship to a whale labeled, “Child Sex Abuse Scandal.” The priest representing the Vatican says, “It’s for the good of the Church sister…”
Mike Thompson of the Detroit Free Press ran a cartoon that implied that the Church blamed its critics and the media for the sex abuse scandal.
Jeff Darcy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer had a cartoon showing the pope reading a book entitled The Coverup Bible by Richard Nixon.
Eugene Robinson, an editorial page writer for the Washington Post, wrote that “practically every day, there are new revelations of pedophile priests having been transferred to other parishes rather than being defrocked and reported to authorities.”
It would have been more accurate to say that every day there are old revelations of molesting priests, most of whom were homosexuals.
The New York Times ran a story about a case of alleged sexual abuse committed by a Chilean priest; the priest had sex with a 17-year old male and continued to have sex with him for 20 years even after he was married with children.
We asked, “Why would the New York Times try to sell this so-called abuse story with a straight face?” We came up with two reasons: it wallows in stories designed to weaken the moral authority of the Catholic Church, and it is so gay-friendly as to be gay-crazy. The real news story here was not another case of homosexual molestation, it was the political motivation of the New York Times.
Clark Hoyt, the public editor of the New York Times, ran a piece that sought to defend the paper against Catholics unhappy with its coverage of the pope. In particular, he defended Laurie Goodstein’s story on Father Lawrence Murphy in which Goodstein reported that Murphy had molested dozens of deaf boys and left implications that Cardinal Ratzinger—now the pope—knew of the case.
Hoyt wrote, “In 1996, more than 20 years after Murphy moved away, the archbishop of Milwaukee, Rembert Weakland, wrote to Ratzinger [now the pope], saying he had just learned that the priest had solicited sex in the confessional while at the school, a particularly grievous offense, and asked how he should proceed.” (Our italics.) Weakland became Milwaukee archbishop in 1977.
Cardinal William Levada criticized Goodstein for trying to attribute blame to the pope for the Murphy case, “instead of to diocesan decisions at the time.” Moreover, we cited Weakland’s record: he not only sought to punish whistle-blowers─he ripped off the archdiocese to settle a sexual assault lawsuit brought by his 53-year old male lover. We added that because Weakland was a champion of liberal causes, the media gave him a pass for his delinquency in not contacting the Vatican about Murphy for two decades.
In a letter from the Coadjutor Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin, Raphael M. Fliss, to the Vicar for Personnel of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Father Joseph A. Janicki, he said, “In a recent conversation with Archbishop Weakland, I was left with the impression that it would not be advisable at this time to invite Father Murphy to return to Milwaukee to work among the deaf.” The letter was dated July 9, 1980. The source: the “Document Trail” that accompanied Goodstein’s article online.
In a New York Times op-ed, Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig said the Church failed to protect children “for hundreds of years,” yet offered no evidence to support his claim. Most of the abuse, which involved post-pubescent males, occurred between the mid-60s and the mid-80s. Lessig falsely claimed that the problem is “worsening” because the Church is allegedly taking a leading role preventing victims from compensation: all the data show that in recent years the Church has done a better job addressing this problem than any other institution. Lessig also said that the Church is standing in the way of repealing sovereign immunity, when in fact it is the public school establishment—not the Church—that benefits from, and resists changes to, this discriminatory state doctrine. He even hailed New York Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, the one who sought to insulate the public schools from being treated the same way in law that private schools are with regards to the statute of limitations. In other words, Lessig sided with those who want to keep sovereign immunity.
The New York Times ran a story regarding a case of sexual abuse that broke in 1995. The story involved a case of alleged sexual abuse by Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër of Vienna. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who was not formally in charge of these cases at that time, nonetheless pressed for an investigation. At first, he was turned down, but soon thereafter Pope John Paul II approved an investigation.
Because that was most of what there was to this story, it just underscored our accusation that the point is to cast doubt on the pope’s commitment to ending abuse.
The article said that Cardinal Groër was suspected of “abusing minors and young men.” As has been true in most cases, the abuse did not involve pedophilia, but homosexuality. Also, the story mentioned how a Father Udo Fischer was molested by Groër “in the early 1970s.” Since Fischer was born in 1952, that meant the Timesunwittingly found yet another homosexual “victim.”
The New York Times ran an article by Rachel Donadio and demonstrated its tendency to allow editorial commentary to creep into its hard news stories. Donadio wondered whether the Vatican “will confront the failures in church leadership that allowed sexual abuse to go unpunished.” She added that “the culture of the church was for decades skewed against public disclosure and cooperation with the civil authorities,” and that only now are the bishops required to report abuse to the authorities. She consistently referred to the problem as pedophilia.
On April 10, the Times quoted Leslie Lothstein, a psychologist who has treated about 300 priests. He said that “only a small minority were true pedophiles.” The data show that most have been homosexuals.
Although most abusers went unpunished it was wrong to imply some sinister motive like “secrecy.” For example, the Murphy report on abuse in Dublin found that most bishops followed the advice of therapists—not canon law. Had Church law been followed things may have been different.
There is no law in most places mandating the reporting of any crime, and that is why fingering the Church smacked of bigotry.
The New York Times ran a front-page story on William Cardinal Levada, former archbishop of San Francisco and current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that was just a rehash of old stories. The headline read, “Cardinal Has a Mixed Record on Abuse Cases.”
Front-page stories typically deal with current events, exceptions being new revelations about important historical events. But neither was the case with Levada. To learn that a leader has a “mixed record” extending back a quarter century is not exactly news. That’s why it read like an agenda.
The story behind this article was that when Levada was an archbishop, he learned that some homosexual priests molested post-pubescent males. Although the Times did not use the term homosexual, it was obvious from the story that the victims were not children. Then Levada did what nearly all leaders did at the time—and many still do—he sent the abuser to therapy. As usual, it didn’t work.
The New York Times ran an editorial that said, “The Catholic Church is working against the interests of child abuse victims in state legislatures around the country,” citing as proof its attempt to block laws in states that would amend the statute of limitations for alleged victims of sexual abuse. It urged New York lawmakers to pass a bill on this issue, noting opposition from the New York State Catholic Conference and Orthodox Jews.
What the Church was doing was protecting itself from campaigns to settle old scores by financially depleting the Church.
In 2009, there were two bills introduced in New York State on this issue: one applied only to private institutions; the other applied to both the private and the public sectors. The Times endorsed the former, thus showing its preference for (some) discriminatory legislation.
The Times’ editorial failed to note that in addition to Catholics and Orthodox Jews, those opposed to the New York bill included the New York State School Boards Association, the New York Council of School Superintendents, the New York Association of Counties, the New York Conference of Mayors, the New York Farm Bureau, the New York Medical Society and the New York Society of Professional Engineers.
The New York Times ran a front-page article on New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan trying to pin some dirt on him, but failed to do so.
Times reporter Serge F. Kovaleski had been investigating Archbishop Dolan for a year, but failed to lay a glove on him. But it wasn’t for lack of trying: unprofessionally, he allowed a professional victims’ group, SNAP, to drive his 3784-word story.
We contended that no other newspaper in the nation would post a front-page story on a religious leader that led nowhere. The paper reported that the professional victims were disappointed when they learned that Dolan, then the newly installed archbishop of Milwaukee, “had instructed lawyers to seek the dismissal of five lawsuits against the church.” The only question that mattered was whether Dolan made the right decision but the story never addressed this issue again.
Much coverage was given to a priest who sued his accuser. Interestingly, the accuser had a psychiatric history of lying and blaming others, and no one ever spoke badly about the priest. Largely unresolved, one wonders why this case was even mentioned, unless it was to put Dolan in a bad light for standing by the priest.
The story made a big deal about the fact that not all dioceses post the names of guilty priests, and that many do not list religious order priests. Why should the Church be held to a different standard than the public school administrators that don’t post the names of guilty teachers?
New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote a piece praising individual Catholics, but condemning the institutional Church as “patriarchal,” “premodern,” “out of touch” and “self-absorbed.” Discussing the situation regarding a nun who helped facilitate an abortion at a Catholic hospital and her subsequent excommunication, Kristof called the nun “saintly” and that she “helped save a woman’s life.”
On the Falls Church News-Press’ website, Wayne Besen wrote a scathing piece about the raid of Church offices in Belgium by the police; the name of the article was “Raiding the Child Rapists in Belgium.” Along with calling the Holy See “clueless on the gravity of the [sex abuse] situation” and “clumsy” in how it treats victims, Besen claimed that the Church has less credibility than the North American Man Boy Love Association. He also said that “no country that cares about its children should allow the Vatican authority to police itself” and to “follow Belgium’s laudable lead.”
The Boston Globe ran a cartoon by Dan Wasserman showing a bishop and a rabbi reading a newspaper headlined with a rabbi arrested for abuse. The bishop says to the rabbi to learn from the Church’s experience and “don’t ordain women.” This is another example of the media misrepresenting the Vatican statement on the ordination of women and sex abuse.
The New York Times ran an editorial titled “Tone-Deaf in Rome,” falsely stating that the Church equated the ordination of women to the sexual abuse of children. It said, “Red herrings about female priests only display the tone-deafness of the Vatican’s dominant male hierarchy.”
We stated that it is acceptable to take issue with any religion’s positions on public policy, but the house rules should always be respected (save for the few examples where innocent life may be threatened). We said that the Times was simply using a secular yardstick to measure the doctrinal prerogatives of the Catholic Church.
Cartoonist Tony Auth of the Philadelphia Inquirer depicted a bishop protecting himself with a Cross from a woman holding a sign that promoted the ordination of women.
The Austin Statesman ran a large colorful picture of a pregnant nun exiting an outhouse on the front page of its “Life & Arts” section. We wrote to the paper asking why they chose to do so. Kathy Blackwell, the paper’s executive features editor, stated that it kept in the theme of “A Summer As Weird As Austin.” We asked then for her to send us photos that they have published of a pregnant Muslim woman wearing a niqab exiting a public toilet. We received no response.
Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote a piece in boilerplate fashion on the Church’s stricture against female ordination. In her column she indicted the pope with covering up sex abuse cases as cardinal, but had no evidence to prove it. She also took issue with the Church’s investigation into the orders of American nuns. What she left out was the fact that the Vatican was responding to the complaints it received from serious nuns about the dissidents in their orders.
The Denver Post ran a cartoon that suggested the Church was more worried about the ordination of women than it is protecting children from abusers.
Eileen DiFranco, a member of Roman Catholic Womenpriests, wrote in thePhiladelphia Inquirer that the Vatican’s announcement of norms regarding the ordination of women “should be seen in the context of the church’s pervasive and persistent clerical misogyny throughout its history.” She falsely claimed that the Vatican placed female ordination on the same level as priestly sexual abuse, when in fact Church officials declared that they were grave offenses on different levels. DiFranco ended by stating that the “historical Roman Catholic misogyny spawn harmful consequences in the world. The women they relegate to second-class citizenship comprise two-thirds of the world’s poor and most of the world’s victims.”
Judge Sheila O’Brien, a Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court in Chicago, wrote an op-ed piece in the Chicago Tribune requesting that the Church excommunicate her. Judge O’Brien said that she loved Mass, Catholic social teaching, nuns who built churches, and dedicated priests for their many talents and good will. But she questioned “How can we stay in a church whose leaders protect pedophiles? Yet, how can we leave and relinquish our church to those very leaders?” She begged for excommunication because “it would free [her] conscience of all of this.” We said Judge O’Brien should recuse herself any time a priest or nun appears before her court because she clearly harbors an animus towards the clergy.
Martin Sutovec of the LaCrosse Tribune ran a cartoon entitled “White Collar Crime.” It depicts a drooling priest encroaching on a boy in underwear.
The Orlando Sentinel posted a picture on the front page of their website depicting a man, woman, and their dog—the man was dressed as Joseph, the woman as Mary, and the dog as Baby Jesus.
The Delaware County Daily Times wrote an article which called upon the Vatican to stop “demonizing” women. It read “Vatican officials should spend less time demonizing women and more time ensuring the prosecution of pedophiles. They are a danger to children of all faiths.”
Colin McNickle, an editor for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, wrote an article about the “financial scandal” the Vatican is facing and said “this new financial scandal—if proven—will beg the question of whether the Catholic Church is a corrupt criminal enterprise.”
Editors at the Washington Post decided not to run a cartoon that mentioned, but did not depict, Muhammad. The cartoon showed children playing in a park surrounded by zoo animals, roller-skaters, and hot-dog stands and sported a phrase at the bottom which asked, “Where’s Muhammad?” The Posts’s style editor, Ned Martel, said their reason for not printing the “Non Sequitur” cartoon by Wiley Miller was that “it seemed a deliberate provocation without a clear message.” We include this entry because it highlights the incredible duplicity on the part of the newspaper: it had recently run an anti-Catholic cartoon.
The New York Times wrote “gushing” reviews about an art exhibit by ACT UP. The exhibit features a picture of the late John Cardinal O’Connor resembling a condom (pictured next to him), with the inscription, “Know Your Scumbag.”
The New York Times featured a review of a Danh Vo art exhibit. One element of the exhibit, which the Times featured in its article, was a picture of five priests—two of whom are holding hands. The picture itself was not objectionable, rather it was the intended implication found in the caption below the photograph which read: “A 19th-century photograph of Roman Catholic Priests in Danh Vo’s ‘Autoerotic Asphyxiation,’ at Artists Space.”
All we learned about the priests is that they were about to leave France for missionary work in Asia, one of whom was canonized as a saint in 1988. Bill Donohue asked, “How does this relate to autoerotic asphyxiation?”
A cartoon by Mike Luckovich appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It featured the pope and a condom with a caption that read “…and they make awesome water balloons…”
The New York Times ran a piece called “Immaculate Perception,” an article about the “inevitable demise” of the Virgin Mary. It was a snarky piece suggesting that “Mary has undergone [shape-shifting] over the past two millennia methodically dismantled the legend, which had served as an instrument of oppression, stunting women’s growth and curtailing their lives.”
Fox News analyst Brit Hume made a plea to Tiger Woods to turn to Christianity in order to seek forgiveness. For doing so, Hume caused a firestorm and was compared to Islamic extremists by Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.
Comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong appeared on CBS News’ “Washington Unplugged” lobbying for the legalization of marijuana. During the discussion, Marin stated, “Statistically, people, kids have more to fear from priests than they do from marijuana.”
Sarah Silverman appeared on “The View”; during the show they played a portion of her obscene rant (the most vile comments were omitted) against Pope Benedict XVI that she made in October 2009 on Bill Maher’s show. Silverman got a pass when she first aired her foul-mouthed attack on the pope and had it repeated on “The View.” The most indefensible thing Silverman said on Maher’s show—that if the pope sold the Vatican, he “will get crazy p***y. All the p***y”—was left out.
Silverman was nothing if not defensive about her anti-Catholic remarks being made by a Jew. She said that this “has nothing to do with me being Jewish. You know, a lot of mail was like ‘What if it was Jewish?’ You know, yeah. If the Jews owned something like that I would be, I’d have no religion. I’m not talking as a Jew. I just can’t help that I’m a Jew—it comes out of my pores.”
Later that night, Silverman appeared on Joy Behar’s CNN Headline News show where the host questioned her about the rant. Instead of apologizing, Silverman reiterated what she said in the Maher video that if the pope sold the Vatican, “any involvement in the Holocaust” would be discounted. The fact that the pope’s “involvement” in the Holocaust was limited to his conscription into the Hitler Youth, along with every other young German boy at the time, and that he escaped at the first chance, was never mentioned by Silverman.
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar claimed that Catholics beat themselves when they commit a sin. She said, “[Catholics] beat themselves like this, mea culpa, mea culpa.”
On CNN Headline News’ “Joy Behar Show,” homosexual activist Michelangelo Signorile said, “You have this pope saying that homosexuality is the end of civilization. That we have to protect the culture from homosexuality the way we have to protect the rainforest from degradation. You know, we’ve got a bishop in Guam who just said that gays are worse than the Islamic fundamentalists.” To which Behar said, “Oh, my God.”
None of what Signorile said was true. Not only had the pope never said that homosexuality is the “end of civilization,” a Lexis-Nexis search revealed that he has never even used that term.
Regarding the comment on homosexuality and the rainforest, here is exactly what the pope said in December 2008: “That which has come to be expressed and understood with the term ‘gender’ effectively results in man’s self-emancipation from Creation (nature) and from the Creator. Man wants to do everything by himself and to decide always and exclusively about anything that concerns him personally. But this is to live against truth, to live against the Spirit Creator. The tropical rainforests deserve our protection, yes, but man does not deserve it less as a Creature of the Spirit himself, in whom is inscribed a message that does not mean a contradiction of human freedom but its condition.” Nowhere is homosexuality mentioned, never mind the spin Signorile put on it.
In October 2009, Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron said that “Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death.” But he did not sanction such measures. Indeed, he unequivocally condemned them. “Terrorism as a way to oppose the degeneration of the culture is to be rejected completely since such violence is itself another form of degeneracy.” So Signorile twisted what was actually said. We called for a retraction but none was made.
On Ash Wednesday, Fox News analyst Bob Beckel criticized Vice President Joe Biden for wearing ashes on TV. In the middle of discussing President Obama’s stimulus plan, Beckel gratuitously said, “Sorry about laughing, but I looked at Joe Biden’s forehead and I know it’s Ash Wednesday, but I’m not sure I would wear that ash on the air.”
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar hosted several teenage mothers and asked them if they ever considered having an abortion during their pregnancy. When the teens said no, Behar asked, “Are you Catholic girls? Religious girls? That would be the reason I guess.” The teens also responded “no” to this question.
In a discussion on the “Joy Behar Show” regarding a church in a nudist colony, Behar said, “You know it’s a nice idea but where do they hang the rosary beads?”
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar discussed that being raised Catholic she had never seen a Bible: “I was raised Catholic, we had a missal. I never saw a Bible until I was in a hotel. It’s true.”
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar and her guest, Margaret Carlson, discussed the health care bill and the reaction to it by nuns. Carlson claimed that Catholic bishops are too busy denying communion to pro-choice politicians. Behar replied, “The nuns would not be backing it if abortion was going to be funded.” Carlson added, “They’re the real conscience of the Catholic Church.” Behar agreed.
On ABC’s “The View,” the panelists criticized the decision of a Colorado Catholic school not to enroll students of a lesbian couple. Both Joy Behar and Elisabeth Hasselbeck claimed that Jesus would not have approved of the Catholic school’s decision. During her rant, Behar said, “We’ll be hearing from Bill Donohue tomorrow probably.” With the show’s record of Catholic-bashing, we had no choice but to comment.
On Comedy Central’s “South Park,” character Eric Cartman made three separate comments bashing the pope and implicating guilt in the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, the molester priest from Wisconsin. In answering a rhetorical question Cartman says: “Does the pope help pedophiles get away with their crimes? Is the pope Catholic and making the world safe for pedophiles? Does the pope crap on the broken lives and dreams of 200 deaf boys?” The episode re-aired on August 24.
Ovation TV aired the anti-Catholic production “The Last Temptation of Christ” on Good Friday. We wrote to CEO Charles Segars asking for an explanation why the station chose one of the holiest days on the Catholic calendar to air that particular production. We also asked if he had any plans to offend any other religions on their holy days. We did not receive a response.
On the “Wanda Sykes Show,” Sykes bashed the Catholic League for its ad defending Pope Benedict XVI in the New York Times. In her rant, she claimed that it would make sense for priests to be homosexual because they “get to hang out with other men. Wear a dress. Drink wine. They got candles and incense. Big old pretty jewelry.” She then said that the “only difference between the Catholic Church paying off its victims and Tiger Woods paying off his mistresses is the Catholic Church can write it off as tax-deductible.” She also said that the Church is “hiding [its] bad priests like Easter eggs.” The show re-aired on August 14.
On Easter Monday, the panel on ABC’s “The View” discussed the Church’s sex abuse scandal and the role that Pope Benedict XVI played in dealing with them; the panel was comprised of Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. During the discussion, Walters noted, “It’s brought up a lot of things that are unrelated and should not have been brought up. It brings up the whole case of homosexuality. There is not a connection between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of minors. That is something that is talked about.”
During the discussion, Walters noted that Hasselbeck is Catholic, to which Hasselbeck quickly replied, “I was raised Catholic.” Goldberg then said, “I’m Catholic. I just don’t show it.” Hasselbeck later took a shot at the pope, essentially calling for him to be removed from his position: “What’s with the infallibility? At this point, in this economy, no one is immune from being fired. Someone who has been in charge of a system that is so faulty, so harmful, so hurtful, should not be in a position where you cannot take any blame. You should be in a responsible position.”
At the end of the discussion, Goldberg said, “You know, we often get accused of slamming the Church. We’re not slamming the Church. We’re slamming one practice of this horrifying priest that no one, no one saw fit to protect kids from.” Behar responded to this statement by saying, “Some of the bishops and people in Rome are slamming the New York Times for reporting it. It’s like let’s kill the messenger. That is really outrageous.”
We found it particularly offensive that they held this discussion the day after Easter.
During the monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno joked about the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal: “And Easter’s a little different this year at the Vatican, instead of hiding eggs, the Vatican just relocated them to a different lawn.”
During his monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno made a few jokes regarding the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal: “And yesterday was the big White House Easter Egg roll. Of course, Catholic priests, they didn’t have time to hide their eggs, they were too busy hiding each other…. As you know, the Roman Catholic Church continues to be rocked by the sex abuse crisis. In fact, they’re now thinking of changing their name to the Roman Polanski Catholic Church.”
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar and author Paula Froelich were discussing the Vatican forgiving the Beatles for claiming to be bigger than Jesus. During the discussion, Froelich said, “Oh stop it’s marketing 101. Look over there shiny object; don’t look at me while I have my hands down some young boy’s pants.”
While discussing Pope Benedict XVI and the Church on the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar asked comedian Lewis Black, “Do you feel sorry for him at all? I mean he went from Hitler Youth to covering up for molesters, do you feel sorry for him?”
In his opening monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno was discussing the ash cloud that was enveloping Europe: “Give you an idea how bad the volcano was, it was spewing out so much ash the Catholic Church now said they couldn’t see what it was doing wrong.”
During the monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno was looking at different places through Google Street View, among the places was the Vatican: “All right, let’s go overseas again, let’s go somewhere in Europe. Go to Europe. Let’s do it. Oh, Vatican. Oh, there’s Vatican City. Can we go—show the front of it there. Look at—oh, kids stay free. Wow. Let’s get out of there.”
Comedy Central announced that an animated show, “J.C.” was being considered for its lineup. It was announced that the show was about Jesus Christ seeking to live out a normal life in New York, outside the reach of His “powerful but apathetic father.” What made this particularly offensive was that the same executives who were pitching “J.C.” were the same ones that censored a depiction of Muhammad on “South Park.” A network official, said about “J.C.”: “In general, comedy in its purest form always makes some people uncomfortable.” We noted this was completely untrue considering that Comedy Central has no interest in making Muslims feel uncomfortable.
We were happy to join a coalition of like-minded groups protesting this show. The group, headed by Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, included: Michael Medved, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Family Research Council and the Family Television Council.
During the opening monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno took another shot at the Church for the abuse scandal: “According to a New York Times poll, 54 percent of people feel that the Vatican is out of touch with Catholics. The other 46 are young Catholics who feel they’re way too much in touch. Way too much in touch.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno went back to the well and made a joke indicting all Catholic priests of being molesters: “I actually saw a Catholic priest today calling for a boycott…. Well, maybe he was just calling for a boy on a cot. I think that was it.”
During the “Hot Topics” segment of ABC’s “The View,” the panel discussed Queen Elizabeth asking for more money from English taxpayers. Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar took the opportunity to take gratuitous shots at the Church:
Behar: By the way, I think you read the piece Queen Elizabeth is asking for more money from the taxpayers in England because she can’t afford the up keep of all those castles. Sell one, sell one. She gets about 8.5 million I think, she wants 11 million.
Goldberg: Well I say the same thing about the Catholic Church. There’s a lot of folks saying we don’t have money, we’re closing schools. I’m sorry. You’ve got some dough. Let’s take a big look at stuff. You know you can’t say to the pope, “Listen you need to sell some of this stuff.”
Behar: He needs to sell some of his dresses.
Goldberg: You can’t wear it all at the same time. You got to sell one thing, one thing or two things….
While discussing Lady Gaga’s video “Alejandro” on ABC’s “The View,” Elisabeth Hasselbeck commented that the pop star might be “making a statement about how she feels that nuns are restricted in some way.” She continued, “I mean, the Catholic Church in some ways is the only thing that hasn’t reached the women’s lib movement, you know? Nothing’s been able to get in there.”
During an episode of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with John Stewart,” comedian Louis C.K. concluded his interview by noting that there were certain words he could not say on his FX show, “Louie.” After offering a few examples of the forbidden words, he said, “I was going to say that the pope f**** boys….” [The obscenity was bleeped out.]
On ABC’s “The View,” Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg commented on a Gestapo-like raid of Church offices performed by Belgian police. Behar said, “If you’re [the Church] not going to be forthcoming with the info, then the cops are going to come in and get it.” Goldberg feebly attempted to defend the Church—saying that it was making strides in dealing with sex abuse claims—but undercut her own argument by stating that the Church “can’t be surprised that they’re [the police] going to come in” if they were stonewalled.
In the opening monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno said, “Oh, and a Catholic priest in Connecticut has been charged with stealing $1.3 million in church money and using the money for male escorts. Of course, his parish is very upset about this—except the altar boys. They’re going, huh, dodged a bullet on that one. Yeah, he spent $1.3 million on male escorts and, of course, the other priests were very confused. They said: ‘Why buy the escort when the altar boys are free?’”
During his opening monologue on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno took another shot at Catholic priests: “It was so hot I saw a priest stop at a kids’ lemonade stand—just got lemonade.” His shot at priests was the fifth and last in a string of jokes related to the hot weather, and it was the only one the audience shrugged off with “oohs.”
WBOC-TV in Delaware ran a poll on its website asking, “Do you agree with the Vatican’s position that ordaining women as priests is as grave an offense as pedophilia?” This question was flawed because the Church never equated the offenses.
Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” featured a segment with Stewart discussing the Ground Zero mosque controversy with show correspondant John Oliver. During the segment, Oliver brought up the Church’s sex abuse scandal in referencing locations for churches: “There’s a difference between what you can do and what you should do. For instance you can build a Catholic Church next to a playground. Should you? Should you do that Jon? Should you?”
On NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” Fallon made a joke in his monologue regarding clergy sex abuse: “A priest in Italy has developed a new app that will let priests say mass on their ipads. Yeah. Yeah, altar boys are quickly learning the difference between itouch and bad touch.”
Comedy Central re-aired an episode of “South Park” that originally had aired in 2002. The show satirized the sex scandal by portraying priests eager to have sex with boys, and a bishop complaining in front of the pope that “we’ll never be able to have sex with boys again.” Catholics were revealed to really worship a “Queen Spider” and were lectured that the Church got out of hand because it deviated from the Scriptures, which are only ethical platitudes.
At a benefit for those effected by the Gulf Coast oil spill, Jay Leno delivered jokes about a “promiscuous priest in just the first 15 minutes of his hour-long show,” according to the Biloxi Sun Herald.
On the FX series, “Louie,” comedian Louis C.K.’s character was portrayed as a boy who was forced by a nun into feeling guilty about his sins. In the show, the Crucifixion was trivialized, a doctor traumatized children with an in-depth explanation of Christ’s Passion and Christianity was portrayed as a crock. At the end, Jesus was described by Louie’s mother as simply a “really, really nice guy who lived a long time ago and told everyone to love each other.”
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar and guest Denis Leary were discussing the controversy surrounding the proposed building of a mosque near Ground Zero and a Florida pastor’s pledge to burn the Koran. When Leary stated that he was raised Catholic but that he is “lapse Catholic now,” Behar chimed in, “We all are.” Leary proceeded, “I hate organized religion.”
When discussing the mosque, Leary noted that the Archdiocese of New York tried to intervene to help facilitate a resolution in the controversy, but Behar stated that “they should really stay out.” Leary followed up by saying, “But when the Catholic Church is coming to help you decide on something, you know you’re in trouble. I don’t care what side of the argument you are on. Get the hell away. The Catholic Church is coming in and they’re actually trying to make sense out of it. You’re in trouble, you know.” Behar finished with, “I mean really, with their track record, the past few years, forget about it.”
In the monologue of the TBS show “Lopez Tonight,” host George Lopez discussed the pope’s car: “This car seats six adults comfortably and four boys very uncomfortably. It is the first time you hear a kid say, ‘I hope we’re not there yet.’”
On “Lopez Tonight,” host George Lopez made reference to a story about an investigation of the Vatican Bank, and then said, “Regarding the scandal, a Vatican spokesperson says as long as it doesn’t have to do with little boys, we confess.”
Matt Damon guest starred on the season premiere “30 Rock” as a romantic interest for Tina Fey’s character. In a scene where they are trying to get to know each other better they reveal a secret about themselves, Damon’s character’s secret was, “I was touched by a priest—it’s fine.”
CNN aired a documentary called “What the Pope Knew” that intended to lay blame on Pope Benedict XVI for the sex abuse scandal. The program alluded the pope was guilty of obstructing justice, and more concerned with stamping out dissent than stamping out sexual abuse. See page 44 for Bill Donohue’s response.
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar and guest, Bill Maher, made sweeping comments about religion and Catholics. While Maher called faith a “suspension of critical thinking,” Behar claimed that religious people are “uninformed.” Among their assaults on the Church were claims that the Bible contained a lot of “wickedness” and was full of “just plain silliness.” Maher went further saying that the Ten Commandments were the “ultimate list of top ten things right from God” but they didn’t include “rape, incest, or genocide.”
On the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” atheist author Sam Harris said, “The Catholic Church is more concerned about preventing contraception than protecting child rape. It’s more concerned about preventing gay marriage than genocide.”
On the Fox program “Glee,” one of the characters saw an image of Jesus in his grilled cheese sandwich, calling it “Grilled Cheesus.” Throughout the episode religion, but Catholicism in particular, was referred to as a “fantasy” and that “God is kind of like Santa Claus for adults. Otherwise, God’s kind of a jerk, isn’t he?”
On Fox’s “Glee,” the character Rachel dressed in a provocative nun’s outfit while Finn dressed as a priest. Together, in costume, they sang a song to each other called “With You I’m Born Again.” One reviewer called it an “emotional episode about religion” while another noted the characters were “wearing super inappropriate costume [sets].”
On the “Joy Behar Show,” Behar and guest Dan Savage made comments suggesting all priests are homosexuals. Savage, a homosexual, said “I thought about becoming a priest because I thought I would never be able to come out to my family.” Behar and Savage laughed when she said, “What, are you kidding? That would have been a perfect place for you.” Savage responded by saying, “Yes I wanted a big house and I wanted to wear dresses and have sex with men.”
On ABC’s, “The View,” Bill O’Reilly said that 70 percent of Americans are opposed to the Ground Zero Mosque. When he was pressed to explain he said, “Because Muslims killed us on 9/11.” Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg became upset and walked off stage. Barbara Walters apologized for her co-hosts’ behavior and responded to O’Reilly by saying it was wrong to demean a whole religion because of the acts of some individuals.
While we agreed with Walters we asked why it was okay for Behar and Goldberg to paint all priests as molesters, but they were “outraged” when an unqualified remark was made about Muslims?
On the MSNBC show “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” O’Donnell criticized some of the Republican candidates in the election season, citing them for making what he called “stupid comparisons” between being gay and being an alcoholic or obese. Guest Bill Maher agreed, but added a quip about homosexual priests, painting them all as molesters. Maher said, “We really can’t resist [talking about gays in the Catholic Church] if it’s all around us.” He continued, “You know, that’s how the Catholic Church talks about it. You know, ‘our priests are not sinning, they’re just giving into temptation when they’re molesting children and going gay and stuff like that.’”
On his MSNBC program, host Keith Olbermann went on a rant against Tea Party-backed candidates; one target was Ron Johnson, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. Earlier in the year Johnson had testified against a bill that would relax the statute of limitations on cases involving the sexual abuse of minors. Olbermann played with words and attacked the Church saying that Johnson “testified against toughening laws on pedophiles and employers who shield them. He argued this could damage a business. A business like the Catholic Church.”
“Saturday Night Live” ran a program special of re-run episodes entitled the “Women of SNL.” During the special, they re-aired a clip from 2008 where Tina Fey took a shot at nuns. Fey said:
“You know what? B****es get stuff done. That’s why Catholic schools use nuns as teachers and not priests. They’re mean old clams and sleep on cots and are allowed to hit you. At the end of the school year you hated those b****es, but you knew the capital of Vermont.”
Bill Maher appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show where he discussed the remarks he had made about Muslims on his own HBO show in which he expressed concerns about the growing popularity of naming boys Muhammad in the U.K., noting the high birth rates of Muslims and how this does not bode well for the future. When Blitzer asked him to explain, he defended his statements fairly. When contrasted with the anti-Catholic comments he has being making for years he looked like a hypocrite. It is obvious Maher is at home tolerating and contributing to anti-Catholicism.
The new HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” took a shot at Catholics in a scene where a group of men were watching a silent film of a nun having sex. The shot of a nun on her hands and knees being penetrated from behind, and another that showed a man performing cunnilingus on her, was thrown into the show and had no relevance to the plot.
Jay Leno took a shot at the Church on an episode of the “Tonight Show” joking about a miscreant priest who ripped off his parish to pay for his online porn habit. Instead of going after this one priest, Leno attacked the entire Church, he said, “The Church transferred him to another parish that has free WiFi. Yeah, so that’s nice.”
On an episode of the Fox program “House,” a Latino man was vilified for his Catholic faith. The opening scene of the episode was of the man being nailed to a cross; he then began to spit up blood and was rushed to a hospital. When he got there, we learn that being nailed to a cross has become a ritual for him for every year so that his young daughter remains cancer-free; this was a “deal” he made with God. For the rest of the episode the man’s faith-healing method is condemned and portrayed as bizarre, barbaric, and silly.
The episode was relentless with its attacks on Catholicism, addressing issues such as embryonic stem cell research with sarcasm, calling faith delusional, and dubbing religion as something which is “communicable and it kills a lot of people.”
On an episode of “The View,” Denis Leary, discussed his new book which is a compilation of his Twitter posts. Joy Behar pulled one quote out as an example and read it to the audience. The quote was, “The pope is against gay marriage. This coming from a grown man who goes to work dressed like Lady Gaga.” After reciting the quote she laughed and called the book “good stuff.”
Comedy Central re-aired an episode of South Park titled “Bloody Mary.” The episode makes a mockery of Catholicism, suggesting that a statue of the Virgin Mary is bleeding and thus declared a miracle. Upon further investigation, the pope declares that a “chick” bleeding is “no miracle.” The original episode aired in 2005 and was pulled after complaints from the Catholic League.
Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd, bashed Catholics on an episode of “The View.” They went ballistic discussing the issue of the nun who authorized an abortion at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Arizona. The women failed to mention the fact that the parent organization of this hospital, Catholic Heathcare West, has a long history of flagrantly violating the teachings of the Church. No matter, the ladies took to trotting out miscreant priests, painted the Church as anti-women, and more.
A day after they went after the Church for the St. Joseph’s hospital situation, the women of “The View” went on an extended rant against Bill Donohue for his press release taking them to task. Elisabeth Hasselbeck went as far to tell Donohue to “Go to Hell.”
Lady Gaga released the video to her song “Alejandro” which featured her dressing as a nun, flashing a cross, swallowing a rosary and being raped by a group of S&M-type men. The pop star defended her video by calling it a “dedication of my love and appreciation for the gay community.”
Tacoma, WA – Lady Gaga, performed at a concert wearing a nun’s habit made of see-through plastic, exposing her underwear and only had x’s covering her breasts.
During an interview on NPR, Samantha Bee of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” spoke about her Catholic upbringing and how mocking Catholicism is “joyful” and “pure pleasure” for her. During the interview, Bee discussed that she went to a “progressive Catholic school” that didn’t have “big gory Jesuses everywhere. They were monochromatic so you couldn’t see the blood dripping from the wounds of Jesus.” Bee also said that she had spoken with a lot of lapsed Catholics saying that they had a crush on Jesus, saying that He was “designed that way for young girls to find Him sexy and attractive.”
NPR fired Juan Williams after he made allegedly anti-Muslim comments. The Catholic League responded by pointing out that no one had ever been fired by NPR for their anti-Catholic fare. As early as 1997 NPR had been documented for various anti-Catholic remarks, among them is a song Tom Lehrer sang called, “The Vatican Rag,” some of the lyrics are as follows: “Try playing it safer, drink the wine and chew the wafer”; “Two, four, six, eight, time to Trans-substantiate.” This, however, didn’t merit Lehrer to be fired.
RESPONSE TO CNN DOCUMENTARY
The following is an excerpt from Bill Donohue’s response to a CNN documentary that aired September 25, 2010; the complete version is available online under “Special Reports.”
The program begins with music and graphics that set the tone: those who think Pope Benedict XVI has been adept at combating priestly sexual abuse must realize that there is “a darker, more complicated story.” Dark, yes, but from CNN’s perch, the story is not all that complicated: the pope is guilty of “foot-dragging and, perhaps, obstruction.”
CNN host Gary Tuchman says that “For decades, before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger was a high-ranking Vatican official who, more than anyone else beside Pope John Paul, could have taken decisive action to stem the sexual abuse crisis.”
It is simply not true that Ratzinger was in charge of this issue “for decades.” In fact, he wasn’t given the authority to police the sexual abuse problem until 2001. What is truly astonishing is that Tuchman concedes as much later in the program. After he notes that “By 2001, the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to engulf the Catholic Church,” he says, “The pope gave Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) the power to cut through the bureaucracy and handle all sexual abuse cases directly.”
Nowhere in the program is there any evidence that the pope was guilty of obstruction of justice. This is a serious charge—the most serious made in the course of the documentary. Yet to throw this out, without ever producing evidence to substantiate it, is malicious. It won’t cut it to say that he was “perhaps” guilty of obstruction. CNN intentionally planted this seed and never explicitly addressed the subject of obstruction of justice again.
The program focuses on four miscreant priests. The first is Peter Hullermann. In 1986, he was convicted of sexually abusing boys while serving in Germany. His case is central to the documentary because it questions the pope’s culpability.
After Hullermann was convicted, he was transferred to Munich for therapy. It should be noted that therapy was the preferred method for dealing with abusers at the time, both inside and outside the Catholic Church. Abusers were not seen, as they are today, as offenders deserving of punitive action; rather, they were seen as disturbed persons who could be rehabilitated via therapy. No matter, after his transfer, Hullermann was placed in a new parish.
The critical question is: Did Archbishop Ratzinger know that Hullermann was a convicted molester who was moved to another parish? We know he approved the transfer, but that’s about it. The Vatican maintains that it was Ratzinger’s deputy who placed Hullermann in the new parish. Importantly, CNN makes no claim to the contrary. Moreover, when the New York Times broke this story in March, the best it could do in establishing culpability was to say that Ratzinger’s office “was copied on a memo.” The Times also said that Church officials said the memo was routine and “unlikely to have landed on the archbishop’s desk.”
The case of Father Stephen Kiesle was included not to prove guilt on the part of the pope, but to add to the suspicion that he did not do enough.
CNN reports that Kiesle’s bishop, John Cummins, wanted him defrocked in 1981 after he was convicted of sexually abusing boys. Vatican officials, however, wanted more information; Cardinal Ratzinger had taken over as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a week after the Vatican office made its ruling. Following Church norms that existed at the time, Ratzinger said he could not defrock Kiesle because no one under 40 could be laicized, and he was in his thirties. Kiesle could have been ordered to stand trial, but because he was so close to turning 40 (and a trial is not a speedy process), a decision was made to wait. On February 13, 1987, the day before Kiesle’s 40th birthday, he was defrocked.
What CNN did not report is that Kiesle was removed from ministry following his conviction. Nor did it mention the curious fact that in 1982, while still technically a priest, Kiesle married the mother of a girl he had abused in 1973. But to mention such an oddity may have shifted blame away from the pope, thus muddying the bottom line.
Father Lawrence Murphy, who allegedly molested some 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin in the 1950s, is covered in depth. But it didn’t go far enough. What was omitted is startling.
Tuchman reports that “Father Murphy’s case would come to the direct attention of Cardinal Ratzinger.” (My emphasis.) The viewer then waits in vain for evidence that Murphy’s case came to the direct attention of the pope. There isn’t any. We know that Terry Kohut, who was one of Murphy’s victims, wrote to Ratzinger’s office, but neither CNN nor the New York Times (which first reported on this story) has ever provided evidence that Ratzinger was personally involved in this case.
Jeffrey Anderson, who has made tens of millions suing the Catholic Church, and hates the Church with a passion, is asked point blank by Tuchman, “Do you think Cardinal Ratzinger knew about the case of Father Murphy?” Anderson parses his words in textbook lawyerly fashion. “Well, we know the letters went to his secretary, [Tarcisio] Bertone.” This is not in dispute. But was Ratzinger directly involved? Anderson adds, “thus, that Ratzinger was directly involved.” So because Bertone fielded the letters,thus Ratzinger was directly involved? That Tuchman never challenged Anderson is telling.
Here is what CNN did not tell the viewer. The crimes alleged against Murphy extend to the 1950s, yet the civil authorities were not formally asked to investigate until the mid-1970s; following a probe, the police dropped the case. Fast-forward to 1996, the first time the Vatican is notified. The Vatican decides to ignore the fact that the statute of limitations has expired and orders a trial. Melodramatically, CNN characterizes the internal inquiry a “secret church trial,” as if internal probes at CNN for employee wrongdoing are televised.
CNN, like the New York Times before it, never bothered to interview the one person who may have known about Ratzinger’s knowledge of the case, Father Thomas Brundage. He was the Judicial Vicar, the one who presided over the case between 1996-1998. When asked this year about Ratzinger’s role, he said, “At no time in the case, at meetings that I had at the Vatican, in Washington, D.C. and in Milwaukee, was Cardinal Ratzinger’s name ever mentioned.” Brundage added that he was “shocked” when the media tried to tie Ratzinger to the Murphy case.
In CNN’s eyes, if there was one hero in this case, it was the Archbishop of Milwaukee at the time, Rembert Weakland. It credits him writing to Ratzinger in 1996 asking how to proceed against Murphy, noting that Weakland acceded to the Vatican’s request to stop the trial, knowing the priest was dying; Murphy died two days later. But there is much the viewer does not learn.
Weakland was anything but a hero in dealing with sexual abuse. In 1984, he branded as “libelous” those who reported cases of priestly sexual abuse, and was rebuked by a judge for doing so. In 1994, he accused those who reported such cases as “squealing.” Moreover, he had to resign when his lover, a 53-year-old man, revealed that Weakland paid him $450,000 to settle a sexual assault lawsuit (Weakland fleeced church coffers to pay the bill).
With regard to the Murphy case, Weakland is again anything but a hero. Last spring, in a section called “Documents Trail” posted on the website of the New York Times(alongside an article by Times reporter Laurie Goodstein) there is a revealing letter from the Coadjutor Bishop of Superior, Wisconsin, Raphael M. Fliss, to the Vicar for Personnel of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Father Joseph A. Janicki. Bishop Fliss says, “In a recent conversation with Archbishop Weakland, I was left with the impression that it would not be advisable at this time to invite Father Murphy to work among the deaf.” The letter was dated July 9, 1980. So why did it take 16 years for Weakland to contact the Vatican about Murphy? CNN does not say.
The last case involves Father Alvin Campbell, an Illinois priest who pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of boys in 1985. Bishop Daniel Ryan visited Campbell in prison, asking him to leave the priesthood. After Campbell refused, Ryan asked Cardinal Ratzinger to defrock him. CNN reports that the request was refused because it did not come from Campbell.
This sounds strange, but there is more to the story. Bishop Ryan wanted Campbell defrocked quickly because he wanted to spare the victims a trial. This is understandable at one level, but there is still the matter of civil liberties: the accused are entitled to their day in court. What CNN omitted from its coverage was that Bishop Ryan had the authority to remove Campbell from ministry, or go forward with the trial, recommending defrocking. He elected not to do so.
As CNN acknowledges, Ratzinger learned from the Campbell case and pressed Pope John Paul II to make serious changes in the way these cases were handled. “And from 2001 forward,” says Allen, “the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith became the beachhead for the Vatican for an aggressive response to the crisis.” True enough. And 2001 was the year that Pope John Paul II charged Cardinal Ratzinger with overseeing this issue. Because these changes occurred on Ratzinger’s watch, he made them happen.
After Father Thomas Reese makes some critical remarks, Tuchman concludes, “Cardinal Ratzinger was passionate about stamping out dissent. But there was never any public indication he was passionate about getting rid of pedophile priests.” This, along with the suggestion that the pope was guilty of obstruction of justice, marks the lowest point in the documentary.
If it wasn’t passion that provoked the pope to speak of the “filth” within the Church—he did so right before being elected—what was it? A cerebral exercise? And what was it that triggered him to reopen the case of Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, and then seek to reform the Legionaries? Was it boredom?
Tuchman opines that “Vatican experts say Ratzinger silenced, censored or otherwise punished dozens of theologians during his reign at CDF.” The charge is risible on the face of it: there is infinitely more tolerance for dissent in the Catholic Church than exists in the typical American college or university.
From top to bottom, what CNN did was the televised version of what the New York Times did in print form earlier in the year. The goal was to tarnish the image of Pope Benedict XVI, making him out to be a co-conspirator in the scandal. Though it came up empty handed with proof of his culpability, there was enough innuendo to convict Snow White.
The timeline of the scandal, it needs to be said, was from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. Ironically, those within the Catholic Church who pushed for “progressive” reforms, e.g., making the case for more relaxed sexual strictures in the seminaries, and who then recommended therapy to treat molesters—most of whom were homosexuals—are the very ones today pointing fingers at the pope for the scandal. That’s the real scandal, though it is not likely to be covered by CNN.