We had another banner year in 2015. We reacted swiftly and strongly to attacks on individuals, defending everyone from lay Catholics to the pope. We also moved with alacrity to combat Catholic-bashing in the media, Hollywood, education, and government. In every instance, we stood on principle: our goal is not preferential treatment—it is equal treatment. We do not seek to take rights from others; on the contrary, we seek to preserve and enhance our rights. To continue our work in 2016, I ask that you give to this appeal.
The year began with a major media blitz: Our reaction to the fallout of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons captured international attention. Muslim terrorists upset with vile attacks on their religion stormed the Paris office of this offensive publication. In the end, 12 persons were murdered, most of whom worked there. “Killing in response to insult, no matter how gross,” I said, “must be unequivocally condemned.” But I hastened to add that those who intentionally and maliciously trash any world religion must be condemned for their irresponsibility.
It was the criticism of Charlie Hebdo that ignited a firestorm. I did not say that the cartoonists should have no legal right to insult people of faith; rather, I said they had no moral right to do so. I was struck by how many people in high places could not, or did not want to, understand my point. One person who did was Pope Francis: The Holy Father took my position so thoroughly that I joked with Sean Hannity that I should sue him for plagiarism! His intervention quieted the storm.
Some anti-Catholic lawyers are bullies who seek to silence us. Bullying the Catholic League, however, doesn’t work. In 2015, a bogus libel suit against us was tossed by a Midwestern judge. We also won when a bigoted Midwestern lawyer was suspended for remarks she made in court; we were the ones who pressed this case.
We are proud of our record defending bishops who are under siege. In 2015, we stood squarely with San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone; he was under attack for ensuring that Catholic teachers were not in rebellion against Catholic teachings! We joined the fight by taking on local government officials who insidiously injected themselves into the internal affairs of the archdiocese.
When Indiana sought to codify religious liberty—it was being threatened by gay activists—the media lined up behind the activists. We jumped in on the side of the governor and lawmakers: they wanted to make sure that the rights of the faithful would not be eviscerated by a new round of gay rights. We also protested the NCAA’s demagogic response to this issue.
We knew that the pope’s visit to the U.S. would occasion a backlash, and that is why we were out in front on this issue: we commissioned our own survey of Catholics, and we got the word out about the yeoman work of Father Junípero Serra. Our survey positioned us to debunk some of the prevailing myths about Catholicism, and the booklet I authored on the priest whom Pope Francis canonized received a wide and very positive reception. But nothing mattered more than the chance to meet the pope: Vice President Bernadette Brady-Egan and I were bowled over