Broadway Books released Karl Shaw’s 5 People Who Died During Sex And 100 Other Terribly Tasteless Lists, which contained numerous dubious statements about various Catholic popes. Among the claims: John XXIII was a “former pirate who obtained the papacy through force of arms” in 1410 (he actually reigned from 1958 to 1963); Alexander VI liked “to travel in public with a retinue of scantily clad dancing girls”; Paul III was “Rome’s biggest pimp”; and Leo X “was promiscuously gay.”
A revised edition of Jerusalem Countdown by John Hagee, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Texas, was released. One chapter, “Centuries of Mistreatment,” contained numerous attacks on Catholicism and historical inaccuracies regarding the Inquisition, the Crusades, the history of anti-Semitism, and Pope Pius XII’s actions during World War II. To cite one example, Hagee wrote, “Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolf Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.” Hagee has a long history of anti-Catholicism.
Responding to two complaints from the Catholic League, Random House agreed to remove several objectionable references to Catholicism in itsFodor’s travel guides. The removed comments included the following:
● From Mexico 2007: “Outside the Antigua Basilica stands a statue of Juan Diego, who became the first indigenous saint in the Americas with his canonization in summer 2002. (This canonization was widely seen as a shrewd political move on the part of the Catholic church as it tries to retain its position, particularly among Mexico’s indigenous population.)”
● From Exploring Ireland (6th Edition): The position of women in the republic is much affected by the power of the Catholic Church, and by Pope John Paul II’s reaffirmation of its doctrines on contraception, abortion and divorce. Ireland ranks last among the world’s developed countries with access to birth control (though the impact of AIDS has had a sharper effect than decades of religious dogma), and until 1996 was alone in Europe in having no civil divorce. A booming economy and child abuse scandals in the Catholic Church have pushed the South further towards the liberalism of mainland Europe.”
● From France 2007: “The main point on interest in the region is the Abbaye de La Celle, a 12th-century Benedictine Abbey that served as a convent until the 17th century, when it was closed because its young nuns had begun to run wild and were known less for their chastity than ‘the color of their petticoats and the name of their lover.'”
“Thousands flock to Lourdes annually, many in quest of a miraculous cure for sickness or disability. In season a mob jostles to see the grotto behind a forest of votive candles. Some pundits might say that Lourdes ingeniously combines the worst of both worlds.”
● From Portugal (7th Edition): “In a 1930 Pastoral Letter, the Bishop of Leiria declared the apparitions worthy of belief, thus approving the ‘Cult of Fatima.'”
We thanked Tim Jarrell, the vice president and publisher of Fodor’s Travel Publications, for his professional and straightforward handling of these issues.
The Cartoon Network website featured “Bible Fight,” an online video game where “Biblical icons battle it out in the world’s greatest immortal combat.” The game featured Jesus using a cross as a weapon and the Virgin Mary armed with a “Rosary whip,” plus other well-known Biblical figures.
The video site YouTube featured a short documentary spoof video in which comedian Louis C.K. “learns about the Catholic Church.” When Louis asks “an Archdiocese of New York spokesman” what the Catholic Church is all about, the “spokesman” (wearing a clerical collar) replies, “The Catholic Church is an ancient worldwide organization dedicated to the constant goal of f***ing young boys.”
When Louis says, “But I thought the point of the Church was to worship God; the boy-f***ing was just incidental,” the “spokesman” replies, “No, it’s just the other way around. The point of the Church is just boy-f***ing. All the other stuff is just busy work.” After Louis contacts the Vatican to confirm this, he receives a letter “from the Pope himself” which states, “We at the Catholic Church f*** boys all day long. That’s all we ever do.”
Later, Louis is taken to a “situation room” where pedophile priests are monitored and moved around the world “so they don’t get caught.” He is also escorted to a factory that processes “purity bricks” to build churches; the “bricks” are made from the excrement of priests who have molested boys to “steal their purity.”
On the Washington Post “On Faith” blog site, Chicago Theological Seminary president Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite attempted to tie the renewed interest in the Latin Mass to the sex abuse scandal that rocked the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. “At a time when the Catholic Church in the U.S. needs to be working on becoming more open and more accountable to its laity to prevent more child sexual abuse,” wrote Thistlethwaite, “the reintroduction of the Latin Mass signals that the Catholic Church as a whole is moving in a reactionary direction, becoming more closed rather than more open.” She continued by adding, “This is a worship practice where the ordinary people could not understand the language and the clergy become remote figures, conducting mysteries in secret on the altar.” In conclusion, she charged that “the Catholic Church is once again circling the wagons, rejecting necessary reforms and consolidating its power in the hierarchy.”
Thistlethwaite never responded to the letter above.
Pinkdome, a Texas political blog, carried this entry in response to a Vatican document reasserting the primacy of the Catholic Church: “So, if you aren’t molesting young boys you aren’t going to Heaven? What’s that about? That man [Pope Benedict XVI] has got some nerve. Benedict ain’t even his real name … That pisses me right off. What a d***head.”
Regarding the Vatican document on the primacy of the Catholic Church, Ginny Cotts wrote on the Democratic Daily blog, “What ON EARTH gives this man [Pope Benedict XVI] the idea that he can dictate such nonsense to other denominations?” Cotts also wrote, “How do the five Catholic Supreme Court Justices get to interpret this? That all Jews appearing before the court or appealing a conviction are liars?”
The blog, Gothamist, commented on the letter Catholic League president Bill Donohue sent to New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein questioning why crèches cannot be displayed in New York City schools. The blog placed a poll on the page asked if public schools should include nativity scenes in holiday displays. The three choices offered were: “Yes, it would be more inclusive”; “No, menorahs and Ramadan symbols don’t have people in them”; and “I can’t wait until Easter when the Catholic League demands a crucified Jesus.” The results of the poll showed that almost half said that they couldn’t wait until Easter. This survey was an invitation to anti-Catholic bigots to make their voice heard. It is hard to imagine that they would have invited such bigoted speech concerning Jews or Muslims.
The front cover of The New Yorker featured a sketch of subway commuters with thought bubbles. It suggested that a little boy was wondering if the priest across the way was gay.
Redmond, WA – Media Spotlight, a fundamentalist Christian publication, ran an article about the decision of Francis Beckwith, president of the Evangelical Theological Society, to return to the Roman Catholic faith in which he was raised. The article asked regarding Beckwith’s tenure at the ETS, “Could he have been planted by the Catholic Church just for such a day as this?” The article also said, “No truly born-again believer in Jesus Christ who has left Romanism would return to its system of unscriptural laws and idolatrous worship of man-made objects, not the least of which is a wafer of bread believed worthy of the same worship due the true God.”
Kingston, NY – In his “Editor’s Note” column, Chronogram editor Brian K. Mahoney wrote of his attendance at a performance by the Wau Wau Sisters, a musical act featuring two women dressed in girls’ Catholic school uniforms. Mahoney wrote that the show featured “Communion wafers, cigarettes, and a chalice” and added that when he was asked to go onstage and dance with the musicians, “I bounded out of my seat without a second thought.”
Newsweek’s website flagged as its “Top Story” a piece by Karen Springen about a Missouri woman who was “ordained” a Catholic priest. In the article Springen made snide comments about the Church’s rules governing ordination, and implied that the Church thinks “it’s a sin to be gay” and excludes divorced people. The “woman priest” featured in the article, Jessica Rowley, is pro-abortion and pro-homosexuality, which we told the media made her “just the kind of person who would make a great addition to Newsweek.”
On January 18, we called for a federal investigation into the movie “Hounddog,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22. Our goal was to ascertain whether federal child pornography laws were violated during filming (the story involved a young girl whose violent, graphic rape is depicted onscreen). Federal statutes on child pornography define a minor as anyone younger than 18. Dakota Fanning, the actress who portrayed the rape victim, was twelve.
Though this issue would normally be outside our scope of action, we were astonished by the hypocrisy at work: though the Catholic Church is routinely criticized and scrutinized for its handling of sex abuse of children, Sundance—a major player in the film world—had no qualms about airing a scene involving such a young actress.
Hollywood, along with all other industries and groups, should be held to the same standard of child protection, as is the Church. Bill Donohue wrote to the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, as well as to First Lady Laura Bush (who has spoken out about the necessity of fighting child pornography and pedophilia) about the matter. The Department of Justice turned the case over to the FBI for review.
“Amazing Grace,” a film about 18th-century British abolitionist William Wilberforce, was released in the United States. The film greatly downplayed Wilberforce’s devout Christianity and the fact that the abolitionist movement in the West was a largely Christian pursuit.
An independent film, “Sinner,” depicted a traditional Catholic priest as cruel and deranged while portraying a dissident priest as more humane. The film was also laced with sexual overtones.
“Goya’s Ghosts,” an English-language film released in Europe in 2006, opened in the United States. The film, set in Spain, recounts the actions of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in the late 18th century. While a film about the Inquisition is not in itself a problem, the Catholic League objected to the fact that every member of the clergy in the film was depicted as cruel and vengeful. We applauded the fact that the film did poorly at the U.S. box office.
“The Ten,” an irreverent comedy that ridiculed the Ten Commandments, opened in select theaters. The characters include a woman who has sex with a wooden dummy, prisoners who sodomize one another, and a woman who travels to Mexico and begins an erotic affair with a carpenter named Jesus H. Christ.
The film received these comments from reviewers, who were not concerned by the film’s anti-Christian content:
● “Only Christians with a very liberal sense of humor are likely to enjoy ‘The Ten.’ Even lay viewers will need to be tolerant of gags as envelope-pushing as anything in ‘Borat.'” [Variety]
● “[Gretchen] Mol stars as a 35-year-old virgin who gets deflowered—in lusty romance novel fashion on a trip to Mexico. Her hunky lover boy’s name? Jesus Christ.” [philly.com]
● “‘The Ten’ is cohesive in the irreverence of its scenarios (in my favorite, Jesus Christ—Justin Theroux as a disheveled, overly hirsute carpenter….)” [notcoming.com]
● “Mol plays a mousy librarian…who travels alone to Mexico and has a wildly sexual fling with a local handyman named Jesus H. Christ (Justin Theroux in long hair and beard).” [Associated Press]
● “They’re almost gleeful in their crudity; grinning ever-wider as they seem to ask the audience just who this bit of blasphemy is hurting.” [eflimcritic.com]
● “Comprised of ten blasphemous vignettes, each inspired by one of the Biblical Commandments, [it] goes out of its way to be irreverent and hilarious….”[emanuellevy.com]
● “‘The Ten’ is comprised of 10 blasphemous and hysterical stories that put the insanity back in Christianity.” [Roger Ebert]
“Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” a film about Queen Elizabeth, was released in theatres. According to the New York Times, the portrayal of the “Catholic-led holy war” waged by Spain’s King Philip II against Elizabeth, “with its ominous monks and Latin chants, reeks of ‘The Da Vinci Code.'” The critic for the National Catholic Register reported that the film showed that “everything bad, evil and corrupt in the world ultimately is the bitter fruit of…Catholicism.” According to the Register, Protestantism represents “conscience, religious freedom, and of course heroic resistance to Catholic oppression.”
The Bravo Network re-aired a Halloween special, “The 100 Scariest Movie Moments” hosted by John Landis. In commenting on “The Exorcist,” he said, “It took a completely unbelievable situation and made it seem realistic, that the devil would take over a young girl and the Catholic Church would be the good protecting us from evil—when they weren’t molesting young boys….” (Our emphasis.)
Gener8Xion Entertainment released the film “Noëlle.” The film depicted the story of two unsatisfied priests who questioned their vocations. One priest, Father Simeon Joyce, disregards Church regulations and is an alcoholic. The other priest, Father Jonathan Keene, only joined the priesthood to escape the guilt he had from pressuring an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion. Both of the priests are in love with the same woman, but it is Father Keene who leaves his vocation to marry her. Throughout the film confession is trivialized, celibacy is ridiculed, the Virgin Mary is disrespected, nuns are belittled, last rites are mocked, and priestly vocations are caricatured.
Singer Joni Mitchell attacked the Catholic Church in “Shine,” her first new song in nine years: “Shine on the Catholic Church / and the prisons that it owns / Shine on all the churches / that love less and less.”
On HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” rap music star Mos Def (whose real name is Dante Smith) said, “The Catholic Church’s stance about child molestation is a form of terrorism in and of itself.”
Britney Spears posed for photos depicting racy scenes with a priest in a confessional. The photos were for her album “Blackout.” In one of the photos Spears is seen sitting on the priest’s lap. In the other photo she is posed suggestively as the priest eagerly leans in to hear her.
Los Angeles, CA – A Los Angeles Times article gave credence to a baseless charge made by sex-abuse plaintiffs’ lawyer Irwin Zelkin against the Catholic Church. In the article, “Catholic Doctrine is Cited in Priest Sex Abuse Cases,” Zelkin said that Catholics are permitted under a so-called “doctrine of mental reservation” to skirt the truth under oath in order to protect the Church. Such a “doctrine” is mentioned nowhere in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or in canon law. The article also called into question the veracity of Roger Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles and Bishop Robert H. Brom of San Diego.
The Times ran a correction on March 31, but the Catholic League dubbed the correction “entirely too lame” and called on the paper to print an apology to Mahony and Brom. The paper did not issue such an apology.
Los Angeles, CA – In a Los Angeles Times column, George Skelton attacked the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Cardinal Mahony, for criticizing a Catholic politician who supported doctor-assisted suicide. The Catholic Church, Skelton wrote, was “looking like an ugly old political attack dog.” He accused the Church of violating church-state lines and called for its tax-exempt status to be reexamined. “The church hierarchy,” Skelton wrote, “is on shaky grounds these days when lecturing about moral leadership.”
In March 2006, after Cardinal Mahony publicly opposed tough immigration bills, a Times editorial praised him for “reinforcing the right of religious leaders to speak out on the moral ramifications of political issues.” The Catholic League wondered why, one year later, a Timescolumnist was now seeking to silence Mahony on the issue of doctor-assisted suicide.
Naples, FL – A Naples Daily News feature story, “Life along Corkscrew: The far-off in between,” profiled an old country store where local residents gather on the front porch to discuss current events. The writer, Vivek Kemp, described the discussions this way: “And, while conversations are not necessarily more enlightening here than other places— shifting from subjects like taxes to pest control to off-color jokes about Catholic priests— they play an important role in keeping this rural community connected.”
San Francisco, CA – The Bay Area Reporter ran an ad for a book titledVatican Conspiracy Theory by Eric Bepots. The ad claims that the book offers “documented proof that the Vatican and Catholic Church are largely responsible for the Global spread of AIDS.” The ad features Rosary beads arranged in a cross shape, next to a photo of an unidentified young boy.
Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Daily News ran a cartoon depicting a cold-looking nun in traditional habit who refused to give painkillers to a woman in labor. The nun told the woman that her pain was a result of Eve’s original sin. The cartoon ran less than one week after the Daily News reported the closing of the third Philadelphia maternity program in a year’s time. “Looks like now’s the time to herald the nuns,” Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote to the paper, “not shun them.”
Chicago, IL – A Chicago Sun Times piece by Michelle Tsai made snide references to baptism and limbo, and compared contemporary theological debate on limbo to past debates on the legitimacy of slavery. “Church doctrine now states that unbaptized babies can go to heaven instead of getting stuck somewhere between heaven and hell,” Tsai wrote. “If limbo doesn’t exist, what happened to everyone who was supposed to have been there already?” The Church never declared limbo to be real and has always held that it’s possible for unbaptized babies to go to heaven.
St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an online survey on its website about Archbishop Raymond Burke’s decision to resign as chairman of the board of governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. Burke resigned when the board failed to cancel an appearance by a highly active pro-abortion advocate, pop musician Sheryl Crow, at a foundation fundraiser. The Post-Dispatch invited the general public, whether Catholic or not, to vote on whether they agreed with Burke’s decision. The Catholic League noted that while it was fine for the paper to report Burke’s resignation, asking non-Catholics to opine on an internal Church matter was out of bounds.
Hartford, CT – A Hartford Courant cartoon by Bob Englehart addressed the issue of Catholic hospitals being forced by law to provide Plan B emergency contraception to rape victims. The cartoon showed a bishop on a doctor’s exam table and a man with sacks of money behind him. The man held a sheet of paper with “Plan B” written on it; he said, “I’m sorry, archbishop, your hospitals can’t have any public funds. It’s against our beliefs!”
Chicago, IL – Chicago Sun Times columnist Neil Steinberg called the Catholic Church “the bully in eyeglasses” regarding the issue of excommunication and Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion. Steinberg wrote that if the Catholic Church excommunicated pro-abortion lawmakers, “it should excommunicate the women who have the abortions, plus the husbands and boyfriends who support them.” The Catholic League took exception to Steinberg’s comments regarding excommunication, which is an internal Church matter and is none of his business.
The Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers both reported that Pope Benedict XVI, addressing bishops in Brazil, had “defended the church’s often bloody campaign to Christianize indigenous people.” After we challenged both media outlets to supply evidence of these charges, the AP ran a revised story later in the day that omitted the reference to the pope justifying violence.
New York, NY – In The Villager, columnist Tim Gay wrote of a man who he thought was a non-active homosexual: “A lot of people say he’s a closet case. I don’t think so. Closet cases have sex. I think he’s just another nonpracticing guy with quaint ideas (or fears) about gay men. Either that, or his Catholic upbringing has forever stymied his libido.”
“Born a boy into an Irish-Catholic family” is how Tax Notes Todaydescribed a tax-court plaintiff seeking a medical-expenses deduction for a sex-change operation. Catholic League president Bill Donohue wrote toTax Notes Today editor Heather Bennett, asking her if the publication would have mentioned it if the plaintiff were an Ashkenazi Jew or a Scottish Presbyterian.
Lexington, KY – In a Lexington Herald Leader editorial, John Fritz and Gayle E. Slaughter wrote, “The U.S. border crisis is the result of an unconstitutional and illegal alliance between church and state. Defending our borders will actually invoke the blessings of God, a position opposite that of the church.” They alleged that during the Kennedy administration, “a then-secret alliance between the United States, the Vatican and ecumenical Protestants began work to insert the decrees of several papal encyclicals and Vatican II into domestic and foreign policy,” including current U.S. immigration policy.
The crossword puzzle in the New York Times Sunday issue featured a pun that offended many Christians. The clue for Number 98 across asked, “Crucifix?” The corresponding answer to this clue was, “SEXTON SYMBOL.”
San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, an atheist, wrote a column on the dangers of religion. In the column he attacked Christians saying, “they raise their heads flags and cock their Bibles and pat themselves on their arrogant backs, conveniently forgetting that the only real difference between radical Islam and Christianity’s own bloody, murderous past is, well, a bit of time, with a splash of geography.”
Morford continued, attacking Catholicism in particular, “Ah yes, the bloody crusades, the sadistic assaults on conflicting belief systems, the gay popes and murderous priests and boundless hypocrisy, the book burnings and witch burnings and pagan slaughters and a billion sexual oppressions, the mountains of guilt and shame and sin sin sin.”
The pope was the next target for Morford. The columnist said that the pope is “perhaps the most dangerous, out-of-touch world figure in all of organized religion’s dour pantheon.” At the end of the piece, Morford mocks God and religion and states that he is going to name his favorite sex-toy “oh sweet Lord.”
In her review of Mitt Romney’s on his religion, columnist Kathleen Parker took an insulting—and wholly gratuitous—stab at Catholics: “No religion can bear close scrutiny if we go literal. Who among Christians wants to explain the Immaculate Conception? A talking snake? The rather peculiar ritual of ‘grokking’ Jesus by eating stale wafers and sipping cheap wine?” She ended her piece by congratulating Romney for promoting religious tolerance.
San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Chronicle columnist responded to the Archdiocese of New York’s coloring book on how to keep safe from sexual predators. In his column he wrote that sexual molestation and deep ongoing perversion have been going on in the Church for the past 2000 years. Morford commented on the coloring books by saying that it implied that children were to stay away from priests at all costs or in a room visible to adults where “police officers can see if said priest begins to give the holy sacrament to certain parts of your anatomy.” Morford claimed that if the Church was really trying to make amends for the sex abuse scandal, they “would have to fire Benedict XVI…abolish the silly celibacy law and the abhorrent ‘no female priests’ law and also the homophobia law and the ‘sex is bad for you’ law and, well, pretty much all the laws restricting spirit and sex and gender and love.”
Julianne Malveaux of National Public Radio said of the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld the partial-birth abortion ban, “You’re taking us back to the Catholic days of you kill the mother to bring the baby into the world.”
The Disney Co. would not run an ad for the animated film “The Ten Commandments” unless the word “God” was removed from the script. The makers of the film, Promenade Pictures, wanted to use Radio Disney for their advertising campaign because the two companies share a target audience. The movie was promoted on other shows without having to scrap “God” from the ad.
On CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” host Lou Dobbs criticized Catholic bishops for opining on U.S. immigration policy. “Just about the time you think this government can’t display more ignorance, more arrogance, you come up against a Catholic Church lecturing on a very secular matter, and that is border enforcement and the U.S. law. These sanctimonious bishops are just out of control.”
Former model Janice Dickinson appeared on CNN Headline News’ “Glenn Beck” to plug her new book and said, “If anyone out there is listening, please just read my book, know my story, that if you are molested or touched in inappropriate areas, please tell a neighbor, tell a friend, tell a priest. Not a priest, they’re all pedophiles, but tell someone.” When host Glenn Beck challenged Dickinson’s statement about priests, she replied, “Oh yes, they are.”
PBS public affairs series “Frontline” aired a 90-minute documentary, “Hand of God,” by filmmaker Joe Cultrera. It explored the circumstances surrounding his brother being abused by a priest 30 years ago.
In one scene, while Cultrera’s brother discussed the financial settlement he received from his diocese, money intermingled with Communion hosts was shown being poured into a collection plate; some of the hosts were broken in jagged pieces. In another scene, hands are shown opening a package of unconsecrated Communion wafers. They are spilled across a table as a voiceover states, “So all this stuff. All of it. In some ways this film has been making itself before I ever picked up a camera. Layer upon layer and I am still trying to fit the pieces. The bread into the blood. The wine into the sauce.”
On Fox’s sitcom “War at Home,” Mike went to a church social to meet “easy Catholic schoolgirls” but when he found none, he decided to leave. On his way out a priest stopped him to say hello. The priest put his hand on Mike’s shoulder and said, “It is always nice to meet a sweet handsome young man like you.” Mike had an uneasy look on his face.
Mike asked a gay teen how to tell if a guy is hitting on him. Hillary, Mike’s sister, asked who Mike thought might have been making advances on him. When Mike told her it was a priest, she said, “A priest, huh. Well, in that case, yes, he was definitely hitting on you.” Mike said that they all couldn’t be that way and was determined to find out. He went to the priest’s office and tried to seduce him but the priest ignored his advances.
The priest went to Mike’s house to tell his parents what happened in his office. His parents replied that he was wrong. Mike’s father told the priest that because he has not had sex in a long time, everything would seem sexual. When Mike walked in and saw the priest talking to his parents, he realized that he was busted; Mike’s parents could tell from their son’s facial expression that the priest was telling the truth.
In the “Hot Topics” segment of the ABC program “The View,” panelist Joy Behar said that people should “follow their heart” in dealing with sexuality and added, “That is why a lot of the priesthood is so screwed up right now.” Her fellow panelist Rosie O’Donnell followed with, “Celibacy is not part of the human condition. It is not normal, right, everyone is a sexual being.”
HBO’s program “America Undercover,” in an episode titled “Celibacy,” examined celibacy as it is practiced in the world’s religions. After a cursory glance at eastern religions, the show focused almost exclusively on Catholicism. The overall theme was voiced at the outset: “The worldwide crisis in the Catholic Church begs many questions: Is sexual denial healthy? Or can it become something dangerous? Is there any link between enforced celibacy and an apparent epidemic of child abuse by the clergy?”
Ex-priest Richard Sipe asserted that homosexuals and sociopaths are drawn to the celibate priesthood. Stories of sexual abuse were described in graphic detail, in contrast to the happy tales of priests who left and married. A pedophile priest named Robert admitted that castration set him free.
After distorting the travails of Galileo, the program posed the question, “How long will it take the Church to come to terms with the nature of human sexuality?”
On CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight,” Dobbs once again showed that he really doesn’t believe Catholic bishops should have the same free speech rights as other Americans. His vitriol was aimed at, among others, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles.
On ABC’s “The View,” panelists Rosie O’Donnell and Joy Behar made mocking comments about the Eucharist. O’Donnell said, “The biggest thing when you are raised a Catholic when I was a kid was that you are not allowed to touch the Host with your hand.” Behar added, “Or chew the Host.” O’Donnell continued, “Or your teeth. So you would put it, would get stuck to the roof of your mouth and you would spend the rest of church going [she mimicked her tongue hitting the top of her mouth].” Later in the show, O’Donnell said of Jesus’ DNA, “You can’t get a Q-tip and swab the inside of his cheek.”
On The Learning Channel reality show “Miami Ink,” a girl went to a tattoo shop to get a Rosary tattoo on her foot. One tattoo artist said, “I don’t want to f**king do Rosary beads because I am a f**king Jew.” When the shop’s other tattoo artist asked what the big deal was, the first one replied, “Because I don’t like f**king Rosary beads. I don’t even know what they mean.”
The Discovery Channel aired “The Lost Tomb of Jesus” by “Titanic” director James Cameron and TV director Simcha Jacobovici. In the documentary, Cameron and Jacobovici claimed to have evidence of a Jerusalem tomb that allegedly held the remains of Jesus and his family.
In a March 26 Television Week interview, Jacobovici said, “The fact that nobody has been able to punch a hole in our reporting is a testament to how well we’ve done our homework.” In the Foreword of the book The Jesus Family Tomb, Cameron claimed “beyond any reasonable doubt” that the remains of Jesus had been found.
Both men’s claims ran counter to the conclusions of the archaeological and scientific communities. Even Ted Koppel, who moderated a panel discussion on the film after it was shown, found the Jesus tomb story unpersuasive.
TV director Simcha Jacobovici and “Titanic” director James Cameron claimed they found the authentic tomb of Jesus and his family. To read the testimony of archaeologists and others debunking this myth, see below.
Experts Debunk “Jesus Tomb” Fable
The following is a selection of criticisms aimed at the claims of “The Lost Tomb of Jesus.”
William Dever, archaeologist and professor emeritus, University of Arizona:
● “It looks more like a publicity stunt than any kind of real discovery…They’re not scholars. They’re not experts. They didn’t discover this material. And I’m afraid they already have gone much too far. I don’t know a single archaeologist in this country or Israel who agrees with their findings.” (CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360°,” February 28)
● “For me, it represents the worst kind of Biblical archaeology, even if it’s anti-Biblical, because it seems to me the conclusions are already drawn in the beginning, and that’s my real problem. I think the argument goes far beyond any reasonable interpretation.” (The Discovery Channel’s “The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look, ” March 4)
Garrett G. Fagan, classics professor at Pennsylvania State University and author of Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public:
● “Modern architects of fantastic finds try to provide an air of legitimacy by invoking scientific jargon. They’re not scientists but they need to dress themselves in the clothes of science to past muster. Television is not in the business of education, even with the so-called educational channels like Discovery. Ultimately, they’re in the business of making money…. By the time the rebuttals come out, the mass media would have moved onto the next sensation, and people will have this vague notion that they have found the tomb of Jesus.” (Cox News Service, March 1)
Ronald Hendel, professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies at the University of California, Berkeley:
● “These are hucksters and snake-oil salesman who play fast and loose with historical details, said Hendel.” (reported in The Forward, March 2)
Ted Koppel, former anchor of ABC’s “Nightline” and moderator of the Discovery Channel’s panel discussion about the film:
● “This is drama. This is not journalism.” (Discovery Channel’s “The Lost Tomb of Jesus: A Critical Look,” March 4)
Jodi Magness, professor of Judaism, University of North Carolina:
● “There are people who somehow would like to have physical validation for biblical figures and events, and this feeds into that. But most of the general public doesn’t have the expertise to validate these claims. This pretty outrageous claim is being thrown out in the public arena, and it’s set up like a situation where it seems like there’s legitimate debate about whether it’s true or not, and it’s virtually impossible to explain in a one-minute sound bite why this can’t be true.” (Cox News Service, March 1)
David Mevorah, curator at the Israel Museum:
● “Suggesting that this tomb was the tomb of the family of Jesus is a far-fetched suggestion, and we need to be very careful with that.” (New York Times, March 3)
Lawrence Stager, professor of archaeology of Israel, Harvard University:
● “One of the problems is there are so many biblically illiterate people around the world that they don’t know what is real judicious assessment and what is what some of us in the field call ‘fantastic archeology.'” (New York Times, February 27)
Joe Zias, former curator for anthropology and archaeology at the Rockefeller Museum, Jerusalem:
● “Simcha [Jacobovici, the co-director] has no credibility whatsoever…He is pimping off the Bible…He got this guy [James] Cameron, who made ‘Titanic’ or something like that—what does this guy know about archeology? I am an archeologist, but if I were to write a book about brain surgery, you would say, ‘Who is this guy?’ People want signs and wonders. Projects like these make a mockery of the archeological profession.” (Newsweek, March 7)
On ABC’s “The View,” panelist Joy Behar admitted to a lack of knowledge of the Bible, and added, “I never read the Bible as a child because I was Catholic.” Rosie O’Donnell added about the Bible, “I didn’t know about it. Again, Catholic, you just read the Missalette.”
An episode of the Fox crime drama “Bones,” titled “The Priest in the Churchyard,” centered on the discovery of a priest’s body; the priest’s death was ruled a homicide. The main character of the show, Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan, sarcastically referred to Holy Water as “magic water.” Later, when interviewing a priest who expressed belief in Catholic doctrines such as the Resurrection, Brennan said, “But you seem like such an intelligent guy.”
An “old-school” priest, Fr. Donlan, confessed to the murder in order to protect the real killer, who turned out to be Lorraine, the parish administrator. Lorraine confessed that she poisoned the priest because she thought he had molested children, but hadn’t meant to kill him.
On “Fox News Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld,” political satirist Will Durst said that the ban on dogs in Iran should be respected as part of the country’s religious and cultural heritage. He likened this to Catholicism by saying Catholicism has altar boys wearing “dresses” and puts them on altars “standing next to celibate priests.”
In the “New Rules” segment of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher showed a picture of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards and said, “New rules—snorting your father isn’t crazy” (a reference to Richards’ hoax about snorting his father’s ashes). Maher then showed a picture of a Catholic priest giving Communion and said, “Eating your father—that’scrazy.”
On ABC’s “The View,” after panelist Joy Behar was asked if she was superstitious, she answered, “When I was a kid I used to be, because the Catholic Church has a lot of that sort of thing in it, but then I sort of grew out of it.”
On the “Weekend Update” segment of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” comedian Seth Meyers said, “For the second consecutive year the number of sex abuse claims against the nation’s Catholic priests had dropped—undisputable proof that fewer kids are going to church.”
On the TV Guide Channel, comedian John Henson joked about Islamic suicide bombers; he questioned why any man would want to blow himself up to get into heaven to be with 72 virgins, when he could have “72 naughty Catholic schoolgirls” instead.
On ABC’s “The View,” the day after the Supreme Court’s decision affirming the partial-birth abortion ban, host Rosie O’Donnell complained about the presence of Catholic justices on the Court. “How many Supreme Court judges are Catholic, Barbara?” After Walters answered, “Five,” O’Donnell continued, “Five. Five are Catholic. Separation of church and state, America.”
On Fox’s “The Simpsons,” Homer gives Lisa a documentary DVD about riots at soccer matches; during one riot, a statue of the Virgin Mary comes to life and beats everyone up.
On ABC’s “The View,” Rosie O’Donnell and her co-hosts engaged in a mocking and silly exchange about limbo. Elisabeth Hasselbeck ridiculed her own child’s baptism and Joy Behar added that baptism is “a nice little sponge bath.” Behar also took a slap at the Church’s teaching on birth control.
St. Louis, MO – CBS affiliate KMOV-TV ran a story on its web site regarding the decision by St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke to resign as chairman of the board of governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. The archbishop resigned to protest an appearance by pop singer Sheryl Crow, an ardent pro-abortion activist, at a foundation fundraiser. The KMOV story listed other arguably offensive celebrities who had appeared at past fundraisers for the foundation with no objection from Burke. The Catholic League chided KMOV for not minding its own business regarding an internal matter of the Archdiocese.
At the same time the story appeared, KMOV boasted four surveys on its website dealing with the Catholic Church. No other religion was open for question.
A church scene on the Fox cartoon show “Family Guy” featured references to the Eucharist as “cookies” and “punch” and to Catholics as “wafer-munchers.” A baby picked up a bunch of Communion hosts and ate them, then vomited on the church floor, prompting the priest to threaten the child with violence. When the baby cried, church members were shown thinking the baby needed an exorcism.
The NBC show “Scrubs” demeaned the Eucharist when one of the main female characters said that “Father O’Neill is going to crap out a Communion wafer when he hears” that she would be getting married.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” co-host Robin Roberts wondered if Pope Benedict XVI was “interfering in American politics from half a world away” regarding possible sanctions against pro-abortion Catholic politicians. Correspondent Dan Harris asked, “So even though he doesn’t vote here, he doesn’t live here, wasn’t elected here, he can impact the race here?”
On ABC’s “The View,” during a discussion on male nannies and how they could be pedophiles, Rosie O’Donnell asked Barbara Walters if she would have hired a male nanny for her daughter when she was growing up. When Walters hesitated, Joy Behar interjected with the comment, “A priest perhaps?” O’Donnell grimaced and the audience roared with laughter.
On HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the host attacked the recently deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell and then devolved into an assault on Catholicism:
“And it’s easy to start a religion! Watch, I’ll do it for you: I had a vision last night! A vision! The Blessed Virgin Mary came to me—I don’t know how she got past the guards—and she told me it’s high time to take the high ground from the Seventh Day Adventists and give it to the 24-hour party people. And what happens in the confessional stays in the confessional. Gay men, don’t say you’re life partners, say you’re a nunnery of two. ‘We weren’t having sex, officer, I was performing a very private Mass, here in my car. I was letting my rod and staff comfort him. Take this and eat of it, [our emphasis] for this is my roommate Barry. And for all those who believe there is a special place for you in Kevin.”
Bill Donohue wrote to all 14 members of the board of directors of Time Warner (HBO’s parent company) asking if Maher’s attack on Jesus merited the same punishment afforded Don Imus for his racist remark. On July 5, Donohue received a reply from Jeff Cusson, HBO’s vice president for corporate affairs, who defended Maher on creative-freedom grounds.
On CBS’ “Late Show,” host David Letterman said during his opening monologue, “You can tell it’s Fleet Week [in New York City]. The priests are out front whistling at sailors over at St. Patrick’s.” The episode was re-aired on July 4.
On ABC’s “The View,” all four co-hosts, including guest host Whoopi Goldberg, intruded into an internal matter of the Church by questioning a Wisconsin priest’s right to run his parish as he sees fit. The priest had dismissed his organist/choir director because the products she sold for a sex-toys company were incompatible with Catholic teaching. Joy Behar said, “She is selling [the sex toys] because the Catholic Church wants you to procreate,” Joy Behar said. “How do they think we have been doing it all these years? With sex toys, that’s how.”
Goldberg and Barbara Walters falsely claimed that the dismissed choir director no longer had access to spiritual guidance, when in fact there was no report that she had been denied spiritual advice or the sacraments. Elisabeth Hasselbeck questioned the merit of “probing into your private life in terms of how well you can do your job or keep your job.” There was no such “probing;” the priest discovered the nature of the woman’s sales job when she tried to sell her sex products at a church function.
The league ran the above ad in the op-ed pages of the New York Timeson June 12.
Actor/comedian Robin Williams appeared as a guest on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” to plug his new movie, “License to Wed.” In the film, Williams plays a Protestant minister who puts an engaged couple through a grueling marriage preparation course. On Leno’s show, Williams pegged all Catholic priests as child molesters. Shuffling his hands as if hiding something under a cup, Williams said, “Here we go. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Here you go right now. Move ’em around, move ’em around. Oh, you found the pedophile.”
Williams then put his hand over his groin, saying, “You have to realize that if you are a Catholic priest, you have retired this. That’s it—no more sex.” Then he took a shot at confession: “But they are going to put you in a small dark box and people are going to tell you the nastiest sexual stuff they have done.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” host Jay Leno joked the Vatican’s “Ten Commandments of Driving” during his opening monologue. He suggested that the 11th commandment should be, “Thou shall not use your car to transfer pedophile priests to another parish.”
Comedy Central’s “Daily Show” dealt with the Vatican’s “Ten Commandments of Driving.” The show’s “senior Vatican correspondent,” John Oliver, reported on a “sinalyzer,” a machine that looked like a statue of a bishop with breathalyzer-style tube extending from the groin area. Oliver “reported” that the machine was created in the Vatican’s labs and could reveal whether the person blowing into it was “horny.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” host Jay Leno said during the opening monologue, “In Austin, Texas, a 61-year-old priest has been arrested after he left rehab. This priest leaves rehab, gets drunk and drives his car into a restaurant. So much for the Vatican’s Ten Commandments of safe driving. Imagine that, a priest driving drunk into a restaurant. Thank God it was not a Chuck E. Cheese. Oh my God.” Chuck E. Cheese is a chain of children’s themed restaurants.
On the Bravo Network reality show “Kathy Griffin: My Life in the D-List,” Griffin discussed her father’s illness with her mother, who said she was trying to get a priest to pray for him at Mass. Griffin replied, “Well, the priests were probably really busy molesting kids anyway. They will get to it in their own time.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” host Jay Leno ridiculed Pope Benedict XVI for restating Catholic doctrine on salvation. “Pope Benedict announced this week that the Catholic Church provides the only true path to salvation and that other Christian groups are either defective or not true churches,” Leno said. “Then His Holiness went on to condemn bigotry and intolerance.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno made several jokes about the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s $660 million sex-abuse legal settlement. He began by saying that the strong stock market surge was partially due to “a sudden influx of cash from former Los Angeles altar boys.” When the crowd groaned at the joke, Leno replied, “A very judgmental crowd!”
Continuing about the settlement, Leno said, “And listen to this—a big chunk of that is paid for by insurance. They actually have sexual abuse insurance. What company sold them that policy? Was that the good hands people, you think? In fact, I understand they have a three altar boy deductible. You can get that.”
Leno then said that “there are signs of change” in the Church: “A lot of Catholic churches in L.A. now have a sign—’you touch it, you bought it.'”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno said that the “Harry Potter book is so popular, a lot of L.A. priests are now using it as bait [for kids].” When the crowd groaned loudly, Leno responded by telling them to “Shut up.”
After several jokes about other topics, Leno joked about a Chicago priest who pleaded guilty to stealing parish funds and using the money on a male stripper at a gay nightclub: “You know what that means—he was cheating on his altar boy.” Leno’s bandleader, Kevin Eubanks, replied, “Those are some horny guys.”
On the FX drama “Rescue Me,” Denis Leary’s character had an exchange with a new firefighter about the Bible. He said the Bible is to Catholics what “The Godfather” is to the Mafia.
Continuing, Leary blasted the Catholic Church for being corrupt, maintaining that the 12 years he spent in the Church was effectively like being in prison. The biggest gangster on the face of the planet, he contended, is the pope.
Later in the episode, another firefighter returns to his apartment, one he shares with his girlfriend, a former nun. He finds her having sex—while wearing a habit—with his cousin.
On the BET show “Socially Offensive Behavior (S.O.B),” two actors dressed as priests entered a restaurant where they ordered drinks, looked at pornographic magazines, and made advances toward two women who didn’t know they were on camera. One of the women seemed interested in the men, but the other was not.
Host D.L. Hughley, who opened the segment by saying “Priests have had a rough year, but not as rough as some little boys,” wrapped up by saying, “So obviously the girl with the glasses saw no problem rocking it with the father, especially when a trip to Denny’s was put on the table. But the one with the braids was not with it. She was one Hail Mary away from kicking his ass and not about to sell out. Amen, sister.”
On NBC’s “Tonight Show,” Jay Leno said, “And according to the Times of London, Paul McCartney has offered Heather Mills $40 million in a divorce settlement. She says no. She wants $100 million. Imagine that—$100 million just to have someone you had sex with go away. Or as the L.A. Archdiocese calls that, getting off cheap.”
The “Comedians A-Z” section of Comedy Central’s web site said the following of one of the channel’s regular performers: “In this day of watered down comedy, Nick DiPaolo’s brutally honest performances stick out like a Catholic priest at the Little League World Series.”
In a report on the opening of Rome’s new “Gay Street,” CNN’s Rome bureau chief, Alessio Vinci, said “In a country where practically everyone is Catholic, the words of the pope still carry some weight. And although the Vatican did not comment on the opening of Gay Street, the pope’s position is well-known: on numerous occasions, he reaffirmed that gays in the Catholic Church are not welcome.” The Catholic League pointed out that homosexual people are welcome in the Church but homosexual acts are not.
The first episode of “Californication,” the Showtime program, featured a dream in which a nun approaches the main character, a writer named Hank, in church. Hank uttered some profanities as he told the nun that he was experiencing “writer’s block.” He then asked the nun what penance he would need to do for cursing; the nun replied that he would normally need to say a few “Our Fathers” but that she would perform oral sex on him instead. Hank then woke up with a woman next to him in bed and the Rolling Stones song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” playing in the background.
We led the charge against comedian Kathy Griffin after she used an incredibly obscene slur against Jesus at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on September 8.
After winning an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program for her Bravo show, “My Life on the D-List,” Griffin complained about how some performers thank Jesus for their success. She went on to say that Jesus had nothing to do with her Emmy win, and finished off by saying, “Suck it, Jesus, this award is my God now!” According to the Hollywood Reporter, Griffin’s blasphemous comment “drew laughs” from the audience.
On September 10, the Catholic League called on Academy of Television Arts & Sciences chairman Dick Askin to denounce Griffin’s remark. The next day, the Academy branded Griffin’s comments “offensive” and announced that it would censor them from the taped airing of the awards ceremony September 15 on the E! channel.
We also called on Griffin to apologize; she refused to do so and responded to the controversy surrounding her saying, “Am I the only Catholic left with a sense of humor?” In fact, Griffin is an ex-Catholic who hates the Church with a passion: in a June 2007 interview with OutSmart, Houston’s gay magazine, she described herself as a “complete militant atheist” and said that the Catholic Church is “stupid.”
The Catholic League never called for Griffin’s remark to be censored; we nonetheless received numerous phone calls from people accusing us of exactly that. Other calls that we received following our protest included the following:
● “I have no idea how somebody who believes in Noah’s ark could possibly have anything to say about somebody’s personal opinion.”
● “I think you should focus more of your time on keeping your priests from molesting young children.”
● “I think that Kathy Griffin’s comments were right on; she’s correct and the Catholic Church has to clean up its own act first before they start pointing fingers at other people.”
● “It’s very important that you start investigating the pope because it’s obviously clear to many people that we have been speaking to that he is gay. And I think it’s very important that you keep young children away from the pope.”
● “Bill Donohue, go f*** yourself, and f*** Catholicism, and f*** every priest that has ever touched any little boy, and get your fat f***ing face off of television!”
Fox’s “MADtv” began its 13th season with a series of some of the show’s past comedy skits. Included in the episode was one of several past skits lampooning the Catholic priesthood’s sex abuse scandals. While the show has repeatedly taken shots at priests, a look at the show’s history revealed little in the way of derogatory treatment of blacks, gays, or other groups.
CBS’ “Cold Case” showed sexually active Christian teens enrolled in an abstinence program. One girl in the abstinence program was stoned to death for breaking her chastity vow. In another scene, a minister told a girl to turn her back to him; he then preached the virtues of abstinence while he masturbated.
On ABC’s “The View,” Whoopi Goldberg began by saying that because of former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s position on abortion, St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke “cannot give him Communion.” Elisabeth Hasselbeck, an ex-Catholic, intruded into the Church’s internal affairs by saying, “I always have an issue with a priest denying Communion,” and claimed to have a divorced relative who could not receive Communion until receiving an annulment. In fact, divorced Catholics who do not remarry are never denied Communion.
Hasselback and Joy Behar opined how annulments can be bought, and thus misrepresented the process by which Catholics can obtain them. Behar returned to the subject of Giuliani by saying that he “hasn’t necessarily had an abortion himself.” All four panelists then chimed in about the priesthood’s sex-abuse scandal.
ABC’s “Boston Legal” featured a 15 year-old girl who is enrolled in an abstinence-only sex education program, contracts HIV and then sues her school, blaming it for her condition. At the trial, the school’s principal, the girl’s attorneys and the judge all tout the virtues of condoms, fingering Christian activists for her irresponsibility.
The episode also featured a nun translating the testimony of a Mexican immigrant charged with cockfighting. Referring to a rooster as a “champion cock,” she commented how “it would bring me such joy to hold him.” Then, to the astonishment of the court, the nun said, “To hold that beautiful cock in my own two hands.”
On ABC’s “Boston Legal,” the same nun from the October 9 episode (see above) served as a translator for a Mexican man who wanted to return to Mexico with his young son so that the boy could participate in bullfighting. Translating the man’s words, the nun said, “Bullfighting is a tradition in my country. I would have done it if I had the gift. To climb in, see that big bull stallion. To have that big bull charge me, just me and that stallion bull. One time, me and a big horny bull. Oh, oh … !” She became increasingly excited as she spoke.
David E. Kelley, creator of “Boston Legal,” has a long-standing animus against Catholicism.
Kathy Griffin attacked the Church and the Catholic League in her special, “Kathy Griffin: Straight to Hell,” which aired on the Bravo network. She warmed up her act by ranting about the criticism she received for her “Suck it Jesus” comment at the Emmy’s. Griffin lashed out, “Don’t pull your Catholic kid f**ker bulls**t with me, mother f**kers.” She then continued to paint all priests as molesters by saying, “The Catholics, they should f**king talk. They got bigger fish to fry than my little jokes. I remember Father Porter.”