Miramax, the movie production house owned by Disney, scheduled the film “40 Days and 40 Nights” for release. Actor Josh Hartnett plays a Catholic who pledges to give up sex for Lent but has his will tested by his ex-girlfriend. Because the movie was scheduled to open during Lent (March 1), William Donohue asked Disney chairman Michael Eisner and Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein to reschedule the opening until after Easter.
Donohue made his request on February 5, and the next day Miramax rebuffed him. With the annual Disney shareholders’ meeting scheduled for February 19 at the Hartford Civic Center, the league placed an ad on the op-ed page of the Hartford Courant on the same day, asking shareholders to press Disney to dump Miramax once and for all.
Miramax purchased the rights to “The Magdalene Sisters,” an Irish movie written and directed by Peter Mullan. The film is based on the allegedly cruel behavior of Irish nuns who maintained homes for wayward girls in the 19th and 20th centuries. The film won the Golden Lion award at the Italian Venice Film Festival. Mullan has been quoted as saying: “There is not much difference between the Catholic Church and the Taliban”; “The film encapsulates everything that is bad about the Catholic Church”; “The worst thing about the Catholic Church is that it imprisons your soul, your mind and your d—.” On September 24, William Donohue sent a letter to the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company—owners of Miramax—asking them to sever their ties with Miramax.
The Italian movie “The Religion Hour” (“My Mother’s Smile”) was shown at film festivals in the United States. It revolves around an atheist who is informed that his mother is about to be canonized. The movie was dubbed by Entertainment Weekly an “absurdist diatribe against hypocrisy in religion.” Variety came right out and branded it “anti-Catholic.”
Samuel Goldwyn Films released the Mexican film, “The Crime of Father Amaro.” The Mexican Bishops’ Conference condemned the film. It is a fictional account of a priest who impregnates a 16-year-old, refuses to marry her and then gets her to have an abortion. It includes a) a bishop who abuses his powers to squelch a scandalous news story b) a hypocritical pastor who launders money and has an affair with his housekeeper c) a liberation-theology priest who is at once corrupt, supportive of guerillas and soft on abortion d) and Father Amaro. It also features an old woman who feeds the Holy Eucharist to her cat.
Chicago, IL – Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper wrote about how some Christian leaders objected to the witchcraft aspects of the Harry Potter stories. He concluded by writing, “The next thing you know, his [the objecting minister] followers will be believing crazy stories about a 600-year old dude who stocks his 450-foot ark with every animal known to man, or a man who performs parlor tricks like turning water into wine and feeding a multitude with a single basket of bread and fish before he’s crucified, only to rise from the dead. Can you imagine?”
Palm Beach, FL – A cartoon by Don Wright appeared in the Palm Beach Post, leading to a flurry of complaints by local Catholics. The cartoon showed a sitting woman pondering what is a cruel caricature of the Catholic Church’s teachings on sexuality. She is shown saying: “For women, sexual conduct is always closely monitored. The Catholic Church tells me what I can or cannot do with my body. Truly unforgiving. Absolutely no compromises. Unless, of course, you’re a pedophile.” The Catholic League called Randy Schultz, editorial page editor of the Florida daily, asking for an apology. “There will be no apology because there is nothing to apologize for,” said Schultz. He added that the cartoon was simply a “critique” of the Church’s “policies.” When asked whether he knew of any Don Wright cartoons that looked critically at Judaism or Islam, Schultz said, “I find your question repulsive.”
New York, NY – The New York Times featured on its website a cartoon by Glenn McCoy that mocked Catholic priests for being sinners. The Universal Press Syndicate cartoon shows a woman in the confessional saying to the priest, “You Go First”; this is an obvious reference to news reports on priest pedophilia. The Times previously posted a cartoon by DeOre of Universal Press Syndicate that also mocked sinful priests in the confessional. The Times also published in its newspaper a particularly vicious cartoon by Don Wright of Tribune Media Service that depicted the Catholic Church as being against abortion but accepting of pedophilia.
Ironically, the Times pulled a cartoon by Ted Rall that mocks widows of the 9-11 terror attack for being greedy. The cartoon was fed to the website of the New York Times by Universal Press Syndicate and was taken down when widows complained. Christine Mohan, the newspaper’s spokeswoman, said the “subject matter was inappropriate.”
Hartford, CT – The Hartford Courant ran a story about a New Haven man who accused a priest of sexually assaulting him. The Courant ran the story in its Sunday magazine section, called Northeast. What was objectionable were the illustrations accompanying the article. The cover featured a drawing of a statue of a saint holding a cross in his arms with his hands covering his face. Another picture inside the magazine showed a frightened-looking altar boy in the foreground with a priest standing behind him with a lewd look on his face.
Boston, MA – Boston Herald columnist Wayne Woodlief wrote about the attempts of Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly to involve his office in the selection and training of Catholic priests. Woodlief wrote, “Reilly is on the right track in using the might of his office to gain an unprecedented foothold for the state in the creation of a comprehensive plan to provide more shields from sexual abuse.”
New York, NY – Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote about the Catholic Church in light of the ongoing sex abuse scandal. She compared the Catholic Church to the Al Qaeda terrorist group.
Syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith wrote that Maureen Dowd deserved a Pulitzer Prize for remarks comparing the Catholic Church to Al Queda. Smith added that Dowd’s “stunning column may have done more for the cause of women than the entire feminist attitude in the world.”
In the Nation, Margaret Spillane accused the Boston Catholic hierarchy of “treating women as contaminants and children as invisible,” maintaining that the “real goal” of Boston Archbishop Bernard Cardinal Law is to “make a permanent move to Rome as the first American Pope.”
New York, NY – New York City’s newest daily newspaper, The Sun, made its debut featuring a picture of Our Lady of La Leche—the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus. The caption beside the Madonna and Child read, “The Land of Milk and Mommy. A visit to the Upper Breast Side, NYC’s breastfeeding boutique, page 16.” The story was about Manhattan’s first breastfeeding boutique. The Catholic League pointed out that while the image is a legitimate piece of Catholic art, it should not be used to hawk a newspaper.
Long Island, NY – Newsday columnist Paul Vitello questioned the propriety of allowing Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct against priests. Dillon is a practicing Catholic. For Vitello, this was sufficient grounds to disqualify Dillon from any further investigation into these matters. Dillon had concluded that all allegations against priests in the Diocese of Rockville Centre occurred beyond the state’s five-year statute of limitations, making moot any further inquiry.
Providence, RI – Writing in the Providence Journal, Episcopal priest Rev. Lauren R. Stanley wrote about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. She wrote, “As a priest, I’ve heard tirades about abusive priests in general, and about Roman bishops who seem more abusive than the pedophiles themselves, because those in charge helped facilitate the abuse for decades.” She offered no evidence for these charges.
Cleveland, OH – An editorial in the Cleveland Plain Dealer titled “Toward healing” mentioned Cuyahoga County prosecutor Bill Mason’s investigation of the local diocese. Then the editorial said, “Mason is a practicing Catholic, which may trouble some people who fear a cover-up.”
Lansdale, PA – The Reporter newspaper printed a letter from a Stephanie Schwenk of Souderton, PA that read in part, “Maybe it’s time to dismantle the giant, money-making conglomerate, the Catholic Church….If I’m not mistaken, idol worship, money worship, child molesting and self-righteous pride are all major sins….There is no other church as filled worldwide with various sex offenders. And no other church that worships men, cardinals, bishops, the pope, sometimes more profoundly than they worship God.”
Cherry Hill, NJ – The Courier-Post, a South New Jersey newspaper, ran a student essay contest. Its May 13 edition described the contest as this: “The alleged abuse of minors by priests in the Catholic Church is the subject of May’s Student Voices essay and editorial cartoon contest.” Following a Catholic League news release, a newspaper official called the league, claiming the description was a mistake by an editor and that it would be corrected in future editions.
Chicago, IL – The alternative weekly the Chicago Reader ran a comic strip “La Petite Camera” by Garret Gaston. The June 21 edition was called “Papal Makeover.” It was in the form of the artist advising the pope to make changes so that the Church can have a better image. Included were advice to apologize “for giving the world a 2,000-year-old guilt trip”; “try a new recipe for communion”; have a “Buff Jesus”; give “free contraceptive devices for perfect attendance in church”; “return all ill-gotten gold to victims of church’s international genocide program”; and “include helpful sex tips in the confessional booth.”
Hartford, CT – Laurence D. Cohen wrote a column in the Hartford Courant, “With God (and The Supreme Court) On Their Side.” The column dealt with the Supreme Court decision regarding the rights of Jehovah’s Witnesses to solicit door-to-door. He commented that the practice was the source of a high court decision in 1940 when Jehovah’s Witnesses “set up shop on a New Haven street corner to communicate naughty anti-Catholic preaching.” A letter to the editor from the Catholic League asked “Would Cohen have used such an adjective [“naughty”] to describe anti-Semitism?”
New York, NY – Jamie Bernard, movie critic for the New York Daily News, reviewed Peter Mullan’s film “The Magdalene Sisters.” The movie deals with the harsh conditions at a home for destitute women in Ireland. She wrote: “There’s more bad news for the Catholic Church with ‘The Magdalene Sisters,’ a fine and furious portrait of a real-life miscarriage of justice.” She proceeded to say that 30,000 Irish women were “enslaved, beaten and humiliated in the name of cleansing their soul.” Then she compared their conditions to that of a “concentration camp.”
Long Island, NY – Newsday columnist Sheryl McCarthy wrote a column with some ideas about Halloween costumes. Her list of characters included Martha Stewart, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Kenneth Lay, Lizzie Grubman, Michael Bloomberg and Johnnie Cochran. There was one entry that was not a character but a group. She wrote, “A Catholic priest’s costume would also be a crowd pleaser this year, replete with clerical collar and a lascivious grin.”
In every other instance, she included individuals such as Osama bin Laden, and not groups, such as Muslims. She concluded: “Some characters would be in bad taste for Halloween costumes. There should be no suicide bombers with dynamite strapped to their waists, and no Beltway snipers carrying rifles and cell phones.”
Stroudsburg, PA – The Pocono Record published an editorial blaming the Catholic Church for AIDS. The Church’s position on abstinence was called “the final solution” and labeled “ridiculous, impractical and unkind.” It concluded that sex is “so natural that even those sworn to forego it—some Catholic priests, for one example—have been known to violate their holiest vows to engage in it.”
San Antonio, TX – Jan Jarboe Russell wrote a column in the San Antonio Express-Newsasking readers to imagine Oprah Winfrey as pope. Readers were to compare the openness and compassion with which Oprah would address the abuse scandal as opposed to the “recalcitrant old men who run the Catholic Church.” Deploring continuously the “secrecy” with which the joint Vatican-U.S. committee revised the bishops’ Dallas charter, she incorrectly identified the changes and concluded that “Not a single revision will do anything to protect innocent children….Instead all of the changes have to do with protecting the institutional power of the church.”
New Haven, CT – The New Haven Register published a column by John D. Anderson about a petition by Connecticut Catholics in opposition to gay marriage. He wrote that he called a local Catholic parish, and after the pastor politely wished him well he responded, “Keep on burning those witches.” He labeled Bridgeport Bishop William Lori’s cover letter to the petition “scare tactics.” He calls the gays affected by the petition “the latest victims of Catholic clerical abuse.” He misrepresents the Church’s teachings on sexuality as “The best sex is no sex at all.” He wrote that he is appalled at “the ease with which people line up to do what ‘father’ tells them. No thinking required. In fact no thinking allowed.” He concluded, “I don’t care what the bishops do or say. I don’t care what their church believes.”
Milwaukee, WI – The alternative weekly Shepherd-Express published a cartoon by Owen Dunne called “You Damn Kid.” This segment consisted of children musing on what the Eucharist should taste like. They concluded, “If Ernie Keebler had died for our sins instead of Jesus, communions would taste really good.” The last panel depicts a crucified Keebler elf.
Tampa, FL – Tampa Tribune columnist Daniel Ruth wrote an article questioning the relationship between Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Catholicism and his suitability for public office. He wrote, “If Jeb Bush appears for his second inaugural wearing a miter, vestments and carrying a staff, one might conclude he has taken this whole ‘Christian conservative political agenda’ thing just a pinch too far.” Ruth implored readers to remember that Bush “was re-elected governor of Florida, not vicar general”; Bush, he says, should recall he “won an election, not a canonization.” Ruth also warned that Bush might “turn the state into a regulatory theocracy.” Finally, Ruth mocked Bush for converting to Catholicism saying, “he missed out on all the fun of having the living daylights beaten out of him as a child by the Sisters of Holy Inquisition.”
Newark, OH – On November 15 The Advocate ran a cartoon by Chris Britt depicting Pope John Paul II lowering a child into the hands of a pedophile priest with the caption, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” After numerous letters of protest, including one from the Catholic League, managing editor Michael Shearer wrote a column apologizing to readers for publishing the cartoon.
Plattsburgh, NY – The Press-Republican published a letter by Patrick Bradley that said “I’m convinced the Catholic Church is one of the most immoral, corrupt world organizations ever….Some nine million women and maybe 12 million men, conservative estimates, were tortured, vivisected and burned alive from 1250 to 1550 AD as gays or political, philosophical, or religious deviants…religious wars from the Crusades to Post-Renaissance were genocides…Don’t excuse such savagery on past cultural ignorance…Wake up Catholics! Rid yourselves of this Byzantine enslaving cult.”
Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Times published a commentary by Crispin Sartwell that began, “Priestly abuses are entailed by the very idea of the Roman Catholic Church and will continue as long as it does.” He sympathized with Martin Luther’s desire to abrogate the authority of the Catholic priesthood and clear up “much of the mumbo-jumbo surrounding the sacraments.” He wrote, “The recent abuses of power in the Catholic Church are less shocking than they are typical. Compared with the extent of the corruption and concupiscence by the church in history, the current transgressions are mild.” He stated the “incredible wealth” of the Church was derived from the sale of indulgences, and the sexual intrigues of the papacy “have filled volumes.” He stated that the Church has done much good in the world but then added, “If you authorize a group of people to supervise your conscience and your relationship to God, you are likely to find that you have created a brotherhood of monsters.”
New York, NY – The cover of the December 25-31 edition of the Village Voice was of Marshall Mathers (Eminem) dressed as the Blessed Mother holding a child in the guise of the Infant Jesus. The caption was “Eminem & Child.”
Long Island, NY – Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin wrote his 32nd article on the Catholic Church of the year. All 32 were filled with anti-Catholic statements. He continually attacked the pope, cardinals, bishops and priests, and relentlessly wrote outright falsehoods about Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre.
The Philadelphia Trumpet featured several articles that attacked the Catholic Church as being a part of conspiracies to take over the world. Among the items appearing in the January edition, “It will not be long before Europe is reunited as the Holy Roman Empire. It will be led assertively by Germany. These events show anyone willing to take notice that something dreadful is stirring in Germany and in the Vatican. Nazi atrocities and the Vatican’s involvement in protecting and hiding Nazi leaders during and after World War II are overwhelmingly documented.”
The New Republic featured an article, “What Would Jesus Have Done?”, an excerpt from a book that was published later in the year. The book, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair, is the work of historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Going beyond criticism of Pope Pius XII or the Church’s actions during World War II or even criticism of the history of the relations between Catholics and Jews, the article and the book are deeply anti-Catholic. The author calls for the Catholic Church to reject Scripture, change its liturgy, deny that Christ is the way to salvation, reject papal infallibility, view all religions as equal and make reparations for its anti-Semitic history. The editor of the New Republic, Martin Peretz, was quoted in the January 13 Sunday Times of London as saying Pope Pius XII was “an evil man.”
Although other authors have been critical of Pius XII and the Church during World War II, none but Goldhagen have merited the title anti-Catholic. Going further than criticism, Goldhagen attacks the essence of the Catholic Church and its beliefs.
Billboard, the music newsweekly, carried a piece by editor-in-chief Timothy White that congratulated Irish singer Sinead O’Connor for ripping up a picture of the pope on “Saturday Night Live” in 1992; O’Connor declared, “Fight the real enemy.”
In reference to the current scandal in the Catholic Church, White cheered O’Connor by stating, “It would appear with each passing day that Sinead O’Connor has less and less to apologize for.” The rest of the article condemned the Catholic Church for being intolerant, misogynist and fascistic. It even managed to cite Galileo.
Billboard continued with its condemnatory remarks about the Catholic Church, this time allowing those in the entertainment industry to attack the Church in its letters section. Brian Philips, senior vice president and general manager of Country Music Television, praised White for his “sensitive treatment of the issue.” Bob Leon, projects director of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, recalled his years in Catholic schools as being ones of “dread, anxiety and nausea”; he also said he remembered being whacked with a ruler. Sinead O’Connor wrote to convey her thanks to White as well.
Jane magazine featured an article “How to get laid like a priest,” by Jeffrey Johnson. The satirical article was a guide for having casual sex like a pedophile priest. Johnson wrote, “The Bible is full of stuff about seas parting, water turning into wine and women getting pregnant without penetration—topics that if mentioned on daytime TV, would get you taunted by the audience.” The crucifix is described as an image of a “nude bearded dude nailed to a couple of pieces of driftwood.” The article carried a disclaimer saying it targeted pedophile priests only, not the Catholic Church in general. The accompanying photographs showed a storefront and display counter of a sex shop with Catholic imagery, including a priest blow-up doll.
Playboy featured an article by ex-Jesuit priest Charles J. O’Byrne. He wrote of his dislike of the Church’s teachings about celibacy, contraception, fornication and homosexuality. He conjectured that Jesus, Joseph and Mary engaged in sex. He blamed St. Augustine, Irish Catholicism and the natural law for contributing to sexual repression. The illustration accompanying the article showed a man kneeling under the cassock of a priest with his face at the priest’s genitals.
Details published an article by Bill Maher calling religious faith “stupidity.” He wrote, “Religion is a magic word that allows the priesthood to do anything they want to people…. The Catholics got away with f—ing kids!” This text was the highlighted text of the article.
The Berean Call included the article “Catholicism and Islam: Ties that Bind” by T.A. McMahon. He writes that Islam and Catholicism are similar, noting their “baby-oriented process for increasing their ranks.” He writes Catholic’s “veneration and even worship of Mary” is paralleled by the Islamic “deference” for Mary. Both faiths have “rote and repetitive prayers” which is a “stock item in ancient and modern paganism.” He concludes, “What truly binds Catholicism and Islam together: They both have a Jesus who cannot save their souls.”
Entertainment Weekly had a section called “Sound Bites: The Year’s Most Quotable Quotes.” Included was “‘You swallowed our Lord and Savior’—Larry David’s SISTER-IN-LAW…after he ate the Baby Jesus cookie she’d baked for a Nativity scene on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm.'”
Los Angeles, CA – The “John and Ken Show,” a KFI radio program in Los Angeles, aired several bigoted remarks about Catholic priests. An e-mail to KFI on February 19 asking for verification resulted in the station admitting that the following remarks (among others) were made on the February 12 show: “Ten percent of priests are pedophiles and the other 90 percent are equally as guilty because they don’t do anything about it”; “I have always heard that men have a calling to the priesthood. Now we know that the calling is in his pants.”
For several days after our verification check, the “John and Ken Show” hosts then lied about the Catholic League on the air. They said the league defends pedophile priests and that the league threatened a boycott of the show’s sponsors.
San Francisco, CA – Ray Taliaferro, late night host on KGO 810 AM, frequently conducts his show in the persona of “Reverend Ray,” calls his audience his “congregation” and refers to his studio as his “chapel.” On this particular night he talked about the Catholic Church and said, among other things, “…there is no ritual more gross and crude than Communion….Any human being who can stand up and say, ‘I’ve got some crackers up here, and now it’s time for Communion.’ So I’m gonna do this little prayer, and this little dance, and this little incense…then whoa!, the cracker becomes the Flesh of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior.”
Atlantic City, NJ – The hosts of the “Scott and Casey Show” on WKXW (New Jersey 101.5) were discussing the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Among the things they said was that according to the pope, God thinks it’s OK for priests to rape 15-year-old boys. Following a complaint, the station manager said there was no worry that any such statements would be aired on the station again and that he was looking to replace the show.
Bangor, ME – WKIT 100.3 FM disc jockey Scotty Moore, in discussing the Catholic Church, said he sued to be an altar boy and that the Body of Christ has no taste. He suggested that the Church make a sour cream-and-onion or garlic flavored Body of Christ. In response to a complaint, Moore said his comments were simply comedy.
Detroit, MI – In discussing professional tennis player Martina Hingis, Gregg Henson of the “Jamie and Gregg Show” on WDFN Sports Radio 1130 said she looked like a boy. To that he added, “Catholic priests love her.”
Louisville, KY – On WHAS radio, show host John Ziegler engaged in a diatribe against Catholicism. He lambasted celibacy, saying how “freaky somebody has to be to become a priest when celibacy is required.” He also blasted Church teaching and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. He said Mass is arguably “the biggest news story that is being ignored every single Sunday—that someone is taking food and turning it into God and then eating it—or the Catholic Church is lying about that.” And, “That a group of people—priests—think they have the ability to say a marriage never existed, that that group of people would have a scandal like they’re currently embroiled in right now. That to me is not mysterious at all.” The Catholic League filed a complaint with the general manager of the station. He replied saying that he received numerous complaints about Ziegler, who was new at the station, and assured us that after speaking to him, neither the Catholic Church nor the recent scandals had been mentioned on his show.
New York, NY – As part of a contest hosted by “The Opie and Anthony Show,” broadcast by WNEW, a man and woman engaged in sexual intercourse in the Cathedral of St. Patrick at 4 PM on the Feast of the Assumption. While engaged in the act, comedian Paul Mercurio relayed via cell phone a graphic description to the hosts of the show, Greg (Opie) Hughes and Anthony Cumia, who broadcasted it live. The next morning the Catholic League lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demanding that WNEW have its license revoked. The league also lodged a complaint with Viacom, which owns Infinity Broadcasting; WNEW is an Infinity Broadcasting station. On August 22 the show was cancelled and the hosts were fired. The league also received an apology from Viacom and from Boston Beer, which sponsored the contest.
On “Weekend Gamenight” on ESPN radio, hosts Doug Brown and Charlie Pierce did a bit in the style of Johnny Carson’s “Carnac the Magnificent.” Pierce said, “The answer is Priest Holmes.” The question was, “Where don’t parents want their adolescent boys going on a Saturday night?”
John MacArthur, Jr.’s audiocassette, “The Scandal of the Catholic Priesthood,” was advertised on WORD FM radio. Included on this tape are the statements: “There is the scandal of an aberrant, unbiblical, bizarre pagan theology of the priesthood and the mass; there’s the scandal of the power and the grasping materialism of a Satanic religious system that wants to engulf the earth.”
An episode of the CBS show “Family Law” featured a priest who found out he had fathered a child earlier in his life, before becoming a priest. In the arguments among the lawyers about whether the priest should raise the child, the character of Joe Celano (played by Tony Danza) says, “Maybe the kid would be better off without all that superstitious crap screwing her up.”
The season premiere of the ABC show “The Job” depicted a detective dressed as a priest and a stripper dressed as a nun; it was not disclosed until the end that the “hot nun” was actually a stripper. The “nun” was shown stripping in front of one of the male detectives while three other detectives (two male, one female) watched her from behind a two-way mirror. There was another scene where the “nun” put her foot on the crotch of one of the male detectives while being interrogated. This was followed by a scene where she put her foot on the crotch of a female detective. The detective “priest” was shown abusing the confessional by seeking to squeeze information from a penitent known to have stolen money from the collection basket. An actor cast as a real monsignor was then depicted as being more concerned about his own reputation than he was about the detective who misrepresented himself as a priest in the confessional.
ABC’s “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” featured comedian Jimmy Kimmel as a guest. He mocked what he thought was the Immaculate Conception by saying, “God has a penis.” When the audience reacted with nervous laughter, he said, “Oh, like He doesn’t? How do you think we got Jesus?” To the continuous laughter of the audience, Kirk Franklin remarked, “See, that’s why we’ve gotta move people away from religion. I think religion is one of the worst things that ever happened to America.” Franklin, a black musician, then attacked the Eucharist by complaining, “gotta take the cracker.” To which Maher replied, “Gotta take the cracker from a cracker.”
The new season for Comedy Central’s “South Park” was preceded by a promo that showed a young woman in the confessional. With trepidation in her voice, she says to the priest: “Forgive me, Father. It’s been two months since our last meeting, and the visions have not yet stopped. Eternal damnation, the Anti-Christ, and people with asses where their faces should be. Oh, Father, are these signs of the Apocalypse?”
Bill Maher relentlessly attacked Catholic priests on the ABC show “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher.” In an extended segment, Maher exploited the problem of the sex abuse scandal in the Church. Among his comments: “Before puberty, I would say nobody caused me more pain than the Catholics…. I apparently was not attractive enough to be hit on [by priests].” The lone guest who challenged Maher was Jason Jones of Human Life International. When he commented that this problem was not prevalent in Europe or South America, Maher shot back, “You’re right. In African countries they rape the nuns.”
In the HBO show “Dennis Miller Live,” Miller’s opening monologue included the topic of the priest sex abuse scandal in the Church. He said to the audience, “F— the priests, they’re weird.”
Actor Ian McKellen as the guest host of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” ripped the Catholic Church, saying it won’t not allow gays to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (which is untrue) but allows gays in the priesthood.
FOX television’s “King of the Hill” featured a storyline in which the character Peggy posed as a nun in order to teach at a Catholic school. In the plot, Peggy gained her understanding of Catholicism by watching a Spanish soap opera about a monsignor, in which the monsignor shot a disarmed gunman in a church. He was also depicted being disrespectful to the Precious Blood. Peggy taught a course on Catholicism but admitted to knowing nothing about Transubstantiation. She was also shown dropping a “practice wafer.” She simply picked it up, dusted it off, and gave it to the child who was to receive it. Peggy dreamed that the monsignor burst into her classroom as she was about to talk about safe sex. He then pulled a lever, which opened the classroom floor and dropped all the kids into hell. Furthermore, he was depicted as a devil with horns in Peggy’s dream, and her husband (a propane salesman) was in charge of keeping the fires of hell burning.
NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” opened with a segment about the cardinals of the United States being called to Rome. Each cardinal was shown in stereotypical manner such as a secret agent, motorcyclist, gun-toting, etc. When they finally got to Rome, the pope, played by actor Alec Baldwin, told the cardinals, “I’ve got one thing to say to you guys: Keep your p–ker in your pants.”
Dennis Miller, host of HBO’s “Dennis Miller Live,” started his monologue on freedom of speech by saying, “Freedom of speech has become a topic that is touchier than a Vatican summer camp.”
Bill Maher, the Catholic-bashing comic of TV’s “Politically Incorrect,” admitted on the May 7 episode of his show, “I have hated the church way before anyone else. I have been pounding religion for nine years on this show.” We agree.
Bill Maher, host of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect,” told a joke about a mining labor union leader, saying a particular policy was a “blow to miners.” Maher added that Cardinal Bernard Law said he had nothing to do with it.
On ABC’s “Politically Incorrect,” host Bill Maher talked about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. He remarked, “So it is in this spirit that I offer this modest proposal that the Catholic church just drop the pretense and just go gay. Just come out of the confessional. Preach the sermon on the mountain. Embrace it. Let the straight people be Baptists. It’s high time you gay Catholics stood up and announced to the world, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get Eucharist.'”
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said: “I’m looking forward to the next ‘Star Wars’ movie—’Attack of the Clergy.'”
The season finale of the NBC show “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” was titled “Silence.” It featured a senior priest involved in pedophilia and a subsequent diocesan cover-up. The episode was originally scheduled to run in September. The sex abuse scandal, however, coupled with the frenzy over the May sweeps, pushed NBC to switch plans.
The Catholic League continued to note that no television dramas mocked Muslims since the events of 9-11. However, Catholics and Catholic priests were continually used for script during the sexual abuse scandal.
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host told the following jokes: “The paper here in New York is saying there is a priest shortage now. Well, finally some good news in the world. This is how bad it is now. In Brooklyn there is a priest who says he now has to grope himself!”
Bill Maher, host of ABC’s “Politically Incorrect” responded to a guest who had said that no one wants to see the Catholic Church go away by saying, “Well, no, I’d love to see the Church go away. And there are lots of people who would.”
Jay Leno of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” said: “Rapper R. Kelly was found guilty of 21 counts of child pornography. It’s so bad that he’s thinking of changing his name to Father Kelly.”
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said the following: “The Gambino crime family will now probably fall apart. That will make the largest crime organization in the city…the Catholic Church!”
On NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” the host said the following: “This week hundreds of Catholic bishops arrived in Dallas for their annual convention. It was held at the Fairmont Hotel. They wanted to hold it at the Ramada Inn, because at Ramadas, kids stay free.”
Comedy Central’s “South Park” aired an episode titled “Red Hot Catholic Love.” It boasted that it is one “the Catholic Church doesn’t want you to see.” 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.
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said the following: “The forest fires in Canada are making things hazy here. It’s been so hazy that today a Catholic priest groped another priest.”
HBO’s “Sex and the City” aired a show “Unoriginal Sin.” The boyfriend of one of the characters, Miranda, an unmarried mother of a newborn, insists on baptizing the child to please his Irish Catholic mother. The mother is depicted as a drunk and a simpleton who is afraid her grandchild will go to hell. Miranda reluctantly agrees but insists there be no mention of Christianity in the ritual. The main character, Carrie Bradshaw, then comments, “Miranda was surprised the priest was so flexible. But the truth is, in these troubled times the Catholic Church is like a desperate 36-year-old single woman, willing to settle for anything it can get.” Miranda then quips, “It’s one less bath I have to give him.”
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said the following: “A couple got in trouble for having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They were found having sex, then they were arrested, then booked, and then ordained.” And, “A nearby priest was so shocked by the couple’s antics, he fell off the altar boy.”
David Letterman of CBS’s “The Late Show” said the following: “Last week here in New York City a couple was arrested for having sex inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. And listen to this—earlier today they were transferred to another parish.”
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said the following: “A few weeks ago, a couple was caught having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Well, now it’s gotten crazy; now whenever they light candles in the church it’s for a romantic mood.”
David Letterman of CBS’s “The Late Show” said the following: “The Catholic Church is opening a $200 million cathedral in Los Angeles…you know that’s just about as much money they have spent on hush money this year…they really spared no expense putting up this cathedral. Each one of the confessionals has a panic button in it.”
On CBS’s “The Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said the following: “They’ve got a big settlement up there in Boston. The archdiocese is offering a $10 million settlement…That works out to a dollar a victim.”
Jay Leno of NBC’s “The Tonight Show” said the following, referring to a Notre Dame football victory: “I guess going to a Catholic school as a young boy, you really learn how to run fast.”
According to Variety, at a banquet for Adopt-a-Minefield, emcee Jay Leno said the following: “I hear Warner Bros. is doing ‘Exorcist 3.’ They’re bringing Satan in to get the priest out of the teenager.”
The opening skit on FOX’s “MADtv” depicted priests as child molesters. They were shown acting in a lewd manner towards boys in a cabin. One of the lines in a song sung by the priests was, “We’ll just get switched to another parish.” The priests stripped off their clothes wearing only bikini underwear and their collar. They danced provocatively and then played the game Twister. The audience laughed heartily, though there was an audible gasp when the priests danced with each other in an obscene way.
An episode of the CBS show “CSI: Miami” revolved around a priest who learns that a boy has been abused by his father (at first the priest was suspected as the abuser). The priest tries to convince the boy to go to the police, but the boy refuses. The boy’s mother subsequently kills the priest, blaming him for not protecting her son. In the episode a detective asks, “Who would want to kill a priest?” One of his colleagues answers, “Nowadays, anyone.” The following day, on the CBS.com website, there was a survey question on the home page of “CSI: Miami.” It asked, “Do you think Catholic priests should be obligated to inform the authorities when one of their parishioners confesses to a crime?”
The CBS show “The District” featured an hour-long drama based on the current scandal in the Catholic Church. Viewers were introduced to molesting priests, diocesan cover-ups and the like. One of the characters, Detective Temple, looked right into the camera and pronounced on the virtue of putting faith in the Lord—but not in an institution. Similarly, there was a scene where another character, Detective Debrino, was pictured alone, peering into the camera, commenting on celibacy. He opined that the discipline of celibacy is not God-given, but is rather a rule from the Middle Ages mandated by the Vatican to protect its economic assets. He says it is “man who banned sex, not God.”
Comedy Central’s website for the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” included a mock news story about the discovery of a burial box with the inscription “James the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus.” It ends with, “While James is mentioned in the New Testament as being Joseph’s brother, [sic] the reference has been controversial among Roman Catholics who believe in Mary’s ‘perpetual virginity,’ meaning she and Joseph never had sex, although Catholic scholars still have not reached agreement over whether that includes oral.”
David E. Kelley’s “The Practice” on ABC used the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church for script. It revolved around a lawsuit filed by one abuse victim against another. The lawyer for the plaintiff lashed out at his Catholic partner: “It’s been systemic…Shut the Church down. Start a different institution of the Catholic faith…Stop giving the current institution the money.” The partner then spoke with his wife, who said she didn’t want to raise her child Catholic because of the possibility he could be abused. She said, “The Church has to accept some responsibility for my bigotry.” The lawyer then left the Church. According to Kelley, the purpose of this episode was to pose a question to Catholics: “Can Catholics adequately express their rage without quitting the church?”
On David E. Kelley’s “Boston Public” on FOX, the character Harvey Lipschultz said the following: “When I was growing up, there used to be a cardinal law against teenage sex. Now it seems there’s a Cardinal Law for teenage sex. We call him Bernie. A little Catholic humor….”
Long Island, NY – Nassau County District Attorney Denis Dillon recommended a bill that would mandate all professionals, not just clergy, report cases of sexual abuse. Judy Jacobs, Presiding Officer of the Nassau legislature criticized his comments by saying they “crossed the line between his personal beliefs and upholding the law.” A reporter for News 12 Long Island cable news reported the story and injected that Dillon is “a staunch supporter of the Catholic Church.”
On NBC’s “The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno said, “And today Catholic Bishops announced that they are against war with Iraq. Well, of course, the Catholic Bishops are against it—they want to see our boys stay at home and not have to go off to war.”
David E. Kelley’s “The Practice” on ABC continued the storyline of the Catholic abuse crisis. A lawyer who has left the Church was forced to defend a sex abuser.
David E. Kelley’s “Boston Public” on FOX featured a reckless boy who admitted to his concerned teacher that a priest had been sexually abusing him. It turned out that the molesting priest had previously abused the teacher. The latter then confronted the priest, threatening him with violence. The teacher angrily stormed out of the church yelling, “I am not afraid of you anymore!”
David E. Kelley’s “Boston Public” on FOX continued the storyline about abuse by a priest. A teacher goes to the police to expose a molesting priest who abused him and his student.
The Internet portal Yahoo! was called to task by the Catholic League because of biased entries against Catholics. When the word “Catholic” was typed in the search engine, the second of the Category Matches had a listing called “Christian History > Catholic Inquisition.” By clicking on that category, the listings of “Torture” and “Witch Hunts” appeared. But when the words “Protestant,” “Judaism,” or “Islam” were typed in, no negative episodes associated with these religions were listed. No other Internet portal showed an anti-Catholic bias. Just as disturbing, when “Catholicism” was typed in, the first listing under Web Site Matches was “The Case Against Catholicism.” It consisted mainly of the work of “Joseph McCabe’s Rationalist Encyclopedia.” More accurately, it included some of the most remarkably twisted interpretations of the history of the Catholic Church ever produced. The second listing was called “Gay and Lesbian Catholicism”; it was replete with criticism of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. No other religion had a gay section listed on Yahoo!.
The Internet site afunworld.com posted a picture of a nun in habit holding a double candle stick holder. The light produced a shadow that made her appear as a devil in the shadow.
The Internet site The Drudge Report featured a story about actor Robert Blake being arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of his wife. The site posted a picture of Blake in a Roman Catholic priest’s collar. While Blake at one time played a priest in a television series, it was neither his most well-known nor his most recent role. The picture was removed within a day.
The Internet site annoy.com featured a manipulated image of a man exposing himself to two children. The image of the pope’s head was placed on the man’s body.
Knopf published A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. The author calls for the Catholic Church to reject Scripture, change its liturgy, deny that Christ is the way to salvation, reject papal infallibility, view all religions as equal and make reparations for its anti-Semitic history. He also demands that the Vatican cease being a state, get rid of its diplomatic corps and fully support the nation of Israel. Going beyond criticism of Pope Pius XII or the Church’s actions during World War II or even criticism of the history of the relations between Catholics and Jews, this book is deeply anti-Catholic. There have been books critical of Pius XII by Michael Phayer, John Cornwell, Susan Zuccotti, and Garry Wills, and even ones that go beyond them and criticize the Church’s practices and teachings, such as books by David Kertzer or James Carroll. While we have found fault with these works, none have merited the title anti-Catholic as Goldhagen’s book does.
Goldhagen uses almost no original research, but instead relies on the above authors, despite the flaws in their studies. Many of his accusations are given with no citation of evidence. The book is so riddled with simple factual errors, contradictions, and outright falsities that if the author were to correct them, the thesis of the book would collapse.