Media Response to John Jay Report
On May 18, we addressed what the media said about the 2011 John Jay Report on the “Causes and Context” of clergy abuse. Bill Donohue’s analysis of the report is at the end of the annual report.
After the New York Times criticized the study as the “blame Woodstock” report, many others in the media echoed the same criticism. The Times, and those who took their talking points from the newspaper, unfairly criticized the authors of the report for attempting to deflect culpability on the part of the bishops for the scandal by instead blaming the culture of the 1960s. But the charge was unfounded: all the professors did was to put the scandal in social context—it did not occur in a vacuum. This is what we would expect from social scientists. Interestingly, the Times always cites “root causes” when it comes to understanding the violence that accompanied the civil rights movement. Evidently, “root cause” analysis should not apply to understanding any wrongdoing on the part of the clergy.
Here are some examples of how “independent-minded” the pundits were:
• Tony Auth of the Philadelphia Inquirer labeled his cartoon “It Was The Sixties, Man
• Joan Vennochi of the Boston Globe titled her piece, “Blame it on the ‘60s, Man”
• Columnist Jon Carroll branded his article, “The ‘60s Made Them Do It”
• A Canadian writer said, “Church Study Blames Swinging Sixties”
• A ReligionDispatches article indicted the Church for “Blame the Sixties” rationale
• Church-basher Marci Hamilton said the Church is guilty of “blaming the Sixties”
• Rabbi Shmuley Boteach said the Church blames “the 1960s”
• Professor Mark Silk said the Church invoked the “Woodstock” excuse
• Sally Quinn’s brother, Wilson, slammed the Church for “Blame the Hippies” excuse
• Kevin Osborne of Cincinnati’s Citybeat.com said the Church blames “dirty hippies”
• New Haven writer Doug Daniels said the Church blamed “hippies”
• A Minnesota writer says the Church blamed Jefferson Airplane while a Florida writer argued the Church blamed Janis Joplin
Top honors went to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for falsely claiming, “In page after page, the report also accuses the news media of misrepresenting the crisis.” This was nonsense. Mary Sanchez of the Kansas City Star also showed her brilliance by criticizing the study for not finding a “single cause.” None of these critics is a social scientist, and few, if any, gave evidence of actually having read the report.
On The Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan bashed the Catholic Church for what he called its “homophobic doctrine” and for operating “one of the biggest pedophile conspiracies in the world for decades if not centuries.” He concluded his rant by saying, “Since the church even now seems incapable of treating child abuse as seriously as the rest of society, it seems to me that increased police involvement is necessary.”
Phyllis Zagano wrote an article on the website of the National Catholic Reporter unfairly attacking Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City. She railed against him for “not reading” a memo about “weird behavior” by one of his priests, grouping him with what she called were “over-sexed men.” She compared Bishop Finn to such luminaries as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Congressman Anthony Weiner, Dominique Strauss-Khan, and Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar. Lashing out at Finn by comparing him to sexual deviants in public life was reprehensible.
Bill Saporito, assistant managing editor at Time, took an unfair shot at the Catholic Church in his Curious Capitalist blog. The entry, “Why Congress and S&P Deserve Each Other,” opened with this sentence: “Having Standard & Poor’s downgrade the creditworthiness of the U.S., and warn the country about further downgrades, is a little like having the Catholic Church lecture Scout leaders on the proper behavior toward boys.” We immediately called for an apology for this gratuitous attack, but never received one.
It was brought to our attention in 2011 that the National Underwriter magazine’s “2010 Year in Review” featured a picture of the pope with a statement suggesting that he played a part in covering up the sex abuse scandal by transferring known abusing priests. Bill Donohue wrote to the Editor-in-Chief, Bill Coffin, explaining why this portrayal of the pope was grossly unfair. Just as important, Donohue wanted to know why this cheap shot appeared in a publication that has nothing to do with religion.
The Philadelphia Trumpet published an editorial comparing the Catholic Church to the beast of Revelation 17. Some of the more egregious statements were:
• “Throughout history this woman, or church, has made the whole world drunk on her doctrines!”
• “This beast has seven heads, or seven distinct resurrections. If you study European history, you will easily see six times when the Catholic Church has guided European empires, such as Charlemagne, Napoleon and Nazi Germany.”
• “The church leading the Holy Roman Empire is not God’s true Church. But God does allow this church to gain control of this German-led European beast power. Expect the Catholic Church to become more vocal and for this church-state axis to become more evident.”
We were notified that DC Comics published a series, Azrael, based on a character who was supposedly a descendent of Jesus. Anti-Catholic elements could be found throughout the series, including the portrayal of the Vatican as a dark and ominous institution out to hide the truth that Jesus had not, in fact, died on the Cross and had never resurrected.
We wrote to Diane Nelson at DC Comics asking where they intended to take this character, and informed her that we would continue to monitor the series.
The front page of Esquire magazine’s website featured an article entitled “Investigate the Vatican” by executive editor Mark Warren.
He began by applauding the New Yorker for a critical piece on Scientology, but was angry nonetheless: “Wouldn’t the resources and time of journalists be better directed at the finances, earthly corruption, and raw power of the Catholic Church, an institution that wields influence incalculably greater that L. Ron Hubbard’s itty-bitty religion?”
He continued his anti-Catholic rhetoric: “I mean, I grew up believing that every breath I drew sent a god-made-man named Jesus Christ writhing on the cross to which he had been nailed…so that he might die for my sins so that I might live. And yet, I was born not innocent but complicit in this lynching, incomprehensibly having to apologize and atone for this barbarism for all my days and feel terrible about myself and all mankind.” He then laced into the pope, blaming him for the homosexual scandal.
Vanity Fair writer Brett Berk apologized for using the term “fags” in his online review of an episode of the TV show, “Glee”; he used the term to describe two homosexual characters. Vanity Fair’s new ethics policy was adopted after being criticized by GLAAD, a homosexual activist group.
All of this was of interest to us because Vanity Fair has a history of Catholic bashing. It has proudly published malicious diatribes by anti-Catholics like John Cornwell and Christopher Hitchens, so for it to claim that it does not want to feed bigotry was a bit of a joke. Maybe someday they will think of Catholics the way they do homosexuals, then all will be right by us.
Rolling Stone published an article by Sabrina Rubin Erdely titled, “The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex-Crime Files.” The article was an attack on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia based on the 2011 grand jury report regarding sex abuse. The article was full of factual errors, stereotypes, grand omissions, and melodramatic language. Below find Bill Donohue’s lengthy rebuttal, detailing her prejudices and falsehoods.
The movie, “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” opened in theaters. It contained several scenes taking shots at Catholic sensibilities:
• One of the lead actors punches a bishop
• Naked nuns are shown caressing each other in a shower
• Real life homosexual Neil Patrick Harris (playing himself) recounts going to heaven (portrayed as a nightclub) where he sits with two topless women who fondle him
• Jesus sees this and calls his “daddy” to get Harris kicked out of the club
• Harris then spews an obscenity at Jesus, calling him a “c**kblock”
• Three priests have a pillow fight with a young boy in a dark place known as the altar boy room and are shown racing after him
• The Virgin Mary is trashed
Lady Gaga released her song “Judas” prompting us to call the song a stunt. This was the latest in a long line of attempts by Lady Gaga to shock Catholics and Christians in general. The song was released right around Easter demonstrating Gaga’s insensitivity to Christianity.
A few weeks later, on May 5, she released the video to “Judas” which took liberties with religious iconography. In the video Gaga writhed and danced seductively with two men portrayed as Jesus and Judas.
A front-page article in the New York Times Arts Section featured an image from the video that was pulled by the Smithsonian after a Catholic League protest in 2010. By publishing the image from the ants-on-the-crucifix video, the Times ironically helped to make our point that the protest was justified.
Times critic Michael Kimmelman accused Bill Donohue of embarking on an “awfully well-choreographed pas de deux to rekindle the culture wars.” In support of his claim alleging a conspiracy choreographed by Donohue, Kimmelman mentioned that Rep. John Boehner, now the Speaker of the House, and Rep. Eric Cantor, “capitalized on Mr. Donohue’s protest” by registering their own complaints.
Kimmelman described the artist, David Wojnarowicz, as a man who wielded a cudgel to “fight bigots.” We wondered whether the artist was also “fighting” bigotry when he made a video showing Jesus’ head exploding. Was the artist also championing tolerance when he called John Cardinal O’Connor a “fat cannibal,” or when he labeled the Church a “house of walking swastikas”?
Philadelphia, PA – The District Attorney’s office released a grand jury report accusing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for sheltering priests accused of sexual abuse. This report followed a grand jury investigation in 2005 which also went after the archdiocese, but came up empty. No other institution was targeted by either grand jury; they simply were focused on the Catholic Church.
The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an editorial singling out the archdiocese to make public its files on priests accused of sex abuse and called upon lawmakers to make it easier for past alleged victims to sue. What it failed to mention was that nowhere is there less of a problem of sex abuse than in the Catholic Church. Its dishonesty was remarkable. It never called for any other institution to open its files on accused employees.
After a few weeks, there was still the impression that the archdiocese was guilty of sheltering abusive priests which led to outrageous comments by agenda-driven lawyers, professional victims’ groups and pundits. After looking at the facts, it was clear that the Catholic Church never had a monopoly on this problem. We looked at the numbers and it became clear that the problem in Philadelphia was being overstated.
Beginning in 2003, 61 cases of priestly misconduct were examined by the archdiocese. Twenty-four were dismissed because the accusations could not be substantiated. Of the 37 remaining cases, three priests were suspended immediately following the 2011 grand jury report and then 21 additional priests were suspended. As for the rest, eight were found not to have a credible accusation made against them; one had been on leave for some time; two were incapacitated and no longer in ministry; and two more were members of religious orders outside the archdiocese.
This meant the majority of the priests didn’t have a single credible accusation made against them. Moreover, none of the 24 who were suspended were found guilty of anything. To top things off, the charges against them include such matters as “boundary issues” and “inappropriate behavior,” terms so elastic as to indict almost anyone.
Just as it was important not to understate the problem, it was important not to overstate it. Neither the archdiocese, nor the media, was particularly clear about offering a concise, disaggregated tally. The confusion was complicated because the public assumed that not only were all of these priests guilty, but that they were all guilty of a serious offense.
What got lost in the discussion were the constitutionally protected due process rights of accused priests. The rush to judgment was especially despicable in a day and age when accused Muslim terrorists are more likely to be presumed innocent than accused Catholic priests.
The New York Daily News ran the front page headline, “THE LYIN’ ‘NUN,’” with the words “Spins rape tale, recants,” below it, giving the impression that a Catholic nun lied about being raped. The entire headline was not true. Only upon reading the article did it become apparent that the woman was a nun in a “fringe Christian sect” that was founded by a “defrocked Catholic priest who ordained himself Pope.” The people in question were not Catholics, but the Daily News deceitfully sold the story as if they were.
We demanded an apology and got one a few days later from Editor-in-chief Kevin Convey.
In a New York Times article called “Islamist Group is Poised to Be a Power in Egypt, but Its Intentions are Unclear,” the following statement appeared: “As the Roman Catholic Church includes both those who practice leftist liberation theology and conservative anti-abortion advocates, so the [Muslim] Brotherhood includes both practical reformers and firebrand ideologues.” The Times drew a false equivalence between disagreements among Roman Catholics and disagreements among members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Though the headline correctly used the term, “Islamist,” a term that describes Muslims who blend Islam with extremist politics, the Times could not ascertain the Brotherhood’s intentions.
The Brotherhood was founded with the motto “Jihad is our way” and nothing has changed. Their leaders believed it important to “Kill Jews—to the very last one.” One said Egyptians “should prepare for war against Israel.” Even the Times admitted that “its leaders have endorsed acts of terrorism against Israel and against American troops in Iraq.” Another leader said that any government which takes over should withdraw from the peace treaty with Israel. An Al Queda-run website, Muslim.Net, said, “We call upon the Islamists to support the Muslim Brotherhood,” a clear indication that whatever differences the two groups have previously had, it’s more important that all terrorists unite.
Despite this, the Times equated the differences in Catholics with the differences of the Brotherhood.
Alberto Cutie, the former Catholic priest best known for breaking his priestly vows, quitting the Catholic Church, running off with his lover, and becoming an Episcopal priest, wrote an article that appeared in the Huffington Post claiming that some Catholics rival Muslim radicals.
Though Cutie’s article was allegedly about priestly celibacy, he launched into an invidious analogy. “All this has led me to confirm that religious extremists are not only a small group of people associated to [sic] Islam. Instead, intolerant views and verbal threats by some Roman Catholic extremists that I have received rival any monopoly by Muslim radicals.”
In the past, Cutie has floated the myth that 100,000 catholic priests left to marry (the real figure is considerably lower), but this time he really crossed the line. There is a profound difference between catcalls and calls for jihad.
An application for the iPhone called “Confession: A Roman Catholic App,” was developed by Little iApps and intended to prepare Catholics for Confession. A series of Internet sites misrepresented the Confession App by falsely claiming that one could confess directly into the phone. Among the misleading headlines were:
• “Can’t Make It To Confession? There’s An App For That”
• “Catholic Church Approves Confession By iPhone”
• “Bless Me iPhone For I Have Sinned”
• “Catholic Church Endorses App For Sinning iPhone Users”
• “Forgiveness Via iPhone: Church Approves Confession App”
• “New, Church-Approved iPhone App Offers Confessions On the Go”
• “Confess Your Sins To Your Phone In Catholic-Church Endorsed App”
• “US Bishop Sanctions Cell Phone In Confession”
• “Catholics Can Now Confess Using iPhone App”
• “Catholic Church Approves Online Confession”
The Philadelphia Inquirer ran an editorial calling for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to “make public its files on sexual abuse to better inform parishioners.” It also called for a law that provides “a two-year window for victims to file civil claims,” and to “abolish the statute of limitations for all criminal sexual offenses against minors.” In both instances, it singled out the Catholic Church. The Catholic League sent its response to over 200 pastors in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. We counseled, “The Archdiocese should cooperate in publishing the names of accused priests if all other private and public institutions agree to do likewise.”
Also in response, Bill Donohue wrote a Letter to the Editor making it clear that justice dictates that if the archdiocese makes public its files on accused priests, every other organization should do the same with regard to its employees.
In an article about a group of homosexual Polish soccer fans demanding separate seating at the 2012 European Soccer Championship in Poland, the Associated Press took an unwarranted shot at the Catholic Church. In the story, the AP wrote: “Homophobia also remains deeply embedded in Poland because of the legacy of communism which treated homosexuality as a taboo and the teachings of the church in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.”
Providence, RI — Robert J. Healey Jr., former candidate for lieutenant governor of Rhode Island, was the mystery guest at the Providence Newspaper Guild Follies (a show where politicians try their hand as comedians). In a skit intended to announce his retirement from politics, Healey offended Christian sensibilities. He dressed as Jesus Christ, donning long hair, a beard, a robe, and a crown of thorns. He made comments such as he’s tired of “Losing” and he’s tired of mayoral candidate Chris Young bringing “a statue of his mother [Mary] to all his campaign appearances.”
February – March
After old cases of sex abuse surfaced in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, we noted that rarely do journalists and commentators offer more graphic details of sex abuse than when the alleged abuser is a priest.
Among the most offensive chroniclers was psychologist Mary Gail Frawley O’Dea wrote a piece called “Where is Catholicism’s Tahrir Square?” in the National Catholic Reporter that was impossible to top. She wrote, “It means an adult man’s erect penis tearing anal tissue; it means a child’s small mouth forced around an engorged and pushing penis; it means a man’s hand — one that the day before may have transformed wine into blood — probing a little girl’s vagina or pulling at the penis of a pre-pubescent boy.”
In February, the Philadelphia Daily News went tabloid with its “made for Hustler” contribution by discussing the oral and anal rape of the alleged victim.
Maureen Dowd’s affection for lurid accounts was on display in the New York Times by describing some of the graphic details found in the grand jury report. It so impressed Christopher Matthews that he read a selection from it on the air.
The New York Times ran two editorials that demonstrated its bias. “A Right Without a Remedy” was a strong plea for the U.S. government to respect the constitutional rights of detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The other editorial, “Acts of Contrition,” took the Catholic Church in Ireland to task for cases of priestly sexual abuse. The former editorial said nothing about why suspected Muslim terrorists are being held in custody. The latter editorial said nothing about the rights of accused priests.
The Times said the Church in Ireland “has a long way to go to cleaning house,” insisting that “reforms are lagging” and “some predator priests are still in ministry.” It was thrice wrong.
In 2005, the Irish Bishops’ Conference issued a comprehensive report on reforms underway, “Our Children, Our Church: Child Protection Policies and Procedures for the Catholic Church in Ireland.” In 2008, another report was released, “Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland.” In 2010, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland published its 2009 Annual Report.
The latter document showed that 42 percent of the new allegations made in 2009 were about deceased priests. “None of the allegations reported to the National Office originated from children or young people. Some went back to events that took place in the 1950s and 1960s.” Not a single priest who had an accusation made against him is in full ministry, and those who are in limited ministry are there despite the fact that “the allegation that caused the removal from full ministry has not been confirmed through any civil or canonical court process.”
Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen objected to congressional hearings held by Rep. Peter King on terrorism, arguing that if it is okay to probe Muslims for terrorism, it should be okay to probe priests for sexual abuse. Cohen cited BishopAccountability as his source for priestly abuse statistics in the Church; however his figures were grossly inaccurate.
He cited BishopAccountability for his figure of 100,00 children that might have been abused by Catholic priests. This figure, however, referred to accusations taken from an article written by Andrew Greeley in 1993 that was based purely on conjecture.
The real figures were made available by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice: an estimated 4 percent of priests had accusations made against them since 1950, and the majority, 56 percent, were alleged to have abused one victim. The total number of alleged victims at the hands of 4,392 priests is roughly between 10,000 and 12,000.
Although the worldwide reaction to the beatification of John Paul II was overwhelmingly enthusiastic, two days before the event in April, the New York Times reported that it “has become intensely polarizing.” With good reason, it offered no survey data: polls showed 90 percent of Catholics approved and so did most non-Catholics.
John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter wasn’t much better. As evidence to support the “ambivalence” thesis, he cited an angry ex-nun.
Among the others who objected to the beatification were the leftist Nation magazine, the near-defunct Time magazine and the ever-critical Huffington Post. There was also the usual stable of carping Catholics: Maureen Dowd, James Carroll and Rev. Richard McBrien (the pope had “a terrible record”).
The Fairfax Chronicle ran a cartoon by Jim McCloskey depicting a bishop labeled “Roman Catholic Church” and an altar boy. The cartoon asked, “Guess who lobbied the general assembly against extending the deadline that sexual abuse victims can sue their attackers?” The altar boy counters, “If you aren’t guilty…why would it matter?”
Boston Globe reporter Kevin Cullen said that Pope John Paul II “presided over a church that was guilty of one of the biggest institutional cover-ups of criminal activity in history.” He also gave credence to the charge that “Priests were raping children all over the world with impunity.” There were four errors in these two sentences.
• The John Jay College of Criminal Justice report on this issue shows very clearly that the period when most of the incidents occurred was 1960-1985. Since John Paul II was not elected until 1978, it is factually wrong to suggest that the scandal took place mostly on his watch.
• It was factually wrong to say that most of those abused by priests were raped: the most common infraction was “inappropriate touching.”
• Most of those abused by priests were not children—they were post-pubescent males. The John Jay report found that “81 percent [of the victims] were male,” and that “more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” Amazingly, Cullen wrote this in 2004, so even he knows that the problem is homosexuality.
The New York Daily News conducted a poll on its website asking readers whether St. Anthony’s High School on Long Island had the right to bar a female student from bringing her ex-girlfriend to the prom. Readers were asked the following: “Should the Catholic school have the right to bar same-sex couples at the prom?” The Daily News’ answers were: 1) Yes, it’s a private institution and homosexuality goes against church teaching; 2) No, we’re talking about a prom, not marriage, the school shouldn’t exclude anyone; 3) I don’t know. By posing the question in terms of rights—instead of asking whether readers agree with the decision—the Daily News made this issue into a matter of church and state, implying that it is a rebuttal assumption on the part of St. Anthony’s that it has the right to determine its own rules.
A cartoon in the Philadelphia Inquirer depicted a bishop smoking from a hookah, holding a book with the title “Catholic Bishops’ Study on Abuse and Cover-Up,” and a caption that read, “It was the sixties, man….” This cartoon perpetuated the myth that the John Jay Study blamed the abuse scandal on the 60s.
The American Association of Editorial Cartoonists posted a cartoon by Paul Berge of Q Syndicate, which provides content to “LGBT” media. Pope Benedict XVI is caricatured to have a vicious, vaguely canine appearance and flanked by two cardinals. One holds a book called “Homines tam canes sunt,” referring to men as dogs. This cardinal says, “Your Holiness, our investigation has found that sex abuse by priests in the 1960’s and ‘70’s was not due to homosexuality or to celibacy rules.” The pope asks, “Then what was the cause?” The second cardinal answers, “We’ve narrowed it down to either rock and roll or fluoridation.”
The Kansas City Star ran a Lee Judge cartoon showing a turtle hiding in its shell. The cartoon reads: “Q. Does the Catholic Church have a position on pedophilia? A. Yes.” It suggested that the Church does not face claims of sexual abuse. This cartoon also ran in the Huntsville Item on June 1.
A Boston Globe editorial lectured the Archdiocese of Boston about a Mass at St. Cecilia’s celebrating Gay Pride Month. The Globe pretended that “No one would have had the misimpression that the church was endorsing gay sex” by allowing the Mass to be said. Globe columnist Kevin Cullen also wondered why anyone would think that such a Mass might turn the church “into an outpost of Sodom.” And the Globe’s front-page news story maintained that the Boston archdiocese “gave the impression that St. Cecilia’s supported the annual Gay Pride Celebration.” The priest behind the Mass feigned ignorance of the Gay Pride agenda saying, “I don’t know what that is.”
Each of these statements contradicted the facts. The June 5 weekly bulletin of St. Cecilia’s stated, “The Rainbow Ministry of Saint Cecilia Parish invites all friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston’s Pride Month.” (Italics added.)
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd targeted New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan for opposing gay marriage. She said it was hypocritical of the Church to accept homosexual priests while finding fault with homosexuality. However, she neglected the fact that celibacy cuts equally for straights and gays.
Dowd said the report on the causes of the sexual abuse scandal was “put out” by Dolan and the bishops, and that it advanced a “blame Woodstock” explanation. She was twice wrong: (a) the report was the work of social scientists from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and (b) the timeline of the problem—mid-1960s to mid-1980s—coincided exactly with the period of the sexual revolution, so to cite it was important.
Finally, Dowd found fault with the John Jay study for not listing homosexuality as a cause. Her complaint was accurate, which made unintelligible her reference to “pedophile priests.”
The Kansas City Star ran a Lee Judge cartoon showing what appears to be the pope caricatured as a hunched dimwit and out of touch with reality. The cartoon reads: “Q. Why is the religion that still conducts exorcisms, views women as second-class citizens and birth control as unnecessary, having its leader tweet? A. It likes to keep up with the times.” This cartoon also ran in the Salinas Californian on July 5.
The Kansas City Star ran a Pat Oliphant cartoon showing a towering, wrathful Roman Catholic bishop with smoke coming out of his ears. The priest tells the two men before him, “The bishop however is not feeling entirely gay about your marriage plans.” In the corner of the cartoon, one of three very small figures says, “Compliment him on his dress.” The cartoon was syndicated and originally released on June 28.
The Kansas City Star ran a Lee Judge cartoon showing a minister saying from the pulpit, “We need to follow God’s laws!” and holding a sign saying “N.Y. allows gay marriage.” In the next bubble, there is the subtitle, “But not all of them [i.e., the laws],” with two stone tablets in the background. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is written on the tablets. This cartoon implied that those who objected to homosexual marriage due to their religious beliefs were hypocrites.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a drawing by Paul Lachine to accompany an article by SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy called “Accountability for sex abuse at the church’s highest levels.” The drawing depicts a Roman Catholic pontiff with blinders attached to his miter, implying narrowness of mind.
The Kansas City Star ran a Lee Judge cartoon showing a bishop walking across a dotted line from a region marked “moral failure” into a region marked “criminal indictment.” The title at the bottom reads, “The Catholic Church makes progress.” This cartoon saw the indictment of Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn as progress.
The Lexington Herald-Leader ran a Joel Pett cartoon showing three bishops talking at the bishops’ conference. One says, “Oh, nothing much…oppressing the sisterhood…railing against gay rights…tipped over a news van at the Paterno rally…what’s new with you?”
The Courier Journal ran a Marc Murphy cartoon called “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” In a shower room, two older men are shown naked with their backs to the viewer. One man is called “Catholic Church.” The other man is called “Penn State.” A little boy also in the shower room, “You have no clothes. Help!” The “Penn State” man says, “Keep your voice down for the sake of the institutions.”
The San Jose Mercury News ran a Vic Lee cartoon showing a Catholic priest next to a man about to be guillotined. The priest says, “This cracks me up every time.” From the depiction, it was an obvious reference to the French Revolution with no bearing on current events. That is why it was a clear shot at Catholics.
Gustavo Arellano, a writer for OC Weekly, was appointed editor of the “alternative” weekly publication. Of his promotion he said: “I want to thank all the skinheads, pedophile priests, Know Nothings, and battleship tacos that made this day possible.”
Arellano is perpetually exercised about allegations of priestly sexual abuse, but it is not the issue that interests him, just the offenders: he has never published a piece on the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy of any other religion.
Comedy Central aired “Denis Leary & Friends Present Douchebags & Donuts.” Later in the week Comedy Central Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment released the DVD nationwide. The opening segment of the video showed a clip of Pope Benedict XVI talking to a crowd with a dubbed voice-over that made it seem like he is discussing priestly sexual abuse. Leary appears on stage extending his middle finger, an illuminated Cross in the background, and a trio of women dressed as nuns in habit wearing short skirts.
In the clip of the pope, the pope yells, “Heil Hitler,” proclaiming, “Oh yeah, I’m the f***ing pope, for Christ’s sake, the god**** Fuehrer.” The pope then introduces Leary as Father Denis Leary, who enters the stage singing a song. Below are some of his lines:
• “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned—yeah, pull down my pants and put your penis in.”
• “Thou shalt not kill and Thou shalt not lie, and don’t drop the soap when the pope is nearby. Cause they may hate gays but they do love the guys.”
• “Well, the nuns are goin’ down on other nuns, and the priests are chasin’ after altar boy buns, and the pope will move you when the damage is done.”
• “Jesus, Mary and Josephine, well this church is full of some giant queens, so break out the candles and the Vaseline.”
In response to the release of this hate-filled video, we contacted Bushmills, a prominent sponsor of Leary’s, asking them to reconsider their sponsorship.
Jay Leno made the following joke about homosexuality and priestly sexual abuse on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”: “A Palm Beach priest has admitted to a violation of chastity with an adult woman. When the Vatican heard about this, they said, ‘A woman? Thank God.’” The implication, of course, was that most priestly predators have been homosexuals, which is true.
TBS aired a re-run episode of “Family Guy” in which Stewie, the family baby, makes comments painting all priests as molesters. In the episode, Stewie travels back in time to rescue Mort Goldman (a Jewish family-friend) from the Nazis invading Poland. They disguise him as a Catholic priest to sneak him out of the country, but are questioned by a Nazi officer. When asked if Mort is a real priest, Stewie replies, “Yeah, yeah, I can vouch for him, he’s real. He’s molested me many, many times.” The original episode aired October 19, 2008 on Fox.
Jay Leno made the following joke about the new Confession application for the iPhone on NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno”:
“Well, the Catholic Church has come out with a new app for the iPhone. This is real. You can confess right on the phone. How perfect is that? You can now cheat and atone for your sins all on the same device. Perfect for Bret Favre. Fantastic. You know what the name of the app is? I’m not making it up. It’s called ‘Priest in Your Pocket.’ Really. Is that the best name they could come up with?”
Not only did he deliberately mislead the public—the app was simply designed to help Catholics prepare for Confession—he took a below the belt shot at priests. The name of the app is called, “Confession: A Roman Catholic app,” not “Priest in Your Pocket.”
On an episode of the E! program “Chelsea Lately,” a panel discussed the Confession app. While the app was presented correctly, comedian Natasha Leggero took the opportunity to take a cheap shot at the Catholic Church over the sex abuse scandal. She said, “And also the point of confession is you go into a booth, say your sins and get molested by a priest. You’re supposed to do it all there.”
On ABC’s “The View,” the hosts made ignorant comments about the Catholic Church in regard to Governor Andrew Cuomo receiving communion with the woman he was living with. In criticizing the canon law advisor who called his receiving communion “objectively sacrilegious,” Whoopi Goldberg asked, “What would Jesus do?” Co-host Sherri Shepherd went on: “How many people in that church that take that wine and eat those crackers are doing something at home that we don’t know about?”
We responded by saying that since all of the panelists have either left Catholicism, or never were a member of the Church to begin with, it should not matter to them what Catholicism teaches about anything.
On HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” host Bill Maher featured an ad mocking the “Catholics Come Home” campaign. The ad claimed there had been sex abuse in the Catholic Church from its inception and said that now there is “significantly lower chances that he or she (children) will be inappropriately touched—particularly she,” implying that gay priests are doing most of the molesting. After the ad aired, he made comments about the Philadelphia archdiocese and said that every city is affected by the abuse crisis and that people have just gotten used to it.
Bravo aired a special called “Kathy Griffin: 50 & Not Pregnant.” During the show, Griffin took an unwarranted shot at all priests, calling them “kid f**kers.” After she delivered the line, she was wildly cheered by her largely homosexual audience.
On TBS, an episode of “Lopez Tonight” featured a skit about a priest who ran a religious-themed strip club called “Bad Habits.” The dancers included two nuns in full habit (one gave a member of the audience a lap dance) and a stripping altar boy. While watching the nuns dance, the priest announced to the audience that he was reconsidering his vow of celibacy.
That a rabbi was featured as one of the dancers mattered not. He was sandwiched between two stripping nuns and an altar boy at a club run by a priest. It was clear who Lopez was gunning for.
On E!’s “Chelsea Lately,” comedian Joe Matarese mentioned Michael Jackson and his Neverland Ranch, saying, “I’m like, didn’t he maybe molest a couple of kids?” He then berated the audience for forgetting about what Jackson did, offering as a parting thought, “you know, maybe if a Catholic priest could moonwalk better….” Matarese was implying that what has been clear for some time: If abusing priests were entertainers, they would be treated as heroes.
In an episode of the Comedy Central program “Tosh.0”, comedian Daniel Tosh took a shot at the Catholic Church implying that its clergy is full of molesters. He said that if the pope were an attractive young man maybe the altar boys would “quit complaining.”
Comedy Central re-aired an episode of “South Park” called “Medicinal Fried Chicken” in which character Eric Cart manmade three separate jokes about Pope Benedict XVI and the sexual abuse scandal.
The offensive comments were:
• “Do I want to do it? Does the pope help pedophiles get away with their crimes?”
• “Is that something I’d want to do? Is the pope Catholic and making the world safe for pedophiles?”
• “Does a bear crap in the woods? And does the pope crap on the broken lives and dreams of 200 deaf boys?”
NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” exhibited yet another assault on priests. In a skit about the Royal Wedding, Dame Edna played a British correspondent. She was shown taking secret footage of the event while Leno pretended to be speaking with her live.
Dame Edna approached a vendor selling cheese called “Stinking Bishop.” Upon hearing the name, she said, “Stinking Bishop? My son toyed with the priesthood. Or perhaps it was the other way around.”
What made this skit so invidious was its wholly gratuitous nature: there is no relationship between the Royal Wedding and Catholic priests.
On HBO’s program “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher and his panel of guests discussed the release of the 2011 John Jay Report on Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church. Maher branded all priests as abusers and falsely claimed that the report blamed the 60s for the abuse scandal.
Maher said, “Here is what they found: Not as bad as you think; it magically solved itself one day in 1985…. And the Church isn’t the problem, celibacy isn’t the problem, repressed homosexuality isn’t the problem; you know what the problem was? The 60s… I’m not kidding, they said it was the permissive attitude of the 60s.”
On Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” host Jon Stewart joked about Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sex scandal with correspondent John Oliver. During their skit, Stewart ridiculed Weiner by sipping frantically on a Margarita, imitating the way Weiner sipped from a water bottle at his press conference.
Stewart then accidentally broke his glass. Oliver, seeing Stewart’s hand bleeding, joked, “Don’t be so Jewish about it. You’re fine, you’re absolutely fine.”
On Yahoo! News, in both the video clip and the news story, this is where the skit ended. But on the show, it continued with Stewart replying, “I should be Catholic.” Next, referring to his blood, he offered, “I should turn this into a drink.”
Weiner sent porn pictures to strangers and Stewart laughed it off. But, Stewart’s impulsive lashing out at the heart of Catholicism when discussing a subject that has nothing to do with it revealed a side to him that was troubling.
Yahoo! News was dishonest in the way it tried to paper over Stewart’s insulting remark: it deliberately cut his offensive quip, knowing it would have put the skit in a totally different light.
On CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman,” the host said he was “stunned” and “fascinated” by Anthony Weiner’s predicament, saying: “Honest to God, is this the kind of behavior you’d expect from a congressman! No. In simple terms, no. It is not the kind of behavior you’d expect from a congressman. It is the kind of behavior you’d expect from a priest.” Letterman decided to attack all priests, when there was no shortage of politicians with the baggage of a sex scandal.
On Current TV’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” the host claimed that Galileo was punished by the Catholic Church for “his belief that the earth orbited the sun and not the other way around.” He also said that “the Church acknowledged errors had been committed in assessing Galileo’s scientific beliefs. They did that in 1992.” Besides being factually wrong, the tone of Olbermann’s comments made it clear that his remarks were meant to insult.
The fact is that the belief that the earth revolves around the sun was first broached by Copernicus—a priest—in 1543, long before Galileo. Moreover, when Galileo first floated Copernicus’ idea, he was bestowed with medals and gifts by Pope Urban VIII. What got him censured was his arrogance: Galileo argued that his hypothesis was a scientific fact, something which even the scientific community of his day scoffed at.
It was also false to say that in 1992 the Catholic Church acknowledged errors in dealing with Galileo. That happened in 1741 when Pope Benedict XIV granted an imprimatur to the first edition of the completed works of Galileo. What happened in 1992 was the release of a Pontifical Academy report on the controversy.
Comedy Central re-aired “Comedy Central Presents Ted Alexandro,” which originally aired in 2006. In the program, Alexandro attacked the Pope and the Church, referring to Catholic Church as the “Microsoft of pedophilia.”
When the Parents Television Council called for the cancellation of the NBC series, “The Playboy Club,” series actor David Krumholtz responded on Twitter by saying that Mormons and Catholics have “a long history of degrading women.” When asked to clarify his statement about Catholics, Krumholtz said, “My bad. I should have said little children instead of women.”
An episode of the NBC show, “Harry’s Law,” concerned a young girl who had been bullied due to her homosexuality and committed suicide after she was outed. It was suggested that the girl’s Catholic faith was in part responsible for her suicide because she could not tell clergy about her homosexuality since “Being raised Catholic she’d be damned for eternity.”
On the CBS sitcom “Big Bang Theory,” the mother of one of the main characters came to visit him. She is portrayed as a southern mother who makes racist and generally inappropriate comments, some of which were offensive to Catholic sensibilities. She referred to Catholics as “Rosary Rattlers”; she said Jesus was “the last Jew who did sit-ups…and look where it got him.”
An episode of “American Dad” called “Season’s Beatings” made grotesque disparagements of Jesus, Christianity, and Christmas. Stan Smith, the main character, hopes to play Jesus Christ on the Cross in an upcoming Christmas play. He says, “When it comes to Christianity, that’s the money shot.