Monday, April 05, 2010

Bill Donohue Defends His Faith

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League says many silly things, though he deserves credit for consistency, having said many silly things for many years. In October, he wrote (link directly to the column comes later in this post) in The Washington Post

The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State harbor an agenda to smash the last vestiges of Christianity in America.... From banning nativity scenes to punishing little kids for painting a picture of Jesus, the zealots give Fidel a good run for his money.

Catholics were once the mainstay of the Democratic Party; now the gay activists are in charge. Indeed, practicing Catholics are no longer welcome in leadership roles in the Party: the contempt that pro-life Catholics experience is palpable.

Not only are the aforementioned organizations out to destroy Christianity, they are Communist, or at least Communist-lite. And the banishment of practicing Catholics from leadership of the Democratic Party must have come as a surprise to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Or the Vice-President (then vice-presidential nominee of the Democratic Party) of the United States.

On March 30, The New York Times printed an advertisement in which Donohue criticized what he views as biased reprting by the most famous and revered newspaper in the country. An attack upon a newspaper I do not regularly read is of limited interest to me. Not so, however, of a fervent defense of the largest religious denomination in the U.S.A. on a matter of great social concern, even though I am a non-Catholic. Donohue's most interesting, and controversial contention, in defense of his church's behavior and response:

The Times continues to editorialize about the "pedophilia crisis," when all along it's been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.

On the April 4 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources, Sally Quinn (in whose Post's column On Faith Donohue's piece had run in October), addressed Donohue's viewpoint:

KURTZ: … the good thing about your reporting is that it’s built on these documents. Now Bill Donohue of the Catholic League took out an ad in which he said, “The Times continues to editorialize about the pedophilia crisis, when all along its been a homosexual crisis. Most of the molesters have been gay.” He was asked about this on CNN a couple days ago. Let’s take a look.


BILL DONOHUE: If your group is over represented in a particular problem area, you ought to explore it. Yes, there’s a connection between the Irish and alcoholism. And yes, there’s a connection between homosexuality, and — and sexual abuse of minors.


KURTZ: Homosexuality is the problem?

QUINN: Well, that’s a whole different issue. And I don’t think this has anything to do with homosexuality. I mean, this has to do with abuse of children regardless of what sex you are.

Uh, no. The abusers of the children are/were male, not "whatever sex you are." Most of the victims are/were male; Donohue claims 80 percent. (The likelihood that female piests would be less inclined to abuse young boys is an issue for another day.) Probably "most of them are post-pubescent"; if not, Quinn, and others of like mind, haven't told us.

Of course, Donohue was correct when he stated "most gay priests are not molesters." If he had acknowledged, as he probably believes, that most homosexuals of whatever vocation are not molesters, it would have been even better. (If he had stated that the vast majority of gay men are not molesters, that would have been even better.)

But have "most" of the molesters "been gay?" From what I can tell, there has been little discussion of this, from Quinn or otherwise, and understandably so. Either they believe, oddly, that the question is irrelevant or they are aware of the answer and want to tiptoe around it. (Or both.)

Is it an irrelevant question? Donohue, an ardent and predictable defender of the Church, surprisingly is one individual who believes it is not. Asked the obvious, unavoidable (except that many journalists have found it avoidable) question last week by CNN's Rick Sanchez of what the scandal suggests about the policy of requiring priests to be celibate, Donohue rose to the occasion: he implied that the requirement should be reconsidered.

Yes, Bill Donohue. While individuals eager to criticize the Roman Catholic Church have been shocked! shocked! at the apparent tolerance shown for priestly pedophiles, Donohue, perhaps inadvertently, has pointed the way. (Kudos to Sanchez for asking a question the answer to which should have gotten more airplay.) Consider the vow of priestly chastity. If few inside or outside the church are willing to challenge the requirement that its spiritual leaders eschew legitimate sexual involvement of any kind, the institution will have little incentive to change.

No doubt the Roman Catholic Church will muster moral outrage to pedophilia roughly equivalent to that of the general public and of its parishioners. And change will be implemented in its approach to accusations of sexual misconduct. Those will represent significant and positive reform. And admittedly, the Church needs to consider other issues, of a more theological nature, before changing policy. But it does no good for the Fourth Estate to avoid discussion of the Elephant in the Room when expressing (justifiable) outrage over the pattern of abuse.

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