Bruce on Day Five – Monday: Night of the Wankers… »« The cruel return of gods

Donohue’s success

Useful background on the Catholic League.

The Catholic League was founded in 1973 by Jesuit priest Virgil Blum. William Donohue assumed leadership in July 1993. Since then, the membership has grown from 27,000 to 200,000. According to Donohue, the League has “won the support of all of the U.S. Cardinals and many of the Bishops as well…We are here to defend the Church from the scurrilous assaults that have been mounted against it, and we definitely need the support of the hierarchy if we are to get the job done.” Thus it can be considered an arm of the Church. It supplements or replaces priest-controlled organizations of the past described by Blanshard and Seldes. The League apparently has a single mission: suppression of all mainstream criticism of the Roman Catholic Church.

There are many recognizable principles governing the behavior of the League. One is revealed in a vicious 1994 attack against the New London newspaper, The Day, for an editorial critical of the Catholic Church: “What is truly ‘beyond understanding’ is not the Catholic Church’s position, it is the fact that a secular newspaper has the audacity to stick it’s nose in where it doesn’t belong. It is nobody’s business what the Catholic Church does.”

Orilly? It’s the Catholic church’s business what everybody does but it’s nobody’s business what the Catholic church does? They’d like that, wouldn’t they. They can meddle as much as they want to while we have to leave them strictly alone.

And then people wonder why atheists sometimes get grumpy.

A second basic premise is the League’s commitment to canon 1369 of the Code of Canon Law: “A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.” Canon law is the law of the Catholic Church. All criticism of the pope or the Church is in violation of this law in one way or another. This chapter will make clear that the League follows this canon to the letter and demands that all others conform—or pay the price for their violation.

There it is again already – they want their “Canon” law to apply to all of us, but they don’t want our secular free speech and unhindered mockery to apply to them. Nope; no can do.

Donohue also justifies the League’s aggressive behavior by claiming that it is culturally unacceptable for nonCatholics to criticize the Catholic Church. “Perhaps the most cogent remark of the day,” he asserts, “came from the former Mayor of New York, Ed Koch, who politely remarked that his mother always advised him not to speak ill of other religions. It is a lesson that apparently few have learned….Non-Catholics would do well to follow the advice of Ed Koch’s mom and just give it a rest. Their crankiness is wearing thin.” This cultural norm is widely accepted in America, to the enormous benefit of the Vatican.

The Vatican and other theocratic organizations and individuals. Hence occasional grumpiness and inability to oblige.

One final element makes clear the objective of the Catholic League—protection of the papacy against all criticism. Writes Donohue, “It is the conviction of the Catholic League that an attack on the Church is an attack on Catholics.” He offers no rationale to support this theory. Obviously, millions of liberal American Catholics would disagree outright, for it is they who have been attacking the Church.

While at the same time supporting it and validating it. They would do better to abandon it. They would do better to remove the tacit support it gives by not leaving, so that the pope and his henchmen can see that reactionary dogma exacts a price. They could have fewer but better Catholics.

The suppression of all criticism of the Catholic Church and its hierarchy is the goal of the Catholic League. The visit of the pope to the U.S. in October 1995 was a major media event. Given all the gravely serious problems faced by the Church and the enormous amount of dissent by American Catholics, as well as the growing hostility from non-Catholics as a result of the Church’s interference in American policy making, one would expect wide coverage of these realities in the media during his visit. Instead, it was treated as a triumphant return.

The Catholic League believes that it played a major role in this great public relations success—and with good reason. In August 1994, it launched a campaign to intimidate the press in an astounding advance warning to media professionals preparing for the pope’s visit to New York in late October. A letter signed by Donohue announced a press conference to be held just prior to the pope’s visit that will present “10′s of thousands of petitions from active Catholics” that have been collected over the past year. The petition speaks for itself. What else but intimidation of the press is the intent of this campaign?

The November 1995 issue of the League’s journal, Catalyst, is headlined, “Media Treat Pope Fairly; Protesters Fail to Score.” Donohue writes, “By all accounts, the visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States was a smashing success. Media treatment of the papal visit was, with few exceptions, very fair. Protesters were few in number and without impact. From beginning to end, this papal visit proved to be the most triumphant of them all.” A month later he writes, “The relatively few cheap shots that were taken at the Pope by the media in October is testimony to a change in the culture.” And of course the desired “change in the culture” is the elimination of criticism of the pope and his hierarchy. The Catholic League is succeeding on a grand scale far beyond what all but a handful of Americans realize.

If that’s true it explains something that has puzzled me for years, which is precisely the reverential way the US media report on the pope and his doings. I didn’t know they’d been overtly bullied into it.

 

Comments

  1. Ken Pidcock says

    There it is again already – they want their “Canon” law to apply to all of us, but they don’t want our secular free speech and unhindered mockery to apply to them.

    Well, no, but they do want their secular free speech and unhindered mockery to apply to you. They truly value the public forum for the purpose of intimidation.

  2. says

    Oh, golly, thanks for bringing attention to this Ophelia. The Catholic Church is a dangerous, dangerous organisation. It imposes its will on politicians. It has diplomatic representation in most countries, and not only has a direct influence on governments around the world, but is always spoken of in diplomatic terms. The church has a ready made bully pulpit in its relationships with politicians. It is secretive, deceptive, and largely unprincipled — as became very evident during the last few years with the sexual abuse of children. And it simply goes ballistic when it is criticised. Catholicism, like Islam, is a totalitarian ideology, and needs much more watching than it gets. Most churches support the general moral stand of the Catholic Church, and are quite happy to let the RCC do its dirty work for them. Here in Canada, for example, the Anglican Church is opposed to assisted dying, but does not make any public representations to the government, has no organisations that intervene in court cases, etc., but the Catholic Church does, and the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches have various agreements and continues seeking to ally themselves more closely. I have conceived a great hatred for the Roman Catholic Church, and I think there are good reasons to despise what it stands for.

  3. says

    Ken, I think you’re wrong. The church does want its canon law to apply to everyone. In fact, it said as much when it objected to Belgian authorities investigating clerics for sexual abuse of minors. It had another and higher law. In places where it has the power to do so, it makes abortion a crime with serious penalties, and strives to do the same with relationships between homosexuals.

  4. says

    How else can we read this bit?

    A second basic premise is the League’s commitment to canon 1369 of the Code of Canon Law: “A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.”

    It doesn’t say a Catholic person, it just says a person. It appears to be Canon Law that any person is to be punished who says something public that the church dislikes. Obviously the church doesn’t necessarily have the ability to enforce that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t “Canon Law.”

  5. Michael De Dora says

    I’ve met Donohue a handful of times via appearances on FOX News. He’s as bad in person as he seems in the media.

  6. Ken Pidcock says

    I’d forgotten the South Park Episode.

    “Kill him.” What?” “He goeas against the Church. He must die.” “Alright, that does it, Bill. I’m pretty sure that killing Jesus is not very Christian.”

    Hippitus hoppitus deus domine.

  7. Rudi says

    Child-rape-facilitating, woman-hating, gay-hating, AIDS-spreading filth.

    Hatred of the Catholic Church is morally obligatory. I do not have one second’s shame or remorse for stating this, and it depresses me that such a view could possibly be considered outré in this day and age. People should be embarrassed NOT to hold this view.

  8. MosesZD says

    I can’t stand him. Everytime I see him go apoplectic on TV I just cringe and wait for him to have stroke right there on the air…

  9. says

    Ok I think we need to go all Secular League on his ass. He says his MO is publicly shaming people who diss the church. How would he go about shaming us? Saying we’re atheists? Saying we’re aggressive strident shrill fundamentalist militant atheists? Yawn. Get in line, Bill.

    We need to go all Secular League on his ass and publicly shame him for being a noisy ignorant theocratic thug. (I know we’ve been doing that at intervals; we need to do it moar.)

  10. says

    More than that, I think we need to think of some way to campaign against the diplomatic recognition of the Vatican. The biggest problem lies right there. If the Roman Catholic Church were recognised as a religious denomination, period, and not as a state with interests, its influence would be much diminished.

  11. Lyanna says

    Thank you for providing those links, Ophelia.

    Robertson makes an excellent argument, but the fact that struck me most was perhaps the most trivial: the Queen of England wears black in the Pope’s presence because only Catholic queens can wear white.

    I mean, REALLY! The Queen of England, permitting herself to be told what to wear by the pontiff? She should make a point of wearing white.

  12. supernova says

    @#15 Lyanna

    I mean, REALLY! The Queen of England, permitting herself to be told what to wear by the pontiff? She should make a point of wearing white.

    Yeah this surprised me at first, but then again she has managed to remain Queen of 16 countries largely by being as uncontroversial as is humanly possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>