The Catholic League and Suppression of the Press Today
From the Link: http://churchandstate.org.uk/2012/04/the-catholic-league-and-supression-of-the-press-today/
This chapter from our chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s seminal book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996), provides a survey of the Catholic League’s chilling effect on the American freedom of the press. The book is available at Kindle here, and is available to read for free here.
Chapter 15: The Catholic League and Suppression of the Press Today
The Catholic League was founded in 1973 by Jesuit priest Virgil Blum. William Donohue assumed leadership in July 1993.[260pp1] Since then, the membership has grown from 27,000 to 200,000.[260pp2] 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.”[260pp3] 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.
According to Donohue, it is fortunate that, “the Catholic Church is there to provide a heady antidote to today’s mindless ideas of freedom.”[260pp4] He is a strong advocate of the Church’s positions on restriction of the freedoms guaranteed by the American Constitution and condemned by popes for nearly two centuries, especially those regarding the press and speech. He informs us that: “the Catholic League is there to defend the Church against its adversaries.”[260pp4]
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.”[260pp5]
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.”[260pp6] 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.
Another principle is aggressive action. Says Donohue, “I defy anyone to name a single organization that has more rabid members than the Catholic League. Our members are generous, loyal and extremely active. When we ask them to sign petitions, write to offending parties and the like, they respond with a vigor that is unparalleled…We aim to win. Obviously, we don’t win them all, but our record of victories is impressive.”[260pp7] To justify this stance, he identifies with Patrick Buchanan’s resistance to the “Culture War” against the Catholic Church: “We didn’t start this culture war against the Catholic Church, we simply want to stop it.”[260pp8]
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.”[260pp9] This cultural norm is widely accepted in America, to the enormous benefit of the Vatican. What role, one wonders, did the Catholic Church play in its adoption? Certainly, in the case of population growth control, its consequence has been catastrophic.
The Catholic League strongly discourages criticism of the Church, especially attacks by the press. Says Donohue, “It does no good complaining about Catholic bashing if all we do is wait until the other side strikes.”[260pp10] Prevention of such publications is of the essence. Yet Donohue is convinced that this is not censorship: “The press and the radio talk shows asked me if the Catholic League was engaging in censorship by responding the way we did. As always, I informed them that only the government has the power to censor anything.”[260pp11] This is patently untrue.
Another tenet enunciated by Donohue:
“I think it is a gross mistake to give elevation to fringe groups. Our basic rule of thumb is this: the more mainstream the source of anti-Catholicism, the more likely it is that the Catholic League will respond….The mainstream media, after all, have the credibility and influence that the fringe lacks, and they are therefore much more likely to do real damage.”[260pp12]
“When major universities, TV networks and government officials engage in Catholic-baiting, it is a far more dangerous situation than the venom that emanates from certifiably fringe organizations.”[260pp13]
“When an establishment newspaper such as the Sun-Sentinel [Fort Lauderdale] offends, it cannot be ignored.”[260pp14]
Donohue goes on to explain the Sun-Sentinel example. On February 9, 1995, it ran an ad, paid for by a Seventh Day Adventist group, which claimed that the Catholic Church is seeking to create a New World Order to take command of the world and that the Pope and the Catholic Church were in a league with Satan.
Accordingly, the Catholic League contacted the radio and television stations in the area, the opposition newspaper, and the nation’s major media outlets registering its outrage and its demands. We demanded nothing less than ‘an apology to Catholics and a pledge that no such ads will ever be accepted again.’ We added that ‘If this is not forthcoming, the Catholic League will launch a public ad campaign on its own, one that will directly target the Sun-Sentinel.’
“What exactly did we have in mind? We were prepared to take out ads in the opposition newspaper, registering our charge of anti-Catholic bigotry. We were prepared to pay for radio spots making our charge. We were prepared to buy billboard space along the majority arteries surrounding the Fort Lauderdale community. Why not? After all, …we are in a position to make such threats….This is the way it works: if the source of bigotry wants to deal with lousy publicity, it can elect to do so. Or it can come to its senses and knock it off. In the event the anti-Catholic bigots want to bite the bullet and stay the course, we’ll do everything we can within the law to make sure that they pay a very high price for doing so.”[260pp15] It goes without saying that anyone critical of the Vatican, or the hierarchy, or the Roman Catholic Church is, by definition, an anti-Catholic bigot—including Catholics themselves.
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.”[260pp16] 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.
Throughout American history, the job of combating anti-Catholicism fell to the clergy, and especially to the Archbishops. But times have changed….The type of anti-Catholicism that exists in American society today is fundamentally different from the genre that marked this country’s history from the outset. From colonial times to the election of John F. Kennedy as President of the United States, anti-Catholicism was vented against both individual Catholics and against the Catholic Church itself. But over the past 30 years, it has become evident that most of the Catholic-bashing centers on the institution of the Church…[260pp17]
The hierarchy cannot be effective against criticism of the institution because they are the institution. Thus, the hierarchy has had to call on the laity to protect the institution in this way. In 1971, the League’s founder pointed out, “If a group is to be politically effective, issues rather than institutions must be at stake.”[260pp18] In other words, the laity, if left to their own devices, will not defend the institution but they will defend their interests as individuals. Hence, the League has adopted this principle and has convinced its members that “an attack on the Church is an attack on Catholics.” In this way, the institution is successfully using individual lay Catholics to shield it from all criticism.
The Church and Its Image
The Catholic Church in America has good reason to be intensely concerned about its image and any criticism. Donohue cites a 1995 study, “Taking America’s Pulse,” undertaken by the National Conference (formerly known as the National Conference of Christians and Jews). Despite the almost complete suppression of all criticism of the Catholic Church in America, a majority of non-Catholic Americans (55%) believe that Catholics “want to impose their own ideas of morality on the larger society.” The survey also found that 38% of non-Catholics believe that Catholics are “narrow-minded because they are too much controlled by their Church.”[260pp19] Obviously, there is a highly receptive audience in this country for any justified criticisms of the Catholic Church. If the floodgates ever opened, it is unlikely that the Church would be able to close them again. Only too well understood by the hierarchy, and the Catholic League, this perhaps explains their unmitigated intolerance for criticism.
Methods of the League
Donohue has cited many of the methods used by the League, including some we have already mentioned. “We specialize in public embarrassment of public figures who have earned our wrath and that is why we are able to win so many battles: no person or organization wants to be publicly embarrassed, and that is why we specialize in doing exactly that…”[260pp20] Elsewhere he writes, “The threat of a lawsuit is the only language that some people understand. The specter of public humiliation is another weapon that must be used. Petitions and boycotts are helpful. The use of the bully pulpit—via the airwaves—is a most effective strategy. Press conferences can be used to enlighten or, alternatively, to embarrass.”[260pp21] “Ads taken out in prominent national newspapers are quite effective.”[260pp22]
The Catholic League’s Op-Ed page advertisement which appeared in the April 10, 1995 issue of The New York Times attacking Disney for its release of the excellent film, “Priest,” is a good example. This attack will be described more fully later. But on the Op-Ed page the following advertisement appears: “We’re leading a nationwide charge against Disney, making use of every legal means available—from boycotts to stockholder revolts—all designed to send a clear and unmistakable message to Michael Eisner, chairman of Disney.”[260pp23] This is only one of many staged or threatened stockholder revolts led by the League.
But probably the most effective means of suppressing criticism of the Catholic Church through the press is a constant “in your face” attack of local newspapers. In a 1995 report on the Massachusetts Chapter of the Catholic League, it is noted that the president and the executive director had been on the attack, “appearing in the media more than 600 times” in the previous five years.[260pp24] In a single state, 600 times in five years! It is no wonder that newspapers in Massachusetts are very reluctant to print any criticism of the Catholic Church, no matter how justified, given this constant barrage of punishment.
Intimidation of the media leadership and of our government by the League is achieved through the wide distribution of frequent news releases, its monthly newsletter and an annual report. In an article on the publication of its 1994 report, Donohue writes, “The purpose of the report is to educate the public and influence decision-makers in government, education and the media….The report is being distributed to all members of Congress, the White House…and to prominent members of the media and education.”[260pp25] From an article regarding the 1995 annual report: “It has been sent to every Bishop and congressman in the nation, as well as to influential persons in the media and other sectors of society.”[260pp26] In a February 1995 letter to the membership, Donohue announced that the 1994 report will be distributed to the press, noting “there will be little excuse left for media ignorance of Catholic-bashing.”[260pp27] Individual attacks are often announced through widely distributed press releases which are bound to capture the attention of members of the press.
Success of the League
The Catholic League has been remarkably successful in achieving its goals. Donohue rightfully gloats: “One of the major reasons why people are giving [donations] is the success the Catholic League has had.”[260pp28] As noted earlier, membership grew from 27,000 to 200,000 in the first two years after Donohue took control. He continues, “We have had a string of victories and we have also had an unprecedented degree of media coverage. We don’t win every fight but our overall record is quite good. Our presence on radio and TV, combined with coverage in newspapers and magazines—both religious and secular—is excellent.”[260pp29] “We’ve been featured on the television program ‘Entertainment Tonight’ and received front page coverage from national newspapers including the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.”[260pp30] The number of apologies and promises it extracts from the nation’s newspapers, TV networks and stations and programs, radio stations, activist organizations, commercial establishments, educational institutions and governments is most impressive.
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.[260pp31] 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.”[260pp32] 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.”[260pp33] 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.
Intimidation Prevents Criticism
It is clear from Donohue’s own words that prevention of any criticism is the goal of the League and that intimidation is its means of achieving this end. In a fund-raising letter mailed in December of 1995, Donohue appeals for funds to hire more staff: “We could have done more….We could have tackled other issues, thereby adding to the number of people who will think twice before crossing Catholics again.”[260pp34] From the League’s 1995 Annual Report: “It is hoped that by …[attacking critics], potential offenders will think twice before launching their assaults on Roman Catholicism.”[260pp35] This statement also makes it clear that it is the protection of the institution that is the goal, not protection of individual Catholics.
It appears that the most aggressive and extensive attack in League history was one directed at Disney for its release of the movie, “Priest.” In an editorial, Donohue forthrightly says that the purpose of the intensive attack on Disney is the prevention of the production of such critical movies in the future: “Our sights were set on what might be coming down the road, not on what had already happened.”[260pp36]
The advice given by Ed Koch’s mother—do not speak ill of other religions—has been a national ethic for nearly all of this century. This ethic, inherent in our culture, has served to suppress nearly all criticism of the Catholic Church. As a result, until its political activities were unveiled with the implementation of the bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities in 1975, the Church had been relatively immune from mainstream criticism. Because this ethic has served the Catholic Church so well, the Church may very well have played a major role in its inculcation into our culture. With its political activity becoming increasingly evident, critics are more than ever convinced of the need for public criticism of the Catholic Church.
However, this ethic does not protect the Church from dissent within its confines which has been growing since Vatican Council II in the 1960s, and most remarkably in recent years. The American media, to avoid flying in the face of American culture by ignoring this dearly held belief, have occasionally provided a forum for this protest. The dissenters have been a significant source of criticism. The Catholic League has not overlooked this problem—indeed, it takes it very seriously. All criticism is targeted from whatever source, including members of the Church.
For example, on January 22, 1995, CBS’s “60 Minutes” broadcast a segment by Mike Wallace on the Catholic dissident group Call to Action. The Catholic hierarchy did agree to appear but dictated terms that were unacceptable to CBS. Then, according to Donohue, the Catholic League sent two letters to executive producer Barry Lando and issued the following press release on January 25:
The entire Call to Action segment was, from beginning to end, an exercise in intellectual dishonesty and journalistic malpractice. The decision to give high profile to the Catholic Church’s radical fringe was pure politics, and nothing short of outrageous….Allowing extremists an uncontested opportunity to rail against the Catholic Church distorts the sentiments of most Catholics and provides succor for bigots. There is a difference between reporting dissent, and promoting it….’60 Minutes’ made clear its preference, extending to the disaffected a platform that they have never earned within the Catholic community….This is propaganda at work, not journalism.[260pp37]
This press release, of course, was received across America as a powerful warning to others to steer clear of Catholic dissidents. The Catholic League then launched a national postcard mailing campaign directed at Lando personally: “…we are angered over the way you continue to present the Catholic Church….We are tired of having our Church viewed from the perspective of the disaffected.”[260pp38]
In another example, the League attacked the October 5, 1995 edition of “NBC Nightly News” with Tom Brokaw for providing a platform for Catholics for a Free Choice and Dignity. The League’s press release included the following:
The media do a great disservice to Catholics and non-Catholics alike when Catholics for a Free Choice and Dignity are presented as though they were genuine voices in the Catholic community. The effect of such misrepresentation is to promote dissent rather than to record it. As such, it is irresponsible for the media to allow itself to become willing accomplices to public deception.[260pp39]
The continuous intimidation is bound to have its desired effect. The April 22, 1996 issue of theNew Republic magazine criticizes the League’s annual report as indicative of the League’s “paranoia.”[260pp40] The New Republic completely misses the point. One need only look at the language used in the League’s attacks. It is not defense. It is intimidating language. The report is an offensive weapon used to silence critics of the Catholic Church.
Specific Examples of the League’s Intimidation
The Catholic League focuses it attention on five types of institutions: media, activist organizations, commercial establishments, educational institutions and governments.[260pp41] Donohue attributes the League’s success, in part, to its ability to stay focused.[260pp42] The League’s 1994 and 1995 annual reports alone offer 350 examples of League attacks. The numerous stunning examples from which to choose make selection for presentation difficult. These were all reported during the period from July 1994 to June 1996.
Newsday—On June 1st and June 3, 1994, the Long Island daily, Newsday, published Bob Marlette cartoons which, according to the Catholic League, “raised pope bashing to a new level.”[260pp43] An apology from Newsday published in the form of a “Memo to Readers” failed to satisfy the Catholic League and a petition was distributed to Long Island pastors. On July 15, Donohue met with Newsday publisher Anthony Marro to discuss the paper’s coverage of Catholics. At the meeting, he presented 76 petitions signed by Long Island pastors expressing their concern for the way Catholics have been portrayed by the newspaper.[260pp44] This was not enough. On August 25, 1994, Donohue met with the editorial board ofNewsday on the newspaper’s coverage of Catholics. Donohue complained that the absence of practicing Catholics on the editorial board resulted in an insensitivity toward Catholics.[260pp45]
Philadelphia Inquirer—An article in the September 1994 issue of the League’s journal is headlined, “Cardinal Bevilacqua Scores Philadelphia Inquirer for Church Coverage, Declines Interview”. The Inquirer had requested an interview for a major story on the Archdiocese. The Cardinal refused: “I have declined your request for an interview due to your unfair and unbalanced coverage of the Archdiocese in the last year….This view is based on a review of Inquirer articles from May 1993 to May 1994. This review included 23 articles written about the Catholic Church. Of these 23 articles, eighteen were considered to be unfair and unbalanced. The unfairness and imbalance occurred in five areas including the selection of negative topics, a disregard for positive news, the use of unqualified experts, the use of negative language and a consistent omission of factual information…It is particularly frustrating to continue to read negative characterizations of the Roman Catholic Church with no regard for our role as the largest provider of social services in Southeastern Pennsylvania and our role as the most visible religious organization in the poorest areas of our city.”[260pp46] The Cardinal makes clear that he feels he should be permitted to dictate what is written about his church to the letter, revealing an arrogance that could never coexist with a free press. Furthermore, that he would bring up the provision of social services by the Church, fully knowing that these services the Church provides are almost entirely funded by local, state and federal tax monies, is deceptive.
Associated Press—On March 10, 1995, the Associated Press (AP), in a story on a court ruling upholding a law barring doctors from engaging in assisted suicide, disclosed that the federal appeals court judge was a Catholic. (The judge’s ruling was in line with his pope’s teaching on this matter.) Donohue took great offense to the AP’s identification of this judge as a Catholic and sent a letter to AP executives asking for a copy of the AP policy on the matter. The League also sent a related press release to other news outlets to inform them of this offense. Darrell Christian, AP’s Managing Editor wrote an apology. “The League is satisfied with AP’s quick response,” writes Donohue in the League’s Journal, “and expects that it will not have to call attention to such errors in the future.” Donohue’s message to the American press was loud and clear. It is not permissible for the press to identify public servants as Catholics when they uphold Catholic teachings in their public decision-making. If so, the League will come after them.[260pp47]
Disney—The May 1995 issue of Catalyst reports in an article, “Catholic League calls for a Boycott of Disney:” “The movie ‘Priest,’ produced by the BBC and released by Miramax, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, provoked the Catholic League to lead a storm of protest against the film and Disney. The movie is arguably the most anti-Catholic movie ever made.”[260pp48] This attack on Disney represents the single greatest assault in the League’s history. In an editorial, Donohue writes: “In addition to joining a boycott of everything that has the Disney label on it, we are asking everyone to sell their Disney stock. It would also send a message if everyone mailed Disney chairman Michael Eisner some old Disney toys or videos. If every Catholic League member sent even one box to Mr. Eisner, it would make an indelible impression on him.”[260pp49]
The petition against Disney reads, “We, the undersigned, have a message to Disney: you bit off more than you can chew when you offended Catholics with the release of ‘Priest.’…We hope that everyone at Disney thinks twice before offending Catholics again. Sadly, appeals to your goodwill mean nothing anymore. That is why we are hitting you in the pocketbook….The Catholic League has already tarnished your image and we have pledged to blacken it a little more.”[260pp50]
The League placed an Op-Ed page advertisement in the April 10, 1995 issue of The New York Times titled “What’s Happening to Disney?” It includes the statement: “So what is the Catholic League doing about this? We are leading a nationwide charge against Disney, making use of every legal means available—from boycotts to stockholder revolts—all designed to send a clear and unmistakable message to Michael Eisner, chairman of Disney.”[260pp51]
But the attack did not end there. On May 2, 1995, a Catholic League member, a stockholder, asked shareholders to ratify at the November meeting of the Walt Disney Company a resolution that calls for the establishment of a religious advisory committee to insure that Disney does not produce another movie like this one.[260pp52] On April 29, the League picketed Disney’s largest retail outlet in New England. A press release read: “The Catholic League intends to make the American public aware of Disney’s contemptuous disregard of the sensibilities of 59 million Catholic Americans. It is Disney that is ultimately responsible for this travesty and it is Disney that will remain the focus of our protests.”[260pp53]
In the July-August 1995 issue of Catalyst, an article, “Disney Protests Continue,” reports that the League had asked the four U.S. Senators who owned Disney stock to sell it: “Mrs. Dole announced on June 2 that she was selling more than $15,000 worth of Disney stock.” It reports that the League picketed the Dedham Community Theater in Dedham, Massachusetts, over the decision of the theater owner to show the anti-Catholic movie “Priest.” The article also reports that numerous dioceses had sold their Disney stock and that “after nine weeks in theaters, the Hollywood Reporter’s Boxoffice ranked ‘Priest’ 34th out of the top 35 movies nationwide.”[260pp54] The January-February 1996 issue reported that upwards of 100,000 petitions were sent to Disney: “…because the movie was a flop at the box office, we do not expect to be greeted with Priest II anytime soon.”[260pp55]
The League’s campaign was not just directed to Disney but to the entire film industry and to the media in general. The message: if you place the Catholic Church in a negative light, you are going to pay.
Jane Pauley—In the June 13, 1995 airing of NBC’s “Dateline ,” Jane Pauley interviewed Scott O’Grady, the U.S. pilot who was rescued in Bosnia. Pauley commented “A devout Roman Catholic, O’Grady made his confirmation at age thirteen, and unlike many of his peers never left the Church.” The Catholic League was angered by this comment and Donohue wrote to Bob Wright, CEO of NBC, demanding that Pauley be fired immediately for this terrible offense. For maximum effect, Donohue released a statement explaining his actions to the press to insure that all got the message.[260pp56]
Bill Press—On July 16, 1995, KFI Radio [Los Angeles] talk show host Bill Press, a Roman Catholic, was critical of the pope and the Catholic Church. According to the September 1995 issue of the League’s Catalyst, “The Catholic League issued the following statement to the press on this matter: ‘The issue here is not simply the vile comments of Bill Press. The issue is the willingness of a respected radio station to keep him on payroll….The Catholic League does not want equal time to respond to Press, rather it wants him fired.’”[260pp57] By distributing this press release, the League was sending a message to everyone in the press—if you are critical of the pope or the Catholic Church, we are coming after you and your employer.
Liz Langley and the Orlando Weekly—Liz Langley wrote a light article about communion wafers in the August 10-16, 1995 edition. The League took great offense and issued a statement to the press that included the following: “The Langley piece is one of the most anti-Catholic articles to have appeared in some time….Accordingly, I will now mobilize a public relations offensive against the newspaper, using every tactic this side of the law to discredit the paper.”[260pp58] Donohue’s press release may have been meant to intimidate other reporters. Nearly a year after the incident, I talked with Editor Jeff Truesdell. Nothing ever came of the League’s threats. Of course, no one ever reported this to the thousands of reporters who read the press release from Donohue.
Fox-TV—In September 1995, Mother Teresa was used to make a comedic point in a promotional spot for the Fox-TV program, The Preston Episodes. The Catholic League complained to the Los Angeles Office of Fox and “an apology was extended and a pledge not to run the offensive spot again was made.”[260pp59]
Bravo Network-“Windows”—A program which aired on September 24, 1995 on the cable network Bravo, featured a dance routine involving a priest dealing with temptation from a nun. “The Catholic League registered its outrage to Bravo, the ‘Windows’ producer Thomas Grimm, and Texaco Performing Arts Showcase, which sponsored the program.”[260pp60] In December the League reported that Texaco had apologized for sponsoring this segment. Texaco also stated to Dr. Donohue that henceforth there would be a “screening procedure for the Texaco Performing Arts Showcase.”[260pp61]
New Britain Herald—Connecticut’s New Britain Herald published a syndicated cartoon which shows the three Magi going to visit the Baby Jesus. One of the shepherds says, “Wait…aren’t we just encouraging these teen-age pregnancies?” League members complained to the newspaper that this was anti-Catholic bigotry. The newspaper issued an apology on its editorial page.[260pp62]
Ann Landers—In an interview with Christopher Buckly in the December 4, 1995 edition of theNew Yorker, columnist Ann Landers criticized Pope John Paul II. “After first making a favorable comment about the Pope, Landers remarked, ‘Of course, he’s a Polack. They’re very antiwomen.’ …Landers later apologized for the crack about the Pope…The Catholic League sent its own comments to the New Yorker and further disseminated its views via a news release and radio interviews….(T)he Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has decided to drop Landers’ column beginning in 1996.”[260pp63]
ABC’s “The Naked Truth”—The League strongly attacked the January 10 edition of the ABC show “The Naked Truth.” The League’s letter to ABC included this threat: “We will contact the sponsors of the program and will alert our members to take action against them. Knowing our members, they won’t hesitate to do so.” This report, which appears in the March 1996 issue of Catalyst, listed the names, addresses and phone numbers of the eight sponsors of that show.[260pp64]
“Dave, Shelly & Chainsaw”-San Diego radio program—The April 1996 edition of Catalystreports on an attempt by the League’s San Diego Chapter to have the “Lash Wednesday” segment of the Dave, Shelly & Chainsaw program discontinued. The local chapter charged that the “humor” was “unacceptable” and the segment must be discontinued. But it failed. At that point the national office of the Catholic League got involved and placed an ad in the San Diego Union-Tribune “calling attention to this outrage.” This prompted media requests for interviews with the chapter president who appeared live on KGTV, the ABC affiliate. The tenor of this interview was “so controversial” that the station was pressured to invite him back a second time. “This time the television reporters were much more respectful.” The League asked its members nationwide to contact the radio station General Manager and the President of PAR Broadcasting Company to demand that this segment be discontinued, providing his address, phone and fax numbers.[260pp65]
PBS’ Frontline—On February 6, 1996, PBS aired a program called, “Murder on ‘Abortion Row’”. The two hour special was a serious look at the life of John Salvi, the person who killed two women and wounded five others working at an abortion clinic in 1994. Salvi is a devout Catholic and had planned to become a Catholic priest. The Catholic League was given an opportunity to preview the program. It immediately released a statement to the press attacking the documentary which began, “The Frontline program, “Murder on ‘Abortion Row,’” is nothing more than a front for Planned Parenthood and an irresponsible propaganda piece against Catholicism.”[260pp66]
Newsday—On March 12, 1996, the Long Island newspaper, Newsday, ran a headline which read, “Ex-Alter Boy on Trial.” The League protested. Donohue called the paper’s editor: “The content and tone of his remarks assured Donohue that this would not happen again.”[260pp67] Newsday subsequently published a League letter-to-the-editor which was very critical of the newspaper.
HBO—On May 6, 1996, Home Box Office aired “Priestly Sins: Sex and the Catholic Church.” The one hour special focused on the issue of sexual abuse in the priesthood. The League issued a lengthy news release which sharply attacked HBO: “The film is classic propaganda…HBO is not the first to float the idea that a ‘code of secrecy’ keeps the Church from revealing the truth about clergy sexual abuse: that honor extends to the Nazis and others. The Catholic League will call on all Catholics to boycott HBO…”[260pp68]
Sony—The June 1996 issue of Catalyst reported on the Sony movie, “The Last Supper”: “The movie, while not offensive to Catholics, nonetheless offended Catholics with its promotional material. The League…wrote a letter of protest to Sony Picture Releasing President, Jeffrey Blake. The response from Sony was decisive: ‘We have taken the unusual step of modifying our marketing campaign’….The League is satisfied with this modification.”[260pp69]
AP—On March 31, 1996, the Associated Press ran a story about a suburban Chicago man suspected of assassinating a Philadelphia policeman a quarter-century ago. The story, which was distributed to newspapers all over the country, mentioned that the accused was “23, a Catholic school-educated telephone repairman, when the shooting occurred.” The League sent a letter of protest to the president of AP and urged all of its members to do the same, providing his name and address to them.[260pp70]
QVC Shopping Network—Continental Cablevision in New England had conducted a survey of 32,000 subscribers and found that viewers preferred to drop the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), the Catholic cable network, in favor of the QVC Shopping Network. The New England Chapter of the Catholic League sharply opposed this change and Continental was muscled into continuing programming of EWTM.[260pp71]
Barneys New York—On December 9, 1994, the League successfully pressured Barneys of New York, an upscale clothing store, into removing an “offensive” nativity scene from its storefront window on Madison Avenue and 61st Street. Donohue informed Barneys that it had about four hours to contact the League, otherwise the media would be contacted. It didn’t take long before Simon Doonan, a senior vice president, called Donohue and extended an apology. However, Doonan flatly declined to do anything about the exhibit. Donohue then released a statement to the media that included the following comments: “Barneys New York and Christie’s have cooperated in promoting an insulting anti-Christian exhibit….Plainly put, this means that Barneys will respect the right of artists to show disrespect for the rights of Catholics. The Catholic League will disseminate this news to as wide an audience as possible. We do not accept Mr. Doonan’s apology: apologies unaccompanied by corrective action do not assuage.”[260pp72]
Catalyst went on to report: “Within hours of releasing this statement, the television cameras were in Dr. Donohue’s office. Just about every radio and television station in New York commented on the Barney exhibit….Barneys pulled the display from the window…giving the work back to the artist….In response to all of this, Barneys took out full page ads in The New York Times, New York Post and New York Daily News, apologizing for what had happened. The ads, together with the boycotts that were instituted, wound up costing Barneys hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales.”[260pp72] Now that’s success!
Hard Rock Casino and Hotel—The December 1995 issue of Catalyst reports: “When the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel opened last March in Las Vegas, it featured a restored carved gothic altar in one of its cocktail bars….The offensive use of the altar has been a source of criticism by many area Catholics.” The local bishop complained to the owner, Peter Morton, who said it would be removed. After seven months of inaction, the Catholic League got involved. The League outlined its strategy to the press: “…the time has now come to put public pressure on Mr. Morton. The Catholic League will contact the media in Las Vegas about this incident, and will alert the national media to it as well. We will also take out ads in the local newspapers, as well as the diocesan newspaper, requesting Catholics not to patronize the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel and to organize demonstrations in front of the establishment. We will also contact local Catholic organizations to organize phone trees and deliver their message straight to Mr. Morton. If more pressure is needed, we will bring it to bear, including a national boycott of all Hard Rock Cafes.”[260pp73]
The Catholic League followed through on its promise by taking out three ads in area newspapers.[260pp74] Hard Rock quickly responded saying it would remove the altar on November 30. The report ended, “The Catholic League will announce its next move once it finds out what happens on November 30.[260pp75]
An article in its January/February 1996 issue: “Victory is Always Sweet: Hard Rock Hotel Pulls Altar” reads: “After responding to pressure brought by the Catholic League, the Hard Rock Hotel…withdrew an offensive altar from its bar…By giving the incident publicity, both nationally as well as locally, the Catholic League was able to secure the support of many influential Catholics, some of whom put pressure on Hard Rock….It cost Hard Rock approximately a quarter million dollars to remove the altar… we won.”[260pp76]
William Paterson College—On July 5, 1994, Professor Vernon McClean, an instructor in the African-American and Caribbean studies department at William Paterson College at Wayne, New Jersey, opened the first session of his summer class, “Racism and Sexism in a Changing America,” by saying the pope is a racist. The League was contacted and it sent representatives to the college. “No one in any office would speak with us. They took great umbrage at our inquiry and were totally uncooperative. We received the same treatment from three different offices—we were either dismissed or treated as though we had no right to be questioning the incident. Following this lack of cooperation and response from the college, we issued a press release demanding an apology from the college and disciplinary action against Professor McLean. The New Jersey papers gave the issue thorough coverage and the New York radio and television media also took note.”[260pp77]
After the college completed its investigation, it made a public statement that “the College is satisfied that the matter has been resolved fully and completely.” The League, however was not satisfied. “Accordingly, the Catholic League called upon state officials to conduct a formal hearing on the campus of William Paterson College; Governor Christie Whitman, senior higher education officials and area legislators were contacted….But thus far she (Governor Whitman) has been mute….The Catholic League will not be satisfied until justice has been done. Our goal is not to simply chastise one college professor….We’re taking the long view on this one and it would behoove people like President Speert (Paterson College president) to do likewise.”[260pp77]
University of Michigan—The University of Michigan student newspaper, The Michigan Daily, ran a cartoon that mocked Newt Gingrich’s promotion of Boys Town and also related to the pedophilia problem in the Catholic priesthood. Donohue wrote a threatening letter to Dr. James Duderstadt, President of the University of Michigan: “Enclosed is a copy of a cartoon that was run in The Michigan Daily….Please be advised that as president of the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization, I am prepared to do what is necessary to rid your campus of the bigotry it presently entertains.”[260pp78]
The very next issue of Catalyst reads: “We are happy to report that an apology from the cartoonist and a conciliatory letter from Dr. Duderstadt have brought this issue to a close.”[260pp79]
The Population Institute—In a May 1995 fund-raising letter, Werner Fornos, president of The Population Institute, wrote the following: “The Vatican continues to undermine the advancements we’ve made in Cairo on issues of pregnancy prevention. The anti-contraceptive gestapo has vowed to double the number of its delegation (to the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing) to 28 and to turn once more to weaken the cause of reproductive rights.” The July-August, 1995 issue of Catalyst describes the League’s response in an article, “Nazi Slur of Vatican Implicates Congressmen.”[260pp80]
In a news release, the Catholic League issued the following remarks: “The Population Institute proves once again that some of the anti-natalist forces are unquestionably anti-Catholic. Not content, or able, to debate the issues on their merits, these activists seek to defame the Holy See and thereby discredit its influence. Members of The Population Institute who share its politics, but not its bigotry, should make a clear and decisive break with the organization…. Accordingly, the Catholic League calls upon the following advisors to The Population Institute to resign immediately: Sen. Paul Simon, Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Jim Leach, Rep. Robert Torricelli and Rep. Sam Gejdenson. Not to resign would be to give tacit support to anti-Catholicism…The Catholic League [also] wrote to each Congressman involved in this scandal.”[260pp80]
The September 1995 issue of Catalyst reports: “Senator Daniel K. Inouye complied with the League’s request and resigned from the Population Institute. Senator Barbara Boxer of California put The Population Institute on notice, warning that any future examples of ‘inappropriate’ and ‘offensive’ fundraising letters would lead her ‘to reconsider’ her position with the organization. Congressman Robert Torricelli of New Jersey…warned The Population Institute to be more careful in how it phrases its letters.”[260pp81]
Anti-Defamation League—On December 1, 1995, the ADL notified the publisher, Hippocrene Books that it was granting a prestigious literary award to Richard Lukas for his book, Did the Children Cry? Hitler’s War Against Jewish and Polish Children. Lukas was to receive the literary award, plus a prize of $1,000 on January 23, 1996 at the ADL’s headquarters in New York. On January 10, the ADL’s Mark Edelman, wrote to the publisher stating that a mistake had been made; that subsequent review led to a decision to reverse the initial judgment. The May 1996 issue of Catalyst reports, “When the Catholic League learned of what had happened, it was incensed.” Donohue wrote a letter to Edelman: “For the record, I would like to know exactly why the book was selected for an award in the first place. Surely there are records of this evaluation. And I would also like to know why those reasons were found unpersuasive—and by whom—at a later date.”
The report continues: “The Catholic League…did not receive a response from the ADL until the matter was favorably resolved on March 18. But the good news did not come until considerable pressure had been brought to bear. Before the ADL reversed its decision not to give the award, the attorney for author Lukas had already warned the ADL that it would be sued. When the ADL made its announcement to reinstate the award to Lukas, it noted that it still had several problems with the book. The ADL said that ‘we believe the book underestimates the extent of Polish anti-Semitism before and after World War II. We believe also that, while there were heroic efforts of some Poles during this time, the book appears to vastly overestimate the number of Poles who were engaged in such courageous actions. Finally, the ADL believes the book presents a sanitized picture of Polish involvement with Jews during the War and overlooks authoritative points of view of many historians, including Polish historians.’ Though justice prevailed in the end, this marks a sad chapter in the ADL’s history….We hope that the ADL has learned an important lesson and that such ‘mistakes’ will be avoided in the future.”[260pp82]
The Clinton Administration—The October 1994 Catalyst headline reads “League Assails Clinton Administration for Bigotry.” This article reports: “In an unprecedented move, the Catholic League assailed the administration of a standing president for anti-Catholic bigotry. From the time President Clinton took office, it has become increasingly evident that his administration is insensitive at best, and downright hostile at worst, to Catholic interests. But the final straw occurred during the third weekend in August. Faith Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the State Department, charged that the Vatican’s disagreement over the Cairo conference on population and development ‘has to do with the fact that the conference is really calling for girls’ education and improving the status of women.’ That statement was so outrageous that one of our members…wrote a strong letter registering her concerns to President Clinton…and [this letter] was published as a Catholic League open letter to the President in the August 29th edition of The New York Times.”[260pp83]
This open letter, published as a half-page advertisement sponsored by the Catholic League, ran in all editions of The New York Times on August 29, 1994. It viciously attacks Faith Mitchell and requests President Clinton to retract and apologize for her statement.[260pp84]
In an article published in this issue, Donohue writes: “The anti-Catholic bigots in the Clinton administration got so exercised during the Cairo conference that Leon Panetta [who is Catholic], the White House Chief of Staff, acknowledged that there was a problem with Catholic-bashing and vowed to discipline anyone who continued to chide the Vatican.”[260pp85] Apparently, any criticism of the Vatican, no matter how just, is off limits.
Dr. Joycelyn Elders—In an editorial in the January-February issue of Catalyst, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” Donohue writes, “We have rolled into 1995 with a string of victories. Dr. Elders is gone…Dr. Joycelyn Elders is one for the books. The very first news release I issued when I took over as president of the Catholic League in July 1993 was in opposition to the nomination of Dr. Elders as Surgeon General…Through the month of August, we pressed hard to stop her nomination: we held a press conference at the National Press Club and wrote to all the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but we ultimately fell short of our objective. What we did not do, however, was give up. We continued to criticize Dr. Elders whenever she made an irresponsible statement…”[260pp86]
An article in the same issue, “Elder’s Exit Applauded,” reads: “The Catholic League is delighted to see that one of the most outspoken anti-Catholic bigots in the Clinton administration has been axed. Joycelyn Elders was nominated to the office of Surgeon General by President Clinton in 1993 and confirmed later by the Senate. The Catholic League opposed her nomination and confirmation from the beginning. Her anti-Catholic statements…should have alone disqualified her from a position of national influence and authority…The Catholic League continued to speak out against her during her tenure as Surgeon General.”[260pp87]
This is but a very small sample of the attacks by the League over this two year period. It is unfortunate that space limits the number. These examples are presented almost entirely in the League’s own words. As one surveys its material, it becomes evident that all criticism of the Church or anything that places the Church in a negative light is deemed anti-Catholic, despicable and impermissible. The Church is simply above all criticism. The Catholic League obviously rejects America because it rejects what America stands for, including the freedoms of speech, expression and the press. This stand taken by the Catholic League is consistent with nearly two centuries of Catholic teaching on these matters and we should expect nothing different.
Intimidation, such as has been described in this chapter, by Catholic institutions over the past hundred years, has resulted in a populace woefully ignorant of the threat to American democracy and security posed by the Church. This intimidation has made it possible for the Church to go unchallenged.
How can Americans publicly discuss the obvious conflict between American national security-survival interests and Papal security-survival interests in this environment that the Catholic League now so effectively fosters? Obviously, it is not possible. Not only were the recommendations of the Rockefeller Commission and the NSSM 200 report never implemented, they were never publicly debated. Few Americans are even aware of NSSM 200 or this conflict in security interests. Intimidation by Catholic institutions has completely suppressed appropriate investigation of this conflict. Indeed, this intimidation has shut off the flow of the kinds of facts that resulted in these recommendations—facts of which all Americans should be fully aware. Without this vital information and discussion in a public forum, there can be no democratic solution to this conflict between the interests of the nation and of the Catholic Church—a dilemma well understood by the hierarchy.
[260pp1] Donohue W. We’ve Only Just Begun. Catalyst January-February 1995. p. 3.
[260pp2] Christian Coalition Conference a Success. Catalyst October 1995. p. 15.
[260pp3] Donohue W. A Banner Year for the Catholic League. Catalyst July-August 1994. p. 3.
[260pp4] Christian Coalition Conference a Success. Catalyst October 1995. p. 15.
[260pp5] Women’s Ordination Letter Draws Liberal Media Fire: Editorial Criticism of Papal Letter Earns Response. Catalyst July-August 1994. p. 8.
[260pp6] Sheridan A. Ignatian Society Petitions Cardinal Hickey to Remove Fr. Drinan’s Faculties. The Wanderer July 18, 1996. p. 1.
[260pp7] Donohue W. Our Members Make This a Special Christmas. Catalyst December 1995. p. 3.
[260pp9] Donohue W. The Vatican, Women and Non-Catholics. Catalyst July-August 1994. p. 7.
[260pp10] Letter sent to the Catholic League Membership signed by League President William Donohue. June 1995.
[260pp11] Donohue W. The Message From Florida Is: Bigots Beware. Catalyst April 1995. p. 3.
[260pp13] Donohue W. Catholic League’s 1994 Report on Anti-Catholicism. New York: Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. p. 2.
[260pp14] Donohue W. The Message From Florida Is: Bigots Beware. Catalyst April 1995. p. 3.
[260pp16] Donohue W. Catholic League’s 1994 Report on Anti-Catholicism. New York: Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. p. 2.
[260pp18] Blum VC. Public Policy Making: Why the Churches Strike Out. America March 6, 1971. p. 224.
[260pp19] Anti-Catholicism Nation’s Worst Prejudice. Catalyst July-August 1995. p. 13.
[260pp20] Donohue W. Our Members make This a Special Christmas. Catalyst December 1995. p. 3.
[260pp21] Donohue W. A Banner Year for the Catholic League. Catalyst July-August 1994. p. 3.
[260pp22] Letter sent to the Catholic League Membership signed by League President William Donohue. June 1995.
[260pp23] Catholic League Op-Ed page ad which appeared in the April 10, 1995 issue of the New York Times, “What’s Happening to Disney?” signed by William A. Donohue, President.
[260pp24] The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts Forms. The Wanderer October 8, 1995. p. 8.
[260pp25] Report On Anti-Catholicism Released. Catalyst April 1995. p. 1.
[260pp26] Report On Anti-Catholicism Released. Catalyst May 1996. p. 1.
[260pp27] Letter sent to the Catholic League Membership signed by League President William Donohue. February 1995.
[260pp28] Donohue W. A Banner Year for the Catholic League. Catalyst July-August 1994. p. 3.
[260pp30] Letter sent to the Catholic League Membership signed by League President William Donohue. September 1995.
[260pp31] Catholic League letter announcing a press conference signed by League President William Donohue. August 1994.
[260pp32] Media Treat Pope Fairly; Protesters Fail to Score. Catalyst November 1995. p. 1.
[260pp33] Donohue W. Our Members make This a Special Christmas. Catalyst December 1995. p. 3.
[260pp34] Catholic League fundraising letter signed by William Donohue mailed December 1995.
[260pp35] Donohue W. Catholic League’s 1995 Report on Anti-Catholicism. New York: Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. p. 4.
[260pp36] Donohue W. The Fallout Over “Priest.” Catalyst June 1995. p. 3.
[260pp37] “60 Minutes” Rigs Show Against Catholic Church. Catalyst March 1995. p. 1.
[260pp38] Give It To “60 Minutes”…. Catalyst March 1995. p. 4A.
[260pp39] Media Treat Pope Fairly; Protesters Fail to Score. Catalyst November 1995. p. 1.
[260pp40] We’re “Paranoid.” Catalyst June 1996. p. 1.
[260pp41] Report On Anti-Catholicism Released. Catalyst May 1996. p. 1.
[260pp42] Donohue W. Our Members make This a Special Christmas. Catalyst December 1995. p. 3.
[260pp43] Newsday’s Marlette Offends Twice in One Week. Catalyst July-August 1994. p. 8.
[260pp44] Meeting with Newsday Editor. Catalyst September 1994. p. 2.
[260pp45] Meeting with Newsday Editorial Board. Catalyst October 1994. p. 2.
[260pp46] Cardinal Bevilacqua Scores Philadelphia Inquirer For Church Coverage, Declines Interview. Catalyst September 1994. p. 6.
[260pp47] AP Responds to League Complaint. Catalyst May 1995. p. 1.
[260pp48] Catholic League Calls for Boycott of Disney. Catalyst May 1995. p. 1.
[260pp49] Donohue W. There’s Anger in the Land. Catalyst May 1995. p. 3.
[260pp50] Petition Against Disney. Catalyst May 1995. p. 5.
[260pp51] What’s Happening to Disney?, a Catholic League Op-Ed page ad which appeared in the April 10, 1995 issue of The New York Times. Catalyst May 1995. p. 12.
[260pp52] Disney Targeted By Resolution. Catalyst June 1995. p. 1.
[260pp53] League Pickets Disney. Catalyst June 1995. p. 14.
[260pp54] Disney Protests Continue. Catalyst July-August 1995. p. 4.
[260pp55] Disney Gets Present From Catholic League. Catalyst January-February 1996. p. 9.
[260pp56] Jane Pauley Shows Anti-Catholic Bias. Catalyst July-August 1995. p. 15.
[260pp57] KFI Radio (Los Angeles) Insults Catholics. Catalyst September 1995. p. 5.
[260pp58] Orlando Newspaper Insults Catholics. Catalyst October 1995. p. 6.
[260pp59] Media Wars on Catholicism: Fox Promo Withdrawn. Catalyst November 1995. p. 4.
[260pp60] Media Wars on Catholicism: Bravo Makes Obscene Show. Catalyst November 1995. p. 5.
[260pp61] Texaco Apologizes, Bravo Condescends. Catalyst December 1995. p. 13.
[260pp62] You Can Make a Difference. Catalyst December 1995. p. 2.
[260pp63] Ann (S)Landers Lashes Out at Pope and Polish People. Catalyst January-February 1996. p. 10.
[260pp64] ABC Show “The Naked Truth” Ridicules Catholicism. Catalyst March 1996. p. 4.
[260pp65] San Diego Radio Program Mocks Catholicism, Drawing League Response. Catalyst April 1996. p. 1.
[260pp66] PBS’ “Frontline” Exploits Catholicism in Abortion Program. Catalyst April 1996. p. 6.
[260pp67] Protest of Bias Yields Favorable Result. Catalyst May 1996. p. 13.
[260pp68] HBO Offers Tabloid Look at Catholic Church. Catalyst June 1996. p. 1.
[260pp69] League Protest of “The Last Supper” Pays Off. Catalyst June 1996. p. 4.
[260pp70] AP Red Flags Catholic Religion. Catalyst June 1996. p. 13.
[260pp71] New England Chapter Helps Save EWTN. Catalyst June 1996. p. 13.
[260pp72] League Pressures N.Y. Store To Remove Offensive Creche. Catalyst January-February 1995. p. 1.
[260pp73] Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Offends Catholics. Catalyst December 1995. p. 4.
[260pp74] Why is the Hard Rock Hotel Offending Catholics? Catalyst December 1995. p. 5.
[260pp75] Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas Offends Catholics. Catalyst December 1995. p. 4.
[260pp76] Hard Rock Hotel Pulls Altar. Catalyst January-February 1996. p. 6.
[260pp77] Pope Defamed at New Jersey State College. Catalyst September 1994. p. 1.
[260pp78] University of Michigan Cartoon Draws Swift League Response. Catalyst March 1995. p. 11.
[260pp79] University of Michigan Cartoonist Apologizes. Catalyst April 1995. p. 2.
[260pp80] Nazi Slur of Vatican Implicates Congressmen. Catalyst July-August 1995. p. 1.
[260pp81] Senator Inouye Resigns From Population Institute After League Protest. Catalyst September 1995. p. 4.
[260pp82] Protest Stirs ADL to Restore Prize to Author. Catalyst May 1996. p. 6.
[260pp83] League Assails Clinton Administration for Bigotry. Catalyst October 1994. p. 1.
[260pp84] Open Letter To The President. This half-page ad sponsored by the Catholic League ran in all editions of The New York Times on August 29, 1994. Catalyst October 1994. p. 8.
[260pp85] Donohue W. The Holy See, Cairo and The Pundits. Catalyst October 1994. p. 11.
[260pp86] Donohue W. We’ve Only Just Begun. Catalyst January-February 1995. p. 3.
[260pp87] Elder’s Exit Applauded. Catalyst January-February 1995. p. 4.
How the undemocratic activities of the Catholic Church silences critics
From the Link: http://churchandstate.org.uk/2016/07/how-the-undemocratic-activities-of-the-catholic-church-silence-critics/
Adapted from chapter 13 of our chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s seminal book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996). The book is available at Kindle here, and is available to read for free here.
Distortion of the Church’s Image
In 1990, the Times Mirror Company, owner of a number of large U.S. newspapers, conducted a national poll, “The People, Press and Politics.” This poll asked interviewees questions that would permit the measure of “favorability.” Eleven political institutions were compared. The Catholic Church ranked number one with an 89 percent favorability rating, handily beating the Supreme Court, Congress and the U.S. military. Evangelical Christians were given a 53 percent rating. Among famous world leaders, including living U.S. Presidents, the pope ranked number one with a favorability rating of 88 percent. Only Vaclav Havel came within 10 points of the pope.
This is either an amazing phenomenon or an impressive accomplishment by the bishops, or both. The Catholic Church in America is in serious decline. As noted earlier, half of all American priests now quit the priesthood before age 60. The average age of nuns in the U.S. is 65 years and only 3 percent are below age 40. Nearly one-third of the Catholic schools and one-fourth of the Catholic hospitals have closed in the past 30 years. Contributions by members have fallen by half in the same period, with Catholics having the lowest contribution rate of any of the major churches. Were it not for the billions of dollars received by the Church in federal, state and local tax funds, the income from corporate gifts made as a result of Catholic influence within public and private corporations, and as a result of influence within major private foundations, the Church could not possibly survive in its current form.
As noted, millions of Catholics have left the Church and become Protestants. The September 1995 New York Times/CBS News Poll revealed that 28 percent of those who had been raised as Catholics no longer considered themselves Catholic. In other words, 17 million individuals whom the bishops claim as Catholics have left the Church. In November 1979, about half of all Americans surveyed regarded the pope as a universal moral leader. By 1995, according to this survey, the proportion had fallen to 31 percent, a 40 percent drop. A 1994 Los Angeles Timessurvey found that 43 percent of priests and 51 percent of nuns say that things in the Church are not so good. According to a study conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute and reported in USA Today on January 29, 1993, Catholics account for 31 percent of all abortions in the U.S. but are only 22 percent of the U.S. population. A September 1995 Washington Post/ABC News Poll queried: Is the Roman Catholic Church in touch with the views of Catholics in America today, or out of touch? Nearly 60 percent of both Catholics and non-Catholics responded, “out of touch.” To the question, “Do you think someone who is using birth control methods other than the rhythm method can still be a good Catholic?,” Ninety-three percent of Catholics said yes. To the question, “Do you think someone who gets divorced and marries someone else without Church approval can still be a good Catholic,?” 85 percent said yes. To the question, “Do you think a woman who has an abortion for reasons other than her life being in danger can still be a good Catholic?,” 69 percent said yes. The Catholic Church in the U.S. can only be described as an institution in serious decline.
How can the Church and the pope have such high favorability ratings under these circumstances? This is an important question for all Americans and the American political process. The answers will tell how the Rockefeller Commission recommendations and the NSSM 200 recommendations, and every major initiative taken thus far to control U.S. and world population growth have been killed by the Church without Americans being aware of it. We will return to this question in the next chapter.
The bishops have been permitted to make the rules on how they are reported on. This has been accomplished by using many different tools and devices and only a few will be discussed here. A 1991 study conducted by the Center for Media and Public Affairs and published by the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, a study conducted by Catholics for use by Catholic activists, found that in spite of the fact that the Catholic Church is in precipitous decline and that half of its priest and nuns said that things in the Church are not so good, “the ‘Church hierarchy’ is cited more than 50 times as often as ‘identified Church dissidents’!” Given the state of the Church one would expect the opposite to be true. The dissenters obviously have something to talk about, but press reporting on dissension and dissenters has been successfully discouraged by the Church leadership. Given the enormous potential for dissenting opinion, the bishops’ accomplishment in suppressing media coverage of this opinion is truly impressive. A reasonable question is: what other information is the Church successfully suppressing?
As mentioned in Chapter 11, the news outlets that placed the Church in a negative light were virtually all snuffed out or muzzled earlier in this century by the Knights of Columbus; this institution continues to take great pride in its early successes. Its efforts in recent years and the efforts of other Catholic institutions, such as the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, to suppress information that places the Church in a bad light have been mostly successful (the issue of child molestation being the only significant exception but even on this issue they do what they can).
Any time a report appears in the press placing the Church in a bad light, almost without exception there is an immediate demand for an apology and retraction made to the reporter, editor and publisher by these Catholic thought police. Written responses and demands for publication are immediately forthcoming. These responses are usually published and it is amazing how many apologies are made and published. There are scores of examples each year and they can be found in the publications of these thought police. They eagerly share their successes with their members. But when a negative report appears in one newspaper or magazine it rarely appears in another, regardless of its newsworthiness—Carl Bernstein’sTIME magazine article is a good example.
Economic retribution as a tool to suppress criticism was used more commonly in the last century and earlier in this century than today because it is now largely unnecessary. The long history of its use and the success enjoyed with it makes the mere threat of its use highly effective.
Perhaps far more important than the outright intimidation practiced by many of the right-wing Catholic organizations is the self-censorship practiced by reporters, editors and publishers. All know there is a line that has been drawn by the bishops that they are not to cross—and they rarely do. They are aware of the rules formulated by the bishops regarding how Church matters are to be reported—and nearly always follow them. They know they will be punished if they do not conform.
Indeed, the bishops have had far greater success in intimidating non-Catholics than in retaining their own faithful. This is not limited to the press. With 26 years in the population field, I can say from experience that the fear of retaliation by the Catholic Church has paralyzed the population movement. I have also found that the fear felt by many American politicians aware of the undemocratic activities of the Church has resulted in their silence on this issue.
The Roman Catholic Church is a political entity headquartered in Rome and controlled in Rome. Its teachings and policies are set in Rome. All of its employees work for and represent the interests of the headquarters in Rome. It has awesome political power in the U.S. and the world over. It has inviolable territory, diplomatic representation to governments around the world and its minions sit on international bodies of a purely secular nature. It has political interests, including security-survival interests which are in direct conflict with those of the United States Government and its people. But the image of the Catholic Church presented by the American press does not reflect these realities. We are led to believe that this institution is primarily religious in nature. On the contrary; numerous observers over the years, including scholar Paul Blanchard, have correctly described the Catholic Church as a political institution cloaked in religion. Little has changed. The Church and its Vatican are firstly a political institution, now desperately trying to survive.
Much distortion is possible because relevant information that would limit distortion is not collected in the first place, since the Church has succeeded in blocking its collection. For example, for the bishops to claim “we speak for 59 million Americans” alone gives the Church an enormous amount of political power to manipulate government policy. It is not possible to challenge their present count of 59 million, though the actual number of Catholics who consider themselves adherents of the Catholic faith and who are willing to give the bishops permission to speak for them in the political arena is undoubtedly but a fraction of 59 million. But when politicians hear the number 59 million, they listen intently. The result—a lot of political power.
These are but a few of the reasons Americans have such a distorted view of the Church. However, American priests, nuns and laymen have a much less distorted view; it is amply documented that they are leaving the Church in droves. The test of the image is in the polling. The image of a healthy, robust and expanding American Catholic Church is clearly wrong. American Catholics are not conforming to the extent that our perceptions tell us. We are affording the Church far more deference than it deserves.
Too Much Evidence to Ignore
American Catholics, like the rest of us, cannot ignore the steady barrage of evidence that their church is in an untenable position and that the pope and the Church, as Father McCormack phrased it, “bear a heavy burden of responsibility” for much of the misery, suffering and premature death we see around the world.
There are numerous examples: The cover story of the February 1994 issue of the Atlantic Monthly titled “The Coming Anarchy” by Robert Kaplan links anarchy around the world, including the U.S., to overpopulation. In a follow-up column in the New York Times, Anthony Lewis writes that overpopulation-induced environmental destruction will be “the national security issue of the early 21st century.” A Los Angeles Times News Service article titled, “Massive Famine Predicted Worldwide,” reports on a symposium of international agricultural experts who predict eight times the shortage of food worldwide, as now seen in Africa, by the year 2000.
A recent Reuters dispatch is headed, “U.N. report lists developing countries in danger of collapse,” naming eight. (Rwanda was the first to go.) The New York Times News Service reports: Pontifical Academy of Sciences recommends that couples have only two children to curb world population growth. A USA Today article begins, “The Catholic Church, long outspoken in its opposition to abortion, is engaging in a massive and unprecedented lobbying effort to stop passage of an abortion rights bill in Congress … which would prohibit states from restricting abortion.” (The bishops won—the bill is now dead.) A Los Angeles TimesNews Service article is titled, “Roman Catholic bishops declare their intent to fight any legislation that provides coverage for abortions” (including the Clinton health care plan, or any alternative covering abortion). A New York Times News Service article reports on a newly released Episcopal Church document that terms the Catholic attitude toward women “so insulting, so retrograde” that women should abandon Catholicism “for the sake of their own humanity.”
The New York Times reports that taxpayers save $4.40 for every public dollar spent to provide family planning (based on costs of baby’s first two years). A Wall Street Journal article reports on a University of California finding that every $1 spent on family planning services saves the state $11.20 later. The results of a Washington Post-ABC News poll in 1993 shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans favor the availability of abortion, and the percentages increased over 1992. A Reader’s Digest article titled, “A Continent’s Slow Suicide,” reports, “Now the African continent is sliding back to a precolonial stage.” The nightly TV news stories on Haiti, Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia reveal that these conflicts are all related to overpopulation.
These hideous stories seem endless. Of course they have the same effects on Catholics as they do on non-Catholics. “The truth shall make you free” and this steady diet of information countering the Vatican’s position has emancipated Catholics from dogmas which have contributed to papal control. We have a distorted view of what American Catholics think. For decades, the Bishops have been telling us what Catholics think and most Catholics and non-Catholics alike have failed to question this arrangement. How did this arrangement come about and how is it maintained?
More importantly—how has the Vatican managed to subvert all serious efforts to deal with the overpopulation problem without the American public’s awareness of these covert operations? This is the subject of Chapters 14 and 15.
Police are investigating child abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell who rejects them
From the Link: http://www.news.com.au/national/police-are-still-investigating-child-abuse-allegations-against-cardinal-george-pell-who-rejects-them/news-story/dbc00b4ff1f17c290e682847353ef080
CATHOLIC cleric George Pell has denied claims that he sexually abused children as police revealed they are investigating a series of child sex abuse allegations against him.
The ABC 730 program revealed that Victoria Police are investigating several complaints from the 1970s to the 1990s from complainants in Ballarat, Torquay and Melbourne for more than a year.
Victoria Police’s Taskforce SANO, which investigates complaints from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, is looking into the allegations.
The allegations relate to a period when Cardinal Pell was the Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.
ABC 730 stated it had eight police statements from complainants, witnesses and family relatives, who are assisting the Victorian taskforce.
ABC 730 stated there were two men from Ballarat in their 40s, who alleged Pell touched them inappropriately in 1978-79 at the Eureka pool during a throwing game.
One of the complainants, Lyndon Monument, told police and ABC 730 that Pell would allegedly would touch his penis, testicles and a*** before throwing him up into the air in the pool.
“I tried not to think about it,” he told the program.
“He was always just the godly figure. We all had to look up to him. We would get told in class that George Pell is coming today, so brush your hair and tuck yourself in.”
When asked why he didn’t come forward earlier, he said it was too traumatising to discuss.
“Because it was a lot of pain for not only me but for a lot of other people. And I learnt to deal with things by just keeping them close to me, I suppose,” he said.
In a statement to the ABC, Cardinal Pell’s office said he would not be giving an interview to ABC 730 and “emphatically and unequivocally rejects any allegations of sexual abuse against him”.
Mr Monument also alleges in his statement that Pell invited him into the changerooms after they went swimming.
“He would undress. And then he would say to us to undress. So we would undress. And then he would teach you how to dry your testicles and in between your bum and stuff like that,” he told the program.
When asked by ABC 730 if he was wearing any clothes at the time, Mr Monument said: “No”.
Mr Monument’s childhood friend, Damian Dignan, also told ABC 730 that he told police about the throwing game in the pool with Pell.
Mr Dignan’s allegations remain untested by the law. But he said he was scared of Pell.
“It’s sort of hard to explain. To sit in the confession box with a very, very strong scary man sitting on the other side. We were very, very scared as little kids,” he said.
In another complaint, Les Tyack from Torquay gave a statement to the royal commission last year.
He alleged he walked into the Torquay Surf Life Saving Club in 1986-87 and found George Pell allegedly naked in front of three boys he estimates were aged between eight and 10.
“I thought that was not on. Very strange situation for an adult to be full frontal to three young boys. I said to the young boys, ‘Finish doing what you’re doing, off you go.’ When they left, I then said to, George Pell, ‘I know what you’re up to. P*** off, get out of here. If I see you in this club again, I’ll call the police,’” he told ABC 730.
Another complaint about Pell that ABC 730 aired relates to when he was setting up the Melbourne Response — the Australian Catholic Church’s first attempt to seriously address child abuse in the 1990s.
At the time, he was the Archbishop of Melbourne. The alleged incident involved two teenage choirboys who asked their parents to leave the choir after alleged abuse had occurred. One of the boys died. The other is working with Victorian Taskforce SANO detectives.
ABC 730 said that a spokesman for Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed it is “very much a live investigation”.
The program said that the Pell case has been referred by Victoria Police to the Office of Public Prosecutions for advice.
Cardinal Pell, 75, is Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, serving as the Vatican’s finance chief.
In its statement to the ABC, Cardinal Pell’s office said: “The Cardinal’s conduct has been repeatedly scrutinised over many years, including before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations and according to leaked reports, by Victorian Police’s SANO Taskforce.
“The Cardinal does not wish to cause any distress to any victim of abuse. However, claims that he has sexually abused anyone, in any place, at any time in his life are totally untrue and completely wrong.
“He denies the allegations absolutely, and says that they, and any acceptance of them by the ABC, are nothing more than a scandalous smear campaign which appears to be championed by the ABC. If there was any credibility in any of these claims, they would have been pursued by the Royal Commission by now.
“In February this year media outlets carried stories of purported allegations against the Cardinal which were being investigated by the SANO Taskforce.
“However, no request has been made to interview Cardinal Pell nor has he received any details of these claims from the police or anyone. In late May the Cardinal was advised by the SANO Taskforce that there had been no change in the status of the investigation since the leaks were first reported.
“When Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton was asked in June this year if there were any plans to speak with Cardinal Pell in Rome he replied “…..it had not been put as necessary to me at this point in time.”
France’s Lyon diocese sacks four priests for sex abuse
on Jun 30, 2016 @ 11:10 AM
From the Link: http://www.globalpost.com/article/6779707/2016/06/30/frances-lyon-diocese-sacks-four-priests-sex-abuse
Four priests of the Catholic diocese of Lyon in eastern France have been relieved of their duties for sexual abuse, a diocesan source said Thursday.
A panel of experts recommended the measure, the source added, declining to say whether the clerics had already been named since the diocese’s predator priest scandal came to light in March, rocking France’s Catholic Church.
French judicial authorities are aware of all four dossiers, the source said.
The dismissals come three weeks after Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, was questioned by police over allegations that he covered up the sexual abuse of boy scouts.
One of France’s most powerful Catholic leaders, Barbarin has been accused of failing to remove a priest, Bernard Preynat, from his diocese when he became aware the man had sexually abused young boys 25 years ago.
Preynat was relieved of his duties last year.
Pope Francis issued a decree early in June that senior Catholic officials guilty of negligence in child abuse cases can now be dismissed from office.
The nine-member expert panel — which included a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, a doctor and Church legal expert — also recommended that the diocese keep an eye on other priests who have already been investigated.
Several other members of the Lyon diocese have already been questioned by investigators and several police raids have been carried out at the archbishop’s office.
Barbarin had said in April that he would reveal the panel’s conclusions by the end of June.
He said the members were tasked with “studying and analysing the cases of certain priests whose situation is problematic in terms of their pastoral activity, civil or Church law in the affective and sexual domain.”
The panel, which also includes a lay woman and man, both of whom are parents, has met seven times.
Parish priest dismissed over ”immoral” contact with child
From the Link: http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/259645,Parish-priest-dismissed-over-immoral-contact-with-child
The bishop of Płock, central Poland, has dismissed a parish priest in the village of Szreńsk, over “immoral actions” with a child.
The priest was suspended from his duties, a spokesperson with the Diocesan Curia in Płock, Elżbieta Grzybowska, said.
According to an official statement issued by the curia, the priest himself admitted guilt to the bishop.
“We express deep sorrow over the depraved action and the harm done,” the statement reads.
The parents, who have accepted the curia’s offer of legal and psychological assistance, will press charges against the priest.
Fort Worth Diocese Interrogated Sex Abuse Victim and His Mother in a Starbucks: Lawsuit
From the Link: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/fort-worth-diocese-interrogated-sex-abuse-victim-and-his-mother-in-a-starbucks-lawsuit-7139543
By 2013, the stories of child molestation in the Catholic church, along with the archdiocese’s attempts to sweep the allegations under the rug, were old news. In that year alone, sex abuse cases cost the Catholic church $108,954,109, according to a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops acknowledged the church’s failings and laid out a series of recommendations to prevent more abuse and abuse cover-ups. “We pledge that we will work toward healing and reconciliation for those sexually abused by clerics,” they wrote.
But that same year, the Fort Worth Diocese was working to cover up a new claim of sexual abuse, a lawsuit filed this week claims. The man identified in court documents only as John Doe 117 says he was the victim of sadistic “punishment” by Father John H. Sutton when he was a student at Wichita Falls’ Notre Dame Middle-High School in the early 1990s.
Sutton, who died in 2004, was employed by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth as the school’s Chaplain, confessor and a history teacher. During a 7th grade history class, Sutton accused Doe of copying an assignment from an encyclopedia, Doe claims. For “penance,” Sutton ordered the boy to pray in the chapel during his lunch hour. Soon, Sutton would look for Doe in the lunchroom multiple times each week, the suit claims, and escort him to the chapel.
In the chapel, Sutton stood over Doe while he knelt in payer, and then began groping him, Doe says. The assaults escalated, the suit says, and eventually Sutton was raping Doe with sex toys that he kept in a black bag:
Doe also recalls hearing the sound of a camera clicking during some incidents of abuse. Sutton even stuffed a towel in Doe’s mouth to prevent his uncontrollable agonizing screams from being heard. “Shut up,” Sutton threatened the child, “or it will be worse.”
Doe claims Sutton also threatened him that “I have the power to ruin your life.” Doe was later accused of selling LSD at school — a charge he says was brought on in retaliation for hinting to another faculty member that Sutton had been abusing him. He says the abuse lasted two years.
In 2013, the victim was a grown man living in Washington when, he says, he had a nervous breakdown. Suffering flashbacks from his abuse, he decided to talk to the Catholic Diocese. Fort Worth’s Catholic Diocese acknowledges this much in a statement released to the media, the only comment they agreed to make about the case:
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth was contacted by a former student of Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls. The former student made allegations of sexual abuse by a deceased priest, Father John H. Sutton. The Diocese offered and provided professional personal counseling and pastoral support to the former student.
Doe spoke to Fort Worth’s victim assistance coordinator over the course of a year and began going to therapy. Finally, by September 2014, Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Michael Olson agreed to fly to Spokane, Washington to meet with the alleged victim. Olson requested they meet in a Starbucks, the suit claims, and asked if it was okay if he brought along a volunteer. Doe agreed to the conditions.
It wasn’t until recently that Doe discovered the volunteer was also a Fort Worth police officer, the suit says. During the meeting, Olson agreed to be recorded. “At a busy local Starbucks, after giving in that very public place an emotionally grueling recorded account of the sexual assaults and abuses by Father Sutton,” the suit says, “Doe asked Bishop Olson to go to Mass with him and pray with him …” But Olson refused to pray with the victim afterward, the suit says, making the excuse that he was too busy.
Olson also asked to meet with Doe’s mother, separately, again in a Starbucks. While there, they also asked her to recount her son’s allegations of sex abuse. “They did not tell her that she was being recorded secretly, a criminal violation of Washington State law,” the suit claims. According to the lawsuit, the likely purpose of the recordings was to get a statement from the victim without an attorney present and to lull him into thinking the church was investigating his allegations while the statute of limitations ran out.
John Doe is asking for $1 million. The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth’s statement to the media doesn’t address the allegations that the victim and his mother were recorded in a Starbucks. The spokeswoman says church officials did all they could to find more victims of Sutton. In early 2014, she says, Olson and other Diocesan officials visited “all parishes in the Wichita Falls area which had students at Notre Dame School during the tenure of Father Sutton. At the end of each of the Masses, the Diocese announced the allegations and formally asked for victims to contact the Diocese and civil authorities. ”
Editorial: Gallup Diocese re-abuses victims with settlement
Friday, July 22nd, 2016 at 12:02am
From the Link: http://www.abqjournal.com/812414/gallup-diocese-reabuses-victims-with-settlement.html
The Diocese of Gallup drives a hard bargain – one in which truth is a casualty.
In the case of the $21 million settlement to victims of priest sexual abuse it’s a deal that essentially re-abuses the victims by making them fear they might lose their hard-fought settlements if they reveal details of their abuse. In one case, a victim was so afraid of court sanctions he did not dare to look at the one record that pertained to his abuse.
The court-approved settlement agreement allows a victim just a one-time “eyes only” access to a single file pertaining to that victim’s abuser. It strictly prohibits sharing or duplicating the password-protected electronic contents, which will be destroyed after a year.
The diocese threatened to withdraw the settlement when attorneys for the victims sought to have the church publicly release personnel files of accused priests.
Such a bully tactic certainly seems to indicate a lack of contrition. But it appears to be business as usual for the church, whose leadership for years kept hidden from its faithful members the abuse visited on innocent children by some clergy.
Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, whose areas of oversight includes the Gallup Diocese and who has said he won’t tolerate abuse, should use his influence to correct this poor treatment of past victims.
The church routinely stakes out what it believes is the high moral ground on issues ranging from abortion to immigration to end of life. That’s not the case when it comes to the past misdeeds of its clergy and the impact on finances. Its position on these records shows that maintaining secrecy about abuse and how it was handled are its top priorities.
US prosecutor may seek racketeering suit in Pa. clergy abuse
ASSOCIATED PRESS APRIL 03, 2016
PITTSBURGH — A federal prosecutor may file a racketeering lawsuit against a Roman Catholic diocese where a state grand jury found two former bishops helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 clergy over a 40-year period.
The ongoing investigation of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese grew out of the prosecution of the Rev. Joseph Maurizio Jr., US Attorney David Hickton said Friday.
The 71-year-old Somerset County priest was convicted last year of molesting two street children during missionary trips to Honduras. He was sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison, fined $50,000, and forced to pay his victims $10,000 each.
Hickton said the ongoing investigation concerns whether diocesan officials engaged in a pattern of criminal activity that would fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO.
The statute of limitations has lapsed on criminal racketeering charges, but there is no time limit for filing a RICO civil lawsuit, Hickton said. KDKA-TV first reported that Hickton was considering such a lawsuit. A diocesan spokesman did not immediately comment.
‘‘The remedy that would be available under a civil RICO would be some sort of injunctive relief,’’ Hickton said. ‘‘If we were able to get a consent decree, that would be one route.’’
Injunctive relief, in this case, would be a court order requiring the diocese to take certain actions. A consent decree is a voluntary agreement between prosecutors and a target that certain reforms would be enacted.
A grand jury, in a report released last month, was especially critical of Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec. Hogan, who headed the diocese from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005. Adamec, who succeeded him, retired in 2011.
The grand jury found Hogan, in particular, held sway over police and prosecutors in the diocese and often reassigned priests accused of molesting children instead of removing them from duty. Adamec threatened accusers with excommunication and generally worked harder to hide or settle abuse allegations than to discipline the priests accused, the grand jury found.
An attorney for Adamec denied wrongdoing and said 14 priests accused of molestation under Adamec’s watch were given psychiatric screenings. Nine were suspended or removed, and the five who were returned to ministry didn’t reoffend, Adamec’s attorney said.
Hickton won’t say what he believes church officials may have done wrong.
Kane’s report grew out of allegations that a Franciscan friar, who has since killed himself, molested dozens of students at a school in the diocese from 1992 to 2000.
Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who represented dozens of those victims, said he favors the RICO lawsuit even though many of his victims ‘‘would find incarceration for the supervisors more suitable.’’
‘‘I think the tactic is an approach that must be taken given the depth and scope of the supervisors enabling sexual abuse,’’ Garabedian said. If a consent decree is reached, ‘‘many victims would like to see a complete admission of guilt, and perhaps an independent supervisor appointed to review the activities of the diocese.’’
Bruce Antkowiak, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said the RICO Act is used to target individuals who ‘‘operated or managed an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.’’
To prove that, a prosecutor must show the target committed specific crimes listed in the act — including murder, extortion, and robbery. Mail fraud — essentially using the mail in any step of a fraud — or extortion are other RICO crimes that could conceivably relate.
According to the grand jury report, a whistle-blower accused Maurizio in 2009 of abusing the boys, and the diocese conducted its own investigation, including hiring a translator to review the victim’s claims.
Diocesan records ‘‘show a high-ranking Diocesan official concluding the alleged conduct was ‘impossible,’’’ the report said.
In Wake of Pennsylvania Charges, Abuse Spotlight Falls on Religious Orders
BY BRIAN FRAGA 07/22/2016
From the Link: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/in-wake-of-pennsylvania-charges-abuse-spotlight-falls-on-religious-orders
U.S.-based orders have undertaken widespread reforms, but criminal charges filed against three Franciscan friars for alleged supervisory failures of a known child molester indicate problems remain.
Since the sex-abuse crisis entered the national discussion in 2002, the bulk of the media attention has been on how individual Catholic dioceses have responded and the steps they have taken over the years to remove abusive clergy from ministry and protect minors and vulnerable people.
But this spring, a religious order put the spotlight on fresh concerns about Church handling of sexual abuse: Criminal charges were filed in Pennsylvania against three Franciscans friars, related to their roles in supervising a brother friar who was accused of molesting more than 100 children.
Though they have not garnered the same attention as dioceses until now, religious orders in the United States say they have also implemented new policies and practices over the past 14 years to hold abusive members in their communities accountable and protect victims.
“We were completely committed to the principle that no one who has been established as an abuser will ever practice a public ministry and certainly will not be in a position to have access to children, to youth and to vulnerable people,” said Capuchin Father John Pavlik, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an association of the leadership of men in religious and apostolic institutes in the United States.
Father Pavlik told the Register that almost 90% of institutes representing approximately 17,000 men in religious life have gone through an independent accreditation process of their sexual-abuse prevention policies and practices. Father Pavlik said the institutes agree to be scrutinized by an outside firm because they want to follow the bishops’ example in protecting minors.
“The religious certainly wanted to be in the same place the bishops of the United States were when it came to promulgating safeguards that would seem to actually work to protect minors and youth and vulnerable people,” Father Pavlik said.
To perform public ministry, religious brothers, monks and priests are also required to abide by norms established by the local diocesan bishop. For example, a brother or friar who works in a parish or in other diocesan facilities must undergo the same sex-abuse prevention safety training as regular diocesan priests and lay personnel.
However, some observers note that the policies and practices, as well as the accreditation process, are still voluntary and not really enforceable, since the religious orders, including the individual provincial leaders, do not answer to each other.
“The bottom line is that they are completely independent from one another. It’s like herding cats. They all do what they want,” said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who investigates clergy sex abuse for victims and their lawyers.
Wall told the Register that he believes the orders have done a comparatively poor job of handling sex-abuse cases, and he said there is no real enforcement mechanism to ensure that provincial leaders do the right thing, apart from the civil and criminal courts.
The Pennsylvania Scandal
The criminal proceedings in western Pennsylvania, where the three Franciscan friars will stand trial for child endangerment and conspiracy charges, could serve as a cautionary tale.
The Pennsylvania grand jury that returned indictments against Fathers Giles Schinelli, Robert D’Aversa and Anthony Criscitelli concluded that the defendants, who headed the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception from 1986 to 2010, should have done more to protect minors from Brother Stephen Baker, who killed himself in January 2013 after he was accused of sexually abusing dozens of teens in at least three states.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Office — which released a scathing report earlier this year detailing decades of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown — is prosecuting the friars. News reports indicate that federal prosecutors are also considering filing racketeering charges against the diocese.
“This is a brand-new world where you have both state and federal authorities looking at the Franciscans and looking at the diocese, both, for allowing this to happen,” Wall said.
Father Pavlik said one of the most significant facts of the Pennsylvania grand-jury investigation to emerge thus far is that the TOR Franciscans had allowed their sex-abuse prevention accreditation to lapse.
Said Father Pavlik, “Why would you allow that to lapse, especially when you had people who had committed horrible crimes? You had people who were credibly accused. What were you thinking?
“You’ve got to ask the question: Why did they stop participating? I don’t know the answer to that question.”
The TOR Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception did not return a message seeking comment. In a March 15 statement, the province said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the criminal charges.
“The province extends its most sincere apologies to the victims and to the communities who have been harmed,” the Franciscans said in the statement. The province also encouraged prayers “for healing and understanding and for all the priests and brothers who honor their vocations and the Church.”
If there is a weakness in the accrediting system, Father Pavlik said, it is that the accrediting agency, Texas-based Praesidium Inc., does not publicly report the religious institutes that have failed to be accredited or that have let their accreditation lapse.
“It seems to me that if there is a weakness somewhere in the system, it’s here,” Father Pavlik said. “If there is something that could be improved, it’d be some effort to know who isn’t accredited.”
Christy Schiller, vice president of religious services for Praesidium, told the Register that the TOR Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception Province were accredited in 2009. The accreditation lasted for three years, and the institute allowed the accreditation to lapse in 2012.
While Praesidium does not formally publish a list of institutes that are accredited or that have let their accreditations lapse, Schiller said the firm will provide that information to anyone who inquires.
“We’re happy to share that,” she said. “We can’t give any more details about the specifics of the institute because of the confidentiality clause in our contract. But a particular group’s status: That is information we’re willing to share.”
Many of the major religious orders in the United States are forthcoming if they have been accredited by Praesidium. On their websites, several orders post information about their accreditation. For example, the Society of Jesus says each province in the United States maintains Praesidium accreditation through periodic audits by independent auditors and ongoing training for each Jesuit to establish awareness, prevention and proper responses to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Christian Brother Timothy Coldwell, general councilor of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, told the Register that the De La Salle Christian Brothers in the United States are also accredited by Praesidium.
“Meeting and complying to their standards of accreditation became our first and primary goal,” Brother Timothy said. “Every one of our districts (provinces) earned early accreditation, and each have maintained it to the present.”
In August 2002, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men unanimously approved the statement“Improving Pastoral Care and Accountability in Response to the Tragedy of Sexual Abuse.” That statement facilitated the framework for CMSM’s official response, which was entitled: “Instruments of Hope and Healing: Safeguarding Children and Young Adults.”
Father Pavlik said the religious orders’ leaders, including him, who gathered in August 2002, were “appalled” at the preponderance of evidence that pointed to priests and religious in the United States who had sexually abused minors over the course of several decades.
“We quickly formed relationships with some survivors,” Father Pavlik said. “When you listen to their stories, you actually become angry, upset and disturbed that people who were committed to doing good violated the innocence and goodness of vulnerable people.”
According to Praesidium, more than 130 religious institutes, representing 90% of order priests and brothers in the United States, have attained accreditation. The agency’s work has been presented to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life at the Vatican.
While the vast majority of religious orders participate in the system, some observers point out that Church law does not compel the individual institutes to do so. Father Pavlik said he has personally appealed three times in the last five years to smaller institutes, which do not have the same financial resources as larger institutes, to become accredited. Father Pavlik said that is still no excuse for not seeking accreditation.
Said Father Pavlik, “From my point of view, you go out and creatively find a way to do this. This is the right thing to do. You have to stand with the rest of the Church.”
Praesidium’s “Standards for Accreditation” cover three main areas: prevention, response to abuse allegations and supervision of offenders. Prevention standards review how new members are screened, educational programs for initial and ongoing formation, systems of support and accountability and how the institute manages internal reports of potential boundary violations.
Responding standards review the institute’s response to reports of suspected abuse and the role of external review boards, while supervision standards review the management and supervision of a member who is known to have abused a minor.
Unlike U.S. dioceses, religious orders allow some members with substantiated allegations against them to remain in community, with restrictions — known as safety plans — that depend on the seriousness of the incidents and on their evaluations.
“We agreed to supervise those who were credibly accused. We set up stringent requirements for what the supervision amounts to, and every institute that agreed to do this for its members has to always be vigilant to make sure it is maintaining what it promised,” Father Pavlik said, adding that the religious orders also created an independent review board that annually reviews the safety plan. Praesidium evaluators visit the institutes to review the safety plans and speak with the supervisors and the members under supervision.
“Obviously, the people responsible have to be deeply committed to the concept that protecting children is an absolute good that cannot be compromised in any way,” Father Pavlik said. “They have to hold themselves accountable to what is required. If you do that, you will see that the statistics show we have an overwhelmingly high successful rate of preventing recidivism.”
Brother Timothy said a brother who has admitted to his offense or has had a credible accusation against him is allowed to live only in the community assigned by the provincial, or in another appropriate supervised place of residence where there is no unsupervised contact with minors or vulnerable adults.
“No separate apartment, private home or other domicile is allowed as a permanent residence for the brother offender,” said Brother Timothy, adding that communities that house a “high-risk” brother are visited by outside auditors at least once a year on an unannounced basis to ensure consistent implementation of safety-plan protocols.
“High-risk brothers will be evaluated on the basis of current empirical research,” Brother Timothy said. “The auditors will document the visits of outside auditors. Communities that are found to be out of compliance with the safety plan for a ‘high-risk’ brother will be re-visited within the next 30 days. It is understood that continued noncompliance with safety plans will result in the loss of accreditation.”
But the dynamics of living in a religious community, where one’s colleague one day can be his provincial in a few years, can cut both ways, said Terry McKiernan, of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clergy sex abuse and bishops’ handling of those cases.
Said McKiernan, “The close-knit character of religious life, where you’re all living together in community, which of course goes back to St. Benedict and beyond, is really a distinctive and important feature of religious life. It’s also in some way a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the abuse crisis. It makes it harder for the provincial to say, ‘You’re my brother, but I have to hand you over to the police.’”
McKiernan and Wall both described a decades-long pattern where religious orders, in dealing with accused abusers, would transfer alleged perpetrators to different provinces as well as institutes in other countries where the orders were present. In his old monastery, Wall recalled seeing accused monks transferred to the Bahamas, Japan and Rome.
“With the modern religious orders, you will see the provincials change every six years,” Wall said. “What they’ll do is get [the accused religious] out of the zone of scandal, make a whole bunch of promises and never follow through on them.”
Like Wall, McKiernan believes the example of the Third Order Regular Franciscans will be a motivating factor for religious superiors moving forward to walk the straight and narrow on sex-abuse cases.
“Any provincial who has to make a decision about a priest, a monk or a brother is going to think about the Third Order Regular Franciscans,” McKiernan said. “They don’t want that to happen to them. I think it’s really going to change behavior.”
The first and primary lesson of the Third Order Regular Franciscans, Brother Timothy said, is self-scrutiny.
Said Brother Timothy, “Namely, we must continually ask ourselves, ‘Are we transparent in all that concerns our life as men and women who consecrate our lives to God for people, especially young people?’ The key lesson is that it is not enough to be accountable before God — we must be accountable to God’s people.”