More Society Honors 7

By Elizabeth Roman
Republican [Springfield MA]
October 4, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization, spoke yesterday at a reception honoring seven legal professionals at the Springfield Marriott following the annual Red Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral on State Street.

According to the Thomas More Society, which honored the seven, the Red Mass is held in major cities across the nation at the start of the judicial year.

Donahue spoke about the importance of the society and its members.

"I think that the St. Thomas More Society stands for something extremely noble - that you don't sell your Catholic beliefs and practices for the price of being a lawyer, and I think lawyers need to be reminded of that," he said.

Judges Thomas J. Curley Jr. of Pittsfield, Daniel M. Keyes Jr. of Springfield and William T. Walsh of Agawam; lawyers Mary Egan Boland of Springfield, Charles F. McCarthy Jr. of Springfield and John M. Callahan of Northampton; and the Rev. Curtis L. Shaird of Springfield were all honored for their contributions to the community.

"It does take courage (to stand up for Catholic principles), not only if you're a lawyer, but if you're a doctor, teacher (or) nurse," Donohue said.

While the Catholic League deals with everything from boycotting what it considers anti-Catholic television programs, defending Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ," to continuing the tradition of nativity scenes on public property, its biggest job has been dealing with the current sexual abuse scandals in the church.

"The Catholic church brought this on themselves. This is not a creation of the media or of anti- Catholics," Donohue said.

"The church made some very bad decisions in getting candidates for priesthood and some very bad decisions were made on what to do with those people once it was determined they were unfit to be priests," he said.

"Now, having said that, it's important to keep in mind that only two-thirds of 1 percent of the priests in this country have ever had an accusation against them for sexual molestation, which means 99 percent of them have never had an accusation."

Donohue said Catholics should get an equal playing field with other religions and groups.

"I find it quite offensive that there are some people in the entertainment field, some people in the media, some activist organizations ... painting with a broad brush as if every other priest is a predator," he said.

"We wouldn't do this if we were talking about gays and AIDS, or about African Americans and crime. ... We were bombed in this country by Muslims, but we're very careful to make certain that all Muslims are not held responsible, and I think that's appropriate. Why then is it OK for people to take cheap shots at the Catholic church and paint priests as if they were all a bunch of predators?" he said.

"I'd like the same respect for priests that we get for Muslims, gays, blacks, Jews and others in our society who many of the elite are sensitive to," he said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.