Catholics for Choice Take on the Catholic League

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
July 21, 2008

I don't know for certain, but my guess is that pretty much every religion reporter in the country is well-acquainted with the ultra-conservative Catholic League.

They fax press releases with a regularity that's unmatched by any other religious group, at least in my experience. The group caught my notice for its rants on pop culture.

Known for its staunch defense of the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic League expresses frequent outrage at what it considers 'slights' against Catholicism.

Among other entities, the League has taken on television shows Boston Legal, Law and Order and subversive comedienne Kathy Griffin.

Griffin has called the Catholic League, "just one guy on a computer in his parents' basement. I don't care if he hates me."

The Catholic League took on Griffin for her "suck it Jesus" public comment.

It might be a little bigger than that, but she's right in that all the press materials come from one guy — Bill Donohue.

Among other things, Donohue has demanded that gay people apologize to the straight community, "for contaminating the blood supply in New York City and around the country."

He also claims that Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews, "who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular."

Catholics For Choice — Catholics who support legalized abortion — have now taken on the Catholic League in a 25-page report. The length and effort that went into the report speak to the magnitude of the Catholic League's public presence, and to its perceived influence.

We media types like getting the "other side" and Donohue provides ready-made if not convenient fodder for controversy.

Catholics for Choice president Jon O'Brien says that when the media covers the "tempests that Donohue manages to whip up from time to time, few ever stop to examine the most basic premise of his objections — they just cover the dog fight."

The Catholics for Choice report says that the Catholic League uses, "intimidation, bullying and distortion to suppress critics of the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the church's many controversial policies."

Catholics for Choice also says one of Donohue's most heinous faults is turning the Catholic church's sexual abuse scandal back on progressive Catholic activists, claiming they were exaggerating the scandal to try and bring down the church.

Donohue has been a particularly harsh critic of the national Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests — SNAP. He says that SNAP should disband because the abuse crisis is all but obsolete.

"Any minor who has been sexually molested deserves our compassion. But what SNAP is doing, aided and abetted by angry Catholics and ex-Catholics, deserves not our understanding, but contempt. This is a group which has a deep ideological and financial investment in painting the Catholic Church as a villain," Donohue wrote recently.

"SNAP's ideological bias stems from the fact that it positively refuses to recognize the incredible progress that has been made—exactly five priests out of more than 40,000 had accusations made against them for abusing a minor in 2007—yet for SNAP it's never enough. Financially, it derives much of its funding from the steeple-chasing lawyers who have fleeced the 'deep pocket' Catholic Church. It's time we dismissed these professional victims' advocates for what they are—activists whose goal is to discredit the Church.

"Once the pope leaves, SNAP may as well close up shop. The reforms that have already been made have made the group increasingly irrelevant, and it's just a matter of time before it becomes obsolete altogether. So they should enjoy their little ceremony today—this is SNAP's last hurrah."


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