I just returned from New York, where I attended the semiannual meeting of the Board of Directors of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
Our President, Bill Donohue, is a frequent guest on both TV and radio talk shows.
Doing the work of the League, he vigorously defends the Church against slander, bigotry, and the kaleidoscope of hate that is focused on the Culture Wars of the 21st Century.
Bill is a powerful advocate, always fully prepared, knowledgeable, logical, courageous, undaunted, civil, and humble.
His report to us was flush with the details of mean spirited Catholic bashing.
Case in point: the New York Times’ recent blaring coverage of Catholic-hating lawyer Jeffrey Anderson’s lawsuit against the Pope for child molestation by a Wisconsin priest 35 years ago.
Orchestrated to coincide with a demonstration at the Vatican by SNAP, the Anderson-financed anti-priest protest organization, the article packaged its recounting of the misdeeds of a priest who died a decade ago as a breaking story.
The only real news was that the New York Times was writing about it.
With the possible exception of NAMBLA, (the North American Man Boy Love Association), nobody approves of pedophilia. Unhappily, a lot of it goes on in public and private schools, boy scout organizations, churches and synagogues.
And in families, especially where the man of the house is a step father or the mother’s boy friend.
The fact that most of the publicity about pedophilia focuses on the Catholic Church reflects the animosity of those who disagree with the Church’s teachings on sexual behavior and its celibate, all-male priesthood.
The glee with which the Bill Maher’s of the world yell “Gotcha” is palpable.
Catholic League Board Chairman, Father Phil Eichner, reminded us of the historical context of the scandal. The 1960’s and 1970’s are remembered as a time of sexual revolution.
Woodstock inspired hedonism, gay militancy, feminist liberation; these were the mores of the day. They still are, now entrenched as political correctness.
It would be irrational to expect that Catholic priests were somehow immune to the cultural tsunami. They were hearing confessions, for heaven’s sake! No doubt the monologue of the penitent was sometimes more motivating than the lecture of the confessor.
But appreciating the causes and the motivations that drive the scandals in the Church is not enough. I learned from my father that when one member of a family is guilty of wrongdoing, the whole family is disgraced. The whole family is tarred by the same brush. The whole family must take responsibility.
Defending ourselves against unfair, exaggerated criticism is not enough.
It is time for the Catholic Church to do penance. It is time for the hierarchy to wear sack cloth and ashes, for the faithful to bow our heads in contrite prayer and genuine sacrifice.
We will not win the love or approval of those who hate us.
They must deal with the cancer of their own malice.
But we can regain the self respect that our founder, Jesus Christ, promised.
And that’s all that really matters.