Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More Responses to Bill Donohue's New York Times Ad: Bully Bill and the Bishops Lose Control of the Narrative

Commentary about Bully Bill's expensive full-page ad in the New York Times just keeps pouring out.  And it continues to be unsparingly critical of the deceptive, blame-shifting message Bill Donohue wants to give the American public on behalf of the U.S. Catholic bishops: that everybody except the bishops is responsible for the abuse crisis.  And above all the gays--they're the chief malefactors.  Since we all know what the gays do, given access to children.

Though Bully Bill and the bishops seem to have unlimited funds from some undisclosed source to engage in their diversionary gay-bashing, no one seems to be buying the expensive wares they want to hawk right now.  Not in the wake of the Philadelphia grand jury reports.  In fact, that they'd even try this mean-spirited blame-changing tactic all over again in the wake of those reports only confirms the judgment a growing number of people are reaching about the abuse crisis: namely, that something is rotten at the very center of the Catholic church, in its leadership structure.

And it's that rottenness that's on full display in the abuse crisis.  And the crisis will never be resolved until the rottenness is faced honestly and dealt with squarely.

The following links come, once again, from Kathy Shaw's Abuse Tracker blog at the Bishop Accountability site, to which Bilgrimage links in its list of blogs I follow:

To read Bill Donohue's latest defense of the virtue of the Catholic powers-that-be--published as a full-page ad in yesterday's New York Times--is to be struck by the degree to which he and his episcopal buddies refuse even to discuss the issue that lies at the core of the sex abuse scandal over the past decade. From the intemperate remarks of New Hampshire legislators about Bishop John McCormack's past to the prosecution of Cardinal Justin Rigali's regime in Philadelphia to the implosion of the Church's moral authority in Ireland, it has been the refusal of the Church to hold bishops accountable for anything other than their own private sins that continues to outrage Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

Donohue likes to alienate people - not welcome and accept. He's looking to make enemies and fight battles over things that don't always make sense. Much of the apologetic work that Donohue and his organization does hurts the greater Catholic cause. Donohue doesn't represent the Catholicism I know and practice. He is not formally affiliated with the Catholic Church in anyway, something I wish more people knew. He represents the extreme conservative wing of the Church that thinks Church teachings revolve around sex and nothing else. He comes across as a hack that uses his well-funded bully pulpit for self-promotion. He should be dismissed by Catholics who want the Church to grow and not shrivel into some fundamentalist sect limited to pre-Vatican II adherents.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights seems to have misplaced its dictionary. Recently, the conservative group made a statement (via a full page ad in The New York Times) blaming homosexuals for the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests, adding that the abuse has been exaggerated by the media.

There are two things gravely wrong with this statement. The first: Gay people aren’t the problem. Pedophiles are. And they come in all shapes and sizes – and in Roman collars.

The other issue I have with this response is that rather than standing up for the safety of its children, the league has somehow lessened these cases of abuse in hopes of sparing the Catholic Church any further embarrassment. But I have a message for the league and the church: It’s too late. When the church decided to cover up this scandal rather than deal with it fairly and honestly, it lost its right to accuse anyone of anything. It doesn’t get much worse than child rape. And to somehow attack the accusers is inexcusable behavior – especially coming from a so-called “place of God.”

"The gays made us do it" is just not going to work as a viable defense.

There's more: Unfortunately for Donohue, the clinical definition of pedophilia is not at issue here; what's at issue is the legal definition of child abuse. "Adolescence" is not a legal term; indeed, it's not even a medical term, because the criteria by which adolescence may be gauged are vague. There are kids who are physically mature and emotionally very much children; the reverse is also true.

More important, adolescents or not, children put their faith, literally and metaphorically, in priests. They trust them, and when that faith is shattered by the ever-so-inconsequential inappropriate touching, a young human life is damaged. The amount of concern Donohue shows for the victims is tiny. In his view, the priests are the real victims.

Bully Bill and the U.S. Catholic bishops have lost control of the narrative.  When that happens, the usual course taken by people with any wisdom or dignity who insist they're being unfairly maligned by a prevailing narrative is either to remain silent and let circumstances vindicate them, or to offer as many documents and unvarnished pieces of evidence as they can possibly submit to show us that they're not guilty as charged.

When they ratchet up the bullying, the belligerent shouting, and the blame game instead, they only give us more reason to think something really is fundamentally wrong with them.  And what people are saying about them must be true.  And that they've lost control of the narrative for a good reason: because increasing numbers of people recognize that the morally corrupt diversionary tactics are designed to hide the moral rottenness of those doing the bullying, the shouting, and the blame-shifting.

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