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William Donohue

William Donohue
William Donohue
Home BaseNew York, NY
GroupaffiliationsCatholic League
Published ByOPP HQ
Published On13 March 2004

William Donohue is the head of the Catholic League, and according to him the group fights against anti-Catholic bigotry. Not quite. The truth is the Catholic League uses the guise of fighting bigotry to promote their own, as well as protect the Catholic Church from any criticism it gets. Recently the case of priests being accused of pedophilia has rocked the Church hard. The Catholic League had for years tried to keep this kind of story from blemishing the Church, and the way they would do it is by charging any person bringing it up with being anti-Catholic.

Now there are more critics, and also more victims, and the League is now trying to play damage control. Truth be told, if the Catholic Church is going to come out of this with their credibility intact, not only they are going to have to deal with their pedophile priests, but this scumbag Donohue as well.

When Sinead O' Connor ripped a picture of the Pope on a Saturday Night Live broadcast in 1992, it began a decade-old obsession with hating her for Donohue. What many have failed to observe was the fact that she was doing it in protest to the Pope and his top hierarchy in the Church ignoring the flow of cases of priests sexually assaulting and abusing children. Some may suggest she might have gone about it the wrong way, but at the time the wrong way seemed to be addressing it at all.

As the allegations increased, Howard Stern began commenting on it on his radio show. Again Donohue was pissed, not wanting to deal with the problem honestly and than began to attack Stern and his sidekick Robin Quivers, and calling for a boycott of Miller Beer, one of Stern's sponsors.

   "I am writing to all the nation's bishops telling them what Stern and Quivers said about priests," he wrote. "It is nothing if not slanderous to wildly charge Catholic priests with child sexual molestation. I will also make copies of the tape (of the June 30, 2001 E! Entertainment broadcast of the Stern show) available to those who are interested. But most of all, I will tell the bishops, and our members across the nation, about the corporate arrogance and irresponsibility of Miller Brewing."

Now Donohue has to admit that the Catholic Church has a problem, and also says that the wounds they are suffering are self-inflicted. He even tries to encourage his people that gays are not the problem although he believes the role they played in the scandal is "substantial." He then goes on to cry about how "enemies" of the Church have "greeted bad news about the Church's sex abuse scandals as good news, and are using it to further their agendas. You might be familiar with them. They were addressing the issues Donohue tried to keep from surfacing.

Donohue came on board as president of the Catholic League in 1993, and at the time the organization was in disarray. League membership had dwindled to 11,000 and it's finances were a mess. Donohue was able to turn that around for the group, increasing its membership to over 300,000 and boosting its annual budget to $2.6 million all from member donations. He has also increased the profile of the League. All of this have given him a favorable profile among the right, but everyone else has been suffering because of the hatemongering he is promoting to achieve those goals.

Once, a newspaper wrote an editorial about how in a Mass at St. Mary's in Rutherford, NJ, parishioners were seen raising their right arms in a way that looked like a Nazi salute. Some folks were understandably upset at the paper likening a common practice in their faith this way, and the newspaper attempted to explain its editorial reaction.

   "If a non-Catholic popped into mass during the blessing, he or she would likely be confused and offended." Donohue replied in a letter to the editor, "Had you not been so ignorant of Roman Catholicism you would never have been offended in the first place."

Good point, Donohue, and exactly the point made by the paper. Sadly, Donohue doesn't seem to be interested in educating folks so they would not be. But it gets funnier.

   "Catholics do not need to be lectured by non-Catholics about their religious teachings or practices," Donohue added, "It is the height of arrogance for those of some other faith-or no faith at all-to demand that someone else's religious practices be tailored to their wishes."

Donohue, however, chooses not to listen to anyone who questions what he stands for. Here is where the irony lies in Donahue's crusade against Catholic bashing. Many of the people he has gone after are themselves Catholic! Whether they are currently practicing or broke away from the church, the most ardent critics of church authority has been those who have been in the faith. Sinead O' Connor was one of them. Had people listened to her at the time we might have been able to deal with the priests across the globe being accused of pedophilia, but when you have people like Donahue clouding the issue, it is not easy.

Another person that Donahue has gone after was the African artist of a picture of the Virgin Mary that was splattered with elephant dung. This is the biggest blow to the credibility of not only Donahue but also the right-leaning groups and individuals in New York City, like the editors of the New York Post, radio talk-shit host Sean Hannity and ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. When the artwork appeared in a city-funded museum, the propaganda from Donohue & Co. was that the picture was offensive to those who held the Virgin Mary sacred. Giuliani, in one of his many affronts to free speech, even tried unsuccessfully to withhold funding to the museum.

The problem: The artist was one of those who held the Virgin Mary sacred! A practicing Roman Catholic, the elephant dung in his native land symbolized regeneration. Furthermore, when this artwork was displayed in London, there was no outrage, no fervor, no controversy. It was not until it went into Donahue's radar screen that the controversy arose. Even when all of this was noted, Donahue and the rest of the artwork's detractors had the audacity to suggest it did not matter.

The Catholic-bashing argument is also a good way to promote homophobia. In 1998, the Manhattan Theater produced the Terrence McNally play Corpus Christi. The play, which was presented as McNally's "own unique view of "the greatest story every told," is the story of a young gay man named Joshua on his spiritual journey. In it, Joshua is born in a Texas fleabag hostel, and grows up in a sexually-charged environment complete with gay encounters, profanity, even violence. Joshua ends up being crucified as "king of the queers."

As the character of Joshua was patterned after Jesus Christ, William Donohue saw it as an opportunity to do a little gay-bashing, but calling it an "outrage" against Catholic bashing, and the League vowed "wage a war" against any effort to produce it.

Originally planning not to produce the play after the League's attacks, the Theatre changed it's mind. This garnered a good deal of threats of violence against the Theater. One group called the "National Security Movement of America" threatened "Jew guilty homosexual Terrence McNally," adding "Because of you we will exterminate every member of the theater and burn the place to the ground." The irony is this is McNally is not Jewish, but was raised - you guessed it - a Roman Catholic. When the play opened on Oct. 13, 1998, there were demonstrators both defending and supporting the play. A stage draft best expressed the position of those in support.

   "If we have offended so be it," it stated. "He belongs to us as well as you."

An interesting thing came out in one of Donohue's complaints of this play. In a statement he wrote that "if there were a play that was offensive to gays, or to African Americans, for example, the Catholic League would join the protest, but we would also respect the legal right of the play to be performed." Seeing this statement put us into overdrive! Donohue's actions in the past against anything he found "offensive," especially with this play, suggest that things such as the right of the play to be performed would not be. Remember, the controversy surrounding Corpus Christi began with the Catholic League demanding the play be canceled.

By the way, has anyone seen the movie The Body, starring Antonio Banderas as a priest who allegedly discovers the bones of Jesus Christ, thereby killing the notion that Christ had risen and thereby the basis of Christianity? Give you one guess what organization pressured Lion's Gate Films to keep the movie from distributing it!

There is also the first part of the statement regarding the League joining the protests of other groups if they were offended. There are two things that suggest this is a lie. One is the fact that he has already stated that he could care less about any other group that is offended!

   "We stick to anti-Catholicism," he once said, "so if there's something that's absolutely immoral, outrageous and obscene in the Museum of Modern Art this afternoon -- and it doesn't touch Christianity -- sayonara. That's for somebody else to deal with. Know your turf!"

The other thing is that, as evidenced in the Corpus Christi issue, is that he is just as bigoted towards other groups as he claims others are towards Catholics. A few years ago. Donohue was on the Faux News Channel's ripoff of CNN's Crossfire called Hannity and Colmes talking about the banning of Nativity scenes on public property. His position was, naturally to allow the scenes, insisting that local governments respect the religious freedom and expression. Alan Colmes then suggested that perhaps the Wiccans would also want to have a display as well, and asked if Donohue would support that. Donohue laughed at the prospect that Colmes would even consider the Wiccans worthy of such recognition, and said he would not. Can anyone say "double standard?"

It is because of this that a favorite tactic of Donohue's has to come into question. Whenever he stages a protest he will often make note of how African Americans have expressed and fought against bigotry leveled against them. When Donohue does this however, it is often seen more as a swipe against African Americans than actual support. "When the Catholic League complains about an anti-Catholic movie or play, we are told to lighten up," one Catholic League statement said. "So why don't these same people tell that to Jews and blacks who get bent out of shape over comic strips and cartoons?"

They do. That's a regular refrain from conservatives, that and the crap about political correctness going awry.

Donohue has been seen quite a bit with the Catholic priest sex scandal, but if there is going to be any real resolution to this issue for the Church, Donohue needs to be shut down as a spokesman for them. Since that is unlikely, the rest of us may have to move on past the Catholic Church and ignore them, unless people like Donohue is willing to come into the 21st Century.