Volume 31, Number 6

 July-August 2004

Front Page



From the President's desk





















When the bishops recently assembled in Colorado, they overwhelmingly approved a policy statement on "Catholics in Political Life." Presented on June 18, the position that the bishops staked out on what to do about pro-abortion Catholic politicians was greeted with enthusiasm by the Catholic League.

From our point of view, the bishops spoke with convincing clarity on the subject of politics and religion. Though there are many public policy issues that Catholics are rightfully concerned about, none is more important than the killing of innocent human life. That is why this statement, which gives priority to abortion, is so important: it says that issues like the minimum wage are morally inferior to abortion. As a corollary, it also suggests that shutting down a soup kitchen is not morally analogous to shutting down an abortion clinic. That this even needs to be said shows how morally bankrupt many Americans, including Catholics, have become.

The statement also shows due respect for the autonomy of the bishops. The question of denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians is something every bishop should decide for himself. It needs to be said that it is one thing to get the bishops to agree on the immorality of abortion—that's easy—but it is quite another to a get a group this large to agree on the right remedy for lawmakers who violate this teaching.

The Catholic League was delighted to learn that the statement dealt directly with Catholic institutions that honor pro-abortion public figures. For too long, Catholic colleges and universities have bestowed honors on those who have worked overtime to advocate abortion rights, including partial-birth abortion. They would never honor someone associated with anti-Semitism or racism, but when it comes to abortion, too many have let radical feminists on the faculty rule the day. 

The bishops also did not dodge the phony argument over church and state. "The separation of church and state does not require division between belief and public action, between moral principles and political choices, but protects the right of believers and religious groups to practice their faith and act on their values in public life," is how the bishops put it. 

"That remark," we told the media, "is cogently written and without a single flaw." Our recommendation was, "It should be widely disseminated to public officials and the law schools."


Last year, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief with the Thomas More Law Center supporting the right of public school students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The June 14 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, though made on grounds that the plaintiff lacked standing, upholds the constitutionality of the Pledge. 

It is too bad that the substantive issue of whether recitations of the Pledge in school are legal wasn't addressed. But it was understandable that the high court would scrutinize the right of Michael Newdow, the devout atheist who brought the case, to speak for his non-custodial daughter. 

It is regrettable that this issue wasn't put to bed once and for all. And that is because there is a concerted effort in this country, led by organizations that are openly hostile to religion, to eliminate all public vestiges of our religious heritage. This movement, which is at root totalitarian, seeks to impose a radical secular agenda on all Americans. It must be stopped dead in its tracks if religious liberty is to survive.

Even if the win wasn't exactly what we wanted, it is important to remember that we didn't lose—the other side did. Here's what we told the press the day the decision was reached: "This is not a good day for the radical secularists. Which is why it is such a good day for everyone else." 




If you haven't read pages 8-9 yet, please do so before reading this article; it will facilitate what I'm about to say.

The late philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote brilliantly on the causes of totalitarianism, especially as it occurred in Nazi Germany. Perhaps her most memorable phrase—used to describe the way in which Germans became almost immune to human suffering—was the "banality of evil."

That phrase applies equally well today to describe what is happening in America.

To intentionally kill an innocent child who is 80 percent born is not only evil; it is Satanic. The American Medical Association, which is steadfastly in favor of abortion rights, has admitted that partial-birth abortion is never needed to save the life of the mother. Yet thousands of these abortions take place every year in the United States. 

The late senator from New York, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, was "pro-choice," but he drew the line at partial-birth abortion: he properly called it infanticide. Ditto for Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City. So why is it that so many other abortion-rights public figures continue to defend a procedure that is so barbaric that it rivals anything done by the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin or Saddam Hussein? 

While it is true that most Americans are opposed to partial-birth abortions, it is also true that most give it little attention. One reason for this is media bias: it has been well established that the media elite are almost unanimous in their support for abortion-on-demand. So much so that media insiders like Bernie Goldberg and others have admitted that it is extremely difficult for a pro-life person to get hired in any position of influence in journalism or the broadcast industry. Given this monopoly of thought, it is no wonder why "60 Minutes," or any of the other TV magazine-type shows, will ever do a segment on partial-birth abortion. Wouldn't it be great to learn what the hospitals and clinics do with the "remains"?
If that's too gruesome, wouldn't it be great if "Dateline" interviewed the very same doctors who are mentioned on pages 8-9? Or how about ABC's Diane Sawyer? Would she bring that same pained look on her face—you know, the one she flashed when interviewing Mel Gibson—to work when asking the doctors what kind of scissors they like best? Wouldn't it be instructive to learn how these monsters manage to sleep at night?

The banality of evil really shines through when these doctors are asked about the pain that the baby feels. Not only do they not have a clue—they don't want to know. That's because it's not their job. Their job is to deliver a dead baby—and maybe put a cap on the kid's head before slipping him into one of their little coffins. 

Their answers are so icily cold as to be scary. These are well-educated men and women who were trained to help the sick. And what they do for a living is to kill the kids. Is it because the money is good? Maybe it is, but surely they could make lots of money treating people's feet. No, what they elect to do tells us something about the way they see the world: they are servants, trained to deliver a service. Just like prostitutes, only the ladies of the night don't have to learn how to use a suction tube.

This may come as a surprise to you: not one nation in the world has more liberal laws governing abortion than the United States. Every European nation—including the sexually liberated Scandinavian countries—has some restrictions on abortion. We have none. We know this because a few decades ago a member of the Catholic League's board of advisors, Mary Ann Glendon, revealed this dirty little secret in a book she did on the subject. The Harvard law professor was herself surprised to learn that the U.S. has the most promiscuous laws on abortion of any nation on the face of the earth.

There are plenty of issues in this election season for voters to consider, and it makes no sense to focus on one to the exclusion of others. But it also makes no sense to treat issues like the environment, housing and the minimum wage as the moral equal of infanticide. Yet that is what many Catholics, including members of the clergy, are urging us to do. It is important that their quest for moral equivalency be resisted.

All of this is very troubling, and not simply because it is immoral to jam a scissors into a little baby's head and then suck out the boy or girl's brain. It is troubling because of what it does to the rest of us. It allows us to retreat—to escape into ourselves. It coarsens us. It promotes the fiction that we can each carve out our own universe, complete with our own morality. In short, such nihilism is deadly in more ways than one.



After President Bush signed a law banning partial-birth abortion last year, Planned Parenthood and the rest of the abortion industry sued to have the law overturned. This past spring, several doctors who have performed such abortions testified before judges in various parts of the nation. The following is an excerpt of their remarks.

The Procedure

April 5, 2004: Excerpts from cross-examination of Dr. Carolyn Westhoff:

Q. And at that point the fetus' body is below the cervix and the neck is in the cervix with the head still in the uterus, right?
A. Yes.
Q. And it's at that point that you take a scissors and insert it into the woman and place an incision in the base of the fetus' skull, right?
A. Yes.
Q. Now the contents of the fetus' skull, just like the contents of my skull and your skull is liquid, right?
A. That's right.
Q. And sometimes after you've made the incision the fetus' brain will drain out on its own, right?
A. That's right.
Q. Other times you must insert a suction tube to drain the skull, right?
A. That's right.
Q. And then the skull will collapse immediately after its liquid contents have been removed and the head will pass easily through the dilated cervix, right?
A. That's right.

April 2, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Carolyn Westhoff: 

Q. Do you tell her [the mother] that you are going to then, ultimately, suck the brain out of the skull?
A. In all of our D&E's the head is collapsed or crushed and the brains are definitely out of the skull but those are—
Q. Do you tell them that?
A. Those are details that would be distressing to my patients and would not—information about that is not directly relevant to their safety. 

April 1, 2004: Judge Richard C. Casey and Dr. Timothy Johnson, plaintiff: 

Casey asked Johnson if doctors tell a woman that an abortion procedure they might use includes "sucking the brain out of the skull."

"I don't think we would use those terms," Johnson said. "I think we would probably use a term like 'decompression of the skull' or 'reducing the contents of the skull.'"

The judge responded, "Make it nice and palatable so that they wouldn't understand what it's all about?"

"We try to do it in a way that's not offensive or gruesome or overly graphic for patients," Johnson said. 

The Goal

April 6, 2004: Excerpts from Government's cross-examination of Dr. Mitchell Creinin:

Q. If the fetus were close to 24 weeks, and you were performing a transvaginal surgical abortion, you would be concerned about delivering the fetus entirely intact because that might result in a live baby that may survive, correct?
A. You said I was performing an abortion, so since the objective of an abortion is to not have a live fetus, then that would be correct.
Q. In your opinion, if you were performing a surgical abortion at 23 or 24 weeks and the cervix was so dilated that the head could pass through without compression, you would do whatever you needed to do in order to make sure that the live baby was not delivered, wouldn't you?
A. Whatever I needed, meaning whatever surgical procedure I needed to do as part of the procedure? Yes. Then, the answer would be: Yes.
Q. And one step you would take to avoid delivery of a live baby would be to deliver or hold the fetus' head on the internal side of the cervical os in order to collapse the skull; is that right?
A. Yes, because the objective of my procedure is to perform an abortion.
Q. And that would ensure you did not deliver a live baby?
A. Correct. 

How the Baby Reacts

April 5, 2004: Excerpts from direct examination of Dr. Marilynn Fredriksen:

The Court: Do you tell [the woman] whether or not it will hurt the fetus?
Fredriksen: The intent of an [abortion is] that the fetus will die during the process of uterine evacuation.
The Court: Ma'am, I didn't ask you that. Very simply I asked you whether or not do you tell the mother that one of the ways she may do this is that you will deliver the baby partially and then insert a pair of scissors in the base of the fetus' skull?
Fredriksen: I have not done that.
The Court: Do you ever tell them that after that is done you are going to suction or suck the brain out of the skull?
Fredriksen: I don't use suction.
The Court: Then how do you remove the brain from the skull?
Fredriksen: I use my finger to disrupt the central nervous system, thereby the skull collapses and I can easily deliver the remainder of the fetus through the cervix.
The Court: Do you tell them that you are going to collapse a skull?
Fredriksen: No.
The Court: The mother?
Fredriksen: No.
The Court: Do you tell them whether or not that hurts the fetus?
Fredriksen: I have never talked to a fetus about whether or not they experience pain. 

April 1, 2004: Judge Richard C. Casey, Dr. Timothy Johnson, plaintiff:

"Does the fetus feel pain?" Judge Richard C. Casey asked Johnson, saying he had been told that studies of a type of abortion usually performed in the second trimester had concluded they do.

Johnson said he did not know, adding he knew of no scientific research on the subject.
The judge then pressed Johnson on whether he ever thought about fetal pain while he performs the abortion procedure that involves dismemberment. Another doctor a day earlier had testified that a fetus sometimes does not immediately die after limbs are pulled off.

"I guess whenever I…" Johnson began before the judge interrupted.
"Simple question, doctor. Does it cross your mind?" Casey pressed.
Johnson said that it did not.

"Never crossed your mind?" the judge asked again.

"No," Johnson answered. 

Proof that the Baby is Alive

March 29, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Maureen Paul:

Q. And when you begin the evacuation, is the fetus ever alive?
A. Yes.
Q. How do you know that?
A. Because I do many of my procedures especially at 16 weeks under an ultrasound guidance, so I will see a heartbeat.
Q. Do you pay attention to that while you are doing the abortion?
A. Not particularly. I just notice sometimes.

April 2, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Cassing Hammond:

Q. And you have observed signs of life in the fetus, didn't you?
A. That is correct. 
Q. You have seen spontaneous respiratory activity, right?
A. Yes. 
Q. Heartbeat?
A. Yes 
Q. Spontaneous movements?
A. Yes. 

The Burial

March 31, 2004: Dr. Amos Grunebaum: 

Grunebaum said doctors used to hide the fetus from women after an abortion before studies in the late 1970s and early 1980s showed that women grieved less after a failed pregnancy if they get to see the fetus.

"It is the same as any baby dying. People want to hold the fetus," he said, adding that he goes so far as to put a cap on the head of the fetus just as he would for a newborn. 

April 5, 2004: Excerpts from cross-examination of Dr. Fredrik Broekhuizen:

Q. Doctor, you testified earlier that sometimes parents want an intact fetus for blessing or burial. Have you ever had the parent express that desire where you had compressed the head of the fetus to complete the delivery?
A. Yes.
Q. Was anything done in those instances, doctor, to improve the appearance of the fetus' head after decompression?
A. Yes.
Q. What was done?
A. The fetus was—just like a newborn—it was dressed and kind of had a little hat placed on it so only the face was visible.
Q. You have seen the fetus' leg move before crushing the head, haven't you?
A. I have seen that before compressing/decompressing the head.

April 2, 2004: Testimony of Dr. Carolyn Westhoff:

A. Because it is the back of the skull that collapsed, since this is not disfiguring, and the face, for instance, is intact. Several of my patients have wished to hold the fetus after the procedure and have expressed gratitude that they were able to do so…. We have arrangements to permit burial of the fetus if the patients want…. Because the hospital also has small coffins present, both for stillbirths or for fetuses after a termination, and in the case of our D&E patients we actually have little hats available so we could in fact cover the back of the head where the incision had been made.




It took less than a week for the Kerry camp to silence Mara Vanderslice, its Director of Religion Outreach. 

This intriguing story began when the Catholic League broke a news story on June 14. The following statement by the league explains how the process unfolded:

"Here's what we know about John Kerry's religious outreach person. Mara Vanderslice was raised without any faith and didn't become an evangelical Christian until she attended Earlham College, a Quaker school known for its adherence to pacifism. When in college, Mara was active in the Earlham Socialist Alliance, a group that supports the convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and openly embraces Marxism-Leninism. After graduating, Mara spoke at rallies held by ACT-UP, the anti-Catholic group that disrupted Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1989 by spitting the Eucharist on the floor. In 2000, she practiced civil disobedience when she took to the streets of Seattle in a protest against the World Trade Organization. In 2002, she tried to shut down Washington, D.C. in a protest against the IMF and the World Bank.

"At first, John Kerry was considered too moderate for Mara, which is why she became Howard Dean's Religion Outreach Director. She admits that she was a freak in the Dean campaign: her colleagues dubbed her the 'church lady,' informing her that Dean was liked precisely because he didn't talk about religion. 'How in the world did you get hired?' is how one staffer put it. Unfazed, Mara contends we have a 'collective commitment to protect the integrity of God's creation,' specifically citing the needs of the 'least of these.' Yet she supports John Kerry, a man who has never learned of an abortion he couldn't justify.

"All the polls show Kerry getting whipped badly by Bush among practicing Catholics, Protestants and Jews. Moreover, the latest edition of Time magazine reports that only 7 percent of likely voters think Kerry is a man of strong religious faith. Given all this, his choice of Mara Vanderslice as his religious point woman is confounding. Her resume is that of a person looking for a job working for Fidel Castro, not John Kerry. Just wait until Catholics and Protestants learn who this lady really is."

Immediately, reporters called William Donohue asking him to verify his claims. This was no problem as we always double check our sources and would never make a statement of this magnitude unless we had the evidence to back up our assertions. Interestingly, some in the media seemed genuinely disappointed that Donohue had all the goods on Vanderslice; some even refused to write a promised piece on her. 

It was the June 18 article in the Washington Times by Julia Duin that detailed exactly how the Kerry camp reacted to the league's news release. Duin reported that Vanderslice was no longer permitted to talk to the press. The Kerry campaign, she learned, was now in a "panic mode" over Vanderslice's role.
In another release to the media, Donohue remarked as follows:

"It is disingenuous of the Kerry campaign to blame me for simply disclosing who Mara Vanderslice is. But that's how Kerry spokeswoman Allison Dobson is spinning it: 'It is extremely unfortunate and regretful,' she says, 'that John Kerry's political opponents would attack a person of faith in this way.' They just don't get it. The Kerry campaign hires a 29 year-old ultra-leftist who consorts with anti-Catholic bigots and the Catholic League is supposed to take this lying down? And if Vanderslice is so innocent, why have they gagged her? How is a director of outreach supposed to function if he or she is being muzzled? 

"The larger issue remains: the Kerry campaign is treating religion the way a sick kid treats lousy-tasting medicine—as something that simply must be swallowed. Why is it that this Catholic senator has no problem with 'gay speech'—he knows how to talk the talk with transgender types—but stutters every time he engages in 'religion speech'? Are people of faith so distant from him as to be virtual pariahs? 
"To top it off, Kerry is now taking advice from the discredited priest, Father Robert Drinan. Drinan, who says he is part of Kerry's 'kitchen Cabinet' on religious matters, was forced in 1997 to retract an outrageous New York Times op-ed column he wrote the year before supporting President Clinton's veto of a ban on partial-birth abortion. If this is the kind of Catholic Kerry is listening to, he's in deep trouble."

Internet blog sites were chock full of commentary over this controversy. There is no doubt that the issue of politics and religion is proving to be a big one in the presidential election. 

The Catholic League welcomes religion outreach efforts by both Republicans and Democrats, choosing not to align itself with either party. What interests us are the life issues and policies governing religious liberty.



The lead editorial in the June 25 edition of the Forward, a prominent Jewish weekly newspaper, accused Catholic bishops of being a threat to democracy. William Donohue then let loose with the following statement to the press:

"Never have I read a more anti-Catholic editorial in my life. It is the height of arrogance and intolerance for a Jewish newspaper to lecture Catholic bishops on the propriety of denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians. At issue is not a matter of public policy; on the contrary, it is purely an internal matter. As such, it is none of the Forward's business what disciplinary measures the bishops decide.

"This is how the editorial begins: 'The threat by Catholic bishops to withhold communion from politicians who uphold abortion rights is an affront not just to democracy, but also to the best moral teachings of Catholicism.' This is the oldest canard in the arsenal of anti-Catholics—to accuse them of being a threat to democracy. Not only that, the editorial presumes to know what the best moral teachings of the Catholic Church are better than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"And there's more—just read this astounding comment: 'Where democracy is affronted is at the point where a church—the nation's largest single church, as it happens—attempts to impose its views from above by threatening to withhold what its believers consider an essential religious rite. That's nothing more than bullying, trying to bludgeon believers into substituting obedience for conscience. It's unfair to believers and unfair to the system.’ (My italics.) Talk about chutzpah!

"The editorial ends by saying the bishops have failed to abide by their own creed because they 'dishonored [the] doctrine of life' by not condemning 'free-market fundamentalists' and the like. Which makes me wonder: What is more egregious—the ignorance or the bigotry?

"If the bishops threatened sanctions against anti-Semites, the Forward would congratulate them. In any event, Catholics are owed an apology."


Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State recently sent a letter to the IRS asking the agency to investigate what he termed "electioneering" by the Diocese of Colorado Springs. 

Referring to Bishop Michael Sheridan's pastoral letter about politicians receiving Communion, Lynn accused him of using "code language that says 'Re-elect Bush and vote Republican.'" Lynn also alleged that Bishop Sheridan's actions were "part of a larger trend among some members of the Catholic hierarchy to influence Catholic voters in this election year"; he cited the bishops of New Jersey and Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis.

We told the media, "It is disingenuous of Lynn to accuse Bishop Sheridan of 'religious blackmail to steer votes toward the GOP.' Sheridan never mentions any candidate or political party in his letter. He makes his judgment based on moral issues, on which members of both political parties can come up short." 

We went on to quote what Sheridan actually wrote: "The Church never directs citizens to vote for any specific candidate. The Church does, however, have the right and the obligation to teach clearly and fully the objective truth about the dignity and rights of the human person." Lynn conveniently omitted this part of the pastoral letter.

Lynn joins a growing group of those who cry "separation of church and state" when Catholic bishops venture to speak on public issues. It is hard to take these critics seriously when, with very few exceptions, they wink at campaigning and even political endorsements of candidates by name in some Protestant churches. 

Lynn's remark that Bishop Sheridan's actions are part of a "larger trend" among some in the Catholic hierarchy is an attempt to intimidate the bishops into silence. And he has shown he is not averse to using the power of the state—the IRS—to do so. So much for separation of church and state.


On June 2, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois released a report, "Evaluating the Votes and Actions of Public Officials from a Catholic Perspective," which ranked the twenty-four U.S. Catholic senators based on their votes in three areas: domestic, international and pro-life. The issues were taken from a publication issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Faithful Citizenship." 

Referring to bishops who have said they may deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians, Durbin said they "cross the line in terms of what most Catholic Americans find acceptable regarding the relationship between their church and their government." 

We didn't see it that way, and that is why we released the following statement to the media:

"To say that a senator votes better on Catholic issues because he has voted to increase the minimum wage while voting against a ban on killing a baby who is 80 percent born is ludicrous. Senator Durbin has done the same as some House Democrats last month, lumping together policy issues that do not have the same moral weight. The Vatican's recent document on Catholic politicians, echoing the pope, states that Catholic lawmakers have 'a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life' [emphasis in original]. The U.S. bishops, in the very same document used by Durbin to form the scorecard, call this 'the fundamental moral measure of their [lawmakers'] service.' Saying otherwise is a disgraceful misrepresentation of Catholic teaching. 

"Durbin has even gone so far as to say that the 'right to religious belief and the separation between church and state' may be 'compromised' by bishops who impose sanctions on pro-abortion lawmakers. This is ironic, coming from the senator who on the Judiciary Committee enforced a de facto religious test barring pro-life Catholics from the federal bench. The fact of the matter is that the bishops have not only the right but the duty to speak on moral issues that play out in the public sphere; and Durbin's inflammatory rhetoric is a blatant attempt to muzzle them."


In late May, forty-eight Democratic congressmen signed a letter to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C., taking issue with those bishops who have said that Catholic lawmakers should be denied Communion if they champion abortion rights. 

The Democratic congressmen who signed the letter, almost all of whom are pro-abortion, admonished the nation's bishops not to "revive latent anti-Catholic prejudice" by threatening to deny them Communion. 

We told the press that this is a classic example of "blaming the victim." 

Bishops who call upon Catholic legislators to protect the rights of the unborn lest they jeopardize their Catholic standing are simply exercising their episcopal authority. To suggest that in doing so these bishops are promoting anti-Catholic bigotry is to exculpate the guilty and blame the innocent. If the issue were segregation, would these Catholic Democrats rebuke those bishops who endorsed sanctions against pro-segregation lawmakers? Would they be counseling the bishops to shut up lest they spark Catholic bashing?

The letter also questioned why the bishops have not sought sanctions against Catholic politicians who voted for the war in Iraq or who are in favor of the death penalty. To which we told the media: "In doing so, these lawmakers evince a profound ignorance: the pope's position on the war was that it could be resorted to only 'as the very last option,' thus allowing room for a legitimate debate on whether that time had arrived. Regarding the death penalty, the Holy Father has never taken an absolutist position against it; he argues that for the most part it is no longer necessary to defend society. In short, war and capital punishment, while never desirable, may sometimes be necessary. By contrast, abortion is intrinsically evil."

Both the bishops and the Catholic lawmakers have a free speech right to say what they want. But if the latter seeks to cry "separation of church and state" against the former, then it must be equally wrong for Catholic agents of the state to tell the bishops what to do.


The MGM movie "Saved!" opened at select theaters on May 28. It was billed as a "sweetly subversive comedy" about an evangelical Christian high school. More accurately, it was an attempt to smear Christians. 

The film features a Christian teenager who gets pregnant while attempting to reorient her homosexual friend; this follows a vision she has of Jesus, who appealed to her to "do everything you can to help him." The girl's mother has an affair with Pastor Skip, the school's principal, and many experience a crisis of faith. 

Louis Giovino, the league's director of communications, saw the movie on May 21. Catholic League president William Donohue wrote the following news release based on Giovino's report:

"Peter Adee, president of worldwide marketing at MGM, has said, 'I love the movie, but it is so hard to figure out who the audience is.' He is correct. What he failed to say is this is why it will bomb. 

"Not every movie with a religious theme has to be of the serious nature that 'The Passion of the Christ' is in order to succeed. 'Sister Act,' for example, succeeded as light comedy because it made people laugh without ever evincing an agenda. Not only is 'Saved!' not funny, the statement it makes about Christianity is strained and mildly offensive. To be specific, all the Christians are presented as good-natured but hopelessly narrow-minded persons who can't negotiate life. On the other hand, the non-Christians are portrayed as tolerant and wise. And crude: the lone Jew remarks of Jesus on the cross, 'Now that is what I call hung on a cross!' She also comments that instead of seeking to be 'born again,' she has decided 'not to serve Jesus after all, but to serve Satan.'

"MGM publicists have said the film was not made to offend Christians. But if this is true we would expect it to do very well in the Bible Belt. Not only will it not open there, if it bombs in places like New York and Los Angeles (not exactly religion-friendly environs), it'll never see the light of day elsewhere. Our guess is that the South will be 'Saved' from having to endure this flick."

On June 12, William Donohue debated the movie on the "Today Show" with the film's writer and director, Brian Dannelly. In the course of the debate, Donohue explained what was so offensive about the way the movie ended:

"What I'm a little bit tired of is the same kind of cruel caricature. And I love the way the movie ends. You know, here we have this idea that moral absolutes are bad. We need gray areas. Oh, really? Let me tell you something, Brian, you made this movie. Millions of people have lost their lives in the last century because of selling the idea that there are no moral absolutes. If there are no moral absolutes, we are back to different strokes for different people. We put pizzas into ovens in this country, they put Jews into ovens in Nazi Germany. Yet, that may not have been your intention, sir, but you're selling an idea which is toxic."

Dannelly did so poorly that he never showed up for a radio debate he had previously agreed to do latter that same day with Louis Giovino. 


The day before former President Ronald Reagan died, 58 senators sent a letter to President George W. Bush urging him to permit embryonic stem cell research. The senators were now insisting that with the death of President Reagan, the issue took on greater urgency. They cited the support that Nancy Reagan has shown for this type of research.

The Catholic League cautioned against any change in the current rules even as the issue reaches a hot point. The following is the text of our remarks as sent to the media:

"Senator Orrin Hatch, an advocate of embryonic stem cell research, has said of Nancy Reagan's support for this procedure, 'I believe that it's going to be pretty tough for anybody not to have empathy for her feelings on this issue.' That's true enough, but it doesn't settle the issue: what ultimately matters is whether embryonic stem cell research is the intentional destruction of human life. Since every person ever born began as an embryo, and since embryonic stem cell research is predicated on the acknowledgement that embryos are human (otherwise the research would be meaningless), it is incumbent that our society not sanction it.

"The same day the 58 senators sent their letter to President Bush, Pope John Paul II admonished Americans to reject such things as abortion, same sex unions, pornography and prostitution as 'self-centered demands'; he could easily have chosen to add embryonic stem cell research to this list. The pope, who suffers from Parkinson's Disease, might arguably have benefited from embryonic stem cell research had it been previously allowed. But the Holy Father recognizes, as all of us should, that it is immoral for one person to have his life extended at the expense of someone else's right to life. 

"One of the senators who signed the letter to President Bush is John Kerry, a man who calls himself a 'practicing and believing Catholic.' Given the fact that he supports partial-birth abortion and embryonic stem cell research, it would be instructive to know when Senator Kerry believes human life begins."


Recently, an article by E. Michael Jones in the February 2004 edition of his magazine, Culture Wars, came to our attention. What begins as a review of Roy Schoeman's book, Salvation Is From the Jews, ends up as an anti-Semitic rant playing fast and loose with Catholic theology. It should be unequivocally condemned. 

The first important point to note is that there is nothing in Roy Shoeman's book that would lead one to Jones's conclusions; Schoeman is a Jewish convert to Catholicism, and his book, published by the mainstream Ignatius Press, has won praise from reliably level-headed Catholics. The problem lies with Jones, who uses his review of the book to engage in a freewheeling polemic against Jews. 

At the outset, Jones's history is skewed: "The overwhelming majority of Jews didn't just ignore Christ, they actively sought his death." While it is undeniable that some Jews did seek Christ's death, declaring that an "overwhelming majority" did is just unwarranted. This, however, is not the worst of what Jones has to say. 

According to Revelation 3:9, Jones says, Jews who do not accept Christ are the "synagogue of Satan." "In other words, the group which was called by God to prepare the way for the Messiah, rejected the Messiah and in doing that, became over the course of the ensuing centuries, a group that defined itself as anti-Christian." Not believing Christ was the Messiah does not entail defining oneself as anti-Christian; that assumes that Jews see so little of value in their own religion that they must define themselves against Christians. Furthermore, it paints Jews with a broad brush, ignoring regional differences as well as individual traits. That is the very definition of prejudice.

Jones goes on: "The Jews who reject Christ now prepare the way for the coming of the anti-Christ every bit as much as the faithful Jews prepared the way for the coming of the real Christ. The Jews, because of their favored position and because of their rejection of Christ, now have a special role to play in the mystery of iniquity and its history on earth." This sounds like dispensationalist theology, an umbrella term for various Protestant systems of biblical interpretation that, among other things, severely separates God's plan for the Jews from His plan for the community of believers. It posits that Jesus failed in His mission to the Jews, and the Church was formed more or less as a "Plan B." It is the basis for the Left Behind series of novels, and is anything but Catholic. Unaccountably, Jones faults the Catholic Schoeman for not mentioning any of this.

See Jones's next statement: "If salvation comes from the Jews who prepared the way for Christ and accepted him when he came, what comes from the Jews who rejected Christ? The answer is clear: what comes from this group is the opposite of salvation, namely, the work of Satan culminating in the arrival of the Antichrist." Jones's conclusion just does not follow from his premises. Again, Jones is attempting to pass off dispensationalism as Catholic doctrine. Jones has the gall to add, "The answer is not only clear; there is no other possible answer to this question." 

Jones claims that through much of Christian history, "What happened was precisely the Jewish participation in iniquity which their pertinacious and ongoing rejection of Christ made a necessity." He adds that "the logic is inescapable." Clearly, logic is not Jones's strong suit. Is Jones asserting that there can be no righteous non-Christians? No, he is saying something even more ridiculous: that there is something inherent in the Jewish people that makes them unique instruments of evil. If that is not anti-Semitism, then nothing is. He even outrageously blames the Jews themselves for the Holocaust and pogroms: "Messianic politics has been a recipe for disaster… and the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jews was a reaction to Jewish Messianism (in the form of Bolshevism) every bit as much as the Chmielnicki pogroms flowed from the excesses of the Jewish tax farmers in the Ukraine." 

Jones takes on the tone of a conspiracy theorist, noting "the Jewish/Bolshevist takeover of Russia and large segments of Eastern Europe, which in turn set up the mechanism of reaction against that reign of terror, namely, National Socialism under Hitler. That in turn led to the creation of the state of Israel, and the rise to power of the Jewish media elites in the United States, which in turn led, after over 50 years of antagonizing Islam to 9/11 and the current spate of never-ending wars in the Middle East." In keeping with the dispensationalist tendency to interpret prophecy in terms of current events, Jones comments, "So it looks more and more like Armageddon every day now. The outline of human history seems to be taking on a more and more biblical configuration with each passing day…." In the context of "Paul Wolfowitz's plan to march through the middle east; George Bush's recent over the top messianic speeches in England, or Ariel Sharon showing up at the Temple Mount and inaugurating the intifada," Jones concludes, "The contemporary Synagogue of Satan, whether in America or Israel, now poses the greatest threat to world peace."

The Catholic League condemns Jones's anti-Semitism and repudiates his efforts to justify it in the name of Catholic theology. One thing is clear: there are many choice terms one can use to describe Jones's view of salvation history; "Catholic" is not one of them.


When asked on June 25 whether the Catholic League would sign a statement of support for a Federal Marriage Amendment, league president William Donohue quickly did so. In doing so, the Catholic League agrees with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that nothing less than a constitutional amendment can stave off the radical gay rights agenda.

The specific language of the statement that the Catholic League supports, which was written by Maggie Gallagher, includes a concern for the autonomy of religious institutions. In the event same-sex marriage were to be legalized, religious institutions that do not support gay marriage may have their tax exempt status jeopardized. In addition, if the courts label marriage between a man and woman as a form of "discrimination" against gays, those who teach the Catholic faith may be accused of fomenting bigotry.
In short, there is much at stake in this hot-button election year issue.



Mike Ritter's cartoon, depicting a bishop labeled "Vatican" holding the Eucharist over a Catholic politician while telling him to "roll over," is out of line (5/5/04). Bishops have the right to refuse Communion to those public figures who ignore core Church teachings. Ritter is dragging an internal matter of the Church—who is and isn't fit to receive Communion—onto the editorial page, where it does not belong.


Joseph De Feo
Associate Director of Communications
Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

St. Augustine Record (FL), 5/21/04
On an editing note, I'm not in the habit of apologizing for political cartoons, which regularly offend one group or another. But I am sorry that a recent syndicated cartoon regarding the Catholic Church offended so many local people, who felt the cartoon could have made its point less directly. I agree.

—Jim Baltzelle, Editor, St. Augustine Record, 6/6/04


Beginning with New York Governor Mario Cuomo, literally hundreds of local, state and federal Catholic executives and lawmakers have said that they are personally opposed to abortion, but are nonetheless obliged to take a pro-abortion position. Cuomo's attempt to carve out a middle ground on this issue, however, was no more successful in 1984 than it has proved to be today for presidential hopeful John Kerry. Indeed, it's a minefield ready to explode.

Consider that when Cuomo was governor, he vetoed legislation that allowed for capital punishment because he said he was personally opposed to the death penalty. Now listen to what Kerry said on May 17 when asked why he is opposed to same-sex marriage: "I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman." 

So why is it that their personal belief was also their public position on the issues of capital punishment and gay marriage, but not abortion? Put differently, both Cuomo and Kerry do not believe that their opposition to these behaviors creates a church and state dilemma, even though their personal beliefs coincide with the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Yet when it comes to abortion, their positions collapse: now they feel compelled to go against their personal beliefs for fear of imposing the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

This begs the question: Why is it acceptable for a Catholic politician to ratify the Church's teaching on the death penalty and marriage but not abortion? Alternatively, why is it possible to avoid a church-state dilemma when voting to affirm the Church's teaching on one public policy issue, but not another?
It's time that Catholic pro-abortion politicians stopped with the dishonesty. This is not a partisan issue. For example, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as well as current New York Governor George Pataki, both Republicans, are in favor of legalizing partial-birth abortion. So are the two Massachusetts Senators, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, both of whom are Democrats. All of these Catholics are creating a straw man, and they know it. 

Here is how the Catholic League explained its position to the media: "As long as the issue is a public policy concern, and not a peculiarly sectarian interest (e.g. dietary laws), lawmakers of faith can easily reconcile their personal beliefs—grounded in an informed religious conscience—with the votes they cast. Thus, the mere invocation of a church and state dilemma does not reflexively settle the issue. What may be at play is pure politics, having nothing to do with any alleged constitutional question."

Pope John Paul II, not surprisingly, has said it best: the Catholic Church is not seeking to impose anything; rather, our goal is to propose. And that is something we are not only allowed to do, it is something we are obliged to do.


Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, notified all his pastors in May not to give Communion to gay members of the Rainbow Sash Movement. Members of the group, who publicly reject the teachings of the Catholic Church on homosexuality and same-sex marriage, announced that they were going to wear rainbow sashes on Pentecost Sunday at many churches in Chicago, as well as in other parts of the country. 

The Catholic League rushed to the defense of Cardinal George by issuing the following press release:
"Anyone who politicizes the Mass, for whatever cause, has placed himself outside the community of faith. In doing so, such persons show nothing but contempt for the Church's greatest prayer—the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Thus do they leave bishops and priests with little choice but to ostracize them from fully participating in the Mass. 

"This is not the first time this band of homosexual extremists has sought to upend the Mass. For example, they've been known to stage protests at the Mass attended by U.S. bishops at their annual meeting in Washington; for this they have been turned away at Communion. Now they're back, ready to disrupt the Mass again. Their preferred tactic upon being denied the Eucharist is to return to their pew and remain standing. 

"Cardinal George is not politicizing the Mass—the Rainbow Sash fanatics are. Their goal is to exploit the Mass by turning it into a forum of dissent. That is why they have left Cardinal George with no alternative, and they know it. 

"Some pundits will inevitably compare this to the decision of some bishops to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. But this is all the more egregious because it constitutes nothing less than a shakedown of the Catholic Church. Nothing can justify a sacrilegious mutiny, and that is exactly what this demonstration is all about."


In late June, the Dallas Morning News ran a series of articles alleging that another scandal had unfolded: the Catholic Church was now guilty of moving molesting priests overseas. For 18 months, the newspaper tracked these runaway priests. It concluded that "Nearly half of the more than 200 cases we identified involve clergy who tried to elude law enforcement." 

Bill Donohue was asked to respond to the series in an op-ed; it appeared on June 27. It is reprinted below.

The Dallas Morning News deserves credit for exposing the transfer of molesting priests overseas. Molesters, be they priests or plumbers, deserve to be punished, and not put on a plane. But the series is not something most Catholics are prepared to hyperventilate about, and for good reason: the stories are mostly anecdotal and the timeline is mostly pre-scandal.

Social scientists distinguish between the episodic and the systemic. The former is unexceptional; the latter is problematic. In this regard, the series disclosed specific cases of moral delinquency, but it did not uncover a systemic pattern of delinquency. To be specific, what made the story in Boston so dramatic was the extent and depth of the cover-up; the overwhelming evidence tying senior church officials to it; and the fact that it occurred over decades. On this score, the DMN series pales by comparison.

If some molesting priests (almost all of whom are homosexuals, not pedophiles) were moved around locally, it is not surprising to learn that some were also moved around globally. In every case, those who authorized the transfer should be subjected to the full force of the law. But policing a religious order priest, like the Salesians, is not the same as policing a diocesan priest: the former is not under the direct supervision of a bishop; the latter is.

The series touches on the question of why molesting priests were kept in ministry after their superiors learned of their offense. Readers should know that the advice to subject such priests to treatment—instead of kicking them out—is exactly what the Vatican was told earlier this year by a panel of sex abuse experts drawn from around the world, not one of whom was Catholic. In short, the role of the psychological community must be addressed if this issue is to be resolved.

Finally, if the transfer of miscreant priests were commonplace after the scandal broke in January 2002, then that would be cause for alarm. But since this is not the case, it is not likely the series will create the same furor.


The HBO series "America Undercover" aired a special documentary, "Celibacy," on June 28. It purported to be an examination of celibacy as it is practiced in the world's religions. After a cursory glance at celibacy in eastern religions, it focused almost exclusively on Roman Catholicism. The overall theme was voiced at the outset: "The worldwide crisis in the Catholic Church begs many questions: Is sexual denial healthy? Or can it become something dangerous? Is there any link between enforced celibacy and an apparent epidemic of child abuse by the clergy?" 

Here is what Catholic League president William Donohue said about it to the media:

"It is not for nothing that the term 'enforced celibacy' or 'imposed' is repeated constantly. By doing so, the message of coercion is made explicit. For example, we learn that the Catholic Church formally invoked the discipline of celibacy in 1139 as 'a powerful tool for controlling its army.' Similarly, we discover that 'The need to suppress the most powerful drive on this planet is the key to understanding many Catholic practices and rituals.' To drive the point home, a bloody video of self-flagellating Filipinos on Good Friday is shown.

"The viewer is also treated to the perspective of an embittered ex-priest, Richard Sipe, who asserts that homosexuals and sociopaths are drawn to the celibate priesthood, a comment that should go over big in the gay community. Moreover, stories of sexual abuse are described in graphic detail, if only to contrast them with happy tales of priests who bolted and married. Then there is Robert, a pedophile priest who admits that castration set him free. 

"Finally, there is Archbishop John Foley, a Vatican official who is set up to appear foolish. After distorting the travails of Galileo, the clincher question is delivered: 'How long will it take the Church to come to terms with the nature of human sexuality?' The video cuts immediately to Archbishop Foley, who says, 'I do not see any connection between mandatory celibacy and inappropriate sexual activity.' 

"In short, the HBO special on 'Celibacy' is to truth telling about the Catholic Church what Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' is to truth telling about the U.S.-Iraqi war. Both are masterpieces of deception and propaganda."


In June there were plenty of media reports alleging that actress Jennifer Lopez had secretly married singer Marc Anthony. What caught our eye was the way the media characterized J.Lo: she was dubbed a "strict Catholic" in over a dozen reports.

Lopez, twice divorced, was supposedly pregnant and, according to news stories, would never have a child out-of-wedlock because she's such a "strict Catholic." Never before had J.Lo been labeled as such. So now we know what the celebrity gossip gang thinks a "strict Catholic" looks like.

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