All posts by William Donohue

William Donohue is the current president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in the United States, and has held that position since 1993.
Bill Donohue

Pope Francis Challenges Europeans – OpEd

Today Pope Francis addressed the European Parliament.

This was one of Pope Francis’ signature statements. He beckoned his audience to recover their religious moorings, focusing on the positive link between Christianity and Europe. This means an appreciation of what he called the “transcendent dignity” of the human person. Dignity is given recognition in the respect for inalienable human rights, and this, he stressed, extends to the right to profess one’s faith.

The communal aspects of Catholic thought were evident in the way Pope Francis addressed liberty. We are not “monads,” or disconnected atoms, nor are we “absolutes”; rather, we are “beings in relation.” Sounding very much like his two predecessors, he said, “unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conf licts and violence.”

Speaking of violence, the Holy Father spoke out against Christian persecution. In an obvious reference to Muslims, he said, “Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.”

Pope Francis also condemned “selfish lifestyles” and the Western “throwaway culture.” But he did not lash out against a market economy. Instead, he called for a balance between the pursuit of profit and the needs of workers. We need to find “new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers.”

Furthermore, we should embrace the Christian contribution to the “social and cultural formation” of Europe, he said, and not see it as a “threat to the secularity” of nations or the independence of its institutions.

Pope Francis has given many significant statements. This one is my favorite, thus far.

Bill Donohue

‘Christians’ Attack Catholics – OpEd

Over the past several weeks, a wave of crazed Protestant activists attacked Catholic churches in Washington and Maryland. They shouted anti-Catholic slogans with their bullhorns, passed out vile literature attacking the teachings of the Catholic Church, harassed parishioners going to Mass—they even storm ed churches prior to the beginning of Mass.

These Nazi-like tactics, carried out by fundamentalists, should be widely condemned by everyone, including, most especially, evangelical and fundamentalist leaders.

Aside from the Washington Post, the media have shown no interest in this story. Why is that? Are those on the left unmoved because they greet anti-Catholicism with aplomb? Are those on the right unmoved because they do not want to rupture the Catholic-evangelical relationship? Neither reason is persuasive. Bigotry must be condemned, and this is doubly so when the basic right to attend religious service without intimidation is jeopardized.

It is sad but true that there are still pockets of anti-Catholicism in the Protestant community, especially among those aligned with conservative causes. No alliance in the culture war is worth looking past this problem, and that is why Catholics need to stand fast against attempts to brush instances like this aside.

Bill Donohue

Walmart’s Catholic Problem – OpEd

“Fat Girl Costumes” sold by Walmart were the subject of a deep apology and a pledge to rid the store’s inventory of such demeaning garb. Yesterday, when Catholics who are on our news release list complained to Walmart about three offensive Catholic costumes—a Virgin Mary with blood dripping from her eyes, a nun outfit with a skeleton head, and a costume that mocks the confessional—they got a different response.

“We apologize if we offended you. Because we have multiple buyers of customers, we try to provide them with plenty of options. However, we have documented your concern in order to improve our inventory at and in stores.”

Here is what Walmart said about its “Fat Girl Costumes” earlier in the week: “This never should have been on our site. It is unacceptable, and we apologize. We are working to remove it as soon as possible and ensure this never happens again.”

In other words, when plus-size women are offended, it demands an unequivocal response and the offensive item is withdrawn. When Catholics are offended, the apology extends only to the complainant, and nothing is done about it. That’s because Walmart wants to give its “multiple buyers” the “option” of purchasing a grotesque costume that demeans Jesus’ mother.

This is not the first time we have experienced Walmart’s corporate arrogance. With the busiest shopping days of the year upon us, we hope Catholics look elsewhere this Christmas season.


Bill Donohue

Anti-Catholic Political Ad In Washington St – OpEd

Mark Miloscia is a former Democratic state legislator in Washington who switched to the Republican party because of his dismay with the way Democrats treat people of faith. The former Southerner had no idea just how hateful some in his former party are, but now he knows.

A website that opposes Miloscia posted a cartoon of him that is vintage Catholic bashing. It shows him wearing a bishop’s miter holding a rosary. The inscription alongside the doctored photo reads as follows:

“Republican Mark Miloscia came from the Deep South…with plenty of

“‘Mississippi Mark’ has always worn his church on his sleeve. Rather than
represent the people of Federal Way, he has best represented the people
of The Vatican.

Below this statement is a list of six positions attributed to him, including one that says, “Lobbyist for the Catholic Church.

It is not certain who posted this anti-Catholic political ad. We will do what we can to get to the bottom of this. While his opponent has distanced herself from this despicable ad, we need to hear from state Democratic leaders about it.

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times

OSU campaign celebration to feature N.Y. Times columnist

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times will be the keynote speaker at an event on Friday, Oct. 31, celebrating the success of Oregon State University’s billion-dollar campaign.

The public is invited to this free celebration, which will be held at the LaSells Stewart Center on the OSU campus beginning at 4 p.m.

A seasoned journalist and native of Yamhill, Oregon, Kristof has traveled the major roads and minor byways of China, India, South Asia and Africa, offering a compassionate glimpse into global health, poverty and gender in the developing world.

He and his wife Sheryl Wudunn co-authored the best-selling “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which inspired a four-hour PBS series of the same name. In their new book, “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity,” they look around the world at people who are working to make it a better place, and show readers the numerous ways this work can be supported.

Kristof’s remarks will conclude an hour-long multimedia showcase of the impact of The Campaign for OSU on students, Oregon and the world. Publicly launched in October 2007, the campaign has raised more than $1.096 billion to support university priorities. To date, more than 105,000 donors to the campaign have:

  • Created more than 600 new scholarships and fellowship funds – a 30 percent increase – with gifts for student support exceeding $180 million;
  • Contributed more than $100 million to help attract and retain leading professors and researchers, including funding for 77 of Oregon State’s 124 endowed faculty positions;
  • Supported the construction or renovation of more than two dozen campus facilities, including Austin Hall in the College of Business, the Linus Pauling Science Center, new cultural centers, and the OSU Basketball Center. Bonding support from the state was critical to many of these projects.

“In his world travels, Nicholas Kristof has seen incredible examples of people who are transforming lives and creating opportunity,” said OSU President Edward J. Ray. “Though on a different level, that’s what’s happening at Oregon State University, with the help of our growing philanthropic community. We couldn’t be more pleased to welcome one of Oregon’s native sons to our campus to celebrate our progress over the last decade and look together to the future.

“The contribution this university makes to our state and to our world is extraordinary and this campaign has expanded future opportunities tremendously.”

Bill Donohue

Synod Interim Report Stirs Controversy – OpEd

The Synod of Bishops has released an interim report, and even when it is completed next week, it will not be definitive. That will not happen until next year when the synod meets. Still, this report has elicited much controversy, with more to come.

The midterm report tries to walk a delicate line between embracing the Church’s traditional teachings on marriage while at the same time extending a welcoming hand to those in irregular relationships.

For example, it speaks of “the value and consistency of natural marriage,” maintaining that “unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman.” This affirms the traditional understanding of marriage and leaves no wiggle room for change.

On other hand, it says “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” and that the Church needs to recognize “the positive reality of civil weddings and…cohabitation.” It is not clear what “gifts” homosexuals, or heterosexuals for that matter, bring, and to whom. The data on civil unions are scarce, but not so for cohabitation: in most instances, the data show that couples that cohabit before marriage have a higher divorce rate than those who do not. So we need to know why “shacking up” may be a plus.

The vector of change indicates a more pastoral stance toward those involved in non-traditional partnerships without substantively changing the Church’s commitment to marriage as the union between a man and a woman. How this will play out is uncertain. What is lacking in the interim report is clarity; this is the key source of the controversy.

It should be noted that the Catholic League exists to defend the right of the Church’s voice to be heard. Whatever the teaching body of the Church decides, the Magisterium (the pope in communion with the bishops), is what we defend.

Bill Donohue

Ben Affleck Discovers Bigotry – OpEd

Last month, Bill Maher had to educate Charlie Rose about the lethal differences between Islam and Christianity, and on Friday he had to educate Ben Affleck. A debate ensued between atheist author Sam Harris and Affleck over the number of Muslims who embrace jihad, prompting Affleck to opine, “You are saying that Islamophobia is not a real thing. It’s just an ugly thing to say. It’s gross. It’s racist. It’s like saying, ‘Oh you shifty Jew.'”

Affleck is such a phony. Since when does he object to bigotry? In 1999, he starred in Kevin Smith’s anti-Catholic flick, “Dogma.” The plot maintains that Mary and Joseph had sexual relations, and that Mary gave birth to a daughter who works in an abortion clinic. God, who was played by Alanis Morissette, and the apostles (a foul-mouthed 13th apostle was introduced) were also subjected to Smith’s low-class brand of humor.

When asked ab out his role in “Dogma,” Affleck bragged, “The film is definitely meant to push buttons.” Catholic buttons, that is. Can anyone believe that he would star in a Muslim-bashing film? Not on your life.

It’s not just Affleck who entertains this double standard—Hollywood is loaded with such people. Indeed, it goes well beyond Hollywood to encompass the cultural elite in art, journalism, education, and publishing. It all comes down to whose buttons are being pushed, not any principled opposition to bigotry, per se.

Bill Donohue

Holy See Replies To UN Committee – OpEd

The Holy See’ has issued a reply to a report issued earlier this year by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child

The Holy See took this U.N. committee to task on three levels: the international body does not understand the reach of the Holy See’s authority; it unjustly involved itself in canon law; and it advanced positions on parental rights and sexuality that are unacceptable.

The U.N. committee does not understand the difference between the Holy See, the Vatican City State and the universal Catholic Church. While the Holy See’s “religious and moral mission” is universal, it is a mistake of monumental proportions to conclude that it therefore has universal juridical authority. It is important to recognize that “the Holy See does not ratify a treaty on behalf of every Catholic in the world, and therefore, does not have obligations to ‘implement’ the Convention within the territories of other States Parties on behalf of Catholics, no matter how they are organized.”

The Holy See criticized this U.N. body for the way it “plunged into canon law,” improperly equating this juridical system with that of other member States. Importantly, it emphasized that canon law is a “complex unity of divine positive law, divine natural law and human law.”

On the issue of parental rights, the Holy See took the U.N. committee to task for disregarding the text of the U.N.’s Convention: the text affirms parental rights, yet the committee holds that the U.N. has a right to instruct member states on “sexual and reproductive health” issues. In effect, it is telling the Catholic Church to change its teaching on abortion. And by lecturing the Church to align itself with contemporary “gender” issues, and matters of sexual orientation, it is also showing its contempt for the Church’s autonomy.

In short, those who wrote the U.N.’s report on the Holy See haven’t a clue how the Catholic Church operates. Moreover, they unjustly injected themselves into the internal affairs of the Church.

Bill Donohue

We Will Not March – OpEd

The Catholic League, which has marched in New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade for 20 years, will not do so in 2015.

Prior to the announcement that a gay group would march under its own banner in the 2015 parade, I was consulted by parade organizers about their plans. I told them that I could only support this decision if there were a formal revision in the parade’s rules governing marching units, and that is exactly what I said in my first public statement. To be specific, I asked them to pledge that a pro-life Catholic group would also be permitted. I was told that a formal change in the rules had been approved and that a pro-life group would march. Now I am being told that the list of marching units is set and that no pro-life group will march in next year’s parade. Accordingly, I have decided to withdraw our participation.

Why should this matter? For the past two decades I have been the parade’s most vocal defender of its rules. Repeatedly, I have said that gays have no more been banned from marching than pro-life Catholics have: members of both groups can march with other units; they simply can’t march under their own banner. Why? Because the parade is not about gays or abortion, or anything other than St. Patrick.

Attempts will now be made to pit me against Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Grand Marshal of the 2015 parade. The suggestion that I am at odds with the New York Archbishop is not only false, it is despicable. Cardinal Dolan has no more rabid supporter than Bill Donohue, and nothing that has transpired recently changes anything.

My reasons for withdrawing from the parade have nothing to do with Cardinal Dolan or with gays. It has to do with being betrayed by the parade committee. They not only told me one thing, and did another, they decided to include a gay group that is neither Catholic nor Irish while stiffing pro-life Catholics. This is as stunning as it is indefensible. To find out how this sad chapter unfolded, click here.

Bill Donohue

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Amends Rules – OpEd

The organizers of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade have decided to allow an NBC gay group to march in the 2015 parade.

Never in the history of New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade have homosexuals been barred from marching, anymore than pro-life Catholics have, but in both cases they were not permitted to have their own unit.

I have been assured that the rules have been formally changed to allow both of these groups, as well as others, to march under their own banner.

That being the case, there should be no controversy.

One would hope that all the new entries will conduct themselves in a manner that honors St. Patrick, lest another round of controversy emerges.

Bill Donohue

HHS Mandate Revisions Fail To Satisfy – OpEd

On Friday, the Obama administration announced new revisions to its HHS mandate that requires Catholic institutions to pay for abortion-inducing drugs as part of their health plans. The federal government revealed that it considers these new rules a “work around” for groups that object to providing coverage for sterilization, contraception and abortifacients. The new revisions allow Catholic non-profits to distance themselves from the objectionable services, but they still fail to satisfy.

Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is likewise unsatisfied by the new rules. The archbishop notes that these new revisions still do not allow those who have “sincerely held religious objections to the mandate” to opt out. Furthermore, he notes that under the new regulations the “religious employer” exemption will not be broadened. The existing “accommodation” would only be modified. The Catholic League continues to support the USCCB’s request for a broad exemption for all religious employers.

The second problem with the updated requirements is even more serious. The federal government still thinks it can reinterpret what constitutes a Catholic entity. The Obama administration continues to enforce the HHS mandate under the premise that a Catholic organization is not a Catholic organization in terms of exemptions if it hires and serves people who are not Catholic. That is the heart of the problem.

Bill Donohue

“Black Mass” Nixed In Oklahoma City

There was to be a “Black Mass” performance at the Oklahoma City Civic Center on September 21, using a consecrated Host. But after Oklahoma City Archbishop Paul Coakley succeeded in getting a judge to issue a restraining order, on the grounds that the Host had been stolen, the attorney for the Satanic group returned the Host to a Catholic priest. The archbishop then dropped his lawsuit.

Here is how the story played out over the summer. When we learned of this scheduled performance, we issued a news release on July 2 calling attention to what a “Black Mass” entails. We quoted directly from the website of the Satanic group: “The consecrated host is corrupted by sexual fluids then it becomes the sacrifice of the mass. The blasphemy remains intact along with corruption of the Catholic Mass.” The person who was to lead this obscene event is Adam Daniels, a registered sex offender.

Bill Donohue quickly put the authorities on notice: “Oklahoma City had better think twice about this. The Civic Center is funded by the taxpayers, many of whom are Cat holic, and they are not obliged to pay for attacks on their religion. Moreover, there are strictures that must be respected. To be specific, performances at the Civic Center are not permitted if they violate ‘community standards,’ including works that are ‘illegal, indecent, obscene, immoral or in any manner publicly offensive.’ One does not have to be Catholic to know that if Catholics believe that a consecrated Host is considered sacrosanct, then public displays of desecration meet the criteria as outlined.”

Donohue also warned that Oklahoma City was setting itself up for a lawsuit, calling attention to the 1984 Lynch v. Donnelly decision. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger explicitly said that the Constitution “affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any” (our italics).

Kudos to Archbishop Coakley on a great victory.