When the New York Times published a series of stories last year on child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, one of the Church's chief exorcists charged that the paper was possessed by the Devil himself, working diligently to smear the Vatican and tear the Church down. So perhaps it stands to reason that the Catholic League would choose to run a full-page ad in defense of its clergy in the paper's pages--a shot essentially fired from the belly of the beast, if the whole demonic possession thing is to be believed.
In a fiery letter titled "Straight Talk on the Catholic Church," Catholic League President Bill Donohue charges that the spread of homosexuality, not pedophilia, is the problem within the Church. He insists that the scores of victims to come forward in recent years were not children but young men when they were abused, nor were they always unwilling participants.
"The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let's get it straight—they weren't children and they weren't raped," Donahue writes. "The Boston Globe correctly said of the John Jay report that 'more than three-quarters of the victims were post pubescent, meaning the abuse did not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.' In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia."
Donohue also flatly insists that many accusers are fraudsters looking to cash in on the Church's guilt-inspired generosity. He writes:
Every time a new wave of accusations surfaces in one diocese, not coincidentally we see a spike in accusations in other dioceses. What is not often reported is that the vast majority of new accusations extend back decades. For example, for the first quarter of this year, 80 percent of the cases of alleged abuse involve incidences that occurred before 2000.
In March, an 80 year-old man came forward in St. Louis claiming he was abused 70 years ago by a priest who has been dead for a half century. This is not an anomaly: the same phenomenon has happened in other dioceses. Unfortunately, too often bishops have been quick to settle, thus inspiring more claims. When $225,000 is dished out to a Michigan man who claims he was abused in the 1950s by a priest who died in 1983—and the diocese admits the accusation is unsubstantiated—it encourages fraud.
And in one final salvo, Donohue--who also ran a full-page ad in the Times last year that attacked homosexuality as the root of the problem--essentially accuses Church critics of being motivated by liberal ideology: "What accounts for the relentless attacks on the Church? Let's face it: if its teachings were pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage and pro-women clergy, the dogs would have been called off years ago."
As you might expect, many are already taking issue with the advertisement, particularly gay-rights activists.
(Photo of Bill Donohue: Marty Lederhandler/AP)