"Bill Donohue and the Catholic League behave in ways that are radically out of synch with basic Christian ideas. Instead, they appear to be more of a partisan political attack squad, currying favor with, and financed by the superfluously wealthy and powerful. As the League's spokesman, Donohue is vulgar, hypocritical and a racist. Nevertheless, the lazy mainstream media treats him as a legitimate identifier of, and responder to anti-Catholicism.
Falling far short of being a model of tolerance and dignity, Donohue furthers the bigot's claim that American Catholics are crude, intolerant and anti-intellectual. Indeed, his approach to social tolerance smacks more of the anti-Semitic rants of Father Charles Coughlin in the way he fingers "Hollywood Jews" as social problems.
Although truly odd, it is telling that Donohue never couches his complaints in terms of forgiveness or wisdom. Instead he gallops in the opposite direction of Catholic teaching in his own bigoted and intemperate displays. He and his "League" indulge in character assassination, broad brushing Liberals as abnormally immoral and inventing attenuated incidents of anti-Catholicism.
Unlike Jesus, Donohue defends the powerful from the weak--usually by advocating for static institutions and hierarchies, not Catholic individuals. And when he does advocate for individuals, it is often for the powerful--a Mel Gibson. Rarely, if ever does he speak out on behalf of any individual Catholic disenfranchised by church hierarchy. Donohue's invective aimed ay Voice of the Faithful, the lay organization that seeks accountability for victims of clergy pedophilia is typical.
And Donohue is very well compensated. Many on the Right like to single out the likes of an Al Sharpton, who also defines a good part of himself through his civil rights activity. Whatever one thinks of Sharpton (and personally, I am not a fan) it can at least be said that as of the filing of the National Action Network's last IRS Form 990 filing, he took no financial compensation. Well guess what? Donohue with his $303,766 2005 salary (plus a $30, 377 pension contribution) is more than Reverend Al's equal. So is League Vice-President, Bernadette Brady pulled down a salary of $160,000 in 2005 topped by a $16,000 pension contribution. Both incomes derive from a total 2005 League revenue of $2,688,533.00 (Donohue's compensation is a little over 8% of the League's revenue). That amount of money would fix a few church roofs; keep a few struggling Catholic schools going; or (gasp!) help the poor and homeless.
As a Catholic, I compare the League's work with that of its Jewish counterpart, the Anti-Defamation League. Its web page reveals an organization that speaks out against anti-Semitism in a dignified manner. There are no thinly veiled partisan attacks upon candidates of a specific politically partisan philosophy. And most of all, while sometimes controversial, there is no hateful language. From a 2005 income of $57,452,488, the ADL's Chief Executive Abraham Foxman received a salary of just over $307,000 (well under 2% of total revenue).
What does all this tell us? Simply that Donohue's and the League's agenda is much more political than religious. In fact, it is often political. And as I discussed in Part Twenty-two of this series the League has shown favor to certain candidates over others. Perhaps even more indicative of such an agenda, it may have improperly coordinated its recent attacks on recent US Senate candidate Bob Casey, Jr. as well as current Presidential candidate John Edwards--both Democrats with liberal economic agendas--with another 501(c)(3), Fidelis. If in fact true, that might well be a violation of IRS Rules and Regulations concerning no-for-profits. The mainstream media has been negligent in asking: Does Donohue abuse the Catholic League 501(c)(3) status improperly using it for political advocacy?
Of course, clownish fops such as Chris Matthews, concerned more about spectacle than legitimate news -- love the splash that a rude Donohue or for that matter, Jerry Falwell supplies. Far from treating religious faith with respect, and reporting on the significant role of religion in public life, the careless fools of the media indulge in false piety with the big ego bigots and pretend to care about the dignity of people of faith. In the end, the League is not about combating real incidents of Catholic bigotry, it's all about the aggrandizement of Bill Donohue.
American Catholicism needs no defense from a bigoted partisan hack. Instead, we need someone who exudes dignity, forgiveness and most of all, personal self-discipline. The mainstream media needs to hear a Catholic voice that is not compensated like a celebrity or linked to conservative think tanks that advocate supply-side economics, but someone who speaks from the heart as a voice of unity, not divisiveness. Someone who can be seated right next to the bully from the League so that Americans can decide for themselves who better represents the Catholic teachings of Jesus Christ.
Sister Joan Chittister, are you listening?
And if by any chance there are cable newsroom producers reading this article, she is your true face of American Catholicism. Sister Joan is the Joseph N. Welch to the modern-day Senator Joseph McCarthy that is William Donohue. She is the unDonohue.
NOTE: All income and revenue figures found in IRS form 990 for all organizations.
Note: Content reposted with the permission of the author.