New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan submitted an op-ed piece to the
Times, the paper that claims to run ”All the news that’s fit to print”.
The op-ed page is for opinion commentaries that should cover a wide
range of views and beliefs. But the Times didn’t see Archbishop Dolan’s
opinion piece as fit to print.
So he put it online, on his website. It’s titled “Foul Ball!”
October is the month we relish the highpoint of our
national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in
the World Series!
Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.
It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a
national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to
it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while
John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of
paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the
left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins
sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”
If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic
Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of
occurrences over the last couple weeks:
The Archbishop has done his homework. The accounts there of
anti-Catholic bias are well documented. Like the “selective outrage” by
the Times in its reporting of sex-abuse scandals.
On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times,
reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in
Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there
were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone.
Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when
addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests:
release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations,
external investigations, release of all records, and total
transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement
officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was
offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these
The double standards are clear. One set for the Catholic Church,
another for everybody else. Even when it involves child sex abuse.
In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the
wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public
schools (the study can be found here).
In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports
that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators
against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP
reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times
only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.
On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a
front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan
priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the
relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and
that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant
priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful,
scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a
quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more
pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and
starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than
Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.
Five days later, Dolan notes, the Times gave its lead story to the
Vatican decision to welcome Anglicans asking to be received by Rome.
Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s
observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of
course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans
have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a
special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper,
the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the
And then there’s this:
Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday
with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion
pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed
muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or
African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist
handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the
Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile
priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict
XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other
German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former
Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.
True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current
visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is
well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning.
But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing
newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major
At least an authoritative paper ‘of record’ with any journalistic integrity.
Unfortunately, Archbishop Dolan goes on to say, examples of anti-Catholicism abound in papers other than the Times.
I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of
anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so
prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory.
Yes, that’s evident.
He also notes, for readers unaware of this problem,
that the New York state legislature has levied a tax to help the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority pay down its deficit. Public
schools will be reimbursed for this money, Catholic and private schools
will not. It adds a considerable financial burden to an Archdiocese
“which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.”
Where’s the fairness, Dolan asks.
The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics
do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask
is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would
expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a
national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.
But as long as it keeps getting manifested in such glaring assaults on the Church, certain bishops are ’stepping up to plate’ in the public arena.