Bill Donohue Is Accused of Starting the Fight over Christmas

Deal W. Hudson
December 20, 2010

I was putting together my list of “ten most laughable public attacks of 2010” when I received an e-mail newsletter from Chris Korzen and the team at Catholics United.

Korzen’s letter – an attack on Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York – was packed with alternately risible and pathetic statements, but one of them goes right to the Number 1 spot on my list of laugh lines.

After accusing Donohue of being “the most divisive figure in the U.S. Catholic community” (yawn) and of defending Glenn Beck’s critique of social justice (gasp!), Korzen asks, “Or what about Donohue’s annual effort to turn the Christmas holiday into a culture war battleground?”

Surely Korzen (or his staff writer) knows that this is a gross misrepresentation, but decided to leave it in any way. After all, an attack piece is just that: an attack. Accuracy and fairness are irrelevant. (A more vicious, and less humorous, attack on Donohue is found in this blog post by Korzen’s sidekick, James Salt.)

Anyone familiar with current events knows that Christian symbols, even the word “Christmas” itself, are being expunged from public places across the nation. And Korzen and his “team” accuse Bill Donohue of waging a culture war?

Now, I would fully agree with Korzen if Donohue had done something like what the Archdiocese of Boston did in 1952 when it banned the new song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” from the radio. Evidently, the Boston chancery in those days didn’t think the presence of mistletoe removed Santa’s culpability. But that isn’t the case here.

Of course, Korzen’s swing at Donohue was also a not-so-veiled attack on Archbishop Dolan – who, according to Korzen, was the “conservative” elected by the bishops to head the USCCB in place of the “moderate” Bishop Kicanas of Tuscon. More humor!

Archbishop Dolan is vilified by Korzen for defending Donohue and the Catholic League in a recent post on the archdiocesan website. In “Why We Need the Catholic League,” Dolan explained his support of Donohue’s successful effort to have a video removed from an exhibition at the Smithsonian that depicted the crucified body of Jesus covered in ants. The archbishop argued:

Popular opinion may demand that Catholics suffer in silence, or more, embrace an insult as a work of art, but that doesn’t mean that we should, no matter how many in public and private expect us to do so.

Korzen thinks that Archbishop Dolan’s election portends the move of the bishops’ conference toward the political right:

In May 2009, a number of Catholic bishops joined culture warriors in opposing President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame. And last year, the bishops all but turned their backs on Catholic values by lobbying against health care reform.

I don’t need to look at my notes to recall that the bishops were not opposed to health-care reform but to federal funding for abortion, another one of those facts that Korzen and his allies refuse to admit.

Presenting the bishops’ opposition to abortion as a move away from “Catholic values” requires a level of casuistry that only an experienced labor organizer like Korzen could pull off.

He calls upon his e-list members to send an email message to Archbishop Dolan saying that “Bill Donohue and the Catholic League have no business speaking for Catholics.”

I’m sure whoever watches those emails plunk into the archdiocesan spam folder will be about as amused as I was when Korzen sent his friends my way for not being sufficiently convinced of global warming.

Toward the end of his letter, Korzen finally admits the real reason he is targeting Donohue, asking rhetorically whether Archbishop Dolan appreciates the “Catholic League’s role in leading the Catholic right’s attack on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008.”

Korzen links this question to a press release by Donohue from February 2008 titled, “Obama Champions the Culture of Death.” In it, Donohue commented on Obama’s statement that the only vote he regretted was having supported the Senate bill giving a federal district court jurisdiction over the Terri Schiavo case.

It’s hardly proof of the full extent of Donohue’s importance to the pro-life, pro-family cause, but the headline does seem sadly prescient of the Obama presidency.

Chris Korzen and Catholics United support any pro-abortion candidate who happens to be Catholic and Democratic. Thus, his attacks on Catholics who publicly defend the teachings of the Church can easily be seen for what they are.

 

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