To comprehend the immensity of Bill Donohue's chutzpah, you need to click right over to dotCommonweal and read Grant Gallicho's demolition of his defense of convicted Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. And even then, you will miss some of the egregiousness of the president of the Catholic League's Apologia Pro Finna Sua.
To wit: his declaration that the Catholic League "supports harsh penalties for child sexual abusers, and for those who cover it up."
Unless, of course, the latter happen to be Catholic bishops. OK, I haven't searched through the entire corpus of Catholic League press releases to see if Donohue has ever urged that a bishop be harshly penalized for covering up sexual abuse. If anyone finds that he has, I will be happy to do penance.
But for starters, let's take the grandaddy of the episcopal coverups--that of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law. Let the record show that the Catholic League did not so much as address the culpability of that prince of the church until he resigned his see in December 2002, nearly a year after the Boston Globe began reporting on his malfeasance. Then, what Donohue had to say was:
Most Catholics are greeting the resignation of Cardinal Law with a sigh of relief and sadness. While no one blames Cardinal Law for the entire scandal in the Church, his departure nonetheless represents an important step towards recapturing the trust of the laity. Now the mending process can proceed with alacrity.
This, it must be said, doesn't go very far in the support-for-harsh-penalty department. The beauty part of the press release, however, comes at the end, after Donohue has staunchly defended Pope John Paul II against what have turned out to be plausible accusations that he covered up sex abusers himself.
Finally, some are already beating the war drums going after bishops of other dioceses. This is absurd: everyone knows that no other diocese in the nation was qualitatively or quantitatively comparable to Boston. To suggest otherwise is to play into the hands of Fifth-Column Catholics.
Ah, yes, everyone knows about those Fifth-Column Catholics, who pretend to be faithful servants of the Church while secretly working to destroy it from within.
Ten years after Law's removal to a sinecure in Rome, the Catholic League continues to protect bishops from facing the consequences of their actions--and continues to bask in their support. Meanwhile, the trust of the laity remains in shreds. With defenders like Donohue, the Church hardly needs a Fifth Column.