Bill Donohue, Dishonest Apologist
The right-wing Catholic activist is still using his CNSNews.com columns to distract from the long history of sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and using them to spread his usual homophobia.
By Terry Krepel
Donohue complained in a November 2021 column:
Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson recently released a "Report on Clergy Sexual Abuse" that bears scrutiny. There are many aspects to it that are seriously tainted.
Donohue is playing dumb here. Most religious denominations don't have the rigid structure and hierarchy that the Catholic Church does, which makes it easier to demonstrate the patterns of abuse and cover-ups that have been documented over the years.
Donohue then went to his go-to complaint, that gays aren't being blamed:
Then there is the proverbial cover-up. Boys are mentioned 203 times in the 174-page report; girls are cited 16 times. That's because, as always, boys were the most likely to be victimized.
But as ConWebWatch has noted, researchers for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who compiled an independent study of the abuse, stated that no connection was found between homosexual identity and an increased likelihood of sexual abuse and argued that the idea of sexual identity should be separated from the problem of sexual abuse, since one does not have to have a homosexual identity to commit homosexual acts. Indeed, Donohue offered no evidence whatsoever that any of the priests accused of sexual abuse identified as homosexual.
He then served up one of his favorite distractions: "I am calling on Attorney General Peterson to launch a probe of the sexual abuse of minors in Nebraska's public schools." He offered no proof that there's any sexual abuse scandal or cover-up that rivaled what has happened in the Catholic Church.
In his column a few days later, Donohue cheered a church report showing a reduction in sexual abuse reports, which he attributed to weeding out gay priests:
There is no other institution in society where adults regularly interact with minors that can match this record. But don't expect state attorneys general to launch a probe of the sexual abuse of minors in any of them, especially the public schools, where it is sorely needed.
Donohue concluded by again plugging his new book:
As I demonstrate in my new book, "The Truth about Clergy Sexual Abuse: Clarifying the Facts and the Causes," the sexual abuse scandal effectively ended decades ago. The book also addresses the two major parties to the scandal: enabling bishops and homosexuals priests, and why they did what they did.
We can assume that Donohue's is as biased and dishonest as his previous work on the subject.
Going into 2022, Donohue lashed out at a Catholic publication in his Jan. 14 column for not buying into his bogus homophobic take on the scandal:
It's over. Not only is the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church over, those who helped drive it the Catholic left have lost. Their pitiful reaction to the 20th anniversary of the Boston Globe series on priestly sexual abuse in Boston is all the evidence we need to make this charge.
But the scandal was not quite done with Donohue. A week later, a church- commissioned report on sexual abuse in Germany found that Pope Benedict, while still a cardinal in Germany, committed "wrongdoing" in his handling of abuse cases there, in one case allowing a priest to receive a new assignment despite knowledge of abuse allegations against him. It took a few days for Donohue to cobble together a defense, and he finally did so in his Jan. 25 column, and it of course involves absolving the pope emeritus while finding other people to blame:
If Benedict is guilty of anything, from what we know so far, it is that he did not always act like the "Rottweiler" he is accused of being. When he learned of a priest who was an exhibitionist, but who never physically abused anyone, he did not treat him the way he should have. He should have seen this as a red flag normal men don't act that way.
After Benedict responded to the charges, Donohue cheered in his Feb. 8 column that no actual apology was given:
People who apologize for offenses they never committed such as white people who apologize for being white are either phonies or psychotic.
Donohue again rehashed his defense of Benedict for defrocking so many alleged predator priests, and that "he correctly noted the effect of the sexual revolution on the Church, and the huge role played by homosexual priests."
Donohue concluded: "Pope Benedict has nothing to apologize for. If anything, it is his vicious critics who owe him an apology." Just like Donohue will never being a homophobe?
Donohue also moved from his usual brand of clergy-related homophobia to a more generalized form. In his Feb. 7 column, Donohue decided that the reason COVID vaccination rates are lower among those with HIV, according to a CDC study, is because they are "irresponsible" because, duh, they're gay and they have HIV:
The CDC says that LGBT individuals "historically experience challenges accessing, trusting, and receiving health care services."
In fact, the study states that vaccination coverage is lower among younger patients, those who are not white, those who had not achieved viral suppression and those who had not received care. The study went on to state that "Unmeasured factors, including socioeconomic status, might further explain the lower COVID-19 vaccination coverage among" those living with HIV. But Donohue hates gay people, so the facts don't matter to him.
Donohue spent his March 1 column defending the Staten Island St. Patrick's Day parade for barring LGBT people from participating:
Staten Island's St. Patrick's Day Parade is the last of the big New York City parades of this kind to remain true to its heritage. Unlike the other St. Patrick's Day Parades, which have turned the march into an inclusion event, the Staten Island contingent remains resolute in exclusively honoring St. Patrick.
Of course, Donohue is showing his own intolerance by cheering the exclusion of a group against which he is paid well to hate for a living.
Donohue's March 10 column was a letter he wrote to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal complaining that Twitter had suspended the account of a Missouri political candidate who claimed that transgender women are "men pretending to be women," adding: "Telling the truth can be painful, but as Catholics we are called to do so."
Donohue thinks he's "telling the truth," but all we see is his vicious hatred for anyone who doesn't act or think exactly like him.
Donohue's July 12 column was a letter to the FBI complaining that the agency was "looking into alleged sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of New Orleans." He insisted it was no big deal and that everybody does it: "I can assure you that wherever adults and minors interact there will always be some individuals who will take advantage of this situation. This is nothing unique to the Catholic Church, and indeed it is a serious problem in the public schools today." Then he proclaimed that the church had cleaned up its act and played his usual whataboutism:
I defy anyone to find a single organization in the nation, secular or religious, which has less of a problem with this issue today than the Catholic Church. Which begs the question: Why has the FBI decided to focus its attention today on the alleged misdeeds of a Catholic diocese many decades ago?
Donohue didn't explain why the church should never be held accountable for past actions.
Attacking scandal discussion
Donohue went on a huge Catholic sex scandal-related rage in his Sept. 6 column:
On the website of Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro it boasts that when he was Attorney General of the state he “exposed the Catholic Church’s decades-long cover up of child sexual abuse, identifying over 300 predator priests and thousands of victims and spurring investigation across the United States.”
As befits the dishonest Catholic he is, Donohue is trying to parse the difference between children and adolescents to downplay the Catholic abuse scandals. As Wonkette pointed out, much of adolescence takes place during childhood. Further, as Wonkette also pointed out, "It’s not Shapiro’s fault that the Catholic Church managed the cover-up for so long that victims were denied legal recourse or true justice."
Donohue then proclaimed how how his Catholic League fought to keep secret "the names of 11 priests who claimed that doing so would violate their reputational rights as guaranteed by the state constitution," insisting that the grand jury empaneled by Shapiro couldn't be trusted because "grand jury reports are not factual." He provided no evidence that anything in the grand jury report is "not factual."
Donohue continued his distraction gambit:
What is particularly galling about Shapiro is his total disinterest in prosecuting sexual molesters in the public schools. That’s where this problem has been the most serious.
Donohue offered no proof that the state of Pennsylvania is not prosecuting sexual abuse cases involving public schools, nor did he offer any evidence that public schools are hiding sexual abuse to the extent that the Catholic Church did. As Wonkette further noted: "It’s usually good politics to prosecute child molesters wherever you find them, but admitting to students that queer people exist is not child abuse. If Donohue is confused on what constitutes actual child abuse, he can read Shapiro’s grand jury report."
Donohue served up a different angle on his mislead-and-distract strategy in his Oct. 4 column:
An AP story last week on mandatory reporting laws didn’t get much traction. That’s because it broke no new ground.
Donohue didn't explain why the confessional is so sacrosanct that serious crimes must be hidden from authorities and, more likely than not, allowed to continue.
Donohue returned to his usual dishonest whining in his Oct. 28 column:
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has issued the most vacuous report, “Diocese of Marquette: A Complete Accounting,” on clergy sexual abuse ever written. We know she has been out to get the Catholic Church, but this effort makes her look incompetent, as well as unethical.
Donohue didn't identify where those other religious denominations has exhibited a history of systematically hiding sexual abuse the way the Catholic Church has. He went on to gloat that the Michigan investigation didn't find enough sexual abuse cases for him to care about:
What they found was scratch. A grand total of 44 priests had allegations made against them since 1950. While one molesting priest is too many, how many religious or secular institutionswhere adults regularly interact with minorsand are roughly the size of the Marquette Diocese, could honestly say they have a better record than this? We don’t know because Nessel has no interest in finding out.
That gloating does not sound like it comes from a man who genuinely believes that "one molesting priest is too many." He then cranked up the whataboutism:
Moreover, if Nessel were even-handed, she would launch an investigation into the public schools. In 2016, USA Today did a 50-state study of this issue, grading each state on how well they handled this problem. Michigan received an “F” for its failure to adequately address the crisis of sexual abuse in its public schools.
Or it could be that there is no evidence of systematic abuse or a cover-up of said abuse in public schools the way there has been in the Catholic Church. It's as if he's trying to distract from something.
Donohue whined again about a media outlet reminding people about how deep the church's sexual abuse scandal ran in his Nov. 16 column:
An editorial in the November 13 edition of the Washington Post claimed that “high-level sexual misconduct and coverup in France shattered illusions of progress by the church toward establishing a culture of transparency and accountability in its hierarchy.”
Donohue then played whataboutism, complaining about a sexual misconduct scandal at CBS that purportedly would have ended sooner if the Post hadn't killed a story about it. He concluded by huffing: "Sexual abuse should always be condemned, but when those doing the condemnation come to the table with dirty hands, they ought to shut their mouth."
But Donohue is usually too busy playing the deny-and-deflect game to actually condemn the sexual abuse that went on in the church for decades.
SIDEBAR: CNS censors Donohue-Greene spat
CNS loves far-right extremist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. It also loves Donohue. So you'd think a controversy involving both of them would be splashed all over CNS, right? Well, think again.
Greene then posted a lengthy response to Twitter claiming to be a "cradle Catholic" who left the church over the clergy sexual abuse scandals, going on to huff of bishops she claimed she was referring to in her claim about "Satan controlling the church": "The Catholic Church must throw out these monsters instead of lecturing the people its own bishops have driven away. I refuse to use kinder, gentler language as Bill Donohue might prefer when I talk about his disgusting and corrupt friends, who have made him rich with the donations from ordinary churchgoing Catholics." She also called out Donohue for making "a million dollars a year, partly from sending out emails to defend corrupt bishops" and having "breezily claimed on television recently that the abuse crisis was 'over,' relying on the same bishops who rake in taxpayer money in the name of our Heavenly Father yet have still, somehow, bankrupted the Church, and who spend donations on lawsuits to silence their victims."
Donohue did not directly respond to Greene's criticism of him; instead he posted a letter he sent to the House Ethics Committee demanding that Greene be "sanctioned" and complaining that she said "that her sweeping condemnation of the entire Catholic Church was meant only to apply to the bishops, as if that makes her hate speech acceptable. Greene has a history of offending African Americans and Jews, so bigotry is something that is apparently baked into her." He then issued another statement commenting "on the fallout from our dispute with Marjorie Taylor Greene" in which he again refused to address Greene's criticisms of him but instead calling her an "angry ex-Catholic" whose views of the church are akin to "radical Muslims":
Angry ex-Catholics and militant secularists within the Jewish community are consumed with hostility over the Church’s sexual ethics. Practicing Catholics and observant Jews are not the problemit is those who have lost their way.
CNS was completely silent about this kerfuffle. It did, however, find the time and space while this was going on to write and publish an article headlined "WATCH: Biden Chokes on the Word 'Kleptocracy'."
CNS sure has some funny ideas about what it considers "news."