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Bill Donohue, Dishonest Apologist

The right-wing Catholic activist is still using his 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
Posted 4/24/2023

Bill Donohue

Bill Donohue -- the Media Research Center's favorite dishonest Catholic, to the point that MRC chief Brent Bozell is on the board of advisers for his little group, the Catholic League -- has long been dishonest about the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, eager to heap blame on the supposed excess of gay priests when the reality is that many were crimes of opportunity than of sexual orientation. (Which is separate from his history of bad takes on other subjects.) He's made it clear he will continue to be dishonest about this -- not to mention many other subjects -- and MRC "news" division is willingly enabling Donohue's dishonesty.

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.

In the Executive Summary of the report, it says that in August 2018, Peterson's Department of Justice announced that it was seeking information from "individuals who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a member of the clergy or an adult in a position of authority."

Why were the clergy singled out for an investigation and not anyone else? The report offers no explanation. It cannot be that there has been a rash of news stories on current cases of clergy abuse — there has not been.


As I detail in my new book on this subject, "The Truth about Clergy Sexual Abuse: Clarifying the Facts and the Causes," sexual abuse of minors is rampant throughout a wide range of institutions. Moreover, given the undeniable progress that the Catholic Church has made, it makes it even more indefensible to focus exclusively on it.

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.

When the report says that "Many of the victims of clergy sexual abuse were teenage boys," it is being deceitful. When 91.5 percent of the victims were teenage boys, that's not "many." That's almost all.

Why does this matter? Because 92.2 percent were postpubescent. And that means that homosexual priests were responsible for over 90 percent of the alleged cases of sexual misconduct. Yet never once in the report is the word "homosexuality" mentioned (there are four references to "homosexual" acts).

To be sure, the cover-up of the homosexual scandal in the Catholic Church is not unique to Nebraska—it's ubiquitous. Now imagine what Peterson would have said, and the media as well, if over 90 percent of the alleged victims were teenage girls. It would have been trumpeted far and wide.

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.

What has changed is a reduction in the percent of abuse committed by homosexuals. Typically, 8 in 10 cases of abuse involve male-on-male sex, the victims being boys. The latest data show that this figure has dropped to 6 in 10. The decrease makes sense: the seminaries have done a much better job screening for candidates who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies.

We continue to deplore the failure of the media to cite data which contradict the false narrative that the scandal is ongoing. That is a lie.

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.

The National Catholic Reporter ran three articles on the 20th anniversary of the Boston Globe series, and not one of them had the intellectual honesty to say that the homosexual scandal has been effectively checked.


As I point out in my book, "The Truth About Clergy Sexual Abuse: Clarifying the Facts and the Causes," the Reporter played a prominent role in fostering the scandal.

Its relentless attacks on the Church's teachings on sexual ethics gave succor to already disordered men, effectively giving them the green light to act on their twisted id.

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.

In all the news stories on this issue, never once do therapists come in for criticism. Yet they played a big role in persuading elites in every sector of society of their powers to transform miscreants, especially in the latter part of the 20th century. There was no one they couldn't "fix," or so they thought. Their role was pivotal in the decision of elites, including bishops, not to crack the whip.


For the record, no one in the Church has done more to stem clergy sexual abuse than Benedict. It was he who took the initiative to issue a document barring men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from entering the priesthood. He was hated by "progressives" long before this, but this decision made him their biggest enemy.

In the first year of his pontificate, Benedict removed the notorious serial molester, Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, from ministry. Significantly, he defrocked approximately 800 molesting priests from 2005 to 2013.

This is hardly the first time that Benedict has been treated unfairly. He is the scourge of the left, both in and out of the Catholic Church.

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.

That is why it is so refreshing to learn that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is not apologizing for offenses he never committed while serving as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982.

In a letter Benedict released Tuesday, he offered his "deepest sympathy" to the victims of clergy sexual abuse, saying he feels "great sorrow for each individual case." But he did not offer a personal apology, and that is because none was warranted.

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?

General homophobia

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."

Nowhere do the multiple authors of this study suggest that it is the behavioral choices made by those who engage in risky sexual activities that accounts not only for their HIV status, but for the prevalence of their comorbidities.


Nowhere do the authors suggest that it is the irresponsible behavior that marks a disproportionate segment of the LGBT community that accounts for the health disparity.

The CDC has not hesitated to recommend draconian lockdowns to combat COVID, and it certainly hasn't hesitated to recommend restrictions on houses of worship. Why, then, does it not exercise the same aggressive policy recommendations when it comes to LGBT people?

Once again, the CDC is showing that politics counts more than science in driving its conclusions. It also shows that the ruling class has a problem treating sexual minorities as equals, the same way it has a problem treating racial minorities as equals.

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.

The last time the Catholic League marched in the most heralded of St. Patrick's Day Parades — the one up Fifth Avenue — was 2014. I pulled our group in the fall of that year from forever marching again after I was lied to by parade officials.


News Flash: The St. Patrick's Day Parade is a celebration of St. Patrick. Period. Those who truly believe in diversity should defend the right of every legitimate demographic group to determine their own parade strictures.

The intolerance of gay activists, and their straight supporters, shoving their way into these parades is stunning. They have their own parade, but that is not enough. As always, they have to draw attention to their master status, which is their sexual identity, not their ethnicity or religion.

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?

Are we to believe that young people were not taken across state lines a half-century ago by men who were not priests—in Louisiana as well as in the other 49 states? Are we to believe that this is not happening right now at our southern border?

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.”

This is a distorted account of Shapiro’s shameful grand jury investigation of Catholic priests. (For more on this subject see my book, The Truth About Clergy Sexual Abuse.)

Shapiro convinced the media that he found evidence of 301 priests who abused more than 1,000 children over a period of 70 years. This is thrice false (1) not all the alleged offenders were priests (2) most of the alleged victims were adolescents, not children, and (3) the report was not evidentiary—it was investigative—meaning that the accused priests were never given the opportunity to rebut the charges.

Importantly, nothing could be done about most of those who were actually guilty. Almost all the accused were either dead or had been thrown out of the priesthood. No wonder Shapiro was able to prosecute only two priests. He knew this from the get-go, but he used the report to push for a suspension of the statute of limitations.

Shapiro misused the grand jury for political purposes, and now he is at it again.

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.

Yet he has never once shown any interest in holding teachers and administrators accountable for their delinquency. This kind of bias—one standard of justice for priests and another for educators—is despicable.

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.

Written by Jason Dearen and Michael Rezendes, they found that 33 states exempt the clergy from mandatory reporting laws governing the sexual abuse of minors. “This loophole has resulted in an unknown number of predators being allowed to continue abusing children for years despite having confessed behavior to religious officials.”

The reason why no one knows how many predators have continued to abuse children for years “despite having confessed behavior to religious officials” is because no one has been able to identify a singular instance when this has happened. The real story here has less do with legal loopholes than it does with crashing the confessional.

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.

The probe of Catholic dioceses searching for instances of clergy sexual abuse began in 2018 under her predecessor, Bill Schuette; she took the reins in 2019. There has been no attempt to investigate the sexual abuse of minors by ministers, rabbis, imams or school teachers. Just Catholic priests.

This amounts to Catholic profiling. Make no mistake, this is no less invidious than a probe of violent crime would be if it only targeted African Americans. Such a selective approach smacks of bigotry.

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 institutions—where adults regularly interact with minors—and 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.

It is important to note the limitations of this report as even acknowledged by its authors. [The emphasis is in the original.]

“The allegations are summarized here, and their inclusion does not reflect a determination by the Department [of the Attorney General] that the allegations are credible or otherwise substantiated.”

In other words, the accused did not have a chance to rebut the charges. There’s a good reason for this—32 of the 44 priests are “known or presumed to be dead.” Moreover, only 6 of the 44 cases have been substantiated by the Diocese. We cannot assume that all the others involve guilty priests.

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.

Why hasn’t Nessel done a probe? Is it because she is wedded to the teacher unions? What else could be it?

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.”

The evidence? A retired cardinal and archbishop in France admitted to sexual misconduct with a teenage girl 35 years ago. Oh, yes, it was recently disclosed that allegations of abuse extending back decades were made about another French bishop; he was removed from his post.

There are over 5,000 bishops in the world and the Washington Post found two of them who were involved in sexual misconduct decades ago. The paper argues that this shatters “illusions of progress.”

What it really shattered is the credibility of its editorial board.

As I recounted in The Truth about Clergy Sexual Abuse, no institution has made greater progress in combating sexual misconduct than the Catholic Church.

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.

In an interview with the right-wing Catholic outlet Church Militant, Greene lashed out at the Catholic Church's longtime support for undocumented immigrants, calling it "Satan controlling the church" and adding (without offering evidence for her claim): “The church is not doing its job, and it’s not adhering to the teachings of Christ and it’s not adhering to what the Word of God says we’re supposed to do.” Donohue retorted: "She needs to apologize to Catholics immediately. She is a disgrace. We are contacting House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about this matter. He’s got a loose cannon on his hands."

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 problem—it is those who have lost their way.

When radical Muslims lash out at Catholics, it is usually the result of some twisted understanding of their own religion. Similarly, there is a strain of anti-Catholicism among Protestants, more commonly exhibited by extremists within the evangelical community.

Marjorie Taylor Greene belongs to two of these groups: she is an angry ex-Catholic and an extreme evangelical.

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."

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