Archbp. Dolan challenges the New York Times’ anti-Catholicism

I have seen a sharp uptick of anti-Catholicism lately.   I suspect things will only get worse.

His Excellency Most Rev. Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York has this piece in the newspaper of the NY Archdiocese.

My emphases and comments.



October 29, 2009

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

By Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York
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!  [GO PHILLIES!]
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.” [Excellent.] “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:

    * On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, [Hell’s Bible] reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. [Something I had heard about years ago from New York cops.] 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 cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: 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 [and here is the point…] 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, October 21, the Times  [I’m sensing a pattern…]  gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with 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 Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.

    * Finally, [and this is what I wrote about HERE….] 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 publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times
. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. 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. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. [Good for you, Archbp. Dolan!]  Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?
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.
I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.


Huge WDTPRS kudos to Archbishop Dolan!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Supertradmom says:

    Freedom of Religion is relative in the United States, and sadly, may disappear completely. We pray for great leaders, like Archibishop Dolan. God bless him.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Thank you Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan. I hope the good Bishop reads your blog Fr. Z.

  3. Tominellay says:

    Archbishop Dolan: this is good leadership!

  4. Thomas S says:

    If “Hell’s Bible” refused to publish this op-ed, then the Archbishop should crank up the volume. Preach on the topic from your pulpit. Have your priests print you’re blog post and stick it in every bulletin. Submit it to the Post. Go over the Times’ head.

  5. Steve K. says:

    “The Gray Lady” like so many other institutions in this country has become a mockery of its former self. It’s been particularly bad the past decade or so and getting worse.

  6. MikeJ9919 says:

    The persistent attacks on the Catholic Church are just one more reminder of the Truth of its message. Truth and charity have always been met with attacks, from the horrors of the Colosseum to the more recent attacks on Blessed Mother Teresa for (Heaven forbid) preaching the Good News while caring for the poor. John Paul the Great even referred to this Sign of Contradiction as a “distinctive definition of Christ and of His Church.”

  7. Sandy says:

    Hurrah, Archbishop Dolan! God bless you and keep up the good work. Let us pray that more and more bishops will develop the backbone that has been missing for years. I agree that the battle is intensifying. You can almost feel it, well, not almost; you can feel it. I often remember the poem I saw many years ago; it ended with “and then they came for me”.

  8. This is how an Archbishop takes his licks.


  9. James Locke says:

    What a Man.

  10. Thank you, Fr. Z for pointing out this great article. I must confess I was put off by Abp. Dolan when he first arrived in N.Y., as I felt he had too many articles written about him along with beer and baseball. I KNEW the Vatican would not appoint a slouch, but I was waiting for him to “show his teeth”. Now he has and very effectively as well. Newspapers are complaining about loss of readers. I just cancelled my subscription.

  11. dcs says:

    Go Phillies!!

  12. This begs the question.

    If the Archbishop of New York wanted to make a real impact… how much of an impact could he make?

    In his inaugural sermon, he spoke of the decline of the Church’s influence.

    I bet the Archbishop of New York could still have a big impact.

  13. EXCHIEF says:

    Criticism of the Catholic Church by liberals, and the liberal media in particular, is an act of self defense on their part. Those same liberals advocate homosexuality-same sex marriage, abortion, pornography, and a host of other immoral acts. Who is really the only “enemy” of such conduct and those who advocate it? The true believing, orthodox Roman Catholics. It is only logical therefore that they attack their only real opponents.

  14. greg the beachcomber says:

    Thomas S hit it out of the park, and I think Fr. Z caught the ball.

    According to Wikipedia, the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations figures for the “Hell’s Bible” (they call it the “New York Times,” go figure) is 1,039,031. Meanwhile, according to The Official Catholic Directory Anno Domini 2009, there are 2.6 million Catholics in the Diocese of New York.

    It would seem there’s a tremendous opportunity for the Archbishop of New York to get his message out. Not everybody reads their paper, and not every Catholic goes to Mass, but the ones that do would probably pay attention to that letter read from the pulpit and inserted into their bulletin.

    And it’s amazing what happens when you bring people’s attention to something they’ve been overlooking; they tend to stop overlooking it.

  15. The NY Times won’t change, but that’s why we’re called the Church Militant. Pray, fight and persevere.

  16. Geremia says:

    Amen to church Militant! The gates of hell will never prevail against Her!

  17. TNCath says:

    I’m glad to see Archbishop Dolan take on the New York Times, which is pretty much representative of the world at large that is anti-Catholic.

  18. sekman says:

    This is great, I have made sure to pass this on to all of my friends.

  19. amylpav22 says:

    And this is why Archbishop Dolan was moved to New York. We could not ask for a better public face of the Catholic Church in America than him.

    God bless you, Archbishop Dolan.

  20. Bunion says:

    I’m so proud of ArchBs Dolan and pray God gives him strength against the mounting attacks and Catholic bashing that proves to me I’m in the right religion when its attacked by pro-aborts and sodomite lovers.

    Texas Bunion

  21. David says:

    Arch-Bishop Dolan has hit the nail on the head. It is “politically correct” to publish half-truths, lies and innuendoes about the Catholic Chrurch and other churches that “Offend” the “evolving moral” sensibilities of society. And the Catholic Church is not alone, although she is the current target of opppotunity. A Baptist food mission in Columbus, Georgia was closed recently because they were cited by the state for asking too many questions when they witnessed to people coming for food and tried to eveluate their needs. It will only get worse.

  22. Al says:

    Arch Bishop Dolan receives the St Thomas Beckett award for showing episcopal spine in the face of the enemy…..HUZZZZAHHHHHHHHHH

  23. lofstrr says:

    So the times wont publish an article by the leader of the largest religious group in the city. Not surprising. And they wonder why they continue to loose readers.

    The upside is that it doesn’t really matter that they wont publish it. It will find more readers just by viral spread on the internet anyway. To be published in the times is to limit your readership. You cannot even read the times on the internet without a login from having a subscription.

  24. irishgirl says:

    Huge BRAVO to the Archbishop!

    Al-I love watching that ‘Becket’ clip!

    I’d like to see some real excommunications, ‘Becket-style’!

  25. Central Valley says:

    The archdiocese of New York is blessed to have Archbishop Dolan, if only we had sheperds like him in California who publicly defended the faith.

  26. ssoldie says:

    We need more shepherds like Bishop Dolan, please dear God send them to us, we have been so lost and confused for these forty years in the desert.

  27. JohnE says:

    “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.”

    Saw this in the comics section a couple weekends ago:

    The author has probably been watching too much of the “History” Channel.

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