NCR subscription drive and attack on the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue

I got an email from the dissenter’s guide, National Catholic Reporter.

I was amused to read this with their emphases:

As an reader you already know the value of our reporting. You understand why NCR was called "brave" by The New York Times, "invaluable" by Huffington Post, "respected" by and "influential" by The Nation.


I think that says it all.

In the meantime, they ask a question in their email:

What are you missing without a subscription to NCR?

That is a good question!

In the meantime, did you see their hit job on Bill Donohue of the Catholic League?  It is redolent of envy.

Take note of the way they insinuate that Donohue doesn’t work.

Here are some quips:


Billy the bully is bad for the church
May. 11, 2010
By Joe Feuerherd


It’s good to be William Donohue, president of the “Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.” For one, there’s money in fighting bigotry: Donohue earned $372,501 in salary and deferred compensation in 2008, according to the group’s most recent IRS disclosure report.

Plus, no heavy lifting. Produce serious research on the impact of antichurch prejudice on the lives of the nation’s 70 million Catholics? No way. Despite assets exceeding $22 million, no one could fairly accuse the Catholic League of engaging in such laborious, potentially useful, but expensive endeavors.

A campaign to educate Americans on Catholic contributions to the country and the culture? Get serious. The league’s efforts, such as they are, remain focused largely on highlighting intrachurch squabbles, silliness such as “the war on Christmas,” and defending the indefensible.

Hopping by cab from your office on Manhattan’s Seventh Avenue to midtown network and cable news studios to obnoxiously opine on the latest church controversy seems to be the toughest aspect of the job.

But the best part of being president of the Catholic League is you can say almost anything, impugn nearly anyone, make the most outlandish public statements, and you’re never held accountable.

“Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular,” Donohue declared in 2004. Fr. Charles Coughlin, the 1930s-era radio priest, could not have said it better.


The Catholic community’s response to this frequently subtle bigotry is a buffoonish bully, a carnival barker posing as a defender of the faith. Such behavior might make for good television (which prefers heat to light) but it does nothing to help the church. In fact, it does considerable harm because it plays to the worst stereotypes of triumphalism, homophobia, misogyny and intolerance the church long since abandoned.

But it’s good work if you can get it.

[Joe Feuerherd is NCR publisher. His e-mail address is]


I cut some out, obviously.  But Feurherd really has a problem with Donohue’s assertion that most of the victims of clerical sexual abuse were adolescent males, which suggests that the abusers were themselves homosexuals.

He also compares Donohue to Joe McCarthy.

NCR has a subscription drive going.  Thus their email.

You might consider canceling your NCR subscription and giving the amount to the Catholic League.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    There’s something missing??

  2. TJerome says:

    NCR, always fighting the last war as they march down to the road to irrelevance. The average age of their readers must be in the 70s. They’re sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo 1960s

  3. EXCHIEF says:

    Can’t cancel a subscription I don’t have…but good idea to donate to the Catholic Legue anyhow. NCR, the so-called religious arm of the main stream media.

  4. basilorat says:

    I didn’t know Bill Donohue and the Catholic League had that much in assets to continue their important work! Great news! Yes, it does smack of envy. As the NCR readership declines, so does their money, and any influence they have (though it really doesn’t seem like much anyway!)

  5. Martial Artist says:

    I am in the same dilemma as EXCHIEF, except that my donations are currently a little over budget at the moment. I will have to rectify that later, and when I do, I will now be able to send Mr. Feuerherd a thank you for prompting my donation—had his periodical refrained from assailing Mr. Donohue I might never have realized what good work the Catholic League does under Mr. Donohue’s leadership.

    Perhaps when I do donate, I should do so in honor of Mr. Feuerherd’s article. :-)

    Keith Töpfer

  6. Does anyone know if they “REALLY” think that they speak for American Catholics… or if they know their place?

    Do they believe that there are multiple “views” on the Church and its teachings? Or do they think they profess the TRUE view on Catholicism?

    I just don’t see how they can so blantantly disregard reality, unless they are doing it on purpose in a subversive manner.

  7. TNCath says:

    Yes, I believe the NCR is running scared, launching a “Battle of the Bulge” (i.e. a last chance offensive) against the Church, as subscriptions, readership, and interest in this quickly dying supermarket tabloid wanes into obscurity. As soon as John Allen eventually finds a more credible and respectable position covering religious news elsewhere, that should pretty much turn out their lights for good.

  8. RichR says:

    Our fairly conservative parish is looking for some administrative positions to fill, including director of liturgy/music and director of Faith Formation. I’m on the pastoral council, and at the last meeting, the pastor mentioned that they had placed an ad through The National Catholic Reporter, and I visibly cringed. After the meeting, I gave him the website for the Register and the Church Music Association of America and told him that he’d get a better mesh with our parishioners and fewer complaints from parents of kids in Religious Ed classes if he went with these other groups.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if half the reason these groups still even exist is because of the hang-on subscribers from their hey-days in the 80’s. Some parishes never bother to actually scout out new clearinghouses or publications. They’re just too busy. People need to help them see outside the box.

  9. Tradster says:

    Hmmm. I must have missed the part of the article criticizing the Jewish Defense League, which does virtually the same work albeit more vocally, more viciously, and as a result probably more effectively.

  10. JohnE says:

    “my hero” by Planned Parenthood, “intelligent” by Hans Kung, “screwy near St. Louis” by Bugs Bunny.

  11. wchoag says:

    Where can I find a TARDIS and a Time Lord to send the National Catholic Distorter back to the era of Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor?

    Heck, I would consider a comparison to Senator Joe McCarthy to be a compliment!

  12. Catholicity says:

    I subscribe to neither the NCR nor their views, but I will pop few dollars into Catholic League’s coffers since you asked, Fr. Z. ;)

  13. Joe Magarac says:

    I reject the National Catholic Reporter, and all its works, and all its empty promises.

    But with all due respect, I also reject the Catholic League as a representative of the Catholic Church in America. I don’t disagree with the positions that Mr. Donohue takes; he is fiercely orthodox and I applaud and respect that. But I do disagree with the tactics that Mr. Donohue employs.

    Just yesterday, the Pope acknowledged what I have long felt is true: that sin within the Church does far, far more damage than enemies without. I think that Jesus and many of the saints would turn the other cheek to scurrilous attacks like those mounted by the New York Times and other organs of the secular press. Fr. Z quoted Ratzinger as saying that if he didn’t get attacks like those, he would have to examine his conscience.

    But Mr. Donohue never turns the other cheek: he actively seeks out attacks on the Church and then tries to fight fire with fire. I think this is counter-productive and to some extent counter to the spirit of Christ.

    If I had an NCR subscription (which I don’t and never will), I would cancel it, but I’d give the money to Fr. Z, to the FSSP, or to the Carthusians in Clear Creek before I gave a penny of it to the Catholic League. The aforementioned entities are spreading Christ’s love through calm discourse and prayer; the latter is spreading antagonism through heated rhetoric.

  14. chcrix says:

    “there’s money in fighting bigotry”

    Sure is. Maybe Donohue ought to check out what Marvin Hier and Abe Foxman pull down. I think he needs a raise.

  15. teomatteo says:

    Joe M., I hear where ‘ya coming from… but…. Mr. Donohue stands with many different ‘faiths’ when they are victims of bigotry. He is fair I think in his even approach to all religious bigotry. The prayerful, silent approach is very important but so is the trumpet. The human mind is hardened to injustice sometimes until it hears a strong thump. Donohue is the thump!

  16. MargaretC says:

    I love the graphic that accompanies this post. What was the old Mad Magazine gag? “…suitable for training puppies or wrapping fish.”

  17. If the NCR folks think American Catholics need a more cerebral, less hot-blooded anti-defamation group than the Catholic League, why didn’t they set one up with their little friends?

    Donohue doesn’t do things the way I would; but he’s the one who got out there and did it. Sure, he’s a pit bull; but nobody else seems to be volunteering to do it 365 days a year. He’s a bulldog for keeping on the job.

    There’s still plenty of room for anti-defamation groups, though. I’m sure he’d welcome the help.

  18. frjim4321 says:

    I’ve never thought that Donohue played well for the Church. He is, indeed, a bully, and in spite of the NCR being favored by the posters, there is some truth in the commentary. Just as the esteemed Mr. Allen provides great commentary (in spite of being associated with an publication not favored here), Mr. Feuerherd makes some valid points. Donohue has set up a cottage industry setting up straw horses and blowing them down with his scorching and not-too-intelligent rhetoric.

    I wonder what Mr. Allen would have to say about Mr. Donohue? It’s not his beat, but his opinion would be very interesting.

    It’s a valid point that the NCR and many other publications are suffering slipping enrollment at this time. I don’t think they should use Mr. Donohue’s shortcomings to sell their newspaper.

    I am not an NCR subscriber, it’s not in my budget, but their associated liturgical preparation resource, “Celebration,” is wonderful, and would be an appropriate ADJUNCT to any homily preparation regimen. (I don’t believe in using any one resource exclusively.)

    PS: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the bunting photo. Beautiful!

    Fr. Bill

  19. TJerome says:

    I think Donohue plays well in New York. He’s pretty much representative of the native culture. It’s also nice to have someone fight for
    Christ and His Church – I think the “let’s all get along approach” is what has landed the Church in the dumpster. After all, Christ drove the money-changers from the Temple.

    frjim4321, if “Celebration” is anything like the “news” and “editorial” positions of NCR, I feel sorry for your congregation. It’s a left-wing loon, non-Catholic publication. I’m not sure why you need a liturgical resource other than the Missale Romanum. Say the Black and do the Red.

  20. frjim4321 says:

    TJ – – –

    By your own statement, you admit you have not reviewed it.

    So, since this is a polite post I won’t tell you to “shove it,” but maybe suggest you pick up a copy and review it before you bash it.

    You must be kidding that a homilist would not do some competent exegisis before preaching.

    This is off thread . . . so no more on this from me here . . .

    – – – Fr. Jim

  21. kradcliffe says:

    I’ll admit it: Donohue makes me cringe with some of the things he says. He also gives the impression of speaking for The Catholic Church, and I don’t like that. He’s just another Catholic with an opinion. Yes, he seems to be orthodox in his beliefs, but I don’t think he should be the spokesman for all of us. That’s what bishops are for.

    Comments about Jews controlling the media, saying that a teenager having sex with an authority figure “must have enjoyed it” and defending Fr. Marcial Maciel have not put him in a very favorable light and, I think, hasn’t done much good to promote good will towards Catholicism.

  22. SonofMonica says:

    Well, this post ends the debate for me. I’m definitely donating to the Catholic League for the first time, now that I’ve read what NCR has to say about him. Anything they’re against has to be great :-)

    As far as Donohue’s behavior, the way I see it is, if he were being personally attacked, he would do well to “turn the other cheek.” But he’s defending someone else who is being attacked (i.e., the Church; its bishops…). Standing up robustly and strongly (and even ‘violently’ in the strictest sense of the term) for someone else is not only consistent with Jesus’s behavior (someone already mentioned the violence of turning over the tables in defense of His Father’s House) but also with the Church’s teachings (see defending the unborn, who often have no cheek of their own to turn).

    If anyone speaks ill of me, I’d do well to keep my head down and suffer for the cause of Christ. But I think we are called to ease the suffering of others and to defend those without a voice of their own to speak of. So if you talk about my mother (or Mother Church) you’d better be ready for a tongue lashing. I like that about Mr. Donohue.

  23. elmo says:

    Raking in almost half a million dollars a year, it doesn’t look as if Bill Donohue needs any help from me. Plus, he doesn’t present a good image of the Church. I’d rather see Fr. Groeschel or Fr. Z. become the media’s go to Catholic. That probably won’t happen since neither of them engage in the kind of over the top behavior that Donohue is known for.

  24. Craig says:

    The bottom line is that if it weren’t for the Bill Donohue’s of the world, there’d be a lot more Christians being thrown to the lions and celebrating Masses underground.

    And those days are probably not far off…

    Folks like him (and those who pray outside abortion clinics) are on the front lines in the battle against the ‘Culture of Death’.

    With those who have ears to hear, a lashing by NCR is a very good sign you are doing God’s Will.

  25. JonM says:

    NCR is using Salon, the NY Times, and the Huffington blog as endorsements? Or is that a joke?!

    Anyway, I have mixed views on this issue. Clearly, NCR is being unfair in accusing the Catholic League’s leadership for bullying and handsome monetary compensation. Mr. Donohue is relatively mild compared to made men like Mr. Foxman, the self-appointed watchdog of sensativity (and apostate Catholic incidentally.)

    Indeed, I think that the industry of identity defenses can receive the same form of criticism as the Apologetics industry. Perhaps I am being naive, but I believe our Catholic defense is our Bishops and Priests, who are also in charge of evangelization and teaching the faith.

    Please don’t let this be taken as an attack on professional (lay) apologists or professional defenders of Catholicism. They exist because a huge void exists in the areas of evangelization and teaching.

    However, with the rise in various organizations promoting Catholic continuity in worship and belief, these organizations (FSSP, SSPX, Institute of Christ the King, Paulus Insitute, etc. – not to mention faithful bishops like His Excellency Peter Jugis) should be favored, in my option, for those who have excess income.

  26. Marg says:

    I love his blustery ways. He is the sheepdog (bulldog!)defending the faithful from attacks on every side. If you read his “Catalyst” you become aware of all the “cheap” shots fired at the Church. He exposes the hypocrisy of the politically correct. His love for fairness and truth and his zeal for our Faith puts the apathetic to shame.

  27. Titus says:

    Donahue isn’t always my style, but he’s a fair shade better than the NCR. Fishwrap.

  28. doanli says:


    He’s Billy the Bulldog instead of Billy the Bully…. ;)

  29. edwardo3 says:

    Anyone who thinks Mr. Donahue is a bully or difficult to take should have a long look at St. Bernard of Calirvaux. Sancity and niceness are not the same thing and neiter is indicative of the other.

  30. Dave N. says:

    It think it would do Mr. Donahue some good to take a year off and meditate on the beatitudes, especially that one about persecution…(Mt 5:11-12).

  31. Neither the National Catholic Reporter nor the Catholic League will see a dime of my hard-earned money, until they clean up their acts.

    It is frustrating, though generally the case in human affairs, that the loudest voices say the worst things.


  32. Ed the Roman says:

    “…NCR was called “brave” by The New York Times, “invaluable” by Huffington Post, “respected” by and “influential” by The Nation. ”

    With friends like these, they need an enema.

  33. Ellen says:

    I’ve always heard Mr. Donahue called Shoutin’ Bill. As for NCR, no way. I would hang my head in shame to be lauded by and The Nation.

  34. TJerome says:

    fr. jim4321, anything from the Anti-Catholic Reporter is suspect. I think that’s what you should “shove.” Why not try Bishop Bossuet as a source. Heard of him?

  35. Tantum Ergo says:

    Let this be a reminder of the golden opportunity we have to get the NCR booted form parish newspaper racks. I found the NCR available in the back of the church, and after objecting (it took three times) to the Pastor, the rag was permanently removed. These objections should always be done with great coutresy, and with specific quotes from their articles which dissent fron official Church teaching (ie: “ordination” of priestesses.)

  36. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    Any time someone even mentions Jews or Judaism as a source of their woes, they are immediately exposed as loony bigots, and they and those for whom they would speak not only loose all credibility, but become immediately suspect. Frankly, I admire the work the League does, but the man comes across as a John Bircher and a blow hard, and he should restrict himself to working behind the scenes and find a new spokesman for his organization.

  37. TJerome says:

    I don’t know. Jews are no longer popular with lefties, so Donohoe’s comments are in line with au courant thinking in Manhattan.

  38. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    “Jews are no longer popular with lefties…” You can’t even mention the word “Jews.” See comment above. The best thing William F. Buckely ever did for the Conservatives was to get rid of any hint of anti-semitism. Richard John Neuhaus did the same thing when he severed ties with the Rockford Institute to start First Things. Everyone should take their examples to heart if they want to be taken seriously.

  39. Gail F says:

    Sometimes Bill Donohue makes me cringe. Subtlety is not his strong point. But he’s a real New York type, and I think of him as an old Irish uncle who is always ready to rant and fight. I mean that in a good way — we all need an uncle like that. Anyone who would like a more refined Catholic anti-defamation society is free to start one. We sure need it. But no one else seems to be so inclined.

  40. TJerome says:

    “Jews are no longer popular with lefties…” You can’t even mention the word “Jews.” See comment above. The best thing William F. Buckely ever did for the Conservatives was to get rid of any hint of anti-semitism. Richard John Neuhaus did the same thing when he severed ties with the Rockford Institute to start First Things. Everyone should take their examples to heart if they want to be taken seriously.

    Comment by EoinOBolguidhir

    See my comment above, re lefties. If lefties can do it, it must be ok

  41. Tantum Ergo says:

    I’ve got a garage just chock-full of tools. Each one has a specific purpose. I can’t hammer a nail with a saw, and can’t drill a hole with my caulking gun. The same holds true for defenders of the Faith (God’s tools.) Each of us has a specific charism, his own individual way of reaching those God puts in his path.
    There is a place for cloistered nuns, but there is also a place for crusaders.

  42. chonak says:

    If Donohue would restrict his blowhard persona to the NY local media and let somebody more personable represent the League to the country, it would be a good thing.

  43. irishgirl says:

    I like Bill Donohue and the way he ‘tells it like it is’….but then again, I’m half-Irish (my mother was from Germany). I think of him as a pit bull…or, as Marg called him, a sheepdog!

    Another ‘angry Saint’ was St. Jerome [in reference to edwardo’s post about St. Bernard of Clairvaux]…St. Jerome had a nasty temper at times, and he used it to good effect in his writings.

    ‘Turning the other cheek’ is all right, but after awhile you run out of ‘cheeks’ to turn! Our Lord Himself was not a wuss-He got angry, too!

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