Originally posted at Talk to Action.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue goes after anyone he believes is engaging in anti-Catholic behavior, real or imagined. But as we have come to see, Donohue’s criteria for response depends less on the content of a statement as who makes it. And if the anti-Catholicism emanates from a religious libertarian conservative such as Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, mum’s the word. Donohue has frequently demonstrated this double standard since the ascendancy of Pope Francis.
What I did not realize was just how much more brutally ugly these comments would become – while at the same time the self-proclaimed Guardian of all things Catholic looks the other way.
On Thursday, September 24 I learned of this post at Daily Kos. Therein, the author links to this op-ed posted on FOXNews.com in which the network’s judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano accused Pope Francis of being quite possibly – among other things — “a false prophet.” Napolitano’s colorful comments included gems such as:
Now, here comes Pope Francis to use moral relativism to take the Church in two dangerous directions. The first is an assault on the family, and the second is an assault on the free market — two favorite political targets of the left.
In his papal exhortation on capitalism, Pope Francis spectacularly failed to appreciate the benefits of capitalism to the health, wealth and safety of the poor. Instead, he has reworked the Peronism of his youth to advocate government-mandated redistribution of wealth and to condemn those who work hard, employ others and achieve wealth — even when they give some of that wealth to the Church
For now, let us put aside the fact that the pope has never “reworked the Peronism of his youth” but is instead following basic Catholic doctrine on economics. Donohue’s language is nothing new for the Catholic Right. But what is new is this:
Pope Francis is popular on the world stage, and the crowds love him. But if he fails in his basic duties as the pope, if his concern is more for secular than sacred, if he aids the political agenda of the atheistic left, he is a false prophet leading his flock to a dangerous place, where there is more central planning and less personal liberty.
As the author in the aforementioned Daily Kos post noted, this is nasty stuff. The use of the description “false prophet” has its roots in the past anti-Catholic rhetoric.
The key point here is that this False Prophet is a leader on the world stage (significantly this is the exact phrase employed by Napolitano). He is a messenger of the Antichrist, appearing at his “right hand.” Napolitano leaves it to the imagination whom this Antichrist might be, but for a good number of Republicans it is in fact President Barack Obama.
This is the dog-whistle about Pope Francis now being transmitted by the Republican Party to its evangelical base. The right-wing Washington Times and Newsmax, neither of which I will link to, have also laid the “F” word [False] at the Pontiff’s feet this week, using the same terminology. The coordination among the right’s media organs reflects the degree of fear occasioned by the Pope’s embrace of what they consider “leftist” positions on climate change , and immigration, two of the GOP’s most sacred cows. The first, climate change, goes directly to the source of their funding, the fossil fuel industry, the most visible personages being Charles and David Koch. In terms of sheer political clout in the Republican Party nothing approaches fossil fuel conglomerates and their desire for deregulation permitting them to drill, dig and pollute at will. There is a reason that every single GOP’s Presidential hopeful either denies outright or claims insufficient knowledge of climate science. It is a required policy position demanded by their donors.
And as the writer correctly concluded of such intentions, “That is why this Pope must be marginalized at all costs.”
Where is Bill?
And all this raises the question, where is Catholic League president Bill Donohue? After all, this is the same man who sees anti-Catholicism in the way the Empire State Building does its nightly illuminations.
To his credit though, Donohue did properly condemn George Will for using his Washington Post column to conflate Catholic economics with Neo-Luddism. But then again, Will is an atheist; those on the Religious Right, however get preferential treatment. Donohue may well be attacking Will as an indirect way of attacking non-believers.
Interestingly enough, one of Donohue’s criticisms of Will went like this: “More important is his twisting of the pope’s position on materialism to mean that he is anti-electricity.”
That particular criticism carries a great deal of hypocrisy. More than likely it is an allusion to a passing reference in the recent encyclical on the environment Laudato Sii, (“Praised Be”). As I pointed out in an earlier post, it was originally the Catholic League President himself who attempted to make the document be about the condemnation of air conditioning. In reality, air-conditioning is mentioned only once in passing, in the book-length document.
Nor does Donohue complain about the absence of three conservative Catholic US Supreme Court justices — Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito — when Pope Francis spoke before Congress. That is a rather odd reaction from a man who would attack a liberal or moderate Catholic just for sneezing the wrong way.
But then again, there is a likely explanation: Scalia and Thomas are Opus Dei cooperators and Opus Dei has little or no love for the openness of the Jesuits (I have found no links between Alito and Opus Dei). For the record, the Catholic League board is loaded with Opus Dei sympathizers and actual members.
So, where is Bill Donohue on these instances of conservative disrespect and anti-Catholicism?