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Bill Donohue Must Resign, For The Good of American Catholics

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While minding one's own business is often considered a virtue, when the chaos from a neighbor's house spills into your own yard you are afforded the option to say something. In the case that I raise today, a certain man has been allowed to run about like a feral child in the playground of the media, spouting nonsense and threats for quite long enough. I say on behalf of reasonable-minded people everywhere (both skeptics and believers), that Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, needs to be reined in before he completely destroys the reputation of the Catholic Church in the United States.

The Holy See has been through a rather rough patch in the last few years. Unfortunately one of their most public representatives during this time of difficulty has been a man whose actions are indefensible. Mr. Donohue could not have broached the national media arena at a worse time for the church. While the Vatican is in crisis around the world, with the Pope himself calling for change and penance, Bill Donohue has been happily kicking the hornet's nest with a vigor unabated by either logic or circumstance.

We must quickly make two small points. Bill Donohue is the leader of an organization that by its name (the Catholic League), seems to speak for Catholics. This is hardly the case. After all, the Catholic League self-reports only several hundred thousand members in the U.S., a small fraction of the some 68 million Catholics to be found in this nation. Further, the League is not an official part of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately for the more intelligent Catholics here in the States, Donohue is often the man called by news networks to represent their cause; he has by odd circumstance become their voice. We are not discussing rare or isolated instances in which Mr. Donohue has betrayed his inner ugly character. He consistently speaks for people who have not chosen him and do not finance him, and he does them no justice by presenting his opinions as the consensus view of this nation's Catholic population. It is for this offense, in addition to the content of his unctuous remarks, that I publicly call for his resignation.

Bill Donohue has a penchant for the use of physical threats and violent analogies in discussions and debates. During a dialogue with Christopher Hitchens he repeatedly said that "as an Englishman [Hitchens], you have to be quiet when an Irishman speaks." Donohue followed this by threatening Hitchens that if "you want to take it outside, Christopher, that's fine." When allowed the chance to step back from the statement, he reaffirmed his sentiment to another group that he meant that "if you [Hitchens] want to keep it up, I'll sock you."

Donohue also suffers from a strong case of hubris. When on a television show with the artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who had crafted a sculpture that Donohue found to be offensive, Bill not only shouted (his standard vocal volume) that the artist's actions could lead to him "lose more than his head," but that Cosimo had "put his middle finger at Catholic Church and we just broke it, pal." Donohue also called Cosimo a "loser," and stated that he wanted to make him "financially bankrupt." After Cosimo said that he was a Christian, Bill openly mocked him and told him to stop lying.

Sadly, we are merely warming up. Recently Mr. Donohue has been ruffling feathers in an artificial situation involving Mother Teresa and the Empire State building. What, you may ask, do the two have in common? Nothing, but that is more than enough to raise Bill's ire. The Empire State building's management -- all of whom are private citizens -- choose celebrate certain occasions with a multicolored light display. They do not light the building to celebrate or commemorate religious individuals. Bill wanted them to color the building blue and white to celebrate what would be the Mother Teresa's 100th birthday. The owners of the building declined to do so. While the story could have ended there, Mr. Donohue took the chance to excoriate the individuals, saying to the Associate Press that "They're bigots! They have an animus against Catholics." Apparently, to Mr. Donohue, managing your property the way you wish makes you a hateful person.

While we could continue in this vein for some time, with Mr. Donohue flying off the handle at the slightest provocation (his latest missive regarding Lady Gaga -- whom he calls a less attractive Madonna in addition to calling her latest single "vomit-inducing" and claiming that she is treating the Catholic Church like "Muslims"), we will conclude with his assault on one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking. Hawking gave a recent interview with ABC news where he expressed, among other topics, a short explanation of his views on religion and the human race. His comment that humanity is a small and unimportant part of the universe was enough to invoke the curse of Mr. Donohue. To quote his response:

How any rational person could belittle the pivotal role that human life plays in the universe is a wonder, but it is just as silly to say that all religions are marked by the absence of reason.

Stephen Hawking is a man whose views are so obtuse as to be silly and wonder inducing? The educated world wishes to disagree. Donohue is swimming outside of his depth, and is doing so publicly as usual, on a website emblazoned with the word "Catholic" and studded with Catholic images.

Whether threatening intellectuals, insulting and intimidating artists, unsuccessfully spitting on scientists or raising hell on private citizens for acting out their rights, Mr. Donohue is a force for discord. He does not deserve the microphone that is afforded to him by the title and manufactured prestige of his precious Catholic League. The Catholic Church needs friends, allies, and a fresh face to move forward with the changes Pope Benedict has promised to carry out in the new decade. Mr. Donohue works against all those goals, and is a stain on the reputation of the good Catholic people of this nation and elsewhere. The artist we previously discussed effectively summed up Mr. Donohue: "You," he said, "are a bully."

It cannot be better put.

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