The Catholic defense is a simple one: "How dare you!" Impugning the Catholic Church makes you anti-Catholic, which is, obviously, bigotry, no different, the Vatican offers, than anti-Semitism.
Disregarding the irony or the sheer preposterousness of the greatest historical force for anti-Semitism suddenly claiming its mantle, there is another, larger problem with this argument. What we are seeing since the recent revelations of systematic abuse by priests in Europe, and before that by priests in the US, is not anti-Catholics attacking the Church but Catholics themselves in a furious revolt.
Non-Catholics, whatever their feelings about the Church, are not the victims here -- nor the prime antagonists. This is an internal matter. Indeed, it involves the most Catholic of the Catholics, a collision of priests and seminarians, or priests and the children of parents trying to raise their sons as close to the Church as possible (mostly sons, although the most recent news involves a priest in Minnesota charged with molesting a 14-year-old girl -- a priest who is still working in India). Everybody else is, at most, a rubbernecker.
The better metaphor then is not anti-Semitism or any other religious animosity (the organized letters I've been getting from Catholic groups in the last few weeks keep asking why I don't attack the Muslims), but, instead, the internecine conflicts that brought down the Soviet Union.
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