Catholic League president: Church must start playing hardball against victimization


Yesterday, William Donahue, president of the Catholic League for religious and civil rights called recent verbal attacks on Archbishop William Levada, and legal bullying in the diocese of Spokane, WA, “outrageous” and “no longer about” the alleged victims of the sexual abuse scandal.

“The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church”, he said, “is no longer about the alleged victims—they have had their day in court—it is about the victimization of the Catholic Church. The time has come for the Catholic Church to put the vultures in their place.”

Donahue cited recent slams on newly elected head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Levada of San Francisco, who was bishop of Spokane prior to that.

He said that author Jason Berry’s “savage attack on the former San Francisco Archbishop includes the vicious allegation that Levada ‘worked tirelessly throughout his career to protect sexual predator priests.’”

“Now if this were true,” Donahue pointed out, “then Berry—who has made a career out of writing about this subject—would have blown the whistle on Levada long ago. So why didn’t he? Could it be because Levada is a much juicer subject these days (he is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith)? What makes this so ugly is the fact that when Levada was auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles in 1985, he was one of the first bishops in the nation to seriously address this issue!”

“In short, what Berry has done is yellow journalism,” he said.

Donahue also noted a federal court decision in Spokane, which ruled Friday that all diocesan assets are now fair game for liquidation to pay for claims made by victims of priestly abuse.

“At a minimum,” he responded, “separation of church and state means that sitting judges have no right to make determinations regarding the organizational chart of the Catholic Church. But that is exactly what’s being done. By declaring all diocesan assets fair game for every steeple-chasing lawyer, a green light has been given to plunder the resources of the Catholic Church.”

“This”, he said, “has gone too far.”

Although Spokane’s Bishop William Skylstad has decided to appeal the decision, Donahue said that, “Bishops would do well not to listen to those who always want to settle and start playing hardball. It’s time to countersue.”

Added Donahue: “No amount of wrongdoing by some priests can ever justify attempts to subvert the Catholic Church, whether by the media or by the courts.”

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