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V. Rome’s Rottweilers
Journalists have a love-hate relationship with Vatican City. They love when the Pope is opposing capital punishment or U.S. wars, but when it comes to social issues and Catholic church governance, they portray the church hierarchy as a group of white male celibate authoritarians viciously enforcing a “rigid” and ancient orthodoxy. Like Phil Donahue, they pose as hip modernists against the prehistoric “fairy tales” of Christ establishing a church on Earth that would last until the end of time.
“The [Catholic] Church has always thrived on ignorance and oppression.”
— Phil Donahue, interviewed by Pat Buchanan on CNN’s Larry King Live, May 31, 1988.
“But most of his fellow countrymen do not share John Paul’s concept of morality.... Many here expect John Paul to use his authority to support Church efforts to ban abortion, perhaps the country’s principal means of birth control. And this, they say, could deprive them of a freedom of choice the communists never tried to take away from them.”
— CBS News reporter Bert Quint on the June 1, 1991 Evening News.
“One paradox of the Polish Pope is that while he is rightly revered for helping bring down the godless Communists, he has replicated something very like the old Communist Party in his church. Karol Wojtyla has shaped a hierarchy that is intolerant of dissent, unaccountable to its members, secretive in the extreme and willfully clueless about how people live.”
— New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, May 4, 2002.
NBC’s Bob Faw: “Embraced by multitudes....John Paul also alienated others. Lifelong Catholic Serra Sippel [of the pro-abortion group Catholics for a Free Choice] was so angered by his teachings she quit going to Mass....She’s outraged even now the Vatican didn’t do more to stop sexual abuse by priests. Outraged, too, because the late Pope refused to ordain or even consider ordaining women....”
Rea Howarth, Catholics Speak Out: “This Pope didn’t care to learn from the likes of women.”
Faw: “Her left-of-center Catholic group also complains that John Paul, rather than affirming life, actually affirmed death when he refused to permit the use of condoms to fight the spread of AIDS.”
Howarth: “That teaching is death-dealing.”
— NBC Nightly News, April 6, 2005, four days after Pope John Paul II died.
“It was Joseph Ratzinger’s job as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — the old office of the Inquisition — that led to him being labeled by some as ‘God’s Rottweiler’.... The new Pope Benedict has described homosexuality as a moral evil. He said the sex abuse scandal in the Church has been exaggerated by the media, and in the last U.S. election he said pro-choice candidates on the abortion question should be denied communion — in other words, denied salvation. As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger took no prisoners. As the Pope, his policies now have the stamp of infallibility.”
— Mark Phillips on the April 19, 2005 CBS Evening News.
“There’s widespread doubt here that he will be able to overcome his reputation as the intimidating enforcer, punishing liberal thinkers and keeping the Church in the Middle Ages.”
— ABC News producer Christel Kucharz reporting on German reaction to Cardinal Ratzinger’s election during live coverage on April 19, 2005.
“He [Cardinal Ratzinger] said in his homily, on the death of Pope John Paul, that the world faces the menace of a dictatorship of relativism. And what he seems to represent is a dictatorship of certitude. I mean, one of his biographers said that he wanted to fight political totalitarianism in the world with ecclesiastical totalitarianism.”
— Roll Call Executive Editor and FNC contributor Mort Kondracke on Special Report with Brit Hume, April 19, 2005.
“Some of the values, depending on your perspective... may be deemed wholesome, but in other ways, I think, people will see this community as eschewing diversity and promoting intolerance....Do you think the tenets of the community might result in de facto segregation as a result of some of the beliefs that are being espoused by the majority of the residents there?...You can understand how people would hear some of these things and be like, wow, this is really infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech and right to privacy and all sorts of basic tenets that this country was founded on. Right?”
— NBC’s Katie Couric on the March 3, 2006 Today, questioning Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and real-estate developer Paul Marinelli, who are building a community based on Catholic values in Florida.
“After acquiring a reputation as an aggressive, doctrine-enforcing Cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI has surprised many with his gentle manner and his writings on Christian love. But with the Christmas season upon us, there is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is also quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.”
— Time’s Jeff Israely in a December 3, 2008 column, “The Pope’s Christmas Gift: A Tough Line on Church Doctrine”.
“Rome’s misogynous declaration, tossed into its new guidelines on reporting clerical sexual abuse, did more than just highlight the church’s hoary horror at the idea of female priests...It also pointed up an increasingly spiteful rhetoric of bigotry. When Argentina in mid-July legalized gay marriage, the country’s Catholic bishops weren’t content to simply denounce the legislation; they used the occasion to argue for the subhumanity of homosexual men and lesbians, the way many white Southern preachers weren’t ashamed to degrade African Americans during the civil rights movement. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio not only called the new law 'a scheme to destroy God’s plan'; he termed it 'a real and dire anthropological throwback,' as if homosexuality were evolutionarily inferior to heterosexuality.”
— Time’s Tim Padgett in a July 19, 2010 online column titled “The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone.”