Back in January, Catholic League President and frequent Fox News contributor Bill Donohue called victims of priest abuse and their advocates and supporters a “pitiful bunch of malcontents” and “professional victims.”
Now Donahue is calling for victims to be ‘fought one-by-one’ so the church can save money.
He claims that Catholic bishops are reaching the conclusion that “they had better toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough.” “We don’t need altar boys,” he told the New York Times.
He says he’s backing an effort by lawyers for two Missouri priests accused of abuse to subpoena email from Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
SNAP national director David Clohessy has already been deposed. He told the Times that the deposition was “not a fishing expedition,” instead it was “a fishing, crabbing, shrimping, trash-collecting, draining the pond expedition.” He said the real motive is to “harass and discredit and bankrupt SNAP, while discouraging victims, witnesses, whistle-blowers, police, prosecutors and journalists from seeking our help.”
SNAP held a protest March 13 calling on St. Louis’ archbishop to:
- stop demanding the private e-mails of a teenaged St. Louis child sex crime victim
- apologize for and explain his decision to make this “intimidating” move
- disclose which bishops may have discussed or approved a new church “hardball” legal strategy
The legal demands are costing SNAP tens of thousands of dollars and “causing severe financial hardship” to the group. So SNAP is begging the public and parishioners to “use their resources, clout, voices and donations” to help the organization survive.
One of the lawsuits is against Fr. Joseph D. Ross and the St. Louis archdiocese.
The St. Louis suit charges that Ross molested a girl from 1997-2001 at St. Cronan’s Catholic church in the Grove neighborhood of St. Louis City. In 1988, Ross pled guilty to sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy. But after his sentence was completed, Catholic officials quietly put Ross at St. Cronan’s and warned no one of his criminal past. Ross worked as recently as 2002. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Donahue says the legal moves are part of a new, more aggressive strategy by the church, though this is denied by U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to the Times.
Donahue is not an official of the church but, as Andrew Sullivan describes it, “he is for the hierarchy what [Fox News host Sean] Hannity is for the GOP base.” He is frequently praised by top bishops, despite having been criticized multiple times for comments seen as lacking any sensitivity towards the victims of abuse by the church.
Last April, the League took out a full page ad in the New York Times which blamed the abuse crisis on the media, scammers and gay people.
Other figures, including Rick Santorum and Rush Limbaugh, have attempted to place the blame for the abuse anywhere but with the Church.
Santorum said in 2002 when the scandal broke that it was “no surprise that the center of the Catholic Church abuse took place in very liberal, or perhaps the nation’s most liberal area, Boston.”
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