My last few posts have been about things which I only partly understand — for example, universes from nothing, the relation of science, philosophy and culture — but now I want to turn in a different direction, and change the pace of discussion. A few days ago Ophelia Benson, over at Butterflies and Wheels, brought our attention to the theocratic, totalitarian, repressive streak running through Catholicism (in her post “Donohue’s success” and a later one, “Donohue to citizens: stfu“). Ophelia links to the Network for Church Monitoring, and Chapter 15 of Stephen Mumford’s book The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a US Population Policy, under the title “The Catholic League and the Suppression of the Press Today.” The chapter goes into a great deal of detail about how the Catholic League, led by William Donohue, brings its power and influence to bear on newspapers, TV networks, and other media, should they have the gall or audacity to criticise the Roman Catholic Church. It’s a disturbing story.
Mumford speaks of the principles that guide the League’s activities:
One is revealed in a vicious 1994 attack against the New London newspaper, The Day, for an editorial critical of the Catholic Church: “What is truly ‘beyond understanding’ is not the Catholic Church’s position, it is the fact that a secular newspaper has the audacity to stick it’s nose in where it doesn’t belong. It is nobody’s business what the Catholic Church does.”
The Catholic Church, then, is supposedly above criticism. What the Catholic Church does is its own business, and no one should criticise it. This goes for dissident Catholics as well as those who have no relationship to the Catholic Church. Whether the Catholic Church engages in activities that threaten the freedom of citizens is irrelevant to the point that is being made. The church itself is above criticism, and it is not the public’s business. Should they not get the point, the League will fight for the right of the church to remain above criticism, by threatening newspapers, TV channels, etc., with mass action.