Ecclesiastes notwithstanding, there is something new under the sun in the annals of American anti-Catholicism; and that something is the rise of the anti-Catholic Catholics, self-described Catholics who make a career (or at least part of a career) out of mounting endless attacks on the Church, its settled beliefs, its leadership, and its people. Like the Nast/rationalist anti-Catholicism of the past, today’s Catholic anti-Catholicism is a left-of-center phenomenon that, in secular guise, often reflects the critiques of the Church mounted by so-called “Catholic progressives”: The Church is hopelessly sexist; the Church is hopelessly sex-obsessed; the Church is cruel to women and gays; the Church is hypocritical. And, of course and most recently, the Church is a global criminal conspiracy of child rapists and their abettors, which “fact” validates the other charges in the standing indictment just cited.
The principal example of this new, Catholic anti-Catholicism — indeed, the Platonic form of the new Catholic anti-Catholicism — is Maureen Dowd, op-ed columnist of the New York Times. Six times since February, and thrice in the past three weeks, Ms. Dowd has lifted her poison pen and, serially, mocked the Church’s practice of sacramental confession and its settled conviction on the inadmissibility of women to Holy Orders; portrayed the cases of abuse recently brought to light in Philadelphia as part of an ongoing pattern of crime in the Church; deplored the beatification of John Paul II on the grounds that he failed “to protect innocent children”; charged that the Vatican “preferred denial to remorse” and was deliberately stonewalling the reform of the Church in Ireland; mocked the conversion to Catholicism of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich while suggesting that prominent churchmen, who “have a fuzzy grasp on right and wrong,” had been Gingrich’s toadies; and then committed calumny against New York archbishop Timothy Dolan in a Fathers’ Day column that took anti-Catholic-bitchery-as-commentary to a new low.
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