April 11, 2011. Boston, MA. Today’s New York Times carried a full-page ad from the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights that claimed to defend the Catholic Church against a variety of perceived attacks. In reality, the ad is a proactive attempt to shape media coverage of the upcoming trial of a Philadelphia priest and two other men charged with raping a child.
“In typical Catholic League fashion, the ad attempts to raise anti-gay hysteria among Catholics and others,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, DignityUSA’s Executive Director. “However, this is a tactic that no longer works in our Church. Catholics know and support lesbian and gay people, and are no longer moved by false and unsubstantiated claims like those tirelessly trotted out by Mr. Donohue.”
Duddy-Burke called the ad “hurtful and misleading.” She noted that the ad disregards the significant proportion of clergy sex abuse victims who are female. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) says that half of their members are women. Duddy-Burke said, “The Catholic League’s strategy of blaming the media for causing pain in the Church about sexual abuse is extraordinarily disrespectful and disingenuous. It makes the anguish of abuse survivors and their families a mere political tool in a battle between the Catholic hierarchy and a supposedly secular culture.
“The Catholic League also fails to recognize the greatest sin in this horrendous tragedy, the bishops’ decades of covering up and enabling abusers,” said Duddy-Burke. “So much pain could have been prevented if even a few bishops had been brave enough to speak out or turn the perpetrators over to civil authorities. Instead, thousands of individuals and families have suffered needlessly.”
DignityUSA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics and their allies. The group works for the full equality of LGBT people in society and in the Catholic Church.