Monday, June 18, 2012

Bill Keller of New York Times Compares Pope Benedict and Bill Donohue to Rottweilers

A few months ago, the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) purchased a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, which attacked the Catholic Church and urged Catholics to leave it. FFRF could have saved its money. The New York Times--through several of its columnists--attacks the Catholic Church regularly. FFRF did not need to buy an advertisement.
Bill Keller
Photo Credit: NY Times

And this brings me to Bill Keller's essay in yesterday's New York Times. Titled "The Rottweiler's Rottweiler,"  Mr. Keller basically compared Pope Benedict XVI and Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, to attack dogs.

Like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Keller urged Catholics to leave their Church. "Much as I wish I could encourage the discontented, the Catholics of open minds and open hearts, to stay put and fight the good fight, this is a lost cause," Keller wrote. "Summon your fortitude and just go."

"Go where?" Keller asked rhetorically.  Keller had a few kind words for a schismatic group in New York, which has a female pastor and conducts same-sex marriages.  Keller wrote that he would "leave it to the theologians to debate whether these defectors or the Vatican have the stronger claim to being the authentic heirs of St. Peter."

A few brief comments. First, it is unjust and mean spirited to compare Pope Benedict and Bill Donohue to rottweilers because they vigorously defend the Catholic faith. How would Mr. Keller like to be called a rottweiler because he defends his principles and convictions?

Second, Keller made reference to the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal. All Catholics know that the priest pedophile scandal is one of the most shameful chapters in our Church's history.

But this disgraceful episode does not negate the truth of the Catholic faith. Nor does it nullify our heritage. The lives and martyrdoms of such saints as St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Thomas More, and the Ugandan Martyrs are in no way diminished by the Church's recent sexual abuse scandal.

Finally, Mr. Keller seems to think that many Catholics find the Church out of step with their consciences and that some nuns stay in the Church out of fear. He could not be more mistaken. Of course, there will always be a few discontented Catholics, people who share Mr. Keller's sour views about the Church.  But our churches are full and overflowing with all kinds of people--immigrants, converts, single adults, poor people, middle-class families, children and youth--who attend Mass regularly and are strengthened and invigorated by their Catholic faith.

If Mr. Keller believes that "The Rottweiler's Rottweiler" and similar commentaries will persuade Catholics to abandon their Church in large numbers, he is wrong. Catholics have endured hecklers, heresies, schismatic sects, and mortal enemies for 2000 years; and we outlasted all our foes.  We will certainly not be shaken by Mr. Keller's carping essay in the New York Times.


Freedom from Religion Foundation. (2012, March 9). It's Time to Consider Quitting the Catholic Church. New York Times, p. A10.

Keller, B. (2012, June 18). The Rottweiler's Rottweiler. New York Times, p. A21.

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