Donohue Softpeddles Hagee's Catholic Bashing
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 09:15:57 AM EST
Have you noticed that when real examples of anti-Catholicism show up, Bill Donohue makes himself scarce, especially when they are perpetrated by the Religious Right?  Donohue bills himself as a defender of Catholicism against bigotry.  But history has shown him to be more of a GOP and conservative movement hack making mountains out of molehills for the gain of his political allies, but offering little defense of Catholics and Catholicism against ancient bigotries when they come from his Protestant allies in the Religious Right.
Take prominent televangelist John Hagee; Christian Zionist and periodic Catholic basher.  Hagee campaigns for an Israeli state that will provoke an end-of-times conflict; one in which he believes the great majority of the Jews he claims to hold dear, wind up in perdition.  That is bad enough, but as Bruce Wilson has pointed out, Hagee blames the Jews for the Holocaust. And while he is at it, he also blames the Catholic Church.  Let's underscore that Hagee is not a marginal or obscure figure. He heads a prominent "pro-Israel" lobby, and politicians, most recently, GOP presidential contender, John McCain, court his support. And his anti-Catholicism is not youthful excess.

At page 114 of his recent book Jerusalem Countdown, he states:

Anti-Semitism is sin, and as sin, it damns the soul. Most readers will be shocked by the clear record of history linking Adolph Hitler and the Roman Catholic Church in a conspiracy to exterminate the Jews.

But if anti-Semitism is a sin, isn't anti-Catholicism? At page 116 he declares:

Nazi legality was immensely strengthened by the Concordant with the Vatican (July 20 1933), an agreement that the Catholic Church had refused to give the previous Weimer Republic. Hitler described the Concordant of Collaboration as an "unrestricted acceptance of national socialism by the Vatican."

Hagee clearly mischaracterizes the intended parameters of the 1933 Concordant with the Reich.  First and foremost, the document was never defined by the Vatican as "Concordant of Collaboration:" that appears to be a description invented by Hagee. As Robert Krieg wrote in the Jesuit journal America:

Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli (later Pius XII) judged that their first duty was to secure civil guarantees for the autonomy of ecclesiastical institutions and their activities. After the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918, the Holy See had tried to sign a concordat with the Weimar Republic but did not succeed. The sticking point was the church's insistence on state support for Catholic schools and for Catholic religious instruction in the public schools. This stipulation was not acceptable to Weimar's parliament, especially to its Socialists, who held that it violated the separation between church and state. As the Vatican's nuncio to Bavaria (1917-20) and then to the Weimar Republic (1920-29), Eugenio Pacelli had arranged concordats with individual German states-namely with Bavaria in 1925, Prussia in 1929 and Baden in 1932. Given this history, Pius XI and Pacelli had reason to be pleased when Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen came to Rome on April 7, 1933, to negotiate a concordat with the Reich's new government.

The Concordat of 1933 gave the papacy what it wanted most, but it also required some concessions from Pius XI and Pacelli, as Joseph Beisinger has described in Controversial Concordats (edited by Frank J. Coppa, 1999). It stipulated that the state would permit parishes to administer the sacraments to the faithful and to instruct its members in the faith and that civil authorities would not interfere in the naming of bishops and pastors. These safeguards were important, because the predominantly Protestant Prussian government had closed Catholic churches, imprisoned bishops and pastors, and stopped the appointment of new bishops during Otto von Bismarck's Kulturkampf (1870-80). The concordat asserted, too, that the state would give financial support to the church's schools and that it would make Catholic religious education available in the public schools-religious education taught only by instructors approved by the bishops.

As Shira Schoenberg, writing for the Jewish Virtual Library observed, "The Pope's reaction to the Holocaust was complex and inconsistent. At times, he tried to help the Jews and was successful. But these successes only highlight the amount of influence he might have had, if he not chosen to remain silent on so many other occasions."

Schoenberg's observations seem to be the most balanced statement on the Vatican during Pius's reign. Perhaps an even more balanced view of Pius's action (or inaction) could have been provided International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission had been able to get greater cooperation from the Holy See.

There is clearly enough information to make certain conclusions. The Vatican, especially through the actions of Pius XI and then Pius XII, failed in 1933 to recognize potential for evil Hitler presented. The Vatican was much too concerned with solidifying its place in German society and fighting Communism than preventing the rise of a Nazi culture. Hitler's intentions were there for all to see in Mein Kampf. And although there are many examples where the Vatican acted to save imperiled Jews, certainly much more could have been done.

Yet further down at page 116 of Jerusalem Countdown, Hagee exaggerates Catholic involvement with Nazi policy:

The sell-out of Catholicism to Hitler began not with the people but with the Vatican itself. For Rome, it was only a repetition of the Concordant it had previously made with Mussolini. The German bishops followed the Vatican, represented by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pacelli, and later Pope Pius XII. The priest obeyed the bishops, and the parishioners fell in line.

"...the parishioners fell in line?" Well, perhaps Hagee should read up on the Jesuit Priest Fr. Alfred Delp, or Fr. Bernhard Lichtenberg who openly spoke out against Hitler and died in transit to the Dachau concentration camp. These are just two of many examples who spoke out against the regime.

And finally, here is Hagee at page 116 through 117...

Was Hitler a Christian? The Roman Catholic Church certainly thought so. In all of his years of absolute brutality, he was never denounced or even scolded by Pope Pius XII or any other Catholic leader in the world

Not quite.

Unfortunately there were certain Catholic clergy-as there were certain Protestant clergy-who worked hand-in-hand with the Nazis, but they did so without Vatican approval. In fact, the Vatican soon became disillusioned with Hitler as her own clergy were being arrested and put on trial. On March 14, 1937 Pope Pius XI issued Mit Brennender Sorge which clearly criticized the Nazi regime for its "pagan cult of race."

Was there Vatican negligence concerning Jewish suffering during the Holocaust? Could Pius XII have been more active in protecting European Jews? Absolutely. But for Hagee to charge that Vatican was scheming with Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe is more than dishonest. And if Donohue were the least bit vigilant, he would be confronting Hagee instead of hiding.

Donohue is quick to complain about the lack of Christmas trees or religious songs not being sung during school pageants. What Hagee wrote was maliciously inaccurate.

In fairness, the Catholic League spoke out against similar statements by Hagee-ten years ago, but evidently, it didn't do any good. And since then, Hagee has grown more prominent and more powerful.  Does that make him untouchable?

The ancient Greeks said that they enemy of my enemy is my friend.  And if that be the case, is "a friend" defined as someone who can simultaneously disparage your faith but shares the same political philosophy?

Donohue is quick to use press conferences, newspaper ads and cable news show appearances to flog Democrats and liberals: The John Edwards blogger case is a perfect example. Yet, when a conservative Republican engages in or enables blatant Catholic bashing: Bush going to Bob Jones University, for example; he either goes sottovoce with his complaints or provides the mildest of rebukes.

Donohue's idea of justice isn't evenhandedness, but one of helping political friends and harming political enemies.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 10:28:36 AM EST


Look what I just stumbled across -

According to this report Hagee purportedly said, on February 6th at a "Night To Honor Israel" event, that the Catholic Church provided the "blueprint" for the Holocaust :

"Hitler's holocaust, Hagee said, was a blueprint "that was really drawn by the Roman church. He did not do anything differently. He only did it more ruthlessly, and on a national scale."  "

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 11:44:57 AM EST

Hagee goes on and on, yet not a peep from Wild Bill! This is just incredible how politics trumps necessary anti-defamation advocacy.

This just underscores the need for a more impartial advocate for American Catholicism, someone who can effectively answer Hagee's venom.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 02:39:32 PM EST

Clearly there are enough elements of "newsworthiness" in this Hagee-Donohue-AIPAC bundle to run it up the blog tree and get it into their faces.  I don't find the time to check dKos much anymore - are they hashing it over yet?

It seems that even our establishment "religion editors" and "staff writers" for the lapdog media ought to be able to see "a story" here.

Thanks, Bruce, and Frank, for getting me excited (although I need one more "kick" to take the step of acting in the conviction that my own big-city local's religion writer will make my trouble worthwhile). Is this more important than going to church? (starts in 35 mins) or taking a long hike? (my plan for this beautiful Sunday afternoon)?

God bless the whole world - - No Exceptions
by John Anngeister on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 12:51:13 PM EST

It should be a story, I think. As for going to church - well, I can't answer that ! I'd recommend taking a hike though if it's a beautiful day where you are.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 01:24:27 PM EST

...I hope you went to church, spoke about Hagee and Donohue with your fellow congregants and clergy, took your walk and than sat down and wrote about this to you local paper's religion editor.

That is exactly what I hope this series inspires you to do. And by the way, thank you for the kind words.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 02:45:07 PM EST

Instead, I left the service right after the sermon (i.e. missed Communion and coffee hour) in order to hit the trailhead at a good hour.  So no chance to talk it up with my fellows.

Great hike with Mrs. A. - 7.8 miles with a +1000 ft elevation change under blue sky in the high 70s.

I am back-pedalling a bit on the story angle.  I'm not sure what I would actually tell my big-city local religion page, other than to give them the URL to this website and let them decide for themselves.

Hagee's Jew- and Catholic-bashing is only important if he is more than a tin pot crank.  I realize he has talked to McCain and Blunt, and etc., but if I pretend to be a big-city editor I'm still thinking he's nuts and it might be too soon to bring him into the limelight.

Religion editors don't "out" people - they report on "outings."  If somebody big called out AIPAC on the whole matter, pointing out the Jew-bashing - then that's a newspaper story.

The AIPAC Jews who are courting him don't seem to know what he's about - but it seems more likely that they know and think it's laughable.  Kind of the way the first Bush White House is fabled to have referred to the religious right as "those crazies in the basement."

What AIPAC cares about is the concept of constant pro-Israeli lobbying pressure from Christians.  I don't even know if AIPAC is able to distinguish between different stripes of Christians.

But getting Hagee's "secret" position on Israel and the Catholics "out there" would at least discredit CUFI, and embarrass AIPAC.  Again, the question - is Hagee a big enough fish to fry here and now?  I would say the AIPAC involvement definitely brings him closer to target.

As for Donohue, doesn't most of the press realize he IS just a Republican operative who has been charged with the sole task of making Catholics upset with the Democratic party?  We don't know if he has Hagee on his radar at all, do we?  Again - I think someone bigger than Donohue needs to nail him before it's a story.

But it's all possible as things continue to develop.  I'm watching.

God bless the whole world - - No Exceptions
by John Anngeister on Mon Mar 12, 2007 at 12:26:11 AM EST

at the end of my comment I wrote:

Again - I think someone bigger than Donohue needs to nail him before it's a story

What I meant in that place was ...someone bigger than Donohue needs to nail Donohue before [the Donohue soft-pedal] is a story,

God bless the whole world - - No Exceptions
by John Anngeister on Sat Mar 17, 2007 at 04:00:11 PM EST

I like this, especially since it's clear that Screamin' Bill is willing to soft-pedal Catholic bashing coming from his political allies. I recall he wasn't around for comment on some of Bob Jones' anti-Catholic remarks. I guess building political allies on the Right is of more importance to Donohue than defending criticism of some aspects of Catholic belief, unless it comes from people Donohue doesn't agree with. If Donohue doesn't agree with someone, and that someone criticizes the Church, then in Donohue's view, that person is fair game. I had an opportunity to see some of the responses Amanda Marcotte received from supposed Christians after Donohue publicly castigated her. I don't think they exactly matched up with what Jesus would have done.

By the way, this might be slightly OT-but could you do a piece on Fr. Frank Pavone, or update one if you've done one? He is building a massive edifice in Amarillo, TX as part of his program to launch The Missionaries for the Gospel of Life. has some articles & commentary in response to it. BTW-I lived in Amarillo during my teen years (1976-1981.)


by khughes1963 on Sun Mar 11, 2007 at 08:08:03 PM EST

I've just been  at the YouTube web sight watching the "good" Pastor Hagee expounding on end times and then began to read the comments in response - pages and pages of pure hate and bigotry, even by the most seemingly semi-literate of the responders.  and this man who has so much influence, even at the White House.

For your interest, this is it:

by Concerned on Tue Mar 13, 2007 at 10:20:24 PM EST

Good link!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Mar 16, 2007 at 07:25:48 AM EST

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