Donohue: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 08:02:05 PM EST
The Catholic Right, Part Sixty-nine
The Catholic League's Bill Donohue has truly outdone himself.

The Catholic Right ideologue who mocked evolution (even though it is embraced by the Vatican); attacked reason (although it forms the foundation of Catholic theology) and criticized as anti-Catholic a PBS documentary on the Inquisition (which was made in cooperation with the Vatican!), now he says we have to watch out for witchcraft!

No joke.

In a September 25, 2008 Catholic League press release, Donohue proclaimed:

"In 2005, Sarah Palin went to church and found that a visiting minister from Kenya, Bishop Thomas Muthee, was doing the service. He offered a prayer asking Jesus to keep her free from 'every form of witchcraft.' Palin said nothing-she simply kept her head bowed throughout the blessing. Why this is newsworthy is one issue, but why it has quickly become the subject of scorn is another.

But here's where Bloviating Bill goes really goofy:

"Witchcraft is a sad reality in many parts of Africa, resulting in scores of deaths in Kenya over the past two decades. Bishop Muthee's blessing, then, was simply a reflection of his cultural understanding of evil. While others are not obliged to accept his interpretation, all can be expected to respect it. More than that-Muthee should be hailed for asking God to shield Palin from harmful forces, however they may be manifested. And for this he is mocked and Palin ridiculed? (italics added)

It is one thing to claim that part of Bishop Murthee believes in witchcraft; it is an entirely different thing to call witchcraft "a sad reality." Can the Catholic League president identify a single death caused by witchcraft? Perhaps Bill has been watching too many reruns of "Bewitched" on basic cable.

Folks, this is the man who takes it upon himself to speak for Catholics everywhere (although he mostly speaks for a reactionary slice of the Church's hierarchy). He is welcomed as a guest on The Today Show and cable news shows. And yet, as I pointed out above, in speaking out he is prone to talking positions contrary to Catholic beliefs and actions - all while demanding that others show total obedience to the Vatican.

Is this a man who should in any way represent American Catholicism in our national discourse?

And by the way, if witchcraft is a problem in Africa, I guess it must have been a problem in Europe and colonial America as well and that the witch hunters of another era got a bad rap.

I don't know what else to say.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 08:03:16 PM EST
Seems dubious territory to me. Plus, the most notorious North American witch hunters were Protestants. And, Bill should know that.

by Bruce Wilson on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 09:56:11 PM EST
...perhaps on behalf of Catholics everywhere, he's trying to play catch-up?

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 07:11:12 AM EST

Frank, like you, I am stunned. Just when I think Bill Donohue can't go any lower, he manages to exceed even my worst expectations. Bill has outdone himself in stupidity and obtuseness. Unfortunately, the spirit of vengefulness and scapegoating that motivated many witchcraft hunts, targeting marginalized, poor, or eccentric women, is alive and well, as is the motivation of folks like Bill Donohue and Thomas Muthee to return us to the 16th century. I think with Bill, he would prefer to return to the 15th century, before the Protestant Reformation.

Apparently Bill thinks it's incumbent upon Catholics to avoid thinking too much, or questioning anything. He would prefer to do the thinking and the speaking for us.  It's that sort of mindset that fueled a lot of anti-Catholic prejudice in the past.


by khughes1963 on Thu Sep 25, 2008 at 11:45:31 PM EST

More like the tenth century!

by Frank Cocozzelli on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 07:13:47 AM EST
Bill's desire isn't for progress, that's certain!

by khughes1963 on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 11:21:21 AM EST

In Kenya, Gov. Palin's preacher and his wife apparently gained great power in a little town by persecuting a woman whom they accused of witchcraft. They led mobs that threatened her life and eventually ran her out of the community.
   Their victim is not alone in Kenya. Deaths "from witchcraft"? These are not at all verifiable. What can be verified are the experiences of many poor souls who are hounded and even killed by the superstitious. Some are just children, utterly rejected and often maimed in the name of religion.

by nogodsnomasters on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 06:11:31 AM EST
This is just like the animosities and hysteria that led to the hangings at Salem.

by khughes1963 on Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 09:47:32 PM EST

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