One year ago, Salon ran a rather breathless piece by an anti-Catholic writer named Patricia Miller who danced on the graves of Cardinal Raymond Burke, Father Frank Pavone, the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue, and me.
Miller was thrilled to her toes that each of us had in some way become “discredited” and were doomed. So, a year later, how does her obituary hold up?
“The Pope Francis revolution: Inside the catastrophic collapse of the Catholic right” explained how “For years they struck fear in the hearts of progressive Catholic candidates. They could, and did, help destroy presidential campaigns. The media took them seriously, reporting on their pronouncements as representative of a significant bloc of conservative Catholics. They were not legion; but they were powerful. They were the Christian right’s smaller, more shadowy counterpart: the Catholic right wing.” Breathe, Patricia, breathe.
Miller reminds us of how faithful Catholics so effectively derailed the candidacy of John Kerry, the dissident Catholic who favors killing unborn babies. Kerry ended up not only losing faithful Catholics—that is, Catholics who actually go to Mass—but he also lost the generics—those who identify as Catholic but who stopped practicing roughly when puberty kicked in.
Bill Donohue helped get Kerry’s religious outreach staffer canned because it was revealed she consorted with anti-Catholics. Her replacement got canned, Miller says, “for signing an amicus brief in support of removing ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance.”
You can be sure that Miller’s explanation has no more than a remote connection to the truth, and not much more than that.
Miller seems stuck in the ancient past, because she then goes after Cardinal Burke for also hurting John Kerry. Keep in mind this was all of 16 years ago, but for Miller, it’s like yesterday.
You’ll recall that then-Archbishop Burke said he would not allow John Kerry to take communion. Of course, Kerry did not go to Mass a lot, and when he did, it was usually in Boston at the Paulist Center on Beacon Hill, where the good fathers are not quite so discriminating as Archbishop Burke.
She is annoyed at me for doing pro-life and pro-family work at the UN. She says, “Ruse is the ringleader of efforts at the UN block [sic] funding and support for family planning and women’s rights programs.” How does she know this? She links to a 12-year-old article from World Watch.
Any lefty who writes about me is also outraged that I said on radio that the liberals who have ruined higher education ought to be taken out and shot (figuratively speaking, of course). So often do they mention it, I am convinced there is a short-cut key-stroke on their computers.
Another moldy chestnut they like to drag out about me is that I “bragged about joking with a priest on the floor of the UN about taking out Hillary Clinton and not on a date.” They always get that one wrong, which is sad, because it’s a pretty good joke. The truth is, it was a priest of the Holy See delegation to the UN who joked with me about giving me guaranteed absolution for “taking out Hillary Clinton and not on a date.” This was during the unfortunate years that Hillary was involved in UN negotiations.
But, Miller wants you to know that we previously powerful titans—Donohue, Burke, and Ruse—have each received our comeuppance.
Burke got demoted from the Apostolic Signatura to a Vatican charity.
Donohue was “widely pilloried” for seeming to understand Muslim rage at the vile magazine Charlie Hebdo. I was one who wrote about what many saw as Donohue’s misstep though his misstep, was mostly one of timing.
She also says Father Frank Pavone has been “on the rocks with the hierarchy for years,” and that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan “cut ties” with Pavone.
And I have been “similarly discredited” because a hard-left pressure group says C-Fam, the research institute I run, is a hate group, which is no more than an annoyance and a badge of honor.
Miller trots out yet another anti-Catholic, Jon O’Brien, who took over the reigns of the non-Catholic abortion industry front group “Catholics for Choice” after Frances Kissling retired. O’Brien, who has announced the death of my organization for years says, “The Catholic right found great succor—if not an outright endorsement—when Benedict was pope. It was good times for the Catholic League and C-FAM and those who wanted a leaner and mean church. Pope Francis is no left-wing revolutionary, but he has let it be known that he doesn’t like a mean church. The leadership is no longer giving them cover.”
You see, we had cover with St. John Paul the Great and then with Benedict, but now with Pope Frank we are in outer darkness. I think Miller and O’Brien must have missed those chummy photos of Bill Donohue and Francis when the Pope visited New York in September.
So, how is everyone doing? Are Burke, Donohue, Pavone, and I dead?
Donohue’s group sits on a treasure chest of $37 million that shows no sign of declining. He and his group are as much a part of the Church and the political conversation as ever before.
It’s true that Priests for Life has taken a financial hit in recent years because of the tussle they have had with some in the hierarchy. Even so, at $9 million a year, Priests for Life still brings in twice the amount of the non-Catholic “Catholics for Choice” and remains, with Americans United for Life, National Right to Life, and the Susan B. Anthony List, among the most influential pro-life groups in the country, and, therefore, the world. What’s more, Priests for Life has been given a clean bill of health by the Pontifical Council on the Family.
Cardinal Burke? Sure, he’s not the head of the Apostolic Signatura and he is not on the committee that picks bishops, but he is now touring the globe rolling out his latest book, and there will be more to come. He is greeted like a conquering hero wherever he goes. If anyone thought making him head of the Order of Malta would put him in a box, they have by now been sorely disabused.
How is my group doing? We just finished what will be our most successful year both financially and programmatically. We just increased our staff by 16 percent. What’s more, the successes of the pro-life and pro-family coalition at the UN continues to grow. In recent months and years, we have been able to roll-back anti-family language. “Sexual orientation and gender identity” can’t even get a hearing at the UN. Moreover, after hundreds of millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of man-hours, the sexual left at the UN is still no closer to a global right to abortion than they were twenty years ago.
The sexual revolutionaries love to announce the death of their opponents. Like clockwork, this wishful thinking comes bubbling forth from their computers. But, even they don’t believe it. Not really.
In a remarkable moment of clarity, for him anyway, Jon O’Brien told Patricia Miller, “The right wing will come back around. It always does. But for now, they are out of vogue.”
Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute focusing on international legal and social policy. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of C-FAM.