Quoted by Bill Keller, the Catholic League’s president, Bill Donohue (Ratzinger’s Rotweiler, as Keller describes him) tells progressive Catholics precisely where he wants them to go—out of the Church:
Donohue notes that roughly a quarter of Americans identify themselves as Catholic. He reckons maybe half of those, the more conservative half, attend church regularly and contribute. “They’re the ones who pay the bills,” he said. “Can we afford to ignore the other half? I think we can.” And as for the unsettled religious orders, the nuns and priests who vowed allegiance and now preach dissent, why should the church put up with insubordination?
“Do we have more than a handful of nuns who have totally lost their moorings?” Donohue mused. “Oh, yeah.”
His point: “Quite frankly I believe, as Pope Benedict the XVIth said just before he became pope, that maybe a smaller church would be a better church.”
The American Catholic Church, and perhaps the Roman Catholic Church as well, now belong to the Bill Donohues of the world. Keller writes:
[W]hen he took charge of the Catholic League in 1993, Donohue could be dismissed as a conservative blowhard, one of those laymen who was, ahem, more Catholic than the pope. But the official church has moved far enough to the right that Donohue now speaks for its mainstream.
And what you learn if you listen to the Catholic Church in the plain language of Bill Donohue is that it is not about to change direction. Not in this century. The parishioners who hope for a kinder, more inclusive church, the nuns who are now being rebuked by the Vatican because they have doubts on subjects like gay marriage and the ordination of women — the church’s message to them is: Shut up or go. [...] 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. Donohue is right. Summon your fortitude, and just go. If you are not getting the spiritual sustenance you need, if you are uneasy being part of an institution out of step with your conscience — then go. The restive nuns who are planning a field trip to Rome for a bit of dialogue? Be assured, unless you plan to grovel, no one will be listening. Sisters, just go. Bill Donohue will hold the door for you.
Are you listening, E.J. Dionne?