Catholic League President Responds to Judge Anne Burke’s Column


Catholic League president William Donohue responds to a guest column in the Chicago Tribune written by Illinois Court Judge Anne Burke, who also served as interim chair of the National Review Board, organized by the U.S. Bishops’ Conference to monitor clergy sex abuse. (READ HER COLUMN HERE)

“Catholic Bishops Indicted by ‘Reformer Judge,'” guest column by William Donohue for Spero News, April 29, 2011.

“Anne Burke misrepresents the situation in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, and indicts every bishop in the United States.

Burke’s accusation of a cover-up in Philadelphia is factually wrong and morally scurrilous: she cites 24 priests who are accused of wrongdoing, never mentioning that most of them were previously investigated and allowed to stay in ministry (unlike others who did not pass muster with earlier probes), precisely because the charges were unsubstantiated. The only reason they are being reinvestigated is because the Philadelphia Archdiocese decided this was the proper response to resurrected accusations made in a third grand jury report.

Burke makes it sound as if the Archdiocese is comfortable with allowing molesters to walk the streets of Philadelphia. This is a smear. She also gives the impression that all of these priests are guilty of some serious crime. Truth to tell, none has been found guilty of anything, and many of the accusations are more absurd than they are serious.

If this isn’t bad enough, Burke indicts every bishop in the nation. “This makes me wonder what kind of people we are dealing with when we engage the bishops?” Her conclusion: “Are they ever to be trusted?” Her statement is unqualified, demagogic and irresponsible.

This is nothing new. In 2006, Burke justified removing priests from ministry on the basis of one unsubstantiated accusation: “We understand that it is a violation of the priest’s due process—you’re innocent until proven guilty—but we’re talking about the most vulnerable people in our society and those are children.” Burke’s problem extends beyond the Catholic Church—she has a problem with the U.S. Constitution.”

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11 Responses to “Catholic League President Responds to Judge Anne Burke’s Column”

  1. Does Mr. Donohue have information that the Philadelphia Laity doesn’t? He says some of the accusations against suspended priests are absurd. The archdiocese says they won’t release the nature of the accusations – let alone specifics.

    Also, the 2011 Grand Jury report would indicate that the Diocese didn’t do a very good job at its own investigations.

    Priests should be given due legal process and held accountable in civil courts of law. However, should the faithful not hold them to a higher law than the Constitution. Perhaps God’s law?

    • If you want to know why Bill Donahue makes ruthless attacks against Jeffrey Anderson, SNAP, BISHOPS ACCOUNTABILITY, and many others who stand up for victims of child rape by clergy, just follow the money trail.

      He makes almost a half million a year, just in salary alone, by being the “leader” of the so-called Catholic League, he has pocketed many millions over the years.

      He may be many things, but he’s not stupid. And he’s not about to let a little truth ruin this gig he has going.

    • Interesting comments by Mr. Donahue. I know Anne Burke personally and “his” assumptions are quite false. Justice Burke remains highly engaged in the Catholic Church within the United States and abroad. She has keen insight into many aspects that Mr. Donahue does not. In fact I will be having dinner next week with Anne, and Archbishop and several priests. She remains highly respected by a wide swath of the heirarchy and priests who recognize her keen intellect and honesty about matters that many care not to comment on. I think her evaluation of Philly seems quite clear….when in fact the Cardinal Archbishop, who was once seen as a kingmaker, is now being quietly (and unusually) shuttled off the public stage much more quickly than the norm.

  2. Mr. Donohue’s blanket defense of the institutional church in Philadelphia or anywhere throughout the globe in contrast to the wounds inflicted upon innocent children, their innocent parents and family members is indefensible. Healing is needed not his vial accusations and criticisms

    Where are you coming from Mr. Donohue? Who are you serving? Your brothers and sisters need you to defend them first. Stand up with the rest of the Catholic faithful who make up 99% of the “church”. Yes, the people are the church. The 1% of the hierarchy are here to serve the 99%.

  3. Mr. Donahue has been presenting his very skewed opinion of things as the gospel truth for some time now. I am very interested in what his source of income is. He enjoys a 6 figure salary as the head of the so-called Catholic League and does enjoy the support of New York’s Archbishop Dolan.

  4. Mr. Donohue is simply a distraction from the honest conversation of faithful people trying to discern how to address the fact that the powers that be in the hierarchy have lost sight of their mission. Their oath of loyalty to the church has blinded them to their loyalty to Christ’s command to shepherd his people. The hieracrchy has allowed much evil to be perpertrated upon the most vulnerable of its flock. This is a fact. Our baptism demands we raise our voice and say this must stop. To do anything less makes us accomplices in this sinfulness.

    U.S. Bishops to Meet June 15-17 in Seattle, Discuss Charter Revisions, Assisted Suicide Document, Spanish Mass Translation

    U.S. Bishops to Meet June 15-17 in Seattle, Discuss Charter Revisions, Assisted Suicide Document, Spanish Mass Translation

    U.S. Bishops to Meet June 15-17 in Seattle, Discuss Charter Revisions, Assisted Suicide Document, Spanish Mass Translation

  5. He says that most of suspended priests were previously investigated and allowed to stay in ministry. However the review board has stated that they had only reviewed the cases of seven of the suspended priests.
    So who was it that previously investigated the 24 suspended priests? Law enforcement? The D.A.? No.

  6. “… and many of the accusations are more absurd than they are serious.”

    I agree with Susan… how does he know this if the diocese will not release any information to protect the privacy of those involved?

    Three grand jury reports have come out in six years. It is not anti-Catholic to want more information. It is not anti-Catholic to want systemic changes to protect children. It is not anti-Catholic to question why this is taking place in this diocese or any other diocese. It is not anti-Catholic to expect pastoral leadership from our bishops and clergy.

    It is the right thing to do.

  7. Mr. Donohue is a faithful Catholic, to be sure. His defense of the Church, without question, seems contrary to the idea of individual dignity, free will, and intellect that our membership in the Body of Christ grants us. Questioning the authority of the Church seems to be a sin in Mr. Donohue’s eyes.

    Not to worry, Mr. D, our Faith can withstand inquiry, our Faith can withstand change, our Faith can even withstand the end of the culture of secrecy promoted by a fear-filled hierarchy.

    In reading these blogs, I believe that the people are not only more and more ready to demand changes in our Church, but also are willing to take on whatever is necessary to help effect these changes. May God bless us all during this difficult, but challenging, time.

  8. Note to Mr. Donohue and the USCCB. I am a female Catholic who also controls the budget and the checkbook in our home. I am sure there are many like me across this country. The Catholic Church is going to be permanently deleted from my budget next month.

  9. It makes me feel like the world is coming to an end. How can the God allow his church to use lies and propaganda in an effort to hush the harm that has been done to children. Everything he wrote in that article is either a bold face lie or simply made up. How is this happening?

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