National Catholic Reporter’s Tom Roberts Opposes Bible, Jesus, and Church

Good … grief. Shouldn't a writer for a self-professed Catholic newspaper actually know a few things about Catholicism?

Tom Roberts' November 9 post for the liberal National Catholic Reporter is so rife with errors, falsehoods, and misrepresentation of the Catholic faith, it is truly stupefying.

While attacking Archbishop Timothy Dolan's recent post about the rampant anti-Catholicism at the New York Times, Roberts airs a number of outrageously warped statements:

1. "It is once and done for divorced Catholics. No mistakes can be tolerated. It's either perfection or don't remarry, and if you do, stay away from the Eucharistic table."

That's right. Catholics can't remarry. And that can be a tough one, indeed. But this rule does not come from some arbitrary decision by the Church. It comes from Jesus himself. (See Matthew 5, Matthew 19; Mark 10, and Luke 16. Does Roberts even own a Bible?)

Matthew 19:7-9:

[The disciples] said to [Jesus], "Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?"
He said to them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery."

And the last time I checked, one of the Ten Commandments said, "You shall not commit adultery."

Does Tom Roberts, editor at large at NCR, actually oppose Jesus?! It sure seems like it.

2. "An entire continent can face devastation from the AIDS epidemic, but the church refuses to budge on its absolute opposition to the use of condoms."

The truth is that the Church's position against the use of condoms saves lives. And this truth is scientifically proven!

Edward C. Green is the director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project and a self-professed liberal. In a must-read, eye-opening March 2009 interview, Dr. Green admitted that the Pope was entirely correct that condoms aggravate the spread of AIDS in Africa:

INTERVIEWER: Is Pope Benedict being criticized unfairly for his comments about HIV and condoms?

DR. GREEN: This is hard for a liberal like me to admit, but yes, it's unfair because in fact, the best evidence we have supports his comments — at least his major comments, the ones I have seen.

INTERVIEWER: What does the evidence show about the effectiveness of condom-use strategies in reducing HIV infection rates among large-scale populations?

Dr. GREEN: It will be easiest if we confine our discussion to Africa, because that's where the pope is, and that is what he was talking about. There's no evidence at all that condoms have worked as a public health intervention intended to reduce HIV infections at the "level of population." This is a bit difficult to understand. It may well make sense for an individual to use condoms every time, or as often as possible, and he may well decrease his chances of catching HIV. But we are talking about programs, large efforts that either work or fail at the level of countries, or, as we say in public health, the level of population. Major articles published in Science, The Lancet, British Medical Journal, and even Studies in Family Planning have reported this finding since 2004. I first wrote about putting emphasis on fidelity instead of condoms in Africa in 1988.

In other words, the Church is right, and Roberts' position of flinging condoms at Africans endangers lives and kills people.

3. "On the matter of homosexuality, the church claims to know the mind and intent of God so intimately and perfectly that its officials confidently pronounce that a whole category of humans who have a homosexual orientation are intrinsically disordered and are forever condemned to a life of sexual abstinence in order to remain within the community."

First of all, the Church's stance on homosexual acts does not come from a belief that it "claims to know the mind and intent of God." The Church's teaching on homosexual acts comes straight from the Bible.

Any clear-thinking individual, whether they agree with it or not, can see that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexual acts are sinful. (Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, Jude 7 etc.). And because "All Scripture is God-breathed" (2 Tim 3:16), God has clearly spoken on this issue.

Second, Roberts is flat-out wrong in saying that the Church asserts that all homosexual persons are "intrinsically disordered." Rather, the Catechism of the Church clearly states that homosexual acts and homosexual inclination are disordered (2357). The Church clearly discriminates between the person and the sin. The very next paragraph (2358) says,

This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Roberts may also want to look at the 1986 pastoral letter, "Letter to the Bishops of The Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." (Check out the author, too.) ("It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.")

4. "[N]o organization on earth — not other denominations or faith groups, not the Boy Scouts or teachers or families — has the equivalent capacity and culture of the Catholic Church for hiding and protecting sexual abusers … it's why Cardinal Roger Mahony in Los Angeles has spent millions in legal machinations attempting to keep documents secret."

First, Roberts' assertions are flat-out lies. Did the Church make mistakes in its handling of abuse cases? Of course. But the Church's misdeeds in this regard are history. And there's every indication that decades ago the Catholic Church handled abuse cases in the very same way that every other large organization did. (Take the 1980's case of Terry Bartholome in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). LAUSD hired the guy even though they knew he had been arrested for publicly exposing himself. Then, while Bartholome was a teacher, people complained about abuse by him for years. Despite numerous people having knowledge of abuse, no one at LAUSD called police!) (And as recently as 2007 (!), LAUSD placed an administrator in a middle school even though it had concrete information that he was investigated for having sex with an underage student. And after he was placed, the administrator molested again.)

Second, Cardinal Mahony has not "spent millions in legal machinations attempting to keep documents secret." Although the L.A. archdiocese challenged a court order years ago regarding the release of documents, it lost its appeal and subsequently obeyed the court. As a result, any documents in question have been in the hands of a judge for years. And Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, hardly a friend of the Church, has stated that he has "not had one report from any source" (including the fact-challenged John Manly) saying the Church in Los Angeles has violated its mandatory reporting statute.

5. "No bishop has yet given a detailed report of his complicity in the scandal. No bishop has detailed, without being forced by public pressure or civil authorities, his personal culpability in the scandal."

Another flat-out lie by Roberts. In fact, many bishops have repeatedly and publicly apologized for their mishandling of the scandal. For example, in his 2004 "Report to the People of God" (over three years before the huge settlement$), Cardinal Mahony wrote:

"Once again I sincerely apologize to anyone who has suffered from sexual misconduct or abuse by a priest, deacon, lay minister, employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese. I acknowledge my own mistakes during my eighteen years as your Archbishop. Apologies are vitally necessary, but, of themselves, are insufficient. My goal as your Archbishop is to do all in my power to prevent sexual abuse by anyone serving our Archdiocese now and in the future."

In the same report (see page 21 of the pdf), the Cardinal outlines specifically how terribly he mishandled the case of Father Michael Baker.

The Church has paid out well over a billion dollars to victims. (What other organization has done this? Not LAUSD!) And the Church has instituted several programs to try and prevent these awful crimes from happening again. (And as someone who has attended Mass in Southern California weekly, I can attest to the fact that every week in my church bulletin, I was reminded of the scandal and the programs that the archdiocese has put in place to prevent abuse.)

6. "The reality is, of course, that it is increasingly difficult to establish an anti-Catholic case of any substance or depth in the culture when so much — industry, politics, finance, academia, the Supreme Court itself — is in the hands of high-profile Catholics … The cry 'anti-Catholic!' has become a cheap and easy accusation."

With the exception of citing the Supreme Court, Roberts does not give a single example of a "high-profile" Catholic. Though they certainly exist, who is Roberts thinking of as a "high-profile" Catholic? Nancy Pelosi, who thumbs her nose at fundamental Church teaching? Patrick Kennedy? Joe Biden? In other words, many of these so-called "Catholics" don't adhere to the faith at all.

And the fact that Catholics have seats on the Supreme Court has produced a number of anti-Catholic attacks. (See Tony Auth's 2007 cartoon, for example; …)

If Roberts doesn't believe anti-Catholicism is alive and thriving in the United States, he's simply delusional. Roberts needs to get off the computer and get some fresh air. The mountains of evidence showing anti-Catholicism are overwhelming.

The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice by Philip Jenkins

The Catholic League

7. "[Archbishop Timothy Dolan's] recent blog posting accused The New York Times and the wider culture of indulging in rampant anti-Catholic activity."

First of all, there was nothing "cheap and easy" about Dolan's article. It was extremely well-written with several supporting examples.

Second, Roberts makes no mention of the fact that Archbishop Dolan edited his post and submitted it as an opinion piece to the Times. And even though Archbishop Dolan is the shepherd of the New York archdiocese, the Times declined to publish it.

Good … grief.

Anti-Catholic? Without a doubt.


There's even more to say about Roberts' error-ridden piece, but I'll end it here.

Suffice it to say, judging from his article, Tom Roberts does not believe in the Catholic Church. He believes in the church of … Tom Roberts.

Roberts writes, "Everyone wishes this horrible period would come to an end." If this "horrible period" is the publication of the dreadful National Catholic Reporter, I hope it ends, also.