Last Sunday, Times columnist Maureen Dowd blithely unleashed one of her smugly scathing criticisms against the Catholic Church for what she and many other critics perceive as their mistreatment of women, particularly nuns. In doing so, she pushed our fresh, new archbishop, Timothy Dolan, over the edge. Last week, he composed an editorial accusing the paper of anti-Catholicism and submitted it to their op-ed page. “It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime,” he wrote, going on to list a number of articles on religion he perceived as having an anti-Catholic bias. One concerned child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community. Another was about a Franciscan brother who had a child. A third story explained the Church’s decision to welcome Anglicans into the fold.
The piece that made him most angry, however, was Dowd’s column:
Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription — along with every other German teenage boy — into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans. True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm — the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives — is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.
The Times, of course, wouldn’t publish the piece, explaining that they restrict responses to their own articles to the “Letters to the Editor” section. So Dolan did what any angry guy with a computer would do: he posted it to his new blog. We’d say he was really getting the hang of this whole blogging thing, except he used the same St. Jude punch line in his Times post as he did in a post last week about the World Series. It’s okay, Archbishop. These things take time.