But Is It Bigotry?

It was recently called to my attention that a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships,  Harry Knox has been  outspoken opponent of the Catholic Church for many years. This piqued my attention and so I dug a little further. My brief research yielded some of the following facts:

  1. In a March 2009 Statement Knox declared that Pope Benedict XVI is “hurting people in the name of Jesus” by not condoning condom distribution as the solution to AIDS in Africa. “The pope’s rejection of scientifically proven prevention methods is forcing Catholics in Africa to choose between their faith and the health of their entire community.  Jesus was about helping the marginalized and downtrodden, not harming them further” he said.
  2. He has recently reaffirmed these views
  3. Knox who is a member of the “Human Rights Campaign” an organization working that  advocates on behalf of some in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and “transgender” communities also publicly decried a decision last year of a Catholic Pastor in Wyoming to refuse communion to an openly lesbian couple.   Knox said, “In this holy Lenten season, it is immoral and insulting to Jesus to use the body and blood of Christ the reconciler as a weapon to silence free speech and demean the love of a committed, legally married couple. The Human Rights Campaign grieves with the couple, Leah Vader and Lynne Huskinson, over this act of spiritual and emotional violence perpetrated against them.”
  4. Knox was also critical, along with others of the Vatican’s opposition to a UN initiative to decriminalize homosexual activity. The 2008 HRC Statement  signed by Knox reads  in part: As faith leaders we were shocked by Vatican opposition to this proposed initiative. By refusing to sign a basic statement opposing inhumane treatment of LGBT people, the Vatican is sending a message that violence and human rights abuses against LGBT people are acceptable. Most Catholics, and indeed most Catholic teachings, tell us that all people are entitled to live with basic human dignity without the threat of violence.
  5. There are other statements by Knox and his group that are also strongly critical of the Pope and the a Vatican along similar lines.

 It is surely unfortunate that President Obama has such an outspoken critic of the the Pope and the Vatican on his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. His presence seems divisive, at least from the perspective of Catholics, faithful to Church teaching.  His opposition to the teachings and policies of the Catholic Church is vigorous and at times specifically directed at the Pope.   In a recent Press Conference Congressman John Boehner was asked if he thought Harry Knox should resign from the President’s commission. He answered quite clearly “yes” and went on the refer to Knox as an anti-Catholic Bigot. The  St Michael Society  has begun to circulate a petition calling for his removal the President’s Council.

So, here is the question I have for you: Is Harry Knox an anti-Catholic bigot? He surely has strong differences of opinion with the Catholic Church in general and the Pope in particular. He has not hesitated to state these in the strongest possible terms even going so far as to accuse the Pope of “hurting people in the name of Jesus.” He is vigorous, wrong-headed and also absurd in his use of Scripture. His tactics are sadly typical of many who advocate on behalf of some in the Gay community. Namely, use lots of bullying and/or provocative language, venom, anger etc.  But again I ask, does all this amount to him being an anti-Catholic bigot?

I ask this question respectfully and with a concern. I think anti-Catholic bigotry does exist. But my concern is that we not over use the phrase “anti-Catholic bigot.” So many others today over use words like racist, homophobic, hate speech, reactionary, bigot etc. I am often called or accused of some of these things in the very comments of this blog. I think we would do well to be very careful to avoid adopting a similar practice of possibly over using the category “Anti-Catholic Bigot.”  There are those who vigorously disagree with the teachings and practices and policies of the Catholic Church but does that alone make them an anti-Catholic Bigot?  I guess if that were the case many if not most Protestants would qualify for the term! I think we have to allow for the fact that people can respectfully and even strongly disagree with us without being a bigot necessarily.

So here are a few questions I would like to ponder with you?

  1. What are some of the benchmarks of true anti-Catholic Bigotry?
  2. How is anti-Catholic bigotry different from simple opposition to the practices, beliefs, and policies of our Church.
  3. Are there certain phrases or actions that immediately make you suspect anti-Catholic Bigotry? What are they?
  4. Is there something in particular the Harry Knox has said that is for you, over the top and puts him in the category “anti-Catholic bigot” ?
  5. Even if he isn’t a bigot should he still step aside?

Not to steer the conversation too much, but I will say that my “anti-Catholic bigotry” alarms start going off under the following circumstances:

  1. When Church teaching is deliberately or carelessly misrepresented for the purposes of stirring anger and resentment at the Catholic Church.
  2. When Catholics who are trying to be faithful to Church teaching and/or the clergy who teach it are excoriated with name calling and attacks on their personal motivations. For example when we who articulate or uphold Catholic teaching or seek its reflection in culture and law are called hateful and bigoted, insensitive etc.
  3. When Catholics are told that they have no right to enter the public square or to influence the public discussion on matters of culture or public policy. Or when it is said that Catholics (or other Christians) cannot have a place at the public policy table because their religious point of view is ipso facto excluded due to false and severe interpretations of the so-called “separation of Church and State” (A phrase that nowhere occurs in the US Constitution).

So you have my questions and I’d value your comments. The fundamental question is this: What is the line to be drawn between opposition to Catholic teaching or policy (which non-Catholics in our culture are entitled to have) and anti-Catholic bigotry? When is the line crossed? Did Harry Knox cross it?

Here’s a brief clip referenced above wherein Rep. John Boehner calls for the resignation of Harry Knox:

86 Replies to “But Is It Bigotry?”

  1. Hey!…I’ve met Father Cliff Jacobson (name-dropper, aren’t I?) It’s gratifying to see a priest who has the guts to do the right thing.

    Next, I guess it’s hard to know what’s in someone’s heart, but, if it talks like a bigot and acts like a bigot, it’s probably a bigot.

    Finally, no matter how hard I try, sometimes I find myself a bit too attentively ‘watching’ for bigotry here in this Mormon state where I live. It’s there, but I’ve found that it’s usually just ignorance speaking, and not malice, at least among the general population. I guess I’d be bigoted, too, if I were taught what they were taught about the Catholic Faith.

    1. I guess Fr. Jacobson is the priest who denied communion? Yes, he took a lot of heat, local and national for what he did.

      Ignorance rather than bigotry is a possible understanding. I guess when it is not willful it can escape the bigotry label.

  2. I’ll try to address the specific questions tomorrow, but as for Knox — he looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck.

    I’m with Jan.

  3. Knox is th eman who said the Knight of Columbus are “the foot soldiers of an intolerant regime.” I am proud to be a member. I do think he is anti-cathoic because he always seems to be singling out the Catholic’s.

  4. My deepest frustration isn’t with Mr. Knox. He’s obviously held his views (bigoted-yes) for quite some time. There is a 1st Amendment, however. You’re allowed to be a bigot in our free country.

    But what of our President? How offensive is it, that he would appoint someone who is so clearly hostile towards a major religion’s core beliefs, and it’s spiritual leader? Has he no shame?

    Did you know that Mr Knox also said the following?

    Knox has also called Pope Benedict a “discredited leader” and the (Catholic) Knights of Columbus the pope’s “foot soldiers” in a “discredited army of oppression.”

    As Catholic Life League President Bill Donahue pointed out:

    “I’m a little sick and tired of the double standard,” he continued. “If somebody was anti-Semite or anti-Muslim they would not be given a position anywhere in the Obama administration, let alone be asked to serve on a faith-based group.”

    The President needs to do the right thing and seek Mr. Knox’s resignation.


    1. Well said John and thanks for the additional data. The double standard is a clear frustration for us all. SOmetomes I turn it into a compliment since it is good to belong to a Church that the world hates. My taking solace in this does not make right what they say and do.

  5. If one were to define bigotry as ‘subjecting the truth to one’s own objectives’ then I would say Mr. Knox – despite the little I know about him – is bigoted. Why?

    1. Speaking authoritatively in politics (temporal sphere) about a main-stream religion’s dogmas (religious sphere) demonstrates the subjecting of a public customary norm – separation of church and state – to the benefit of a political goal – reproductive engineering.

    2. Inferring that “the Pope’s rejection” of contraception is at odds with Catholic teaching (“is forcing Catholics) is misleading and deliberately trying to subject the truth – that the Pope is not at odds with Catholic teaching – to the promotion of a political aim. The Catholic Church, after all, has been anti-contraception for around two thousand years.

    3. Given who’s authority Mr. Knox is questioning and criticising – the spiritual head of the largest religion in the World, as well as the largest single organisation in America – it demonstrates either a serious lack of respect on Mr Knox’s side or, more likely, a determined attitude to promote his agenda regardless what is in the way. Subjectivity one, Objectivity nil.

    The real question may be, can Mr. Knox be bigoted in the realm of his job, but not in person?

  6. If one were to define bigotry as ‘subjecting the truth to one’s own objectives’ then I would say Mr. Knox – despite the little I know about him – is bigoted. Why?

    1. Speaking authoritatively in politic (temporal sphere) about a main-stream religion’s dogmas (religious sphere) demonstrates the subjecting of a public customary norm – separation of church and state – to the benefit of a political goal – reproductive engineering.

    2. Inferring that “the Pope’s rejection” of contraception is at odds with Catholic teaching (“is forcing Catholics) is misleading and deliberately trying to subject the truth – that the Pope is not at odds with Catholic teaching – to the promotion of a political aim. The Catholic Church has been anti-contraception for around two thousand years.

    3. Given who’s authority Mr. Knox is questioning and criticising – the spiritual head of the largest religion in the World, as well as the largest single organisation in America – it demonstrates either a serious lack of respect on Mr Knox’s side or, more likely, a determined attitude to promote his agenda regardless what is in the way. Subjectivity one, Objectivity nil.

    The real question may be, can Mr. Knox be bigoted in the realm of his job, but not as a person?

  7. I agree with Jan, and Bender. I find simple opposition is usually much more polite – for example, if you and I disagree on an issue, then we could just agree to disagree. I often find bigots have hate towards a religion, race, person, or issue because of their own personal experience or misconception. Bigots in general may also be very closed-minded. People with such strong hate towards something or someone usually are rather closed-minded.

    I have had personal experience with bigots not just on religion but based on politics as well, as we all probably have. You can try and talk to them as much as you want, but until they change, you probably won’t get through to them. I just ignore people like that and listen to people that aren’t so full of hate and closed minded, and I do pray for bigots, because often they are so publicly and personally wrong. Sometimes bigots may not have had any bad experiences with the Church or whatever they are against – that is just simply their misconception and opinion talking when they say such statements.

    I also don’t think that the Church is against gay people – for example at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in DC they have a Gay and Lesbian Ministry. The Church preaches on chastity for gay people as well as straight people. As for gay marriage, I do have relatives and dear friends who are gay, and being Catholic, but also being close to them makes me quite undecided on what to think about gay marriage. When I am with them, I for gay marriage but when I am sitting in church I always question whether I should be for or against it. That is just my personal experience on that.

    As for recognizing a bigot, I don’t know if it’s certain phrases that make me recognize one so much as the attitude in which they present those phrases and also how they react when people oppose them. If they react defensively and rudely, and cannot argue like an adult, I label them a bigot. I hope this answers some of your questions, and I hope it helps!

    1. Well stated Katherine. I also like your point that it doesn’t follow that the Church is anti-gay just becuase we don’t buy into the whole Gay agenda. I remember as a kid thinking that my parents “hated” me beause they wouldn’t give me what I wanted. I was wrong of course. To a large extent our culture need to “grow up” and stop pouting every time the Church doesn’t affirm our latest wishes.

  8. Mr. Harry Knox is an anti-Catholic bigot. I can state that because his comments are a knee jerk reactions to things that he does not like to see or to hear. If he were to disagree with the fundamentals of the teachings of the Church, then I would understand his point of view (e.g. the discussion about the Church not giving communion to people in a state of mortal sin during the Lent season). That comment shows Mr. Knox choice to be ignorant of what the Church teaches and to do an ad hominem attack. A person of his cultural level should not have any difficulties in debating the Church position instead of using psychological fallacies to ridicule the institution. A person that uses those techniques is not qualified to cover a government position like the Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. I fully agree with Rep. John Boehner when he calls for the resignation of Mr. Knox.

  9. “But again I ask, does all this amount to him being an anti-Catholic bigot?”

    Absolutely not. To all appearances, he is a man of good will who has disagreements with an institution he feels violates the human dignity of certain individuals. I do not see him advocating closing down churches or denying people of certain belief systems the right to associate or to practice their convictions and tell other people about their ideology in a nonviolent manner.

    It is perfectly agreeable to criticize the decisions of religious leaders while respecting their right to make those decisions. And a head of faith-based programs at the government level needn’t agree with everything various religions teach. There is no indication that Mr. Knox is unfit for his job.

    1. Knox goes beyond disagreeing with Catholic doctrine; he calls the Church immoral. There’s venom in his words, and he uses them to try to wound the Church by shifting public opinion. Knox’s criticism of the Catholic Church position on the LGBT should be taken in account of the fact that he uses his position to promote a personal agenda. I’m not sure how one adequately defines anti-Catholic bigotry, but it is clearly identifiable here.

      1. Let’s begin with the definition of bigotry:

           /ˈbɪgətri/ Show Spelled[big-uh-tree] Show IPA
        stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
        the actions, beliefs, prejudices, etc., of a bigot.
        Use bigotry in a Sentence
        See images of bigotry
        Search bigotry on the Web
        1665–75; bigot + -ry, formation parallel to F bigoterie

        1. narrow-mindedness, bias, discrimination.

        Let’s now apply this definition to Knox:

        1. Knox is narrow-minded: his brain is wrapped tightly around the desire to enshrine a particular sex act in glorified approval, demanding such even of those who disagree with him.

        2. Knox is biased: any attempt by the Holy Father, the Church or Catholics to engender respect for the marital act restricted to one man-husband and one woman-wife is opposed for any reason, such as cloaking such an agenda ina supposed desire to eradicate AIDS in Africa.

        3. Knox discriminates: he engages in ad-hominem, that is personal, attacks against the Pope and others by name rather than engaging in the reasoned and candid exchange of views as called for and exemplified by the Pope and others of like thinking.

        So, what conclusion do you reach after this exercise?

      2. Geoff, You are the first to articulate the position you do and you do a good job of raising just the question I do: “Where to draw the Line.” Here too though as anon states, in calling the Church “immoral” has he crossed a line? Actually what he does above is to say that what the preist did was immoral. Has line been crossed here? I think perhaps it has. This is no longer a dispute as to the issue but now becomes a moral judgement of the priest and the Church as well for the policy of the Church in such cases is attested. Anyway, what do you think?

      3. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Saying the Dali Lama is crazy for thinking sex during the daytime is wrong does not make someone a bigot, nor does someone saying that the Islamic scriptures inspire violence make them a bigot.

        If it did, we’d all be bigots. I’m wary of the word itself, and I think it is often used only to vilify someone who happens to disagree with us or to try and shout down an opponent into silence.

        Call me a pessimist, but if the Catholic League were an institution with political power, I believe we would definitely see an inquisition on the scale of what many (wrongly) believe the Spaniards implemented.

        “I’m not sure how one adequately defines anti-Catholic bigotry, but it is clearly identifiable here.”

        I’d disagree. The Catholic guy who published “Masonry Unmasked” said a whole lot of things about the Masons that were so much harsher than what Mr. Knox said about the Catholics. Should we run him out of town on a rail for being a “bigot?” I don’t think so.

        I’ve said stuff about President Obama that makes what Mr. Knox hurls look like a third grader screaming “doody head!”

        And besides, where are we, as a Church, getting by whining every time we’re criticized? We should just ignore it completely and set about proving stereotypes wrong with actions, not words and arguments and sources and histories and…

        That’s my opinion. No one is really being persecuted here. I’m not being told to watch my back, or to not evangelize, or to worship only every other Sunday in government designated locales.

  10. Calling someone a bigot is not the same thing as saying that what he does is persecution. Yes, we are much too quick to claim persecution for ourselves when someone like Knox doesn’t like us, and this is an obscenity given the real persecution that takes place in many parts of the world.

    I would probably make the following distinctions.
    1. It is presumptuousness to hold an opinion prior to learning any decisive facts. For example, if I find out that a new student is Pakistani and assume he is Muslim, that is presumptuous — I really have no information about his religion yet. However, these kinds of guesses are necessary to get by in the world, and they are surely morally neutral.
    2. It is prejudice to hold an opinion clearly contrary to facts that one knows or should know. Continuing the example, if the student tells me he is in fact Christian but I refuse to believe him on the grounds that all Pakistanis are Muslim, that is prejudice. Prejudice is a form of violence to the truth, but it may form either a positive or negative impression of someone. If I think that a visitor is a good Catholic because he is from Ireland in spite of his failure to attend Mass, his criticisms of Magisterium, etc., it is also prejudice, even though I am thinking more highly of him than he deserves.
    3. Bigotry = Prejudice + Strong Emotion + Lack of Charity.

    Mr. Knox is wrong in his judgments, and he seems to have taken no pains to learn better. It is clear that he has strong emotions and displays a lack of charity to the Holy Father and to Catholics in general. Therefore, yes, I would say he is bigoted towards the Catholic Church.

  11. I don’t think that bigotry can be sussed out of the 3 quotes given above. If you believe, on moral grounds, that homosexuality and artificial birth-control are good (or at least, not bad) then you have a moral argument against the Church. I think it is pretty clear that Knox is attacking the Church on moral grounds. That’s a very serious attack but not necessarily an act of bigotry.

    1. Here too it is a question of the line. You do not think he has crossed and base that judgment on the fact that in debating issues on moral grounds implictly means that your opponent is immoral. or at least has an immoral position. Usually however we Americans are a little more “dainty” in our language and prefer circumlocutions such as saying I think your position is “wrong” rather than immoral or some other more Charged term. That may indicate that we have becomce too soft or thin skinned or it may just be that we are polite. However I HAVE noticed that the general politness is often set aside when attacking certain foes such as the Catholic Church. Any rate just some thoughts. Thanks for your contribution.

  12. Why doesn’t anyone, specially from the Archiocesan office, file a formal complaint to protect Catholic rights? This must not stand but if we silently acquiesce then we become equally responsible for the injustice. There will be no tyrants, if no one will let themselves be enslaved. I hope our ecclesial shepherds will stand up for us.
    Thank you.

    1. That usually falls to groups like the Catholic League. The Archdiocese does often appear to testify at hearings and the like when public policy issues that concern the Church are at stake. You overall point though is well taken. Jews and Muslims are generally not attacked becuase it is known that they will not tolerate such things. and will vigorously rebuke such things, to include even shaming thier opponents.

  13. I don’t know that he’s a bigot per se, but he’s definitely using his public office to incite some sort of disagreement. As someone else mentioned, if he did the same about Judaism or Islam, I doubt he would still be there. What disturbs me the most though, is that someone in his position makes such comments and has obviously not taken the time to learn about the church’s teachings. If you are on a faith committee you are essentially a representative of the electorate and regardless of your own beliefs you owe that electorate to take the responsibility to learn about the faiths you may encounter. I suspect if he knew some of the logic and theory behind the teachings, he would not have made such dogmatic statements.

  14. I urge caution about the (perhaps understandable) desire to label this man a bigot. I do not think he is. Webster’s defines a “bigot” as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”.

    The three quoted remarks may meet the burden of the first part of the definition. It depends on whether Mr Knox has genuine beliefs upon which the statements are made or whether they are based on prejudice. I cannot say. The quotes do not meet the burden of the second part of the definition. They do not tell us if Mr Knox treats us with hatred or intolerance. I do not have the time to check him out on the internet; nor do I know if the proceedings of this presidential body are available for review. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Bear in mind as well that many people view us as bigots – not through prejudice against Catholics per se but because of principled and heartfelt disagreement to our teachings (and follow-on practices). I have heard Catholics make bigoted comments in person and seen them write them in online forums (thankfully not on this one). We should examine ourselves before labelling others – an appropriate action for Lenten season.

    1. Yes you are correct in pointing out that the question seems to hinge especially on the second part of the definition. You are also correct that many have labeled us as bogots etc. I guess that is why I am sensitive to using this tactic. If we are going to use the term I want it to be thoughtful and considered and as accurate as possible. Hence this discussion. I personally tire of the many labels that get tossed in my direction and which I don’t think I deserve. There are surely bigots and we should use the term when appropriate but this where the issues lies: when is the term appropriate.

      1. I think the term is appropriate if there is evidence that proves hatred and intolerance towards members of the Catholic Church. Maybe someone with time to research can find evidence. Until then, he’s just voicing his opinion, incorrect though it is. I’d leave the term “bigot” for Dawkins, Jacoby, and their ilk.

  15. If this is not bigotry, then I don’t what is. Mr. Knox hates the Catholic Church.

    1. Your view reflects briefly what most of the commentors here think. It is hard to say that he absolutely hates the CHurch but there is surely evidence of a strong or standing suspicion or dislike of the Church.

  16. Msgnr., I don’t think it is bigotry to disagree with the Catholic church. For a Catholic, it’s heresy or apostasy; but ‘bigotry’ is the word the people throw at each other when they don’t want to engage with each other on the level of rational discussion. I’m glad you published your question.

    Unfortunately, political and media reality being what it is, calling people ‘bigots’ is sometimes the only way you can get your point across fast enough in time before John Q Public changes the channel or browses on to his next porn site.

  17. Knox is unfit to serve as Advisor to the President- That he is a sexual deviate is a FACT, not an opinion. He has stated as much himself. The President used bad or no judgment when giving Knox this post. Is this the kind of angry and confused person from whom one seeks advice ??? Obama needn’t make all his decisions with heavy weight given to his black heritage, but he should ask how well Knox’s view of life has served the Black Community-here and in southern Africa. There is no credible scientific evidence that homosexuality is anything other than an unhealthy, life shortening personal choice, often made in desperation by mentally troubled people. These are the FACTS. The same Facts that presented 2000 and 3000 years ago. The practice was disgusting at the dawn of our journey. 95% of us find it so today. G-d bless us all.

    1. Well, perhaps stated a little indelicately but I see your point. I am not prepared to say that a homosexual should be ipso facto excluded from being an advisor. I obviously consider Homosexual activity to be seriously sinful but if we’re going to start excluding sinners a lot of offices go vacant. I do agree that Homosexual activity is physically unhealthy and may well shorten life in the aggregate. However, don’t you think it is going a bit far to use phrases like desperation and mentally troubled. The Catechism speaks of Homosexuality as disordered. but mental illness is not among the descritpions the Church provides.

  18. “Knox is unfit to serve as Advisor to the President- That he is a sexual deviate is a FACT, not an opinion.”

    How does that make him unfit?

    “The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. 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.” (CCC 2358).

  19. I would differentiate between bigotry, on the one hand, and mere prejudice on the other.

    Mere prejudice might be the fruit of ignorance, of having a misconception of the truth. And the merely prejudiced person might still be acting and believing in good faith.

    The bigot, however, does not act in good faith or hold his beliefs in good faith. He operates from an animus that does not care what the truth is or what reason is or what the facts are. The bigot is not open to the truth of the object of his hate. His prejudging is not grounded in ignorance, but in contempt. The ignorance of the bigot is a willful ignorance; attempts to enlighten him will go for nought because he does not care to be enlightened.

    1. Anti-Catholic bigotry is not so much directed at individual Catholics, as it is the Church Herself, especially the Pope (and we could probably add Mary to that as well). Now, if the individual is a Papist, rather than a “good Catholic,” e.g. a “recovering Catholic,” one who was born Catholic, but doesn’t really practice or believe, then that animus will be directed toward the individual.

    2. Anti-Catholic bigotry, having a foundation of bad faith intellectual dishonesty, does not merely “disagree” with the practices, beliefs, and policies of the Church, but sets himself in opposition against them. If it were a case of good faith honest disagreement with the Church, one would bother to find out exactly what it is that the Church teaches, what the Church does, what the Church believes, what the Church has done in history, etc. But the bigot is too busy attacking the Church to bother finding out the truth. He doesn’t care about the truth. He doesn’t care about the truth of contraception, he doesn’t care about the truth of Galileo, he doesn’t care about the truth of priests the last 50 years. All the bigot cares about is branding the Church as a bunch of sexually frustrated old men who worship Mary and got their kicks out of torturing scientists and molesting kids.

    3. Any whiff of intellectual dishonesty in voicing mischaracterizations about the Church and the Catholic faith, especially if combined with an irrational animus, is a flashing red light so as to put one on notice of possible bigotry.

    4. I had never heard of Knox before the last few weeks, but his contemptuous bile accusing Pope Benedict of evil, and his clear utter disregard for and disinterest in determining what the Church actually believes and teaches, was enough for one to reasonably conclude that he had engaged in bigotry. But was he merely <acting like a bigot, or was he existentialy “a bigot”? Has bigoted behavior so pervaded his being that he has become what he says and does? His failure (refusal?) to take any remedial steps and apparently even to advance such hate could indicate that he does not merely act like a bigot, but is, in fact, a bigot.

    5. As with many things Obama, it seems that the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is overly political and ideological. So maybe more than Knox needs to step down.

    (By the way, one does not need to be a non-Catholic to be an anti-Catholic bigot. There are plenty of self-hating Catholics out there.)

    1. Thanks for your distinctions and contributions here and for answering the questions one by one. I think you are quite clear in number 4 to point out that he has crossed a line here. # 5 also seems sadly true that this White House is controversial and edgy in just about everything. Doesn’t help to unify does it?

  20. We need to let the Democratic Party in our respective states know that bigotry as expressed by Mr. Knox will not be tolerated by Catholic members of their party nor will it be tolerated at the time of the next presidential election by members of any other party who might consider voting for Presidnt Obama. We do have the power of the vote, and the media seems to have given the impression that the Catholic vote no longer is influential because it is divided between two parties, possibly three. Mr. Know serves at the pleasure of the president. The president needs to hear from us and know that bigotry is alive and well in this land, and should not be tolerated. He must set the example.

    1. Well, I am prone to agree that we need to keep our elected officials aware that we are watching and voting. I personally would not widen this particular issue to the Dem. Party in general. I think it is on the Adminsitrations doorstep that we must trod. While it is true that the D. Party’s move to the left in the social issues has been a serious problem I am also concerned about the recent struggles in the R party to limit the influence of the social conservatives. Am I wrong or did the recent Mt Vernon Statement essentially articulate an economic conservativism but distance itself from a social conservatism. Anyway I think there may be a battle brewing in the GOP. Pray on.

  21. if the Catholic League were an institution with political power, I believe we would definitely see an inquisition on the scale of what many (wrongly) believe the Spaniards implemented.

    Mr. Miller, can you explain what you mean by this slur against the Church? Exactly what is the point you are making in bringing up the inquisition, either in Spain or elsewhere, inferring something oppressive and evil, notwithstanding that parenthetical?

  22. What’s that Robert J Hanlon quote again? Oh, yes: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity [or ignorance].”

    1. Thanks for this. I enjoyed looking at your blog and have bookmarked it: http://equusnomveritas.blogspot.com/
      Curious too on how to translate “Nom” I am reasonably skilled in Latin but have not encountered this word. Just a guess that it is a conflation of the root word nomina and that the expression means “A Horsed Named Truth” ??? But Equus can also mean equal or level or I guess even calm. Anyway, you have me stumped

      1. Thanks Monsignor. As it turns out, it is a conflation of nomina. I’ve not studied much Latin at all, but named it years ago when a group of friends and I each started blogs. I kept the name as a reminder that I am not all-knowing–a sort of badge of humility, I guess. That, and it’s a unique enough name not to be stolen by anyone else.

  23. There’s justice to both sides, in that we should be careful in how readily we slap the label “anti-Catholic” on someone, and in the contention that, yes, Knox is an anti-Catholic bigot. (Bender, I think, has the most thoughtful defense of the application of “bigot” to Knox.)

    But more than being careful not to overuse the term, I think we need to declare loudly and forcefully that such name-calling shows how the defenders of the pro-gay marriage agenda are completely unwilling to engage its opponents substantively, and that we as American citizens have not only the right to practice our religion but also to have our voices counted in the construction of the laws that govern us.

    Perhaps we should put together our own marches, yelling, “We’re here! We’re Catholic! Get used to it!”?

  24. I think he is at the very least a coldly, calculated politician that is also anti-clerical and particularly anti-papal. You’ll notice that in his comments, he tends to slam Rome and specific figure heads of the Church, but not the laity or Church teaching. A bigot is defined as “One who is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and is intolerant of those who differ.” His is carefuly choosing his words to suggest he and the majority of Catholic laity are of a certain opinion, but Church leadership are out of step. However, he very well knows that many of the laity are supportive of the Church hierarchy. He is just trying to manipulate opinion and create division. Why else would he choose overly dramatic language such as “emotional violence”? What the heck does that even mean?!? Therefore, by dictionary definition – he is most definitely intolerant of those who differ with his opinion. Is he an Archie Bunker? I don’t think so. Otherwise he would slam anything Catholic. He actually tends to follow those nasty community activism tactics of Saul Alinsky – below the belt punching just to win a fight. I always get a kick out of these guys that are for “separation of church and state” but constantly interfere with our religious affairs. Someone should bring a law suit against him. I think his public tantrums are more an indication that they are loosing the tide of public opinion and mad about it.

  25. if the pope said yes to condoms he would be saying yes to sex be for marriage. im a mother of a lesbian daughter and a caring tender hearted human being.i to do not believe in mariage in the church. but the lord said, go and live by the laws of the land, so if civil law says they can marry then let it be in the courthouses by a judge, not a priest!!!! if the couple plan to keep up their sinful ways then i believe the priest was doing the right thing.we all have a right to be forgiven,but we must truely try to strive to not continue our sinful life.God loves us its the sin he he can not look upon.

  26. I’ve enjoyed this talk my fellow bloggers.

    One thing we haven’t done is a little homework. So I dug up the objectives and mission statement of the White House Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership. We all have put our focus on the “man” Mr. Knox, but let’s focus a little bit on the “position” and then decide if Mr. Knox meets the criteria of a “bigot”. I’ll give you the website where you can find it, but briefly, let me cut a paste a few points.



    The Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will focus on four key priorities, to be carried out by working closely with the President’s Cabinet Secretaries and each of the eleven agency offices for faith-based and neighborhood partnerships:
    The Office’s top priority will be making community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and poverty a burden fewer have to bear when recovery is complete.
    It will be one voice among several in the administration that will look at how we support women and children, address teenage pregnancy, and reduce the need for abortion.
    The Office will strive to support fathers who stand by their families, which involves working to get young men off the streets and into well-paying jobs, and encouraging responsible fatherhood.
    Finally, beyond American shores this Office will work with the National Security Council to foster interfaith dialogue with leaders and scholars around the world.
    As the priorities of this Office are carried out, it will be done in a way that upholds the Constitution – by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values. The separation of church and state is a principle President Obama supports firmly – not only because it protects our democracy, but also because it protects the plurality of America’s religious and civic life. The Executive Order President Obama will sign today strengthens this by adding a new mechanism for the Executive Director of the Office to work through the White House Counsel to seek the advice of the Attorney General on difficult legal and constitutional issues.

    1. It is important to note that the advisory council gives federal grants to faith-based organizations. I’m not sure what their budget is, but all faiths should get a fair shake to implement programs in their communities. How can that happen when a member is vigilant in attacking the morality of certain faiths’ leaders?

      Also, after Rick Warren spoke at the inuaguration, Knox accused Obama of betraying the LGBT community, and (VOILA!), Knox is appointed to the council. I know it’s off the topic of bigotry, but everything this man has done in his career is centered around “gay rights.” He’s worked in secular, often political, environments/corporations as opposed to other member of the council (president of Catholic Charities, various ministers and reverends, etc). So, why was he put on this council unless the administration was interested in politicizing matters of faith? This man’s entire career has been about one set of issues, issues with which most faiths are in opposition. Doesn’t make sense to me.

  27. With regards to Mr. Knox you have used the wrong “B” word.
    Everything he says is “BLASPHEMY” ………

    1. Well, while I enjoy your zeal I think the term blasphemy cannot apply since my understanding is that Blasphemy involves a direct attack on the name or person of God. Surely he is an unpleasant man but a blasphemer my stretch the definition. 🙂

  28. To echo some of the other responses, I see a consistent pattern by this Administration and President to pursue what appears to be a ‘ divide and conquer ‘ strategy when it comes to engaging the Christian community. I’m sure Knox’s views were well known before his appointment and he was chosen for them, just as Joe Biden and Kathleen Sebelius were. The best example of this approach was Obama’s Notre Dame appearance, full of cleverness and mollifying, empty promises for any who held concerns about his personal interpretation of Christianity. Its getting old already.

  29. Oops! I just looked at the list of members on the Advisory Council.

    Father Larry J. Snyder, President, Catholic Charities USA
    Alexandria, VA

    OK Father Snyder. You’re at the table, speak up for us.

    Love ya.


  31. Dear Msgr. Pope,

    Much of what I read in the main stream and Catholic press today is polarizing, and a lot of that seems to me to concern itself with matters of little or no substance; things designed to help the makers of blood pressure medicines and sell papers.

    Of course you know the Gospel for this morning. In his short reflection on that passage Father B. wondered aloud how often we take the time to reflect on those words about forgiveness and Christ’s follow up about what would happen if we did not do that. I’ve been reading a book by a Polish mystic (Slavomir Biela) (which carries a forward by Cardinal McCarrick). The first chapter deals with King David’s bad day while running for his life when he comes across Shimei who excoriates him, calling him a wicked and murderous man.

    And David puts up with it, as you know!

    That popped into my head as I listened to Father. Alongside him was a large rendering of the First Station of the Cross. The Innocent, who was unjustly accused of blasphemy and made no defense of Himself, nor called down legions of angels stands there before an impassive Pilot and the angry crowds, the plotters in their robes who wanted someone out of the way so they could get on with business as usual. Biela makes the point that Shimei also accused David unjustly of being a usurper to his throne, when it was God himself who chose him.

    Now, where am I going with all of this? Well,, as I just learned, Shimei in Hebrew means something like “Listen! Hear!” Great word for someone who’s got a beef. And, one presumes, Knox has one against the Church and, particularly, the Holy Father. He accuses him unjustly, of course, whatever else the Pope may have done which, thanks be to God, is between the Pope and God.

    Would it be a stretch to compare someone like Knox with Shimei the Benjaminite, and the High Priest Caiaphas, two fellows who want to advance an agenda, expand, maintain or return power to themselves and their party? And, if so, do we wish to concern ourselves with determining whether or not they and he have engaged in something we now have a name for? Or should we concentrate our energies elsewhere?

    I read not too long ago that St. Francis of Assisi believed himself in some way responsible for any kind of evil in the world, begging God’s mercy for himself, however remotely connected to it he might have been, and confessing that he, somehow, was guilty of the sin, himself. Is there not a remote possibility, speaking in the manner of St. Francis, that Knox and his attitudes are a kind of “difficult grace” for us, meant to be an occasion for an examination of conscience, regardless of whether or not his words and actions can be defined, labeled and categorized any one way or another? Does it matter, then to call him something and demand that he suffer reprimand?

    I do not argue for either side of the question, but I am left thinking about the last of the Beatitudes in regard to this whole issue of who is saying what about whom and why. There is, it seems to me, only one who is pleased with it.

    Forgive my lack of a clearer answer.

    Peadar Ban

    1. Well of course David had sinned in the matter at hand. Like any ancient King he had suppressed the house of his rival, in this case Saul. Now I am not sure the Pope or the Church has committed sin in this regard though I am sure we are not sin free. The match does not ultimately fit enough for me.

  32. Capricious and pertinacious disregard for Catholic teaching; denial of objective criteria in favor of subjective considerations for evaluating the truth of statements and the suitability of actions; stubborn insistence on ill-defined notions of human liberty at the expense of God’s rights; insulting and demeaning remarks about the Holy Father, the vicar of Christ, who holds his office by the will of Almighty God Himself. Yeah, I think Harry Knox sounds like a first-rate bigot, may the good God have mercy on him.

    And I wish our bishops, may the good God have mercy on them, were more concerned with defending the rights of God’s Church and standing up on behalf of the abused sheep in the fold than acting as apologists for the people outside the fold who want to crucify our Lord all over again. How can the Church be attractive for potential converts when the Church’s leaders don’t stand firm to defend their own, like the good shepherd who watches over his flock?

    May the good God have mercy on us all.

    1. I also think we need the Catholic League and other lay organizations to grow in this regard. The Jewish people have anti-defamation leagues. All we have that I know of is the Catholic League they do good work but they are only one.

  33. The subject of your article is not the traditional “bigot”, or an ignorant bigot. No he is the new well heeled, anti-Catholic terrorist using words from a “bully Pulpit” of power and position to wage war on the Truth that he and the powers that be (for now) have freely chosen to oppose. He and his bosses and all their cronies need to be confronted in a “Just War “of words and influence and talent and treasure. As Catholic’s we can only surrender before this type of warfare when we know we have no longer any chance of winning. While our bodies may eventually become slaves at least our souls will still be free. As Catholic’s we must never abandon the Truth for the sake of convenience or comfort. Is he a bigot? Well I’d say If it walks like a duck, it’s probably a duck!

  34. Would it be a stretch to compare someone like Knox with Shimei the Benjaminite, and the High Priest Caiaphas

    Just a general observation — Just as there were many people of Jesus’ time who expected and wanted a political Messiah, so too many today look at Jesus as some kind of political revolutionary. Their politics inform and color their faith and religious outlook, rather than their faith informing their politics and political outlook.

    Within the Church, there are those on both the left and the right who are political ideologues first, and Catholic second (or third or fourth, etc.)

    Knox gives the appearance of being such a political figure, but he is more than merely a political provocateur, he appears to go beyond merely “trying to manipulate opinion and create division” into the realm of hate.

  35. Bigot for sure. it would be sufficient evidence to call him a bigot based solely on his personally held beliefs, but to actually use a platform such as the one he’s been appointed to, to further his hate?
    also let us remember the regrettable fact that fifty four percent of catholics in the u.s. voted for hussein. even though we can guess what his own feelings are about the church, it would still be a good tactical move for him to axe this fella.

  36. Have you ever considered that Judas Iscariot may have been seeking a political messiah – someone who would lead Israel to a victory over the Romans? And that he may have hoped that Jesus, if confronted by those in power (the Sanhedrin or Pilate) would use His miraculous power to conquer them? This might explain his major discomfort (Despair?) on learning that Jesus had been condemned to death. As Christians, we should be cautious about putting our trust in political leaders, or hoping that the election of a leader or new group of leaders would lead to an earthly utopia. History suggests that It doesn’t work that way.

  37. Dear Msgr. Pope,

    I think that I did not make my point clearly enough. And, the comparisons don’t, as you say, seem to fit. That is my fault.

    Shimei’s argument may not be the proper one to illustrate my point about Knox’s argument. And, I admit that my point is kind of difficult for me even to put into words.

    Maybe it isn’t worth mentioning, but I have this thing about windmills, being an old and foolish person. There sits Knox in his seat saying what he says for the reasons he chooses to say them. I think of the old nursery rhyme about “sticks and stones” and remember the last few lines of it, “When you die/You will cry/For all the names you called me.”

    You and I and all of the people who have commented on this subject know the truth about the matter; and so does God. I begin to wonder what is the goal of calling him…or anyone…a bigot. I have been called a homophobe.

    Would it better serve the state of Mr. Knox’s soul and his prospects for salvation (and of those who think as he does) to simply point out that though what he says sounds as if it were true, it isn’t, and that while he is entitled to his opinion, he isn’t entitled to his facts? This could be done without calling him a bigot, liar or politcal opportunist?

    Thank you,
    Peadar Ban

  38. Many of the critics of the Catholic faith are ignorant of it or the statements the Pope or bishops make. An example is ‘condomgate’… a big uproar made upon MISINTERPRETED words of Benedict XVI.

    Is this ignorance bigotry? Perhaps not, but those who make such statements out of ignorance are giulty of such ignorance, since no one prevents them to get informed.

  39. I would venture that both Mr. Knox and the President are anti-Catholic. They have to be. Their particular world-view is materialist. Mr. Knox imagines that the material, physical relationship between two men and two women is good because he says so (or because a bunch of people say so). While not denying that many homosexuals can have deep emotional attachments, it cannot be denied that the crux of any homosexual relationship is the physical aspect (there is a reason why “sexual” is in the word). Likewise, Obama’s focus is on material benefits: jobs, money, etc. Remember what he said, “Granny may not be able to have that surgery.” He is referring to money being more important that human life.

    Holy Mother Church is in direct opposition to such attitudes. There is a reason why Hitler, Mao, and Stalin fought vociferously to destroy (or at least limit) the Church in their socialist countries. Obama is doing the same thing: by appointing ardently pro-life “Catholics” to public positions. He is creating, like the Chinese and Russians did, a state-sanctioned religion, one at odds with the true doctrine passed on by the apostles. He has to: his vision and his politics can’t coexist with the Church.

  40. Quack, quack, quack.

    I think the more righteous tone the Church has taken on (finally!) is going to draw a lot of fire. That’s good. If the world is going crazy, and everyone thinks you’re sane, then you are doing something wrong.

  41. On a positive note, there are more and more of our fellow Christians (and even some atheists) who are looking to the Church for leadership. If anything, they complain they we aren’t more forthright. I think a lot of people see the crazy stuff going down, and are looking around saying, “Who’s going to speak up? Who will defend the things we care about?” The Church should be the one.

  42. I guess a good measure is to reverse this and look at what comments a Catholic could make about Islam, LDS, or the United Church of Christ or the Episcopal Church. If it is anti-Catholic bigotry to disagree with the Church’s stance on a certain issue, then it is bigotry towards Congregationalists to disagree with their views or actions?

    Are there standards of charity we need to follow in how we relate to those of other faith communions? Do we give them the same standard of charity we expect from them?

Comments are closed.