|President Obama did not call for the abolition of Catholic schools while in Belfast. For a taste of the conservative view Bill Donohue is criticizing try this link to Breitbart written by Joel Pollak.
Well, here's something I didn't expect would happen, I agree with a post written by Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. His article is in response to conservative Catholics going off on President Obama over remarks PO made on his trip to Northern Ireland for the G8 meeting. In his remarks, President Obama made mention of institutions, such as separate Catholic and Protestant schools, which essentially serve to foster ingrained segregation based on religious affiliation. Like Bill Donohue, I can't for the life of me understand how anyone could disagree with this statement given the decades of violence in Northern Ireland based in religious hatred. Here's Donohue's post in it's entirety. Thanks to Heidi Schlumpf of NCR for the link to Donohue's missive.
OBAMA’S “ANTI-CATHOLIC” SPEECH
Bill Donohue - Catholic League - 6/21/2013
There are plenty of reasons to be critical of President Obama’s policies as they relate to the Catholic Church, and I have not been shy in stating them. But the reaction on the part of conservatives, many of whom are Catholic, over his speech in Ireland, is simply insane. Never did Obama say he wants “an end to Catholic education.” Indeed, he never said anything critical about the nature of Catholic schools. It makes me wonder: Have any of his critics bothered to actually read his speech? (Why do I feel I have to keep pinching myself? Bill is absolutely right, the attitudes taken by conservative Catholics to this speech is insane.)
Obama’s speech, given in Northern Ireland, properly spoke of the divisions between Catholics and Protestants. He lauded the Good Friday Agreement, noting that “There are still wounds that haven’t healed, and communities where tensions and mistrust hangs in the air.” He said that “segregated schools and housing” add to the problem. Then he said, “If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings, and Protestants have theirs—if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division.”
Obama was not condemning Catholic schools—he was condemning segregation. He was calling attention to the fact that where social divisions exist, the prospects for social harmony are dimmed. How can anyone reasonable disagree with this observation? Moreover, it should hardly be surprising that a black president would be sensitive to segregation, whether based on race or religion.
Some are also condemning Obama for disrespecting a Vatican official who days earlier touted Catholic education before a Scottish audience. So what? Obama’s speech, which no doubt was written before Archbishop Gerhard Müller spoke, mentioned Catholic schools in conjunction with Catholic buildings, the purpose of which was not to assess the worth of Catholic education (or Catholic buildings!), but to criticize religious divisions. In short, ripping comments out of context is an old game, and it is patently unfair to speakers and writers. (Perhaps Bill should have left off this last sentence in his own best interests.)
In reading some of the conservative comments about this story, it strikes me that the story itself is something of a Rorschach test for conservative Catholics. Many commenters have 'seen' in PO's comments an attack on Catholic education. I guess their paranoia must be blinding them from seeing the words 'and Protestants have theirs'. That's actually kind of scarey, and for that reason alone, I am extremely happy the Bill Donohue has called them out on their lack of comprehension. It gives me some hope that Bill, who has been in the forefront of developing the conservative Catholic attitude towards this president, might be catching onto the idea that he has helped create something of a monster.
The other thing that strikes me about his post, is that Bill quotes PO's line about impediments to seeing ourselves in the other: "if we can’t see ourselves in one another, if fear or resentment are allowed to harden, that encourages division." It most certainly does encourage division and harden resentments and Bill Donohue has made a nice life for himself serving to do that at the behest of our conservative bishops in the USCCB. I hope Bill reads his own article with ears to hear and eyes to see, because there is this strange phenomenon I've noted in myself where I write something that isn't intended so much for others as it is for me. Many times I don't catch that right away, but when I do it's like an arrow in the heart or a cold slap in the face. These are moments of personal conversion. Perhaps Bill Donohue is having one of his own.