Religious 'Bigotry' or 'Doctrinal Differences'?

By McNickle, Colin | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 15, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Religious 'Bigotry' or 'Doctrinal Differences'?

McNickle, Colin, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Has bigotry been excused as "religious truth" with Pope Benedict's "restating" of key sections of his 2000 text known as Dominus Iesus?

Many Protestants think so. Not surprisingly, Catholic apologians don't. But, surprisingly, a noted rabbi doesn't either.

First, though, the background.

Tuesday last the Vatican restated the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church. That is, and as The Associated Press reported it, "other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation."

Which, of course, offends many good and God-fearing Protestants and Jews, some of whom argue that such a position is not just arrogant egotisticalism but about as far as you can get from the ecumenicalism that Catholic leaders say they still embrace.

"Outrageous!" said one caller, deeply religious and equally troubled. "How dare they!" said another. Letter writer Karen Peto of West Newton was appalled. "I was taught, like many others, to be respectful of other peoples' religious beliefs and not berate them," she said. "The pope overstepped his boundaries."

And, as would be expected, some editorial page cartoonists had a field day.

The Hartford Courant's Bob Englehart depicted Jesus quoting Matthew 18:20 -- "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am among them." He then depicted Pope Benedict offering a "correction" -- "Where two or three Catholics are gathered ... ."

Pat Bagley at the Salt Lake Tribune drew Benedict with his arms crossed and back turned outside the Pearly Gates. Says St. Peter, on his cell phone to God, "He claims to be your bouncer."

It's bigotry, pure and simple -- the Dominus Iesus, that is, not the critics -- right?

No it's not, insists Bill Donohue, a former LaRoche College professor and president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. He's a self-described "big mouth" who relies on an extensive e-mail address book to flame critics perceived as anti- Catholic bigots.

(In the interests of full disclosure, Mr. Donohue and I went a few national rounds in February 2006 over a Donald Collins commentary that appeared on the Trib's op-ed page.)

So, I e-mailed Donohue: "(H)ow is Benedict's restating the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church not the same kind of bigotry that you regularly decry?"

First he referred me to a statement in support of the pope's position by his friend Rabbi Irwin Kula (more on that later). But I pressed Donohue for his position. Not a polemic, mind you, but a scholarly response.

"Jesus did not found many churches," he wrote. "He founded only one. The root cause of the Protestant is 'protest' and what exactly is it that Protestants are protesting save the Catholic Church from which they broke away?"

Donohue says he has many evangelical friends, some of whom maintain that his religion is a "false" religion. "That is not bigotry -- it is a statement of their sincerely held beliefs; they are not meant to be derogatory.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Religious 'Bigotry' or 'Doctrinal Differences'?


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?