The attempt to destroy Pope Benedict’s reputation

During my researches to create this website I have surfed a number of newspaper, secularist and gay websites to get a sense of the level of hostility out there towards Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church. If you exclude the usual trolls who inhabit the web, many, many people are thinking and saying hateful things about Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church.

Peter Tatchel’s group, Protest the Pope, portrays the Holy Father as an international criminal involved in the deaths of millions due to his upholding the Church’s opposition to condoms, and, among other things, they imply he’s a Nazis sympathiser because of his removal of the canonical penalty of excommunication from Bishop Williamson and his declaration of Pope Pius XII as Venerable.

They are not interested in the fact that the Catholic Church, under the direction of Pope Benedict, provides 25 % of the healthcare worldwide for people suffering from HIV/AIDS, Catholic or non Catholic alike. They’re not interested in the fact that Pope Benedict condemned in no uncertain terms any clerics’ denial of the Holocaust. They’re not interested in the growing evidence from Jewish and Catholics groups that the Venerable Pope Pius XII was responsible, with others, for saving 100,000’s of Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

(I’ll be examining all the accusations that Protest the Pope make against the Holy Father in the section ‘Benedict XVI’).

In my opinion groups like Protest the Pope use exaggeration, the partisan presentation of half-truths and selective quotations for one purpose – to destroy the reputation of Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church in the minds of their readers.

This is called calumny, and is seen by Jewish and Catholic moralists as being as serious as murder. According to the Talmud and Midrash the act of calumny is a threefold murderer – it ruins those who commit calumny, those who listen to it, and those maligned.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ‘He is guilty of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgements concerning them. (CCC, 2477).

And what is Pope Benedict’s response to these attempts to destroy his reputation in the eyes of the world?

In May 2010 he said during his trip to Fatima:

‘…it is that attacks on the Pope and the Church do not come only from outside, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from sins that exist in the Church. This has always been known, but today we see it in a really terrifying way: the greatest persecution of the Church does not come from enemies outside, but arises from sin in the Church.’

Unlike his detractors he does not seek to demonise them, or even criticise them, he just names them for what they are – enemies of the Church. And Jesus told us how we should behave towards our enemies didn’t he! ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

This doesn’t mean we should let their calumny go unchallenged, because it harms them, as well as us, and it harms debate and dialogue in a democratic society.

But even more importantly Pope Benedict tells us that the greatest threat to the Church is from sin by members of the Church.

The purpose of Protect the Pope is to expose the level and sources of anti-Catholicism and religious hate in our country, but also to honestly and frankly face up to the greater potential threat to the Church – ourselves!

16 comments to The attempt to destroy Pope Benedict’s reputation

  • Charlie

    Deacon Nick,

    I am an American Catholic with a great fondness for the UK. Although I will not be able to visit England at the same as the Holy Father, I look forward to great anticipation to his visit to your beautiful country. I think you’ve done a wonderful thing in creating this site, and raising awareness of the terrible insults hurled at the Holy Father. I hope and pray from afar that his visit goes well and brings the light of our Lord to Catholics and non-Catholics alike.

    I’ll be watching this site and praying for your success.

    • Hi Charlie, thanks for your support. Did you notice that I’ve linked to the Adoration Chapel of Louisville Cathedral, Kentucky? Its a wonderful chapel. I have family in Louisville. I really hope the Holy Father has as wonderful visit to my country as he did to yours a few years back. I watched it on EWTN and was really impressed by the way President Bush and the American people made him welcome. Even singing him happy birthday! Please God it will be the same here.

  • I am honored to call Deacon Nick Donnelly a friend. I first met Nick on Facebook, through a page formed to defend the Holy Father. We need more Catholics like him today. Catholics who realize that it’s just not enough to attend Mass once a week and to consider that the fulfillment of all responsibilities; Catholics who realize that each and every one of us has a role to play in defending Holy Mother Church and the Vicar of Christ.

    • Hi Paul, great to hear from you on my brand new website. Your own website has been a big inspiration to me, showing what a powerful medium the blogsphere is! A Cardinal once said, if only Catholics realised the dignity they received through the sacrament of baptism they would change the world.

  • Adam

    Great website,
    I created a facebook group focusing on the NSS’s protest the Pope campaign (!/group.php?gid=114520481928516&v=info&ref=ts), trying to show how ridiculous it is and I’m glad to see people starting to defend the Pope.
    I do however have a question; everything that I’ve seen says that the Church provides 27% of the healthcare worldwide for people suffering from HIV/AIDs, not 45% as it states in the ‘Benedict XVI’ section of this site. Can I ask where you got that figure from?

    • Hi Adam, congratulations on your facebook site. I’ll be sure to visit it. The more of us that defend the Holy Father the better. I think you’re right about it being around 27% and have corrected my posting. I need a fact checker to help me with this site.

  • Dear Deacon Donnelly,

    I sense the work of a decent man in your site. One who is trying to do the right thing.

    As one decent man – well I try… to another…

    May I suggest that the issues ‘bedeviling’ Pope Benedict would be greatly relieved if the Vatican began to focus on providing meaningful retribution and assistance to the hundreds of thousands of victims of church clerical abuse.

    As long as the church and the Pope continue to behave as if they are trying to divert attention away from the needs of the victims…

    …victims of the sick, troubled people who were (and still are) harboured by religious orders, who the bishops and religious orders shuffled around like so many checkers pieces as they tried to brush their dirty business under the carpet…

    …there will be no peace in this matter.


    Conrad J. Noll

    • Conrad, I agree that the needs of the victims of these heinous crimes must be a primary concern of the Catholic Church. I can’t agree with you however that the Pope tries to divert attention away from the victims. During many of his pastoral visits over the past years he has met with victims of abuse, and many report that they found him to be a man who shared their grief. And in his letter to the faithful of Ireland not only does he address the pain of the survivors, he also expresses his anger at the crimes of the priests and religious, and at the failure of leadership of some of the bishops.

      • I agree with you Nick. The needs of the victims should come first.

        I did not say that the Pope was trying to deliberately divert attention away from the victims. I said “as long as the church and the Pope continue to behave as if they are trying to divert attention away from the needs of the victims”.

        That “as if” in there is very important.

        It is not what the church and the Vatican mean to do… it is what they appear to be doing…

        They ‘appear’ to be doing everything in their power to find anything at all to blame but superiors of religious orders, the bishops, the CDF under Cardinal Ratzinger and the curia – especially Cardinal Sodano.

        Until the Vatican gets it’s PR under control this thing is going to continue to bleed.

        A way to stop the bleeding would be to mount a serious effort to get to the truth. Such as is happening in Canada with a truth and reconciliation process that is looking into abuse in native residential schools run by various religious organizations. Something like what happened in South Africa to address the cultural fallout from apartheid. Combine this with a serious effort to compensate victims for loss of income and family damages and you may be on to a way forward for the Catholic Church.

        I think the Irish tried something like this but they did not do a very good job. The process imposed secrecy in return for settlements which were laughable, it was chump change to keep the mostly less-than-sophisticated victims quiet.

        Without an effective truth, reconciliation and compensation program, I really cannot see the church emerging from this crisis in any form recognizable today…

        Didn’t Joseph Ratzinger write something like this in one of his musings? That he foresaw the church could become much smaller…

        He may well prove prophetic.


  • [...] up as a half-pagan half-Muslim disaster.  And no where is hatred of the Pope more intense.  From a new blog, some comments on the bashing of the Pope in Britain, ahead of his September visit to that island: [...]

    • The Catholic press over here are reporting that the Holy Father is very much looking forward to his visit to the UK. It truly promises to be a great, even historic event, with the Holy Father addressing politicians in Westminster Hall, the very place where St Thomas More and other martyrs witnessed to the faith. And of course, the beatification Mass of Cardinal Newman. Wonderful! The majority of British people are still fair minded and generous and I really hope that they will be in the majority during the Holy Father’s visit.

  • Vicente


  • Charlie McCluskey

    Deacon Nick

    Excellent site to defend our Holy Father from the recent attacks. If it is ok I would like to put a link to it on the Province 1 Glasgow Knights of St Columba Website.

  • agnese

    I am so gratefull for this web! I live in Orient but I follow the news on the internet: I think that all the Church is under attac, not only the Pope! We need to pray more and to be more united than before in orther to stand the traial.
    Sorry for my broken English

    • admin

      Thanks for your support Agnese. I’m thrilled that Protect the Pope is useful to so many Catholics and friends around the world. Please keep the Catholics of the UK in your prayers as we prepare for the Holy father’s visit.

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