Just over a week after blasting Pope Benedict XVI as being “horrifically ignorant” on the issue of HIV/AIDS (and thus exposing her own ignorance on the matter), US News & World Report contributor editor and PBS host Bonnie Erbe (at right, courtesy of Zap2it) labeled Catholics who object to President Barack Obama’s upcoming commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame as “closed-minded, atavistic types.” She also wrote in her Friday blog post on US News's website that the Catholic Church was “at its worst when it tries to reinvigorate the Spanish Inquisition and fight against such things as women’s reproductive rights and gay rights.”
Erbe began by expressing her glee at the opportunity to write about this: “The controversy over Notre Dame University’s invitation to President Obama to deliver this year’s commencement address is too tempting for me not to join, so here goes.” Not to nitpick Bonnie, but you got the name of the institution wrong. Notre Dame University is in Lebanon. The Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana is the University of Notre Dame. The difference does matter.
The PBS host then focused her ire at Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, who is a controversial figure even within the pro-life movement. She labeled him “one of the scariest zealots among public figures on the American scene, [who] is helping to lead the charge against President Obama’s graduation speech.” After making it clear that “just about anything Randall Terry’s for, I’m against, as is true of most free-thinking people,” she lauded Note Dame for making “a brilliant decision” in choosing President Obama. Furthermore, she claimed that “open-minded Catholics, who way outweigh the closed-minded, atavistic types, are also thrilled about Mr. Obama’s appearance.”
Not satisfied with merely bashing pro-lifers, Erbe then turned her attention to the Catholic Church as a whole. As you might expect, she expressed the typical busybodied leftist view that the Church needs to adopt pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage views in order to stay relevant:
The Catholic Church is losing adherents in this country and in Europe. Its growth areas are Africa and South America. It’s losing the educated and gaining the uneducated. But the globe is quickly becoming more and more educated. So its future is in wooing educated, progressive adherents. The Church is at its best when it advocates for the poor and positions itself as a big tent. It’s at its worst when it tries to reinvigorate the Spanish Inquisition and fight against such things as women’s reproductive rights and gay rights. It only took the Church from 1633 to 1992, when Pope John Paul II praised Galileo’s brilliance, to admit Galileo’s theory of heliocentrism was correct and the Church was wrong to condemn him for it.
So she wants the Catholic Church to be like the Republican Party in being a “big tent” institution. Also, Erbe took some liberty with what Pope John Paul II said in 1992 about Galileo, and leaves out one significant detail about the pontiff’s speech. The Pope went out of his way to correct the main myth about the conflict between the Church and Galileo:
From the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment down to our own day, the Galileo case has been a sort of “myth,” in which the image fabricated out of the events was quite far removed from reality. In this perspective, the Galileo case was the symbol of the Church’s supposed rejection of scientific progress, or of “dogmatic” obscurantism opposed to the free search for truth. This myth has played a considerable cultural role. It has helped to anchor a number of scientists of good faith in the idea that there was an incompatibility between the spirit of science and its rules of research on the one hand and the Christian faith on the other. A tragic mutual incomprehension has been interpreted as the reflection of a fundamental opposition between science and faith. The clarifications furnished by recent historical studies enable us to state that this sad misunderstanding now belongs to the past.
Not that the above matters to Erbe and her fellow leftists, since they take that myth for granted.