Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said talks with the White House over a proposed contraception mandate are "going nowhere."

Cardinal Timothy Dolan denounces Paris attacks, says satirists not to blame

NEW YORK (RNS) Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Tuesday (Jan. 13) denounced the Paris terror attacks by Islamic extremists as “an abomination” and “a nauseating perversion of religion,” and he stressed that no matter what cartoons were published by the satirical weekly targeted by the killers, they did not justify violence.

In finding no justification for the deaths of the Charlie Hebdo editorial staff, Dolan seemed to part ways with another prominent New York Catholic, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, who essentially said the newspaper editors had brought on their own slaughter.

Two gunmen, who were apparently assisted by Islamic terrorist networks overseas, massacred a dozen people last week at the editorial offices of the French weekly, which for years had drawn the ire of many Muslims for publishing deliberately provocative images of the Prophet Muhammad and other religious figures.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York presides at a St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York March 17, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York presides at a St. Patrick's Day Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York March 17, 2014. Religion News Service photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

The attacks -- which ended with the death of the two gunmen along with an accomplice and four hostages taken at a kosher supermarket -- paralyzed France for days, galvanized massive protests for tolerance, and sparked an intense, ongoing debate over blasphemy, free speech and religious provocation.

In one of the most explosive responses, Donohue said that while the killings must be condemned, Muslims were right to be angry at the weekly for its “long and disgusting record” of cartoons that “intentionally insulted” Muslims.

He also said the weekly’s publisher, Stephane Charbonnier, played a role in his own death by refusing to recognize the dangers of ridiculing sacred figures.

“Had he (Charbonnier) not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive,” Donohue said in a statement that drew sharp rebuttals even from some of Donohue’s fellow conservatives.

Speaking on his weekly Sirius XM radio show, Dolan did not mention Donohue by name, but the archbishop took a notably different tack. He echoed Pope Francis’ denunciation of the attacks as the fruit of a false form of religion, and said even offensive cartoons and articles could not rationalize such violence.

“No matter what this particular magazine may have been doing, no matter what their particular journalistic style or editorial stance may have been, nothing could justify the vicious attack upon them. We know that,” Dolan said.

The cardinal went on to talk about the propriety of publishing such depictions.

“Do we need to be sensitive about any signs of bigotry and animosity and hatred from anybody, from either side? From anywhere, anytime, anybody? Yeah we do, don’t we?” he said.

“Because if you chip away at a person’s dignity, if you chip away at the sacredness of human life, the dignity of the human person, if you chip away at religious sensitivities, if you chip away at elementary civility and courtesy, sooner or later you’ve got a pretty harsh society and culture … that could then go to terribly, radical, nauseating extremes.”

Also this week, the remnants of the Charlie Hebdo staff put out its latest issue and featured a cartoon of Muhammad shedding a tear and holding a sign reading “I Am Charlie,” the slogan embraced by millions after the attacks.

Above the image of the prophet are the words, “All is forgiven.”



  1. “….if you chip away at a person’s dignity, if you chip away at the sacredness of human life, the dignity of the human person, if you chip away at religious sensitivities, if you chip away at elementary civility and courtesy..”

    Nonsense. Predictable pablum.

    Religion is the assault on human dignity – does nobody care about Muslims?
    Look at what pressure they are placed under for thinking freely.

    Islam is so despicable that even those who do not subscribe to the religion are killed for drawing a picture of Mohammed. Think about what a burden this is on those who are raised to comply with this fascist garbage.

    “Slay them wherever you find them” – SURAH (9:2)
    “Execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    “Kill the Unbelievers in daylight” – Yahweh (Deuteronomy)

    If I wrote a book which said “Kill all people who think scientifically” how long would it take before someone screamed – ‘Hate Speech!’

    Where is the ‘respect for human life’ in such cold manure?

    Religion must be abandoned before we blow up the world over these primitive superstitions. They deserve no respect whatsoever!

    And people must not be afraid to confront Bishops with challenging questions about what ‘Dignity’ or ‘Civility’ has to do with this wretched garbage.

    For shame!

  2. Interesting that the people killing other people on a daily basis are Muslim Jihadists and urban secularists in city after city after city. The bodies of the dead mounting up like wood for a bonfire. It’s almost impossible to tell what is worse, Islamic intolerance of others or secularists intolerance of others that mow down their neighbors with the best of the sociopaths. The godless or the freakishly allah-ordained killers? It’s not Muslims doing the killing in the secular streets of America’s urban scene. Seems secularism is provably as deadly as jihad.

  3. @Ken,

    “It’s not Muslims doing the killing in the secular streets
    of America’s urban scene.”

    No Ken – The killers on Main Street USA are 100% self proclaimed Christians – and always have been.

    No idea in humanity has been so destructive to humanity as religion.

    The idea that a God will forgive any horror and redeem any amount of evil in a person is the cornerstone of every jail in America.

    For shame!

  4. At first glance, it sounds like Dolan is almost trying to have it both ways (as usual).

    But at least Dolan is brave enough to (indirectly) criticize that racist worm-eaten rag “Charlie Hebdo”, instead of pretending it’s totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

    Such bravery places Dolan several notches above the USA secular media, and at least 50 notches above the government of France (although the latter is not too difficult to achieve on any given day).

  5. Doc,

    “Such bravery places Dolan several notches above …”

    Good GRIEF! What nonsense.

    1. It is a disgrace we have nobody in America with anything like the balls of Hebdo.
    2. It is a disgrace that America doesn’t run the cartoons.
    3. It is a disgrace that the lesson here, ‘religion is rotten to the core’ is lost!
    4. Dolan is a delusional crackpot.

  6. There’s no bravery in making the false claim of perversion of religion. The Quran explicitly calls for murder and Dolan’s own religion’s text frequently also calls for murder. And citing the US media or Charlie Hebdo for fault is a red herring. Religion is a core part of the problem.

  7. The killers in the US, while they do not often have a religious agenda, are predominantly Christian, and the US prison population is excessively Christian compared to the fraction of the general US population that is. The US gun lobbyists are also predominantly Christian.

    So much for your theory blaming secularism. As usual, religion is central to the cause of the killings here and elsewhere.

  8. The Archdiocese seems to realize that it made a long-term mistake by allowing Donohue to be a de facto NYC Catholic spokesman when he wanted to say something too outrageous for the Abp. to be tarred with. Now that seems to be changing for the better — cf. St. Patrick’s Day Parade — and Donohue’s nonsense left by the curb where it belongs.

  9. RC is a religion in decay and decline anyway. It will still be a while before it fades to negligible, but hopefully soon it won’t matter as much what any of its officials or unofficials say.

  10. Your #2 point is especially perceptive, Max.

    You probably know that the famous **liberal** New York Times, DID NOT publish the nasty racist totally-stupid Charlie Hebdo cartoons, even though they did lots of reporting on the terrorist tragedy itself.

    Also the “UK Human Rights Blog” (Adam Wagner or Wegner) reported that most or all of the UK papers ALSO chose to NOT show those garbage vomit Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

    So yeah, you noticed something important, Max. Cardinal Dolan did too.

    Yes, the Terrorists are evil murderers, they are surely devils, but this bonehead Charlie Hebdo rag has got some serious horns of his own !!!

  11. ” It’s not Muslims doing the killing in the secular streets of America’s urban scene.”

    Uh, if we are both thinking of the same “urban scene” then it isn’t “secularists,” either. It’s Catholics and black evangelicals. Secularism is virtually unheard of in the communities you’re talking about.

  12. @Doc,

    “…but this…nasty racist totally-stupid… bonehead Charlie Hebdo rag”

    So sanctimonious!

    Look! The freedom to blaspheme and to RELENTLESSLY DISPARAGE THE POWERFUL are the most important freedoms of all.
    HEBDO is its primary exemplar of that spirit.


    Will nothing wake you up?
    So closed is the religious mind to its own irony.

    You have every right to disparage Hebdo.
    Meanwhile – Acknowledge it, please! – that Hebdo has every right to disparage whatever the hell it wants to disparage and not be harmed or threatened for it!

  13. What “sanctimonious”? The NYT isn’t shutting the door on Charlie’s cartoons out of **any** attempt at sanctimony. Not a chance.

    They’re doing it precisely because they know there are limits, even for the urban libbie readers of the New York Times.

    Given a dog-eat-dog media world where every dollar counts in a bad economy, the NYT knows that it can NOT afford to display the same totally-insane lack of journalistic ethics that has marked the bonehead “Charlie Hebdo” for years.

    And that’s the operative phrase, Max. “Journalistic Ethics.” Just as you have a defined set of ethics even though you’re an atheist, media outlets are supposed to retain THEIR ethics too, even if they are totally secular.

    Now out of the true and loving goodness of my heart, I’m not insisting on 20 YEARS ON THE CHAIN GANG WITH NO PAROLE for Charlie Hebdo’s remaining staffers, but it is time for Charlie to dial down all the MESS and get on with the journalism.

  14. Kill’em all and let God sort’em out, right Tony, amirite?! I can’t stand Dolan, but he looks positively rational compared to you and Donahue, though that ain’t sayin’ much, huh Tone? By the way, can’t Dolan put Donnie boy on some kind of hiatus or something?

  15. Priest Dolan no longer speaks for the Catholic Church. His time has come to disappear into retirement. The Pope has made it clear that such dinosaurs are not to be heeded any longer. I don’t know why RNS permitted this article to be published. Dolan’s point of view is just an echo of the Vatican’s, with the exception that Dolan accents a reason for censoring political and religious speech. Dolan has been plumping for restricting free speech for a very long time.

Leave a Comment