U.S. Notes & Quotes

Kansas City Paper Goes After Celibates

CATHOLIC LEAGUE, Nov. 4—The Kansas City Star has commenced a sex survey of Roman Catholic priests, and now the Catholic League has decided to follow suit by issuing its own survey of the newspaper's staff. On October 15, Mark Zieman, editor and vice president of the Kansas City Star, sent a letter to Roman Catholic priests, all of whom were randomly selected from the 1999 Kenedy Official Catholic Directory, explaining the nature of the confidential survey; the survey only addresses HIV and AIDS. Our survey, personally addressed to each staff person, was sent to managing editor Steve Shirk for distribution.

“We have come to understand that the disease also had a devastating impact on groups whose members are unable to speak up about the difficulties they have endured,” wrote Zieman. The Catholic League fully agrees and this explains our interest in exploring the sex lives of Zieman's staff. William Donohue, Catholic League president, commented as follows: “I knew my doctorate in sociology would come in handy in this job some day. Being journalists, the reporters and editors at the Kansas City Star know nothing about objectivity, and that is why no control group was used in their survey. We have provided one by drawing on the journalists… this is also indicative of our commitment to inclusiveness.

“The language we used is almost identical to the newspaper's survey. But there were some changes. For example, instead of asking, ‘Do you know priests with HIV or AIDS?’, we asked, ‘Do you know any journalist who doesn't have HIV or AIDS?’ And so on. Our objective was also stated somewhat differently: ‘Our objective is to undermine your efforts at Peeping-Tom journalism. By getting our survey out first, we hope to submarine your newspaper's voyeuristic invasion of the privacy of Catholic priests.' Alas, we hope the newspaper appreciates our inquiry.”

Scholar and Rabbi Dispute Biography of Pius XII

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Nov. 3—In his book Hitler's Pope, Vanity Fair writer David Cornwell writes that he was sent into a state of “moral shock” upon reading a letter written by the future Pope Pius XII about young Bolshevik demonstrators. According to the Times, the tone of the letter has not shocked other scholars, “who note that Pacelli's description of Jewish Communists, while not especially enlightened, was hardly uncommon 80 years ago.” The article continues, “There are Jewish scholars who dispute Mr. Cornwell's thesis. But they also reject the Vatican view of Pius XII. ‘Pius XII was not an anti-Semite,’” the Times quotes Rabbi Jack Bemporad, the director of the New Jersey-based Center for Interfaith Understanding, as saying. “He didn't publicly protest the deportation of Jews, but he also didn't speak out against the slaughter of Catholic priests in Poland. He believed it was more prudent and effective to be quiet.”

The article also quotes Jesuit Father Peter Gumpel, head of the cause for Pope Pius's beatification. “Father Gumpel said his only criterion in his investigation was whether Pius XII lived ‘the theological virtues to a heroic or outstanding degree’ one of the official conditions for sainthood.”

But, Father Gempel added, “after having studied more than 100,000 documents written by him [Pope Pius XII] and written on him, so far I really have come to the conclusion that there is nothing against the cause. And, on the contrary, I agree that the man deserves to be beatified,” the Times article said.