Summit Speaker: Bill Donohue
Patrick Novecosky chats with Dr. William Donohue, a speaker at the 2014 Legatus Summit . . .
At 66 years old, Bill Donohue might just be the hardest-working man in the Catholic Church — with the exception of Pope Francis, of course. Not only has the New York City native been at the helm of the Catholic League for a full 20 years, but he is busy writing a new book — while regularly riding to the defense of Catholics across the country beset by a hostile culture and media. Legatus editor Patrick Novecosky talked to him.
What’s coming up next for the Catholic League?
The Catholic League largely functions more akin to firefighters. That is to say, we come to work and we’re not even certain what the new thing is on the plate. Sometimes we can anticipate, but most of the time attacks on the Church come out of the blue. There are some perennials that we watch. When the U.N. opens up in September, sometimes you get comments against the Holy See. Christmas isn’t that far away, and we’ve been involved in fighting the War on Christmas.
What will you talk about at the Summit?
I will be talking about the state of our culture. At the MTV Awards in September, we saw some incredibly vulgar displays from Miley Cyrus and others. HBO is now featuring things that, when I was a kid, they wouldn’t show on 42nd Street, which at the time was a very sleazy area of the city.
It will be a call-to-action saying, “Here’s the problem and here’s what we can do.” I’m not Pollyannish. I live in the real world, but I get very troubled when I hear people on our side say it’s over. If I really believed that, I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning and come to work. I’d just throw in the towel, retire and walk away. I believe there are an awful lot of Americans who are on our side.
We’ve got to change the culture. It can be done one-on-one, but also through the media. We’ve got to educate people, but education is not enough. People need to have courage. That’s not something that’s easily transferable. It’s never too late to get involved in changing the culture.
Give us a teaser for this new book that you have been working on.
The book will be called The Joy of Catholicism, but it won’t be out until Lent of 2015. I’m working on the fourth of 10 chapters now. The essence of it is this: Everybody wants the three Hs — health, happiness and heaven. The evidence from the medical establishment overwhelmingly shows that people of faith are much more likely to be happy — and mentally and physically healthy — than atheists or secularists. I want to know why. That really hasn’t been explored.
In terms of heaven, I’m looking at indices — charitable giving, altruistic behavior and the like. What segment of society is the most likely to be charitable in terms of time and money? What segment of society was most likely to risk their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust? I explore why people of faith are the most likely to be happy and healthy with greater prospects of heaven than those with no faith.