As far back as 2007, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League had been calling John Hagee a “veteran bigot” for statements he had made about the Catholic Church, calling it, among other things “”The Great Whore,” an “apostate church,” the “anti-Christ,” and a “false cult system.”
When John McCain received Hagee’s endorsement last year, Donohue was livid and demanded that McCain reject the endorsement, which McCain eventually did. But in the months in between, something odd happened: Hagee and Donohue became friends.
It’s been going on for weeks. A lot of Catholic activist friends of mine and some evangelicals have been powwowing with [Hagee] in Washington. They asked me to meet with Hagee and I said no several times. I’m not interested in meeting with him until I get what I want, a public statement and apology that’s complete and speaks specifically to these black legends about Catholics-Jewish relations, and the Holocaust in particular. And once that’s accomplished, I’ll be glad to meet with him. Now that’s going to happen on Thursday.
Quite frankly, I didn’t think that I would get something this complete. What I did not want to get was this “If you’ve been offended, I’m sorry.” I wanted something more specific. There’s no substitute for personal interaction, when you have people sitting down with you and explaining how you’ve been hurtful. Now we can bury this hatchet. It’s rather dramatic….
What really got me offended was the idea of “I’m the purist Christian on the block” when he’s talking to Jews—“I’m not out there persecuting the Jews like all these Catholics.” I’m sure we’ve seen the last of that.
But once Donohue had been placated, the two became fast friends and alies. And now Dan Gilgoff reports that Hagee is working closely with Donohue to expand the scope of his Christians United for Israel:
CUFI has recently stepped up outreach to Catholics. What precipitated that , and how is the effort going so far? What are your goals for that outreach?
Yes, we are reaching out to Catholics. These efforts started last year, during the presidential campaign, when Bill Donahue of the Catholic League claimed that I had slighted the Catholic Church while teaching from the Book of Revelation. He was mistaken on this point. But he and I handled this disagreement the way that Christians should. We met. We had fellowship. We learned from one another. A few months after the controversy, he came to our Washington, D.C., Summit as my guest. When I recognized him during my keynote address, he received a rousing ovation from our CUFI audience. I consider him a friend.
Bill and I decided that we should turn our personal reconciliation into a broader reconciliation. We decided to try to bring Catholics and Protestants together on behalf of Israel. Some of Israel’s best friends and strongest defenders are devout Catholics. They should be a part of this movement.
Interestingly, Hagee insists that he and Donohue buried the hatchet after he explained that Donohue was “mistaken” about what he had said about the Catholic Church, whereas Donohue insisted that they did so after Hagee had abjectly apologized for his past statements.
So which was it? I’d like to know.
Not that I’ll ever find out, mind you, because I am undoubtedly among those whom Hagee insists “believe some of the lies that were told about me during the campaign [who were] probably not my friends to begin with.”