Pastor John Hagee, whose endorsement of presidential candidate John McCain brought new attention to Hagee's virulently anti-Catholic rantings, has apologized for his maledicta in a letter to the head of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, William Donohue. According to the Los Angeles Times:
The Catholic League called on McCain to repudiate Hagee at that time, stating that he had "waged an unrelenting war" against the church and noting the pastor had referred to the Catholic Church as a "false cult system," among other terms. Hagee also said Hurricane Katrina was "the judgment of God" on the city's "sin."In the article, correspondent Maeve Reston also notes:
In his letter to the Catholic League today, Hagee said he now understands that other terms he used to describe the church - "the great whore" and the "apostate church" - are "rhetorical devices long employed in anti-Catholic literature." He said he had gained a better understanding in recent weeks of the Catholic Church's relationship to the Jewish faith. Hagee wrote of his "profound respect for the Catholic people" in the letter and said he hoped to advance "greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals."I find it interesting that Hagee's "apology" came in a letter to an essentially secular public-relations organization, the Catholic League, which exists outside the structures of the Roman Catholic Church, rather than in a letter to an authentic church leader, such as Archbishop José H. Gomez of San Antonio (where Hagee lives and works) or Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Was it cc:'d to that whore of Babylon in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI?)
The Catholic League said in a statement that it accepted the apology.
Although Donohue accepts the sincerity of Hagee's apology, I doubt it. The apology was clearly motivated by political need -- Hagee's bigotry was beginning to be a drag on McCain's campaign, since he could be, accurately or not, compared with Barack Obama's ex-pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright -- and McCain's constant distancing of himself from Hagee became embarrassing to both.
Like Henry IV's penitent walk to Canossa, Hagee's letter was necessary for political reasons. I wouldn't be surprised to find out, when the history of this year's presidential campaign is written and compiled, that someone in McCain's organization drafted the letter for Hagee and held the pen while he signed it.
When the election is over, Hagee will be free to return to his old ways. Even a hair shirt has to be laundered and replaced every once in a while.