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Fossella & New York State lawmakers call host Bill Maher’s diatribe "vulgar."

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Rep. Fossella Calls Bill Maher’s Anti-Catholic Comments ‘Disgusting’; Demands Apology

Fossella & New York State lawmakers call host Bill Maher’s diatribe "vulgar."

Congressman Vito Fossella (R-NY), joined by several New York State elected officials, today called on HBO to issue an apology over comedian Bill Maher’s offensive anti-Catholic rant on this past Friday’s “Real Time” program on HBO.

(Watch the clip of Maher’s remarks here)

In a letter to HBO President Sue Naegle, Fossella — joined by New York State Senators Marty Golden and Andrew Lanza, City Councilmen James Oddo and Vincent Ignizio and Assemblyman Lou Tobacco — said Maher “crossed the line of decency by insulting the Pope, mocking the Catholic religion and Catholics and diminishing the importance of the Catholic faith.

During Maher’s closing monologue on his program, he referred to the Pope as an individual who “not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats.” Mr. Maher went on to call the Catholic Church “a child-abusing religious cult” and concluded his diatribe with the statement “that’s what the Catholic Church is, the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia.”

“In a word, Mr. Maher’s commentary was vulgar,” the lawmakers wrote. “While we do not dispute that Mr. Maher has an absolute right to express his opinions, what good can really be achieved with such offensive and divisive language? On behalf of the millions of Catholics in the United States and throughout the world, we are appalled by Mr. Maher’s statements and the go-along attitude of his guests, who laughed and clapped through his anti-Catholic tirade. We are also disappointed in HBO for failing to denounce Mr. Maher’s ranting and to ignore the fact that his hurtful words offended Catholics in the United States and across the world. Therefore, we call upon HBO to acknowledge the offensive nature of Mr. Maher’s remarks and to apologize for playing a role in spreading his anti-Catholic commentary. The Catholic religion will continue to foster faith, forgiveness and goodness throughout our world — and maybe that’s a lesson Mr. Maher can learn from.”

A Copy of the Lawmakers’ Letter is Attached:

April 17, 2008

Ms. Sue Naegle, President
Home Box Office Incorporated
1100 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036

Dear Ms. Naegle,

We are writing to express our outrage with commentator Bill Maher’s offensive anti-Catholic rant on this past Friday’s “Real Time” program on HBO. Mr. Maher crossed the line of decency by insulting the Pope, mocking the Catholic religion and Catholics and diminishing the importance of the Catholic faith. In a word, Mr. Maher’s commentary was vulgar.

Pope Benedict XVI’s historic visit to the United States is meant to build bridges to people of all faiths and spread goodwill in our nation and around the world. He has taken historic steps to bring people of all faiths together, unite them in the cause of common good and break down the barriers that separate us. The Pope has also used this opportunity to acknowledge mistakes of the past and heal the wounds they have caused. We believe individuals guilty of these crimes should be brought to justice, and we appreciate the Pope’s apology for these events.

While we do not dispute that Mr. Maher has an absolute right to express his opinions, what good can really be achieved with such offensive and divisive language? It was disgusting to hear Mr. Maher refer to the Pope as an individual who “not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats.” Mr. Maher went on to call the Catholic Church “a child-abusing religious cult” and concluded his diatribe with the statement “that’s what the Catholic Church is, the Bear Stearns of organized pedophilia.”

On behalf of the millions of Catholics in the United States and throughout the world, we are appalled by Mr. Maher’s statements and the go-along attitude of his guests, who laughed and clapped through his anti-Catholic tirade. We are also disappointed in HBO for failing to denounce Mr. Maher’s ranting and to ignore the fact that his hurtful words offended Catholics in the United States and across the world. Therefore, we call upon HBO to acknowledge the offensive nature of Mr. Maher’s remarks and to apologize for playing a role in spreading his anti-Catholic commentary.

Mr. Maher has had a long record of mocking religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular. At this time when people of all faiths want to hear a message of peace and of healing, Mr. Maher attempted to cast a dark cloud over the Pope’s visit. Regardless, the Catholic religion will continue to foster faith, forgiveness and goodness throughout our world — and maybe that’s a lesson Mr. Maher can learn from.

Sincerely,

Martin Golden
Member of the Senate

Vito Fossella
Member of Congress

Andrew Lanza
Member of the Senate

Louis Tobacco
Member of Assembly

Andrew Lanza
Member of the Senate

James Oddo
Member of Council

Vincent Ignizio
Member of Council

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