By John-Henry Westen

NEW YORK, April 9, 2010 ( –“I believe the continuing attacks by the media on the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI have become manifestations of anti-Catholicism,” said former New York City Mayor Ed Koch in the Jerusalem Post yesterday. 

Koch, a Conservative Jew, says he disagrees with the Catholic Church (and Orthodox Judaism) on abortion, homosexuality, divorce, contraception and more, but nevertheless says that the Church has a right to hold to these beliefs and much of the attack on it today stems from opposition to those teachings.

“Many of those in the media who are pounding on the Church and the pope today clearly do it with delight, and some with malice,” writes Koch. “The reason, I believe, for the constant assaults is that there are many in the media, and some Catholics as well as many in the public, who object to and are incensed by positions the Church holds, including opposition to all abortions, opposition to gay sex and same-sex marriage, retention of celibacy rules for priests, exclusion of women from the clergy, opposition to birth control measures involving condoms and prescription drugs and opposition to civil divorce.”

Koch added: “I disagree with the Church on all of these positions. Nevertheless, it has a right to hold these views in accordance with its religious beliefs. …  Orthodox Jews, like the Roman Catholic Church, can demand absolute obedience to religious rules. Those declining to adhere are free to leave.”

The former U.S. Congressman (1968-77) and three-term Mayor of New York City (1978-89), suggests that, “The primary explanation for the abuse that happened … was the belief that the priests could be cured by psychotherapy, a theory now long discarded by the medical profession.”

Despite his ideological disagreements with the Church, Koch says, “I believe the Roman Catholic Church is a force for good in the world, not evil.”

He concludes, “Enough is enough. Yes, terrible acts were committed by members of the Catholic clergy. The Church has paid billions to victims in the US and will pay millions, perhaps billions, more to other such victims around the world.  It is trying desperately to atone for its past by its admissions and changes in procedures for dealing with pedophile priests. I will close with a paraphrase of the words of Jesus as set forth in John 8:7: He [or she] that is without sin among you, let him [or her] cast the next stone.”

See the full text of the Jerusalem Post column here.