By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 13, 2009 ( –  Several Catholic leaders have issued a letter to President Obama calling for the ouster of Harry Knox, who has severely criticized Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholic Church leaders, from President Obama’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Knox is the director of the religion and faith program at the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group. 

Knox’s selection as one of the members of the advisory council stirred an angry response from Catholics, as Knox insisted he stood by previous comments calling Pope Benedict XVI “morally reprehensible” for not supporting the use of condoms.

“The Pope’s statement that condoms don’t help control the spread of HIV, but rather condoms increase infection rates, is hurting people in the name of Jesus,” Knox said in a March statement, two weeks before his appointment to the council.  In 2007, Knox called it “immoral and insulting to Jesus” when the bishop of Cheyenne, Wyoming instructed that an activist lesbian couple not receive Communion. 

The Bay Area Reporter in 2009 also quoted Knox calling the Knights of Columbus “foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression,” and said they followed “discredited leaders,” including bishops and Pope Benedict.
Prominent Catholic figures including House Republican Leader John Boehner, Catholic League Presidnet Bill Donohue, American Life League’s Judie Brown, and members of the Family Research Council have expressed their concern to Obama, citing Knox’s remarks as proof he is “unfit to serve” on an advisory board billed as fostering interfaith cooperation. 

“As Catholics, we call on you to remove Mr. Knox from his position and to formally disassociate yourself from his militant anti-Catholicism,” stated the letter, signed by 22 Catholic leaders. “Failure to do so will result in the tainting of your Faith-Based Council-and indeed, your entire administration-as anti-Catholic”

“If all Knox had done was to criticize the Catholic Church on public policy issues, there would be no problem,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue. “But he is not content to disagree – he must demonize the opposition.”

Donohue criticized Knox, who is not Catholic for “slamming the Catholic Church on internal matters that are none of his business.”

“In short, the letter by Catholic leaders to President Obama requesting him to remove Harry Knox from his post is entirely warranted.”

(To see the full letter to President Obama: