ABC Asked To Drop Ties With 'Anti-Catholic' Web Site

By Seth Lewis | July 7, 2008 | 8:19 PM EDT

( - For the Catholic League, it's bad enough ABC News partnered with a Web site that promotes abortion and irreverently discusses sex.

It's even worse, the group says, that makes a mockery of Catholic dogma.

Catholic League officials condemned Beliefnet - ABC News' new source for religious coverage - for poking fun at the pope, asking "politically charged" questions on women in Catholicism and insinuating that priests are perverts.

In a letter obtained by on Friday, the Catholic League asked ABC News president David Westin to drop the Beliefnet partnership, saying it was "outraged" to learn of the collaboration.

"Beliefnet is not exactly an Internet-friendly site for Catholicism," League President William A. Donohue said. "While respectful of other religions, it is top heavy with information and questions about Catholicism that are baiting at best and bigoted at worst."

ABC News partnered with Beliefnet after the network announced it would drop its full-time religion correspondent, Peggy Wehmeyer, in October because of budget cuts. It pursued Beliefnet because it's an open forum for everything from Hinduism to Christianity.

It's a "multi-faith organization that is objective in its reporting," ABC News spokesman Todd Polkes said earlier this week.

But League officials are fuming over Beliefnet's portrayal of Catholicism, charging that its quiz section demeans the church's doctrine. "Some questions and answers are downright insulting," Donohue said in a statement.

Officials point to one quiz question about priestly celibacy. One of the answers: "It's a perverted concept that stands in the way of healthy sexuality - no wonder so many priests are pederasts."

"This is just ridiculous," said Patrick Scully, the Catholic League's director of communications. "If the people of Beliefnet want to claim it's comical or farcical, that's even more reason not to rely on them. [ABC] is a news organization, not 'Comedy Central.'"

Beliefnet could not be reached for comment Friday.