mourning Charlie Hebdo massacre
A woman lights a condolence candle outside the French Embassy in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. France began a day of mourning for the journalists and police officers shot dead on Wednesday morning by black-hooded gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of the weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo. Reuters

An American conservative Catholic activist lashed out against the editorial staff of the Paris satirical magazine attacked Wednesday by three gunmen, saying an editor killed in the shooting was to blame. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the fatal shooting of 12 people at Charlie Hebdo's Paris office was provoked by religious intolerance.

"Those who work at this newspaper have a long and disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures, and this is especially true of their depictions of religious figures," Donahue wrote in a post for the Catholic League. "What unites Muslims in their anger against Charlie Hebdo is the vulgar manner in which Muhammad has been portrayed. What they object to is being intentionally insulted over the course of many years. On this aspect, I am in total agreement with them."

The Catholic League is an activist group based in New York and not an official arm of the church. Donohue also linked Stephane Charbonnier, the paper’s editor who was among the 12 victims, to the massacre. "It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death. In 2012, when asked why he insults Muslims, he said, 'Muhammad isn’t sacred to me.' Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive. Muhammad isn’t sacred to me, either, but it would never occur to me to deliberately insult Muslims by trashing him," Donohue wrote.

France observed a minute's silence for the Charlie Hebdo victims Thursday. The weekly magazine is known for its provocative cartoons lampooning the Muslim prophet, Muhammad, but makes fun of Christians and Jews as well. Its offices were fire-bombed in 2011 after it devoted an issue to ridiculing Islamic law.

The victims of Wednesday's attack included Bernard Maris, an economist, columnist and the magazine’s deputy editor; and cartoonists Jean Cabut (known as Cabu), Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous. Five other magazine staff members were also believed killed in the attack, as well as two police officers.