Catholic leaders were outraged this week when WikiLeaks exposed the anti-Catholic views of Hillary Clinton Campaign insiders. Not only do the leaked emails show bigoted, disdainful sentiments toward Catholics; they also expose conspiratorial efforts to disrupt the integrity and moral teachings of the Church through an orchestrated “Catholic Spring” from within the Church.
CatholicVote.org called for the resignation of Clinton campaign communications director Jennifer Palmieri after an email exchange showed her joining Center for American Progress Fellow John Halpin in mocking the Catholic faith of two prominent men.
“Friggin’ Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus,” Halpin jeers in an email to Palmieri. He goes on to speculate that conservative converts to the faith “must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
Palmieri replied that perhaps these converts also think the Catholic faith “is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”
Halpin agrees with Palmieri, and gets in a couple more jabs at the Catholic moral tradition: “Excellent point. They can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.”
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia slammed the “contemptuously anti-Catholic emails exchanged among members of the Clinton Democratic presidential campaign team…. A sample:
Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, emailed John Podesta, now the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to ask about whether “the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage” could be the tinder for a revolution. “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages [sic] dictatorship,” Newman writes.
Of course, Newman added, “This idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic Church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance.” Still, he wondered, how would one “plant the seeds of a revolution”? John Podesta replied, “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this … likewise Catholics United” (emphasis added).
Another Clinton-related email, from John Halpin of the Center for American Progress, mocks Catholics in the so-called conservative movement, especially converts: “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.” In a follow-up, he adds, “They can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what … they’re talking about.”
Many other Catholic leaders have weighed in as well. It is gratifying that so many prominent Catholics are speaking out on behalf of our faith. But it is worth noting that the strongest statements we have heard so far are from Catholics who were never politically or professionally aligned with the Democratic Party or the Clinton Campaign.
There are Catholic leaders who, despite the Democratic Party’s aggressive promotion of evils such as abortion and the desecration of marriage, cannot bring themselves to roundly rebuke it. In fact there is a way in which some Catholic leaders have passively encouraged support for the Democratic Party. One way of doing so is known as the “Seamless Garment” or “Consistent Life Ethic,” which, as Crux’s John Allen recently reported, is making a comeback after a brief loss of clout.
Put briefly, the “Seamless Garment” view:
a) Places abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and attacks on religious liberty on equal moral footing with other evils
b) Exhorts us to politically support whomever opposes the highest number of evils
Armed with the Seamless Garment, all Catholic Democrats have needed to do is make the case that, though the Democratic Party is pro-abortion, anti-marriage, and against religious liberty, it nevertheless opposes the highest number of perceived evils. And so the Seamless Garment offers all the necessary factors for a calculus that recommends a pro-abortion, anti-marriage vote.
One would think Catholic Democrats should be expected to make the strongest statements in reaction to the leaks. It seems to me that they really must choose: Do they love their faith, or the policies of the Democratic Party?
After all, Halpin’s and Palmieri’s jeers were directed at core aspects of the Church’s sacred tradition and moral doctrines—from dismissing Catholic teachings on sexuality to mocking the Sacrament of Baptism and the Holy Land itself.
And Newman and Podesta’s comments went to the heart of the Catholic Church’s public witness, clearly with an eye to thwarting it. Their discussion about “planting” a “revolution” or “Catholic Spring” was written in the context of the Church’s opposition to the historic government overreach of the Health and Human Services Mandate, which required Catholic organizations to fund the provision of abortifacient drugs despite their moral objections.
What we are talking about here is forcing the Body of Christ into the form of a slave to the Culture of Death. The bald malevolence of the leaked emails make this so apparent that it is no longer possible for Catholics of good will to think of the Democratic Party as the rightful political home for Faithful Catholics.
Are we Democrats or Catholics? In the coming weeks the reactions of fellow Catholics, especially those in positions of leadership and public authority, will tell us.