On The Ridiculous Charge Of Clinton Anti-Catholicism
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Nov 07, 2016 at 01:06:35 PM EST
Julian Assange has been busy lately trying to sabotage Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's run for the Presidency. As part of his vendetta, he has released a series of hacked e-mails, one of which was highlighted with the apparent intent of suppressing Catholic support for the Democratic nominee.  But by any reasonable standard, it would take some interpretations of convenience to make it so.
So, lo and behold, Assange's e-mail dump was greeted with joy by the usual cast of characters from the Catholic Right. One e-mail in particular was cited as "proof" of anti-Catholicism in the Clinton campaign, but a closer reading, and some relevant background, would lead an objective observer to a different conclusion.

The e-mail in question contains the following passage:

Subject: Conservative Catholicism

Ken Auletta's latest piece on Murdoch in the New Yorker starts off with the aside that both Murdoch and Robert Thompson, managing editor of the WSJ [Wall Street Journal], are raising their kids Catholic.  Friggin' Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC [referring to the United States Supreme Court] and think tanks to the media and social groups.

It's an amazing bastardization of the faith.  They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.

As if on cue, the usual cast of characters started spinning their manufactured shock. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput denounced the contents as "ugly."  Catholic League William Donohue demanded in a press release "Hillary Clinton is not responsible for this Catholic bashing, but she has a moral obligation to sanction Podesta and Palmieri immediately." And the Opus Dei-linked Catholicvote.org's Joseph Cella howled that the e-mails "reveal the depths of the hostility of Hillary Clinton and her campaign toward Catholics."

These Catholic Right agitators typically cast anyone who disagrees with their stilted version of Catholicism as anti-Catholic. For them, anytime anyone disagrees with the hierarchy on cultural issues, that is -- at least, in their minds -- religious bigotry. Yet that is clearly not the case. And that is because the Church is more than the hierarchy; it is the rank and file who sit in the pews. And to that end, the content about the stridency of many in the Catholic Right clearly reflects what the average American Catholic believes. Let us remember that it is the average Catholic voter that politicians must answer to, not just the most reactionary of the clergy.

Peter Webb, senior editor for the website TheWeek.com, however, took a different view from those Catholic Right critics, noting, "The stuff about Catholics is pretty clearly two liberal Catholics grousing in private about their more conservative co-religionists, the role of women in the church, and what they view as the political misuse of `subsidiarity.'"

Father Edward L. Beck, C.P. also failed to detect any sense of anti-Catholicism in the emails. In a recent article on the subject he noted:

As Pope Francis has often indicated, the Catholic Church is a large tent that allows for many opinions and perspectives within its flaps.  The writers of the emails in question can be seen as Catholics expressing their views about how their faith intersects with public policy and social agenda.

The emails can likewise be interpreted as drafted by Catholics who are concerned that their Church risks becoming irrelevant, rather than being interpreted as smears on a Church they disdain.

Perhaps Father Beck said it best when he recently wrote, "The meddling of a few wonky Catholic Clinton campaigners should be less concerning to us than the meddling of far more impious entities who hack private emails and illegally release them, to a populace all too ready to put its own spin on them."

Father Beck and Peter Webb are correct. As I wrote here a few years ago, this is particularly true about the ultra-orthodox and their efforts to convert Conservative Evangelicals into Catholicism; Their goal being to make a more reactionary Church. I also pointed out how several ultra-conservative Catholic clergy were attempting to dissemble on the doctrine of subsidiarity (the concept that "issues be treated at the lowest level possible, that is, at the level closest to the individual.") in order to sabotage passage of the Affordable Care Act. And I've also written about the need for my faith to become more relevant in the modern world.

Yet this is about a lot more than that, specifically when we are talking about the Catholic Right's obsession with abortion. It is about the obsessive desire to make abortion be the litmus test for public office. And they will raise abortion above all other issues even at the expense of climate change, the risk of nuclear war, and continued economic inequality.

Why is that? The answer to that question is quite simple. Abortion is a wedge issue. But to many in the Catholic Right, it is a wedge issue that has been frustratingly blunted by Pope Francis. Indeed, other Catholic clergy have taken a more measured approach, balancing abortion - as well as other life issues - as something to be balanced against many other equally, if not more important, issues.

So is there criticism to be had for the likes of Podesta and Palmieri? Yes, but not the variety that the Catholic Right wants you to know about.

The same cast of characters comes out of the woodwork before every election and try to convince the Catholic voters they have a special privilege to speak on behalf of the Vatican when at most they speak for some of the USCCB and the wealthy funders of the Catholic Right. I guess they really can't recognize that one of the candidates is a childish and narcissistic bigot, and it isn't Hillary Clinton!

by khughes1963 on Mon Nov 07, 2016 at 06:17:39 PM EST

The Orthodox churches in the United States have had similar issues with converts from Evangelical Protestantism coming into Orthodoxy and bringing their culture war baggage with them. Evidently few cradle Orthodox Christians are given to these propensities.

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