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Who Are These Fake Catholic Groups?

By Anne Hendershott

Some of the biggest supporters of the current health reform bill—replete with public funding for abortion—are self-described “progressive” Catholic organizations, such as Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United, and Catholic Democrats. These Catholic organizations, along with the Catholic Health Association have created confusion for Catholics because at the same time the USCCB has strongly opposed the current health care reform bill because of its inclusion of public funding for abortion, these  Catholic organizations are providing “official” Catholic support for the bill.

This duplicity should surprise no one.  In 2008, these so-called Catholic organizations encouraged Catholics to elect Obama because he would reduce the rate of abortion by addressing poverty as the “root cause.” Supporting and publishing a study by a Notre Dame professor which erroneously claimed that the data demonstrate that reducing poverty reduces abortion, they convinced many Catholics to support Obama’s strategy.  Unfortunately, the study was quietly removed from the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good website after the election when its faulty methodology and erroneous conclusions were pointed out by several social scientists. Professor Bailey, the first author of the initial study, removed his name from the revised report. Joseph Wright remains as the sole author—and is listed as Chairman of the Board of Catholics United on the Form 990 EZ submitted by the organization in 2007.

Now these organizations are providing the same propaganda on funding for abortion in the health care reform bill. But, this time they have placed their people inside the Obama administration.  Witness the appointment of Alexia Kelley, the co-founder and director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. Last year, Obama tapped Kelley to direct the federal Health and Human Services Department’s Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. For the progressives, she is a perfect choice because for almost a decade, Kelley worked for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on the Campaign for Human Development. During the years that Kelley worked for the Campaign for Human Development, more than seven million dollars of parishioners’ donations were awarded to the notorious ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now).

While at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Kelley teamed with Catholics United leaders, James Salt and Chris Korzen, in the 2008 campaign to neutralize the abortion issue by casting it in pro-Democratic Party terms. Salt and Korzen have plenty of political experience, as well. Salt’s political work has involved overseeing the Kansas Democratic Party’s dubious “faith outreach” efforts, including what he calls “messaging work” for the pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius and the development of “faith-based messaging resources.”

On its website Catholics United describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.” But prior to helping to found Catholics United, Korzen worked for several years as a union organizer for SEIU.  Like Salt, Korzen has been a strong supporter of Kathleen Sebelius and organized support for her nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services by garnering signatures in an online petition entitled “Catholics for Sebelius.”

On its website, Catholics United describes itself as a 501(c) (4) non-profit organization—eligible to accept donations. But, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good emerged in 2005 as a kind of sister organization to Catholics United. A 501(c) (3) organization, donors can claim a deduction against personal income tax when they donate money to Catholics in Alliance. Reviewing the 2007 IRS 990 forms for both Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United raises some questions, because Chris Korzen is listed as having received $84,821 in compensation for 40 hours per week from Catholics in Alliance on the group’s 990 Form—even though the Catholics United website claimed he was the director there during the same time period.

Soros, An Early Donor to Catholics in Alliance

Despite their inability to engage in extensive lobbying, Catholics in Alliance has been extremely successful in attracting large donors. Never a friend to the Catholic Church, George Soros, one of the earliest donors, contributed $50,000 to Catholics in Alliance in 2005 and another $100,000 in 2006 through his Open Society Institute. Likewise, Smith Bagley, a major Democratic donor and fundraiser, whose wife, Elizabeth Frawley Bagley, is Chairman of the Board of Catholics in Alliance, came close to matching Soros with grants from his family’s Arca Foundation. With a long history of supporting progressive organizations like ACORN, the Gamaliel Foundation, People for the American Way, and Planned Parenthood, Arca contributed $50,000 to Catholics in Alliance in 2007 and another $75,000 in 2008.

The new US ambassador to the Vatican, Miguel Diaz, is another example of the Obama administration’s alliance with liberal Catholics. A member of the Catholics in Alliance Speakers Bureau, Diaz functions as a “theological consultant” for the organization. While Diaz has no published statements on abortion or embryonic stem-cell research, his affiliations, board memberships, and willingness publicly to endorse pro-abortion Democrats like Kathleen Sebelius suggest that he is part of the Church’s contingent that wishes to “move beyond” the “divisive” abortion issue and elect pro-abortion Democrats.

After the controversy emerged within the Catholic community over Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to give last year’s commencement address and receive an honorary degree, Catholics in Alliance published a full-page ad in the South Bend Tribune entitled “Catholic Leaders and Theologians Welcome President Obama to Notre Dame.”

It is likely that this strategy will continue, as former Gamaliel Foundation community organizer Victoria Kovara was tapped to replace Alexia Kelley as executive director at Catholics in Alliance. Obama got his start in community organizing at Gamaliel.  It is another Soros-funded organization that has been successful in creating local community organizations willing to use confrontational tactics to gain power in progressive causes. Currently Gamaliel has enlisted religious leaders to lobby for health care reform as “a theological imperative.”  It might be time for the Bishops to begin to distance themselves from some of these so-called “Catholic” organizations.  At this point, there is little Catholic about them—except their names.

Anne Hendershott is chair of the Politics, Philosophy, and Economics Program at The King’s College in New York City, and the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education (Transaction).

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7 Responses to Who Are These Fake Catholic Groups?

  1. ruben says:

    This political conversation is not about whether abortion should be funded by federal monies, or even whether it should be legal at all. Rather this disagreement is over our understanding of whether the legal language in a health care reform bill which will certainly save the lives of thousands if not millions of people who want for proper health care may have the unintended consequence of allowing some federal support for abortions.

    It strikes me as the height of hubris to assert that the USCCB not only has final authority on how American catholics interpret religious law, but also how we interpret proposed American law.

    One of the greatest strengths of Catholicism is it\’s genius for embracing people from a diversity of backgrounds amongst the fold. American Catholics come from all professions, cultures, and political backgrounds. It\’s time to allow honest disagreement on secular politics within the flock, and stop attacking those who dissent as \"fake catholics\" or as somehow disingenuous.

  2. Juanita Estrada says:

    Progressives/liberals are insidious and their tactics to push their agendas are what could be called evil.

  3. Christi says:

    If you are for killing babies, you are not catholic. Period.

  4. MAT says:

    Ruben,
    Do you feel outrage against abortion? Do you consider it murder? What about 50+ million abortions, or do you believe that this health care bill will save even more people? How would you rank abortion among your priorities? I’m curious about where you really stand. Please tell us. Or is everything all just politics?

  5. Steven Maikoski says:

    People are addressing the act of abortion, which is vitally important, but there is far more to these political events.

    After the welfare system was initiated, the government started competing with churches in helping people out of hard-life situations. The church wants people to rise from their problems, to believe in God and to work out their resolutions.

    Conversely, the government rewarded out-of-marriage childbirths, thereby increasing non-religious values. The government subsidized lethargy, lust, drug use and dependence on others.

    Please understand that the current course of government will eventually weaken the power of every church. In doing so, it opens the gate to unlimited evil.

  6. Robert V says:

    Ruben said…”It\’s time to allow honest disagreement on secular politics within the flock”

    Dear friend,you should be aware of the dogmatic teachings of the Church on such issues.
    Dogmatic teachings come directly from Christ to the Church and are NOT changeable because Christ is never in error .

    Here is a brief time line of this UNCHANGEABLE teachings

    Circa 100 to 150 CE: The Didache (also known as “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles”), was a document written for the guidance of Christians. It forbade all abortions.

    Prior to 380 CE: Many Christian leaders issued unqualified condemnations of abortion. So did two church synods in the early 4th century:

    Circa 380 CE: The Apostolic Constitutions allowed abortion if it was done early enough in pregnancy. But it condemned abortion if the fetus was of human shape and contained a soul.

    St. Augustine (354-430 CE) accepted the Aristotelian Greek Pagan concept of “delayed ensoulment”. He wrote that a human soul cannot live in an unformed body. 3 Thus, early in pregnancy, an abortion is not murder because no soul is destroyed (or, more accurately, only a vegetable or animal soul is terminated).

    Pope Innocent III (1161-1216):he stated that the soul enters the body of the fetus at the time of “quickening” – when the woman first feels movement of the fetus. Before that time, abortion was a less serious sin, because it terminated only potential human person, not an actual human person.

    Pope Sixtus V (1588) issued a Papal bull “Effraenatam” which threatened those who carried out abortions at any stage of gestation with excommunication and the death penalty.

    Pope Gregory XIV (1591) revoked the previous Papal bull and reinstated the “quickening” test, which he determined happened 116 days into pregnancy (16½ weeks).

    Pope Pius IX (1869) dropped the distinction between the “fetus animatus” and “fetus inanimatus.” The soul was believed to have entered the pre-embryo at conception.

    Leo XIII (1878-1903):He Issued a decree in 1884 that prohibited craniotomies. This is an unusual form of abortion used under crisis situations late in pregnancy. It is occasionally needed to save the life of the pregnant woman.

    He issued a second degree in 1886 that prohibited all procedures that directly killed the fetus, even if done to save the woman’s life

    “Pope Paul Vl in 1930 declared that the teaching of the Church about the morality of abortion ‘has not changed and is unchangeable.

    Canon law was revised in 1917 and 1983 to refer simply to “the fetus.” The church penalty for abortions at any stage of pregnancy was, and remains, excommunication.

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