Atheist Soros Funds Catholic Groups
By Cliff Kincaid
November 12, 2009
The critical role of the Catholic Church in passing national health care reform legislation is coming under serious media scrutiny. But the story has taken a strange turn. It has now been revealed that George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund operator and well-known atheist, has been pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into “progressive” Catholic groups that are significant players in the national debates over health care and immigration.
On the surface, it would appear that Soros would be opposed to many positions of the Catholic Church. A major financial backer of the ACLU, Soros supports such causes as drug legalization, the rights of “sex workers” and felons, euthanasia, radical feminism, abortion rights, and homosexual rights. He does all of this in the name of promoting an “open society.”
But a review of the records of his Open Society Institute finds that a group calling itself Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) has received $200,000 from them over the last several years.
James Todd of Pewsitter.com, which represents traditional Catholics, calls such groups “CINOs,” or Catholics In Name Only. He explains, “This group and several others have sprung up recently-I suspect purposely organized and funded-to counterbalance the growing influence of the faithful Catholics AND to try to deceive and mislead the middle of the road Catholics that have determined the last 13 Presidential elections.”
An AIM investigation also finds, however, that Soros money has gone into the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), an organization established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops back in 1988. It has received at least $530,000 from the Open Society Institute.
The two issues merge in the fact that the Catholic Bishops are demanding that national health care legislation cover illegal aliens.
In a story headlined, “Religious Leaders Seek Healthcare for Illegal Immigrants,” the Los Angeles Times recently quoted Kathy Saile, director of domestic social development with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as saying that illegal immigrants should be included in any healthcare reform plan. Father Richard Estrada of Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Los Angeles was described as being part of a religious service and phone bank “to urge congressional leaders to include illegal immigrants in any healthcare reform plan.” His church has in the past offered sanctuary to illegal immigrants.
CACG played a role in House passage of H.R. 3962, the bill known as Pelosicare and boasts that it had joined with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association, and “dozens of other Catholic and faith-based groups in celebrating this historic vote.”
The group’s blog even offered a “Health Care Reform Prayer,” asking for God’s help in passing federal legislation.
John Gehring, CACG media director, told AIM that “We have been primarily focused on highlighting the moral dimensions of this issue and articulating how Catholic social teaching addresses health care as a human right central to a just society. Along with other faith-based groups like PICO National Network, Faith in Public Life, Sojourners and others we brought citizens and faith leaders to Capitol Hill several weeks ago to meet with representatives and they emphasized the urgency for reform and specifically the critical issue of affordability. For example, Fr. Joseph Shad, S.J., a hospital chaplain at Mercy Hospital in Portland, Maine, came to Capitol Hill and met with representatives. He shared stories we have collected from citizens across the country as part of our project, Voices for Health Reform.
But the Soros-funded Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has high-level connections of its own. The Treasurer-Secretary is Francis Xavier Doyle, a former top official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Executive director is Victoria Kovari, a former organizer for the Gamaliel Foundation, the same group that helped launch Barack Obama’s career as a community organizer in Chicago. The chairman is Alfred M. Rotondaro, a senior fellow at another Soros-funded group, the Center for American Progress.
Although CACG describes itself as “a lay Catholic organization that works to promote the common good and the broad spectrum of Catholic social teaching,” Frank Walker of the conservative Pewsitter website labels it a religious and political Trojan Horse designed to mislead Catholics and produce votes for the Democratic Party.
One purpose of the Soros money, Walker says, is to play down the importance of the abortion issue to Catholics and even make abortion rights a “respectable” Catholic position.
Walker notes that “The CACG is run and advised by powerful Democrats. Their board, staff, and advisory committee include top fundraisers and strategists as well as major labor union representation.” He adds, “Catholic Church Leadership from the Sisters of Mercy, the Jesuit order, the government-funded Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services are also represented at CACG. Catholic academia has a strong presence.”
Indeed, the CACG advisory council includes figures from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), AFL-CIO, Catholic University of America, Georgetown University, and Boston College.
In addition to health care reform, other big issues for CACG are “immigration reform” and “worker justice.” The latter links to a group promoting a bill, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to gain members.
The SEIU representative on the CACG board is Tom Chabolla, who serves as assistant to SEIU President Andy Stern. Before joining SEIU, he was associate director of programs for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the agency of the Bishops that funded ACORN to the tune of $7.3 million over the last decade. Funding of ACORN-but not of groups like Gamaliel-has been suspended by the Bishops.
Gamaliel says on its website that “Barack H. Obama, former Gamaliel organizer, is the 44th president of the United States,” and that this makes the organizing community proud. It also has a story about Obama friend and White House adviser Valerie Jarrett speaking to a Gamaliel event in Washington, D.C. of 2,500 activists. Jarrett is the official who said that “we” had recruited communist Van Jones to the White House. Another speaker was Melody Barnes, Obama’s Director of the Domestic Policy Council.
Before coming to the White House, Barnes was the executive vice president for Policy at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress (CAP). Van Jones also worked at CAP before going to the White House. CAP CEO and President John Podesta, who served as President Clinton’s chief of staff, is a major “progressive Catholic” and member of the ACORN advisory council, and served as a professor at Georgetown University.
Interestingly, Tom Chabolla of the SEIU and formerly of the CCHD was on the dinner committee for the 33rd Annual Hubert H. Humphrey Civil Rights Award Dinner, which was held on May 7, 2009 in Washington, D.C. One of the award winners was none other than Van Jones.
On Saturday, November 21 and Sunday, November 22, Catholics across the country will be asked to support the CCHD with their financial offerings. Gamaliel is appealing for support, saying that it is “under attack from those with a partisan agenda to de-fund groups committed to organizing for social justice.” It says: “Many Gamaliel Foundation affiliates rely on funding from CCHD to serve their communities.”
But Gamaliel also relies on George Soros. His Open Society Institute provided $300,000 to the organization in 2008.
New Book’s Ironic Claim: Catholic Church Paid to Send Obama to an Alinsky-Founded Group’s Community Organizing Training (See the Documents)
July 23, 2012
A new book by conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly and American Spectator journalist George Neumayr exposes never-before-seen documents that purportedly show that the Catholic Church supported, and gave monies to, Barack Obama in the 1980s to attend a community organizing training with the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). Additionally, in “No Higher Power,” the authors highlight other problematic funding and allegiances between the Church and ultra-liberal causes.
It’s no secret that the left has learned the ropes of using faith and religion for political gain. For years, liberals lamented conservatives’ close allegiance with Christian leaders. But now, in a change of course, they seem to be revving up the engagement and infiltration of faith communities in an effort to harness political power.
Progressive evangelicals, for instance, have a bizarre history of taking funding from far-left billionaire George Soros, an atheist (we’ve covered liberal evangelical groups and their controversial stances and ties here, here and here). Many groups and churches, too, have joined in on leftist calls for social justice, among other Democratic-laden sentiment.
While gaining in its prevalence, this systematic exploitation of religion by liberals who seek to use the cohesive forces of belief to progress political agendas is nothing new. Segments of the Catholic Church, for example, have been frequently accused of being sympathetic to — and even funding — leftist activities. Most recently, the Bishops, themselves, have accused nuns of liberal inclinations and separating from Church doctrine. But the ties and issues seem to go far beyond the nuns.
In “No Higher Power,” Schlafly and Neumayr focus upon Obama’s “war on religious freedom,” as the book puts it. Since the announcement of his controversial contraceptive mandate, many have claimed that the president and his administration have turned hostile towards people of faith (although there were other benchmarks, including his attack on the ministerial exemption and an alleged apathy toward the faith community that some called out as earlier warning signs).
Considering Obama’s ongoing stalemate with Catholic leaders, though, there are some past connections that are worth noting. TheBlaze secured an exclusive excerpt from Chapter 6 of the book, where the aforementioned documents seem to show that the Catholic Church funded Obama’s IAF trip. On the surface, this may seem benign, but connecting the dots showcases what the authors contend is further evidence of leftist infiltration into the Church.
Let’s start with the IAF, the organization that put on the training session that the Church purportedly paid to send Obama to. Previously, we have delved deeply into IAF and its use of faith to capture for political gain. The infamous, ultra-left group was founded back in 1940 by Alinsky, the father of community organizing. As we’ve reported, IAF, which is still very active today, is known for using religion as an adhesive force to bring individuals together in support of Democratic principles and candidates.
Naturally, there’s some irony considering that the Catholic Church allegedly paid to send Obama to a far-leftist training, specifically when it comes to the current state of affairs between the president and bishops. Here’s an exclusive portion of the book that delves into the support that Obama allegedly received from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), an arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
In the 1980s, the Catholic archdiocese of Chicago contributed to the training of Obama in the very Alinskyite radicalism that would culminate in such anti-religious measures as the HHS mandate. In fact, in the course of writing this book, we met a source who once had access to copies of documents from the archives of the Chicago archdiocese. This source supplied us with never-before-published copies of invoices, checks, and letters that confirm the Church’s support for the man who would one day seek to destroy its religious freedom.
In a series of appendices, we have reproduced the check and invoice showing that the archdiocese of Chicago paid for Obama’s plane trip to a conference in Los Angeles run by the Industrial Areas Foundation, the community organizing group founded by Alinsky.
TheBlaze has secured the alleged documents, which the book says were given to the authors by someone who had access to Church archives and are also presented in the appendix of “No Higher Power.” In the 1980s, a time during which Obama was on staff with Developing Communities Project, an off-shoot of the Calumet Community Religious Conference, the group received support from the CCHD. Below, see a letter on CCRC letterhead that is signed by Obama; in it, he mentions an “IAF training in Los Angeles” and seeks a reimbursement for his travels:
Then, a follow-up note shows a memorandum from the Campaign for Human Development (the name given to the group before “Catholic” was later added in), which confirms a travel payment to the then-community organizer:
And there’s more:
While some may dismiss this as an odd or one-time affair, it seems Alinsky had extensive ties to the Church (specifically CCHD), as he attempted to use religion — much like the left is today — to harness the political power of a mass group of people tied together by common belief. Schlafly and Neumayr continue, providing more on this allegedly cozy relationship between Alinsky and Church officials:
Alinsky had always targeted churches for radical infiltration, and to a certain degree he succeeded. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) was the Alinskyite branch of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which had offices in dioceses across the country. It was founded in 1969 by priests and bishops close to Saul Alinsky, such as Monsignor John Egan, who sat on Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation board. The group was originally called the Campaign for Human Development, with “Catholic” added later as its socialist work began to draw criticism.
Alinsky had initially won favor with some in the Archdiocese of Chicago by appearing to be an advocate of justice for the poor. In the 1950s, in fact, Alinsky received tens of thousands of dollars from the Church to “study” poverty and racism.
This isn’t the first time CCHD has been exposed as a leftist arm of the Church. And a travel reimbursement is far from the only example of Catholic monies going toward far leftist causes. In 2011, in a column for First Things, Fr. Val J. Peter also delved into these issues, writing that it may, indeed, be time for the CCHD to be shuttered. Considering some of the other funding allegations written up by Schlafly and Neumayr, it‘s no wonder why some have grave concerns about the group’s continued existence (hint: excessive financial ties to ACORN):
Indeed, from 1998-2008, CCHD gave $7.3 million of Catholic-donated money to the now notorious ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a radical leftist organization that supported Barack Obama’s brand of “community organizing.” In 2007 alone, CCHD increased its support of ACORN, giving ACORN thirty-seven grants totally $1,037,000. During 2007-2008, ACORN and its affiliated organizations were aggressively registering what they claimed were 1.3 million poor people to vote. ACORN focused on new registrations in the key toss-up states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
CCHD knew exactly how ACORN spent its money. CCHD’s executive director, Ralph McCloud, admitted to Catholic News Service that “some of the funds that the Catholic Campaign contributed to ACORN in the past undoubtedly were used for voter registration drives.”
Even though the pro-Obama political activity of ACORN had been widely reported, and even though employees of ACORN and affiliated organizations like Project Vote had either been indicted or convicted of submitting false voter registration forms in fourteen states, CCHD, in June 2008, approved grants of $113 million to forty local ACORN affiliates for the cycle beginning July 1, 2008. Those grants were ratified by the United States Conference of Bishops at its June 2008 meting.
Under press scrutiny and backlash from members of the laity, the CCHD-ACORN relationship suddenly became too embarrassing for the bishops to ignore, and CCHD announced it was suspending (not canceling) the 2008 grants.
Considering the Catholic Church’s ongoing issues with the Obama administration, these ties are fascinating. Furthermore, the ongoing accusations being thrown at nuns by the bishops are also noteworthy. While there is a fear that leftist views have been too fervently embraced by the sisters, it seems there may also be a need to look further into other facets of the Church (at least the CCHD) as well.
You can pick up a copy of “No Higher Power” on Tuesday.
**Written and posted by Billy Hallowell @The Blaze**
Wright, Wallis, Rathke at Gamaliel 2005
Teaching Social Justice and Shared Abundance (Socialism) Through Faith: Obama’s Community Organizing Faith Initiative Supporters
One of Obama’s Faith advisors:
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