Several breaking news reports[i] on August 23, 2016 revealed email leaks concerning George Soros's money that was spent to influence the Catholic vote. Everyone, it seems, has a vested interest in changing the relationship of the Catholic faithful to the doctrinal teachings of their religion
This isn’t new, of course.
During the last presidential campaign, the Soros-funded Faith in Public Life – a self-described “strategy center advancing faith in the public square” – funneled money into the Alinskyian network Gamaliel, an organizing effort that targets “faith-based” institutions, such as churches and synagogues. Soros’ Open Society
Institute also awarded grants to the Gamaliel network directly.[iii]
So, learning that, in 2015, another one of the Open Society Foundations is pouring more money into influencing next year’s presidential campaign is hardly a surprise. It’s what Soros and his allies do. When one’s Church is the target, however, it bears watching…and exposure.
So, for the record, this is what the 2015 U.S. Opportunities Fund “review” had to tell us: $650,000 went to Faith in Public Life and PICO: another Alinskyian organizing network that targets “faith-based” institutions. Their job was to use the money to “build on the momentum of the Pope’s September 2015 visit to the United States.”
This wasn’t pious enthusiasm.
It was an initiative “to use this opportunity to mobilize their tens of thousands of members in local chapters in 11 states to build toward a set of concrete policy reforms to be advanced in 2016.” Specifically, they planned to “form partnerships with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and 11 faith groups during the September events in order to mobilize 10,000 people to public action and train 3,500 others as messengers of Pope Francis’ economic and racial justice agenda.”
Not that it’s actually “Pope Francis’ economic and racial justice agenda” but who’s going to prevent them from saying so, particularly as another prong of this “initiative” was/is to purchase “[b]uy-in of individual bishops to more publicly voice support of economic and racial justice messages in order to begin to create a critical mass of bishops who are aligned with the Pope.”
Then, there would be – there will be/there is – the “[c]oordination of local PICO chapters to push for a range of state and local policy changes related to economic and racial justice” and, playing off of Faith in Public Life’s strengths, “[d]evelopment of an advanced media campaign featuring FPA’s [sic. This should probably read FPL] Catholic Director as a leading commentator in high-profile outlets, such as USA Today, Newsweek, CNN, NBC, NPR, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and the Guardian.”
Then follows an assessment of the initiative’s impact. “The boost to PICO and FPL’s internal capacity to engage in organizing and messaging, as well as their capacity to effectively partner and coordinate, was even greater than anticipated. The impact of this work and the relationships it has fostered can be seen in the broad range of religious leaders hitting pointedly back at presidential candidates for their use of fearmongering. And the efficacy of the media campaign can be seen in the team’s ability to react to and counter the anti-gay rhetoric following the Kim Davis story (the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for defying a federal court order to issue marriage licenses to gay couples whom the Pope visited).”
Minnesota Catholics might want to pay special attention:
“PICO’s local chapters are capitalizing on the momentum of the Pope’s visit, as planned, to push for a range of state and local policy reforms, including in Minnesota, a state with a significant Catholic population in suburban and rural counties, where nineteen parishes in key swing legislative districts are now poised to support state legislative campaigns to win driver’s licenses for immigrants, regulate payday lenders, and advance statewide paid family leave. PICO and FPL have been able to use their engagement in the opportunity of the Pope’s visit to seed their position in the long-term project of shifting the priorities of the US Catholic church to focus on issues of injustice and oppression.”
Do these groups have the Pope’s ear? Maybe:
“The Pope has invited PICO to help plan the 3rd World Meeting of Popular Movements, a conference organized by the Vatican to partner with social movements and organizations, taking place in the US this year. Resistance to this inside the US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been stark, and grantees are engaged in a live fight with a faction of the church that seeks to curb the Pope’s influence on social justice issues.”
Pope Francis did address last year’s World Meeting of Popular Movements.[iv] Whether the “change” he envisions is compatible with the change PICO, Gamaliel, and their allies seek, however, is another matter altogether.
In reflecting about this grant, the Opportunities Fund “review” is, overall, pretty pleased by the “effectiveness” of these two grantees “to nimbly and collaboratively find a demonstrable way to seize the moment of the Pope’s visit,” using their capacities “to shift the US Catholic Church to be a voice on behalf of the poor and communities of color.”[v]
Given the full spectrum of intentions that the Open Society Institute, its associated foundations, and its grantees are articulating – many of which openly contradict Church teaching on an array of issues – this calculated drive “to shift the US Catholic Church to be a voice” on behalf of its own understanding of morality, justice, and governance is terribly disturbing.
[i] See, e.g., LifeSiteNews, “BREAKING: Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit,” 8-23-16.
[ii] See, e.g., Stephanie Block, “Progressive Bullies and their Education Agendas,” Spero News, 8-24-16.
[iii] Stephanie Block, “The Progressive Funders who are behind Alinskyian Organizing,” Spero News, 2-7-11.
[iv] “Pope Francis: Speech at World Meeting of Popular Movements,” Vatican Radio, 7-9-15. en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/07/10/pope_francis_speech_at_world_meeting_of_popular_movements/1157291
[v]Andrea Batista Schlesinger and Nathan McKee, “Review of 2015 U.S. Opportunities Fund to USP [U.S. Projects] Advisory Board,” 2-9-16.
Spero News columnist Stephanie Block edits the New Mexico-based Los Pequeños newspaper and is the author of the four-volume Change Agents: Alinskyian Organizing Among Religious Bodies, which is available at Amazon.