NCR frets as progressive Catholics flee the public square, and CatholicVote arrives

Two weeks ago I noted the quiet demise of the catholyc group Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG).

I was happy to see the group disband, especially after discovering that their chairman of the board, Alfred Rotondaro, argues publicly that the Church should accept the fact that abortion and contraception are here to stay and that gay sex is a gift from God that the Church should celebrate. Obviously, these views have a home among the political-progressive movement, but they deserve no place within the church of Christ.

It came as little surprise when I discovered Alfred Rotondaro has reared his head once again, this time in the pages of the National Catholic Reporter, where writer Jerry Filteau breathlessly reports that, while CACG is currently lying dormant, “two more directly political Catholic groups still going strong”, namely Catholics United and Catholic Democrats. I’m happy that Jerry chose to lump these groups together, agreeing with me that these Catholic groups are all cut from the same political-progressive cloth. (The president of Catholic Democrats, Patrick Whelan, is on the NCReporter board of directors. So they really are all one big happy progressive family.)

Jerry attempts in his article, like many writers at NCReporter, to continue the myth that the Catholic left is alive and well. That’s a joke. And this myth is now in the process of unravelling before our eyes. It has Deal Hudson laughing (the only power the Catholic left has at this point, he notes, is mythology).

Here’s what I mean: through my daily work in DC and in association with CatholicVote, I know how to make the distinction between making a difference, and attempting to appear to make a difference. The Catholic Left can no longer claim to actually be making a difference, so they are left claiming to make a difference.

Let’s take a look at some of these shoddy claims that Jerry tries to publish as fact:

  • “In July, Catholics United announced a $500,000 campaign to retain the House seats of four pro-life Democrats who voted for [the Democrats’ health care bill]. … ‘The campaign is going great,’ said Chris Korzen, Catholics United executive director. He said the organization has campaign workers in all four congressional districts and has brought out local Catholics [to demonstrate].”

Hahahaha … okay, I’m laughing now too. Korzen is referring to demonstrations like this one, which shows clearly that Korzen’s “local Catholics” are most likely professional union demonstrators which Korzen’s cronies hired for this express purpose. Considering this supposed half-a-million dollars has resulted in nothing tangible except fielding some burly-looking people at a few rallies, this must be where all that money is going. Or else they don’t really have $500,000 to work with. So pick your falsehood.

Here’s the next “huh?”-inspiring claim in Jerry’s article:

  • “Steven Krueger, Catholic Democrats’ national director, [said they have] … built a track record of effectiveness in the public square as well as successes behind the scenes” and “We have every reason to believe that we will be successful.”

I’ll eagerly await to see if this prediction comes true. But back to Krueger’s claim, besides offering free window stickers and blog posts comparing Bishop Olmsted to a character in a Monty Python sketch, I’m not quite sure what Catholic Democrats has actually done. In fact, they barely appear in my news archives, and I watch these issues pretty closely. I mean, if I really look hard, I can find Bill Roth of Catholic Democrats claiming at a debate that Catholics who opposed Barack Obama were followers of “pelvic theology.” But maybe Bill was just working on comedy routine for their upcoming fall fundraiser.

My final point is one about a glaring omission in Jerry’s article: CatholicVote. Instead of comparing the activities and “vitality” of Catholics United and Catholic Democrats with, say, an organization like ours (which actually has “Catholic” proudly in its name), Jerry chose to go after the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

This is revealing. Here’s why: Jerry chose to contrast supposedly-“Catholic” organizations with a POLITICAL organization, instead of a faithful Catholic organization (like ours) which focuses on politics. Why? Because the progressive organizations that Jerry wants us to believe are carrying forward Catholic social teaching, in fact are focused on promoting political (i.e. Democrats’) policy goals and politicians against Republican policy goals and politicians, which means the activity of these progressive groups are more accurately described as “progressive” rather than “Catholic,” because (as I’ve always maintained), those who run these organizations are inspired first and foremost by their political ideology, not Catholic principles.

But there’s a second reason why Jerry chose to contrast progressive Catholic groups with a political organization rather than a bipartisan Catholic one like ours….

We are flourishing. CatholicVote’s email list numbers more than ten times the largest email list that any of these progressive Catholic organizations can claim. We are happy to have launched an “I am the Catholic Vote” campaign, because the face of CatholicVote is youthful, joyful face and one full of promise. We don’t rely on the largesse of powerful “Washington socialites” (like CACG admitted it did). Our funding is grassroots (our current campaign promotes a large matching-gift offer from a married couple, but what we actually raise depends entirely on how many small, individual donations we get).

So it’s no surprise that Jerry doesn’t mention us. WE here at CatholicVote are the direct rebuke to the myth he wishes to create about a vibrant Catholic left. That’s why liberal groups such as Catholics United, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and yes, even National Catholic Reporter, have never attempted to engage me personally in debate. They know I’d (we’d) win. We’re not enslaved to the progressive orthodoxy or any party, rather, we’re living the Church’s social teaching in an integrated fashion.

In the meantime, the Catholic Left stays put in their emptying echo chamber.

But I have news for them: the public square has new tenants. And we’re here to stay.



  • Jill

    Thomas, good points but your tone comes access as shrill and young when you go on the attack like this. De-personalizing it will add gravitas to your points.

  • Kevin

    Optimism is overstated. Dissenting Catholics already control Catholic academia and the Democratic Party. They don’t really need these smaller groups.

    Catholics are very faithful to what they’ve been taught is Catholicism. The trouble is they have been taught that Catholicism is “doing whatever you want as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody” or “just one of many paths to God.”

    I bet Speaker Pelosi is very loyal to the catechism she received. Unfortunately she was catechized by saboteurs.

  • Robert

    I really do not believe the “Catholic left”, as you call it, has gone away. I have spent the last couple of weeks looking at the latest polls on things such as contraception, gay marriage, abortion rights, etc. I find no evidence that a large swarth of “left catholics” has gone away. In fact, the latest polls in CA and most of the eastern states shows that self identified Catholic woters are most in support of gay marriage among all “religious identified” voters.

    What IS happening is something that I think “orthodox people” really don’t understand. A good portion of Catholics (and I might even say half) no longer CARE enough what the bishops or Magisterium might say to really fight about it. People simply go to Church, disregard what they find disturbing, and go about their business. If “orthodox” Catholics are winning the debate, it is because it the other side of the debate no longer thinks it is important to show up and have a conversation.

    A good example of this is contraception. Though Catholics are consistently among the “religious identified” groups in society who use contraception the most, when is the last time you have heard a protest about Humanae Vitae? People simply have decided the teaching is wrong and ignore it.

    Barack Obama, who I have read in your blog is “Anti-Catholic” received a majority of the Catholic vote. And if he doesnt do that again in 2012 I would bet it will be more about economics than abortion, gay marriage, stem cells, etc. I didn’t hear much from Catholics in 2008 who voted for Obama(because they weren’t the ones screaming that it was immoral to vote for John McCain) but I doubt that have disappeared in overwhelming numbers.

    Orthodox Catholics have succeeded over the last two decades in winning the “ideological battle” within the Church. But you actually lost the war. And the war was lost in the worst way possible…your opponents (and by “opponents” I mean typical non-activist Catholics) do not think it is even relevant to debate you anymore. I had a religion professor who said (well at least he was the first person I heard say it) there are two types of churches: those that look for people to bring in or hunt for people to kick out. There is indeed, as Jerry Falwell might put it, a “silent majority” of Catholics. And calling them names like “cathlyc” and screaming for their excommunication has not made them go away.

    One last point. Some very progressive ladies my mother went to school with (all Catholic and still faithful mass attendees) were asked by a former school mate to attend or financially support a protest that was going to be held when the Pope visited the US. Not one of seven or eight attended or gave a dime. My mom told me this story as I was driving her to Mass. When I asked my mother why not she stopped and said something to this affect (I dont remember verbatim): “I raised you three kids with values I thought appropriate and I know all my other friends did the same with their kids. We could care less what the Pope thinks anymore. Hurry up, through that light, we’re going to be late”. Enough said.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      Robert’s observations about the progressive majority within the Church who ignore and dismiss the teachings of the Vicar of Christ remind me of one of the recent readings from the Old Testament. When Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive God’s word, the People of God grew weary of waiting, so they melted down their golden items and crafted an idol of gold, which they then worshipped with joy. Moses had to beg the Lord not to renounce them as His own nation.

      Human beings get distracted. That includes the People of God back then, and the People of God right now. “Ooh! A golden calf like the Amorites and the Canaanites worship! Awesome! It was forbidden? So what? We do what we want! ” or “Abortion and contraception like the Presbyterians and the atheists! Cool! These are forbidden? So what? We do what we want!”

      There is always a faithful remnant among God’s people — often considered the prigs, the goody-two-shoes — who stay back and don’t participate in whatever methodology the People of God have chosen to corrupt themselves in their imitating the people of the land. The calf-worshippers will always try to mock and punish and make things as uncomfortable for the faithful ones as they can, especially the faithful ones in leadership and teaching positions.

      You’re doing good things, Thomas. Just don’t forget what Jesus said became of faithful prophets. (The people of God used to stone them.)

  • Susan Thies

    I just want to point out the difference between Catholics United, mentioned in the article about liberal groups, and Catholics United for the Faith, which promotes the teachings of the Catholic Church. I’ve been to CUF-sponsored talks by Fr. Benedict Groeschel and Dr. Scott Hahn, for example.

  • Fr. Darren Simpson

    To be consciously out of line with the Gospel or with the canons of the Church are to be working against the Church and God.

  • Kathie Boelkes

    Prayers being answered ! Amen!



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