By Anne Hendershott | June 17, 2014 | Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books). She is also the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Catholic Church (2013).
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the U. S. House of Representatives Minority Leader, and one of the most powerful Catholic politicians in the United States, has recently warned the Most Rev. Salvatore Cordileone, the Archbishop of San Francisco, to cancel his plans to speak at the June 19 National Organization for Marriage march on the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Calling the event “venom masquerading as virtue,” Pelosi urged Archbishop Cordileone to stay away from the event, and “join us in seeking to promote reconciliation rather than division and hatred.”
Pelosi has partnered with other self-described Catholics including California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and progressive Catholic activists like Fr. Ray Bourgeois, Marianne Duddy Burk, Mary Hunt, and Jeannine Grammick in protesting in a letter the Archbishop’s appearance at the pro-marriage rally.
And, while the parade of progressive politicians and Catholic dissidents is not surprising, Catholics should be much more concerned about the real power behind Pelosi’s attacks on the Archbishop.
The real story here is the betrayal of the bishops by those like John Gehring, formerly the Assistant Director of Media Relations at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who now works at the George Soros-funded Faith in Public Life/Faithful America. It is activists like Gehring who are providing the real power behind Pelosi’s threats.
Faithful America is a 501c (3) organization that has been very involved in political activity during the past few years. Most recently, the group spearheaded a petition drive on Facebook and other social media decrying what they see as Archbishop Cordileone’s “lending the church’s authority to their [National Organization for Marriage] vitriol and hatred—and undermining Pope Francis’s call for a more compassionate church.”
While a tax-exempt organization, Faithful America sponsors political protests that the organization calls “campaigns.” One of their current campaigns is to mobilize citizen opposition to Michael Boggs, a Georgia state judge who is described on the Faithful America website as a “right wing judge who misuses our faith” when he supports the 2nd Amendment and opposes same-sex marriage. Through petition drives, the group seeks to derail his Republican-backed nomination for a seat on the U.S. District Court because “he built a political career by fear mongering about homosexual Boy Scout leaders.”
Most of Faithful America’s causes involve gay and lesbian issues including a campaign supporting the right of an 8-year-old girl to practice an alternative gender identity at her Christian school; attacking World Vision for refusing to hire openly gay employees; and protesting the new teacher contract issued by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati that explicitly bans teachers who are involved in same-sex marriages. Furthermore, Faithful America distorts the new contract language, claiming that the Cincinnati Archdiocese will fire a teacher if he or she “attends a family member’s gay wedding,” or “shares kind words with a bullied student.” Continue reading