Why I’m Not Worried (And Don’t Care) About the Podesta Emails

Why I’m Not Worried (And Don’t Care) About the Podesta Emails October 16, 2016

At this point, I’m assuming most every Catholic with a pulse and a wifi connection has at least heard about the anti-Catholic emails that were found among the thousands of leaked documents from the inbox of John Podesta, aka Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman.

In total there were only two email chains that have been reported on. One was between John Halpin, a Democratic strategist, and John Podesta in which the former had some choice words for Conservative Catholics:

Ken Auletta’s latest piece on Murdoch in the New Yorker starts off with the aside that both Murdoch and Robert Thompson, managing editor of the WSJ, are raising their kids Catholic.  Friggin’ Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC and think tanks to the media and social groups.

It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith.  They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.

Now, all in all, that’s pretty vanilla. And to be fair, Halpin himself has come out and said that the emails, as reported, were a bit out of context:

So, I’m a progressive Catholic who was reacting in a private email to the arguments of leading conservatives who often misuse Catholicism to defend their agenda. Liberals can be just as guilty of this as conservatives. That’s what makes Catholic social teaching powerful — it doesn’t fit squarely within in any one party or ideological movement.

This email wasn’t an exposition on the nature of people’s faith or an expression of contempt for people of faith. It was simply a fleeting reaction from within the Catholic tradition to something I read. That’s the context of this email, none of which has been reported in media accounts that erroneously accuse me of being an anti-Catholic bigot in an attempt to attack my former colleagues for political purposes.

But it’s the second email that has caused more of a stir. This one was between Podesta and a staffer named Sandy Newman talking about a “Catholic Spring” in 2012:

There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church. Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen? The Bishops will undoubtedly continue the fight…

Again, in fairness, he does admit in the next paragraph that “this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church.” (Duh). But what’s seemingly more troubling is Podesta’s response, in which he alludes to what many have called an attempt to plant a leftist coup in the Church:

We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up.

A lot of people, especially conservative minded Catholics, are pretty ticked off about this. And they certainly should be, because it *does* look like the Democratic Party is trying to finagle some mischief in the Church for political gain, something no one on the right would ever do.

Except they did.

Earlier this month, the American Prospect published a story detailing how the Koch Brothers—two of the biggest donors on the right— have poured billions into Catholic University in order to churn out more likeminded, “free-market” thinkers (The Koch’s economic ideology, by the way, is thoroughly in contrast to Catholic Social Teaching on Labor).

Now, I don’t point this out to try and legitimize what was revealed in the Podesta emails, but rather to make a point—one that all of us should know by now: Catholics are a very important voter bloc.

We may not be as numerous as our Protestant brothers and sister, but there are certainly enough of us to decide elections. Not to mention, many of us bleed into Hispanic and Latino minority groups. The simple fact is that with a political machine as big as America’s, you’d be naive to think that both sides of the aisle aren’t trying to sway Catholic voters one way or the other. That’s just the world we live in, folks.

And while I’m certainly not *pleased* with what I read in the leaked emails, I’m about a million miles away from shocked (there are plenty of stupid people out there who don’t know jack about the Church) and even further away from worried. And the reason why is because roughly 2,000 years ago, when Jesus Christ was planting his Church, he made a promise:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.— Matthew 16:18

I don’t know about you guys, but I take that one to heart.

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