Bench Memos

Obama’s Catholic Advisors

Last week the indispensable Bill Donohue (President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights) published some disquieting facts about Senator Obama’s “Catholic National Advisory Council”. By letter dated yesterday the Committee fired back. Donohue’s original press release took the measure of the 26 former or current public officials on the Committee (folks such as Senators Kennedy, Leahy, Dodd, Kerry). Yesterday’s response was signed, however, by what appears to be the whole Committee — including academics and activists to whom Donohue did not explicitly refer.

Their letter asserts in its opening paragraph that Donohue “labeled many of our friends, and some of us, as ‘Catholic dissidents’ because we support Senator Obama”. But Donohue asserted no such thing. Nowhere in his press release last week did Donohue say, imply, or suggest that supporting Barack Obama for President made one a Catholic dissident.

Donohue instead said, and proved upon the basis of published sources, that the public officials are “Catholic dissidents” — not “because” they support Obama, but because (as Donohue stated clearly) “not one [of them] agrees with the Catholic Church on all three major public policy issues: abortion, embryonic stem cell research and school vouchers”. Donohue pointed out, for example, that “[o]f the 20 National Leadership Committee members with a NARAL score, 17 have earned a 100 percent rating. Of those who have less than a perfect score”, Donohue also wrote, “not one is in favor of school vouchers”.

Nowhere in their letter do Obama’s Catholics address the claim Donohue actually made, or his evidence for it. And so Donohue’s claim remains unrebutted: the public officials (at least) on Obama’s Catholic Advisory Council are “Catholic dissidents”.


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