Category: Mark Wauck

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Why Was Andrew Weissmann Kept 'in the Loop' by Bruce Ohr?


A week ago, August 27th, Bruce Ohr, the demoted former Associate Deputy Attorney General, testified before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees. Among the newsworthy items that emerged, a few stand out. One of course is that his wife Nellie began working for Glenn Simpson’s opposition research outfit, Fusion GPS, back in 2015 — adding fuel to the speculation that she was involved as an FBI contractor in illegally mining NSA databases for information on GOP presidential candidates. Another item, highlighted by Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller, was that Ohr kept a number of FBI and DoJ colleagues “in the loop” regarding his highly irregular contacts with Christopher Steele, the “former” MI6 spook. Specifically:

Sources familiar with Ohr’s testimony before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Ohr informed Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page about his interactions with Steele and Simpson. He also informed Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann about his dossier-related work.


Weissmann is now serving as right-hand man to Robert Mueller at the special counsel’s office.

It seems to me that the question that needs to be asked is: Why Andrew Weissmann? Why was Ohr keeping Weissmann, who was at the time head of DoJ’s Criminal Fraud Section, in the loop on what to all appearances was a Counterintelligence investigation? If Ohr kept Weissmann in the loop out of friendship, that still breaks the first rule of conspiratorial operations: need to know. Unless … Weissmann was contributing or could potentially contribute something of value to the conspiracy.

What Weissmann’s contribution to the Russia hoax might have been is suggested by his previous career.

Weissmann is best known as a hard charging prosecutor, but one with a reputation for being willing to take ethical shortcuts to make the big case. This led, in 2005, to the US Supreme Court unanimously overturning the conviction in his biggest case: Arthur Anderson, part of the Enron Scandal. The criticism of Weissmann’s “intimidating” “scorched earth” tactics that arose from the case made him a hot potato in the legal world, but fortunately for him he landed on his feet — as Special Counsel to a friend and former colleague, FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Screen grab YouTube

This was Weissmann’s first gig at the FBI, and lasted probably less than a full year while he looked for a more lucrative position. By the end of 2005, Weissmann went into private practice, becoming a partner at Jenner & Block in New York. But in 2011, Weissmann returned to the FBI and his mentor Mueller, serving as General Counsel under Mueller until the end of Mueller’s term in September 2013.

He continued at the FBI under James Comey until January 2015, when he returned to DoJ as head of the Criminal Fraud Section. His final career move, to date, was his reunion with Mueller, joining Mueller’s Special Counsel team in June 2017.

What was Weissmann doing as General Counsel at the FBI? According to DoJ:

“The General Counsel of the FBI is ultimately responsible for all of the legal affairs of the FBI. … The General Counsel interacts regularly with all of the elements of the FBI, the Justice Department, the U.S. Intelligence Community, a range of other government agencies, foreign partners….”

You get the drift. During his four years as General Counsel at the FBI, Weissmann would have been interacting on a daily basis with FBI management at the very highest levels, certainly including the Director (Mueller, then Comey) and Deputy Director — with additional contact with the highest levels in all important Divisions. Beyond that, however, he would have been developing contacts throughout the Intelligence Community and with “foreign partners” — prominently including the British intelligence agencies. The appeal of having Weissmann “in the loop” of the Russia hoax is obvious — he would be a trusted contact with the top levels of the FBI and would have a wide range of other useful contacts.

But Weissmann’s connections to the FBI would not have been the end of his usefulness. Weissmann was well known to be a Hillary Clinton partisan, and even attended the Clinton election night surprise wake. Just how extensive were Weissmann’s contacts with the Clinton campaign? Here the waters are murky. Nevertheless, Weissmann is known to have had contacts with Mary Jacoby, the wife of Glenn Simpson, as well as with Simpson himself.

Aaron Klein has detailed remarkable new information involving contacts of Edward Lieberman with the Russians involved in the famous Trump Tower meeting. Not only on the days surrounding that meeting, but the very day of the meeting. Edward Lieberman is a lawyer and an associate of Madeline Albright, whose expertise involves “multi-billion dollar privatizations of oil and gas assets in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Russia.” He was also the husband of the late Evelyn Lieberman, a Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House.

Was Bruce Ohr “in the loop” regarding the Trump Tower meeting — which I regard as a clear attempt to set up Donald Trump Jr. and/or Jared Kushner in a quid-pro-quo arrangement for supposed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton? If Ohr knew of this attempted setup of the Trump campaign, there would seem to be little doubt that Weissmann also knew. Further, since both would have known of the connection of Fusion GPS to the Clinton campaign, was there possibly a more direct connection to the Clinton campaign, through Weissman?

Finally, when it came time to select a Special Counsel, would not Weissmann have been a logical person to sound out Mueller on returning to government — or should we say Deep State — work? It’s telling that Weissmann jumped on board the Mueller train as soon as the Special Counsel was established. Had there been preliminary discussions?

We now know that Weissman was a more integral part of the Russia Hoax/conspiracy than previously suspected — probably from the very beginning. The question is, just how extensive was his involvement? Did it extend to contact with the Clinton campaign itself? Did it extend beyond the election to strategizing with FBI efforts to ensnare and use George Papadopoulos? Did it extend to reaching out to his mentor Mueller during the early months of the Trump administration, planning for a Special Counsel?

The answers to these questions should be of pressing concern to Congressional investigators.

Mark Wauck is a retired FBI agent who blogs on religion, philosophy, and FISA at meaning in history.

A week ago, August 27th, Bruce Ohr, the demoted former Associate Deputy Attorney General, testified before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees. Among the newsworthy items that emerged, a few stand out. One of course is that his wife Nellie began working for Glenn Simpson’s opposition research outfit, Fusion GPS, back in 2015 — adding fuel to the speculation that she was involved as an FBI contractor in illegally mining NSA databases for information on GOP presidential candidates. Another item, highlighted by Chuck Ross at The Daily Caller, was that Ohr kept a number of FBI and DoJ colleagues “in the loop” regarding his highly irregular contacts with Christopher Steele, the “former” MI6 spook. Specifically:

Sources familiar with Ohr’s testimony before the House Judiciary and House Oversight Committees told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Ohr informed Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page about his interactions with Steele and Simpson. He also informed Justice Department prosecutor Andrew Weissmann about his dossier-related work.


Weissmann is now serving as right-hand man to Robert Mueller at the special counsel’s office.

It seems to me that the question that needs to be asked is: Why Andrew Weissmann? Why was Ohr keeping Weissmann, who was at the time head of DoJ’s Criminal Fraud Section, in the loop on what to all appearances was a Counterintelligence investigation? If Ohr kept Weissmann in the loop out of friendship, that still breaks the first rule of conspiratorial operations: need to know. Unless … Weissmann was contributing or could potentially contribute something of value to the conspiracy.

What Weissmann’s contribution to the Russia hoax might have been is suggested by his previous career.

Weissmann is best known as a hard charging prosecutor, but one with a reputation for being willing to take ethical shortcuts to make the big case. This led, in 2005, to the US Supreme Court unanimously overturning the conviction in his biggest case: Arthur Anderson, part of the Enron Scandal. The criticism of Weissmann’s “intimidating” “scorched earth” tactics that arose from the case made him a hot potato in the legal world, but fortunately for him he landed on his feet — as Special Counsel to a friend and former colleague, FBI Director Robert Mueller.

Screen grab YouTube

This was Weissmann’s first gig at the FBI, and lasted probably less than a full year while he looked for a more lucrative position. By the end of 2005, Weissmann went into private practice, becoming a partner at Jenner & Block in New York. But in 2011, Weissmann returned to the FBI and his mentor Mueller, serving as General Counsel under Mueller until the end of Mueller’s term in September 2013.

He continued at the FBI under James Comey until January 2015, when he returned to DoJ as head of the Criminal Fraud Section. His final career move, to date, was his reunion with Mueller, joining Mueller’s Special Counsel team in June 2017.

What was Weissmann doing as General Counsel at the FBI? According to DoJ:

“The General Counsel of the FBI is ultimately responsible for all of the legal affairs of the FBI. … The General Counsel interacts regularly with all of the elements of the FBI, the Justice Department, the U.S. Intelligence Community, a range of other government agencies, foreign partners….”

You get the drift. During his four years as General Counsel at the FBI, Weissmann would have been interacting on a daily basis with FBI management at the very highest levels, certainly including the Director (Mueller, then Comey) and Deputy Director — with additional contact with the highest levels in all important Divisions. Beyond that, however, he would have been developing contacts throughout the Intelligence Community and with “foreign partners” — prominently including the British intelligence agencies. The appeal of having Weissmann “in the loop” of the Russia hoax is obvious — he would be a trusted contact with the top levels of the FBI and would have a wide range of other useful contacts.

But Weissmann’s connections to the FBI would not have been the end of his usefulness. Weissmann was well known to be a Hillary Clinton partisan, and even attended the Clinton election night surprise wake. Just how extensive were Weissmann’s contacts with the Clinton campaign? Here the waters are murky. Nevertheless, Weissmann is known to have had contacts with Mary Jacoby, the wife of Glenn Simpson, as well as with Simpson himself.

Aaron Klein has detailed remarkable new information involving contacts of Edward Lieberman with the Russians involved in the famous Trump Tower meeting. Not only on the days surrounding that meeting, but the very day of the meeting. Edward Lieberman is a lawyer and an associate of Madeline Albright, whose expertise involves “multi-billion dollar privatizations of oil and gas assets in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Russia.” He was also the husband of the late Evelyn Lieberman, a Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House.

Was Bruce Ohr “in the loop” regarding the Trump Tower meeting — which I regard as a clear attempt to set up Donald Trump Jr. and/or Jared Kushner in a quid-pro-quo arrangement for supposed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton? If Ohr knew of this attempted setup of the Trump campaign, there would seem to be little doubt that Weissmann also knew. Further, since both would have known of the connection of Fusion GPS to the Clinton campaign, was there possibly a more direct connection to the Clinton campaign, through Weissman?

Finally, when it came time to select a Special Counsel, would not Weissmann have been a logical person to sound out Mueller on returning to government — or should we say Deep State — work? It’s telling that Weissmann jumped on board the Mueller train as soon as the Special Counsel was established. Had there been preliminary discussions?

We now know that Weissman was a more integral part of the Russia Hoax/conspiracy than previously suspected — probably from the very beginning. The question is, just how extensive was his involvement? Did it extend to contact with the Clinton campaign itself? Did it extend beyond the election to strategizing with FBI efforts to ensnare and use George Papadopoulos? Did it extend to reaching out to his mentor Mueller during the early months of the Trump administration, planning for a Special Counsel?

The answers to these questions should be of pressing concern to Congressional investigators.

Mark Wauck is a retired FBI agent who blogs on religion, philosophy, and FISA at meaning in history.



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Will the Media Turn Against Pope Francis?


The huge sex scandal engulfing Pope Francis and the Catholic Church creates a dilemma for American news media. On the one hand, sex sells, and the Catholic Church has been an object of criticism by generations of the secular leftists that dominate journalism. On the other hand, Pope Francis is generally adored by the world’s media for his perceived liberality on sex and other issues, and the particulars of the scandal involve one of the favorite causes of the cultural left: normalizing homosexual behavior.

Since the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report regarding sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, the Catholic world has been in turmoil. That turmoil only intensified – exponentially — when retired Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released what amounted to an affidavit accusing senior Catholic hierarchs of knowingly covering up and even enabling the abuse. Viganò placed special focus on the retired Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC, Theodore McCarrick, a prelate of vast influence in the American church, a reputed “kingmaker,” a one-man fund raising juggernaut, close adviser to Pope Francis, and a mentor to such progressive luminaries as cardinals Wuerl, Cupich, and Tobin — all among Francis’s anointed. As if that weren’t enough, Viganò called on Francis himself to resign for his knowing complicity in the coverup of McCarrick’s crimes.

Viganò’s release of his testimony was timed to coincide for maximum effect with Francis’s controversial trip to Dublin — already a public relations disaster due to lack of attendance. That disaster was compounded when Francis issued his non-denial statement in response to press questions about the Viganò testimony: “I will not say a single word …” followed by a tacit appeal to the press to basically ignore it all.

Ordinarily that type of stonewalling by a high-profile public figure would be met with a storm of protest and accusation in the media. Just such a storm did in fact ensue, but mainly in the world of Catholic blogging and tweeting. The mainstream media, on the other hand, seemed strangely (or maybe not) indifferent.

In the past, Catholic sex scandals involving the clergy have been widely characterized as pedophilia. Knowledge that this characterization was, in fact, inaccurate, that the problem was overwhelmingly one of homosexual priests preying upon adolescents and young men, had been carefully kept in the background. With this fresh outbreak of scandal, however, the Catholic blogosphere, fueled by Viganò’s testimony regarding McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians, quickly galvanized around the accusation of a powerful “lavender mafia” of homosexual prelates dominating the post Vatican II Church.

The Catholic blog Rorate Coeli has published a handy review of the known situation by the eminent Italian historian of Vatican II, Roberto de Mattei:

The homosexualization of the  Church started to spread in the 1970s and 1980s, as the meticulously documented  book by Father Enrique Rueda reveals: The Homosexual Network: Private Lives and Public Policy, published in 1982.

In order to understand the situation at that time, it is essential to read the study dedicated to Homosexuality and the Priesthood. The Gordian Knot – of Catholics? by Professor Andrzej Kobyliński of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.* Kobyliński cites a book entitled The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A reflection on the Priest’s Crisis of Soul, (2000) by Donald Cozzens, Rector of the Cleveland Seminary in Ohio, wherein the author states that at the beginning of the 21st century the priesthood became a “profession”, exercised predominantly by homosexuals and we can even talk about  “a heterosexual exodus from the priesthood.” (snip)  

 

In 2004 The John Jay Report appeared, a document prepared at the request of the American Episcopal Conference, in which all the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, from 1950 to 2002, were analyzed. This document of almost 300 pages is of extraordinary informative value – writes Kobyliński.  The John Jay Report  “demonstrated the link between homosexuality and sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. According to the report of 2004, in the overwhelming majority of cases of sexual abuse it is not about pedophilia, but ephebophilia, that is, a degeneration that consists not only of sexual attraction towards children, but towards adolescent boys, at the age of puberty. The John Jay Report demonstrated that about 90% of the priests condemned for sexual abuse with minors are homosexual priests.” [emphasis added]

The McCarrick scandal is therefore not the last act in a crisis that goes way, way back. Yet, in the “Letter of the Pope to the People of God,” and throughout his trip in Ireland, Pope Francis has not once denounced this moral disorder. The Pope maintains that the main problem in sexual abuse by the clergy is not homosexuality but clericalism.

Francis’s ambivalent stance toward established Catholic teaching, dating back to Paul’s letters to the early churches, has been well documented from the beginning of his papacy, starting with his famous “Who am I to judge?” Not as well-known outside the Catholic blogosphere has been his relentless advancement of prelates who are not only favorable toward the acceptance of homosexuality but who are notorious for living a “gay” lifestyle themselves. I can hardly do better than link to this account of the episode in which Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia commissioned a homoerotic mural for his cathedral church which featured “Jesus carrying nets to heaven filled with naked and semi-nude homosexuals, transsexuals, prostitutes, and drug dealers, jumbled together in erotic interactions.” Paglia himself was included in the mural, embracing a naked man, and the image of Christ was modeled on a local male hairdresser. Paglia now heads the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Francis also appointed Paglia as president of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family — after purging the institute of its orthodox members.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that mainstream media outlets were initially loath to attack the “gay friendly” Francis. Indeed, the mainstream media was inclined to dismiss Viganò’s testimony in favor of damage control narratives that were floated by proxies for Francis.

But this may be a crisis that is too good to waste.

The long term goal of the Left is simply to destroy any moral authority the Catholic Church may still have in the broader conservative society — Catholic or not. To induce a sense of hopelessness among conservatives.

The Church is still the Church. Popes come and go. The goal for the progressive media will be to try to separate cultural Catholics from the influence of Catholic doctrine by discrediting the entire hierarchy — not just “conservatives”.

The current crisis offers an opening for progressives that may well override any other concerns. I think the more liberals consider their options the more confident they’ll become that attacking the American bishops and even the Francis papacy can be done without empowering conservatives or endangering the homosexual agenda — and they’ll push ahead. To bring down a pope — could it possibly get any better than that for progressives?

For all its warts the Church is one of the few truly significant social institutions that interposes between the State and the individual. Removing such “intermediary institutions” — so that each individual in his individuality is confronted with the full power of the State — is what totalitarianism is all about. One needn’t accept the Church’s claims to see where danger lies. We see the increasingly open totalitarianism of the Left everywhere today.

The Church — or at least its hierarchs — has brought this crisis upon itself, but it’s a crisis that in its broader dimension will draw in all conservatives. We will need to be aware that while malevolent forces have been at work within the Church, other malevolent forces will be seeking to take advantage of this crisis for goals that are inimical to our freedoms.

Image by Timothy Bishop

The huge sex scandal engulfing Pope Francis and the Catholic Church creates a dilemma for American news media. On the one hand, sex sells, and the Catholic Church has been an object of criticism by generations of the secular leftists that dominate journalism. On the other hand, Pope Francis is generally adored by the world’s media for his perceived liberality on sex and other issues, and the particulars of the scandal involve one of the favorite causes of the cultural left: normalizing homosexual behavior.

Since the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report regarding sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, the Catholic world has been in turmoil. That turmoil only intensified – exponentially — when retired Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released what amounted to an affidavit accusing senior Catholic hierarchs of knowingly covering up and even enabling the abuse. Viganò placed special focus on the retired Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, DC, Theodore McCarrick, a prelate of vast influence in the American church, a reputed “kingmaker,” a one-man fund raising juggernaut, close adviser to Pope Francis, and a mentor to such progressive luminaries as cardinals Wuerl, Cupich, and Tobin — all among Francis’s anointed. As if that weren’t enough, Viganò called on Francis himself to resign for his knowing complicity in the coverup of McCarrick’s crimes.

Viganò’s release of his testimony was timed to coincide for maximum effect with Francis’s controversial trip to Dublin — already a public relations disaster due to lack of attendance. That disaster was compounded when Francis issued his non-denial statement in response to press questions about the Viganò testimony: “I will not say a single word …” followed by a tacit appeal to the press to basically ignore it all.

Ordinarily that type of stonewalling by a high-profile public figure would be met with a storm of protest and accusation in the media. Just such a storm did in fact ensue, but mainly in the world of Catholic blogging and tweeting. The mainstream media, on the other hand, seemed strangely (or maybe not) indifferent.

In the past, Catholic sex scandals involving the clergy have been widely characterized as pedophilia. Knowledge that this characterization was, in fact, inaccurate, that the problem was overwhelmingly one of homosexual priests preying upon adolescents and young men, had been carefully kept in the background. With this fresh outbreak of scandal, however, the Catholic blogosphere, fueled by Viganò’s testimony regarding McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians, quickly galvanized around the accusation of a powerful “lavender mafia” of homosexual prelates dominating the post Vatican II Church.

The Catholic blog Rorate Coeli has published a handy review of the known situation by the eminent Italian historian of Vatican II, Roberto de Mattei:

The homosexualization of the  Church started to spread in the 1970s and 1980s, as the meticulously documented  book by Father Enrique Rueda reveals: The Homosexual Network: Private Lives and Public Policy, published in 1982.

In order to understand the situation at that time, it is essential to read the study dedicated to Homosexuality and the Priesthood. The Gordian Knot – of Catholics? by Professor Andrzej Kobyliński of the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw.* Kobyliński cites a book entitled The Changing Face of the Priesthood: A reflection on the Priest’s Crisis of Soul, (2000) by Donald Cozzens, Rector of the Cleveland Seminary in Ohio, wherein the author states that at the beginning of the 21st century the priesthood became a “profession”, exercised predominantly by homosexuals and we can even talk about  “a heterosexual exodus from the priesthood.” (snip)  

 

In 2004 The John Jay Report appeared, a document prepared at the request of the American Episcopal Conference, in which all the cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons, from 1950 to 2002, were analyzed. This document of almost 300 pages is of extraordinary informative value – writes Kobyliński.  The John Jay Report  “demonstrated the link between homosexuality and sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. According to the report of 2004, in the overwhelming majority of cases of sexual abuse it is not about pedophilia, but ephebophilia, that is, a degeneration that consists not only of sexual attraction towards children, but towards adolescent boys, at the age of puberty. The John Jay Report demonstrated that about 90% of the priests condemned for sexual abuse with minors are homosexual priests.” [emphasis added]

The McCarrick scandal is therefore not the last act in a crisis that goes way, way back. Yet, in the “Letter of the Pope to the People of God,” and throughout his trip in Ireland, Pope Francis has not once denounced this moral disorder. The Pope maintains that the main problem in sexual abuse by the clergy is not homosexuality but clericalism.

Francis’s ambivalent stance toward established Catholic teaching, dating back to Paul’s letters to the early churches, has been well documented from the beginning of his papacy, starting with his famous “Who am I to judge?” Not as well-known outside the Catholic blogosphere has been his relentless advancement of prelates who are not only favorable toward the acceptance of homosexuality but who are notorious for living a “gay” lifestyle themselves. I can hardly do better than link to this account of the episode in which Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia commissioned a homoerotic mural for his cathedral church which featured “Jesus carrying nets to heaven filled with naked and semi-nude homosexuals, transsexuals, prostitutes, and drug dealers, jumbled together in erotic interactions.” Paglia himself was included in the mural, embracing a naked man, and the image of Christ was modeled on a local male hairdresser. Paglia now heads the Pontifical Academy for Life, and Francis also appointed Paglia as president of the Pontifical Pope John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family — after purging the institute of its orthodox members.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that mainstream media outlets were initially loath to attack the “gay friendly” Francis. Indeed, the mainstream media was inclined to dismiss Viganò’s testimony in favor of damage control narratives that were floated by proxies for Francis.

But this may be a crisis that is too good to waste.

The long term goal of the Left is simply to destroy any moral authority the Catholic Church may still have in the broader conservative society — Catholic or not. To induce a sense of hopelessness among conservatives.

The Church is still the Church. Popes come and go. The goal for the progressive media will be to try to separate cultural Catholics from the influence of Catholic doctrine by discrediting the entire hierarchy — not just “conservatives”.

The current crisis offers an opening for progressives that may well override any other concerns. I think the more liberals consider their options the more confident they’ll become that attacking the American bishops and even the Francis papacy can be done without empowering conservatives or endangering the homosexual agenda — and they’ll push ahead. To bring down a pope — could it possibly get any better than that for progressives?

For all its warts the Church is one of the few truly significant social institutions that interposes between the State and the individual. Removing such “intermediary institutions” — so that each individual in his individuality is confronted with the full power of the State — is what totalitarianism is all about. One needn’t accept the Church’s claims to see where danger lies. We see the increasingly open totalitarianism of the Left everywhere today.

The Church — or at least its hierarchs — has brought this crisis upon itself, but it’s a crisis that in its broader dimension will draw in all conservatives. We will need to be aware that while malevolent forces have been at work within the Church, other malevolent forces will be seeking to take advantage of this crisis for goals that are inimical to our freedoms.

Image by Timothy Bishop



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Bigshot Catholic Cardinal May Be Signaling Catholics' Drift from Democrats


Last Thursday Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York penned an essay in the Wall Street Journal.  The title of the essay, and its subtitle, tells you pretty much all you need to know if you don’t subscribe: “The Democrats Abandon Catholics: If you value religious education or life’s sanctity, you’re not welcome in the party.”

This is a far more political statement, in an overtly partisan way, than we’re used to seeing from the U.S. Catholic bishops, so what’s going on here?

For starters, it’s helpful to ask: who would have been pleased by this essay, and who would have been…well, let’s say displeased?

Let’s see…displeased?  The Democratic Party – that’s a no-brainer.  They just lost a presidential election because they lost the heavily Catholic Reagan Democrats in the Midwest.  This won’t help – not in 2018, not in 2020.

How about the Bergoglio Vatican?  Displeased?  You’d better believe it.  It’s a given that Bergoglio personally has no use for the USA, and all you have to do to remind yourself just how virulent that dislike is is reprise the article by Antonio Spadaro, the Jesuit editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, a journal reported to be personally vetted by Bergoglio himself.  The article is titled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism</a>, and you can find an analysis of it by Sam Gregg.  The long and the short of it is that Spadaro – and presumably Bergoglio – are disturbed by the ecumenical cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals. Why?  Because they fear the rise of a “theocracy.”

Here’s how Gregg puts it:

Father Spadaro and Rev. Figueroa correctly observe that many Catholics and Evangelicals have found common cause in recent decades around issues such as “abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.”  They then add that “Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.

And that’s more or less just for starters.  Take it from me: Spadaro doesn’t like Trump.  The dislike begins with the nefarious Norman Vincent Peale officiating at Trump’s first marriage and just goes on.

So, we can take it as given that the Vatican 1) wasn’t informed in advance that Dolan was writing this essay and 2) is mightily displeased about it.  In a sense, Dolan’s essay is a follow-on to an earlier snub that the U.S. bishops delivered to Bergoglio at their annual meeting. Back in November 2017, the US bishops rejected Cardinal Cupich – known as “the pope’s bishop” – for the leadership of their important and politically sensitive pro-life committee.  If Cupich had been elected, that would have been a signal to the Democrats that they could expect a more accommodating line from the Catholic Church.  Instead, Cupich was soundly defeated – a poke in the eye for Bergoglio – and a steadfast pro-life bishop was elected instead.

Who is likely to be pleased by all this?  Naturally, the Republicans, in a general way.  They’ve tended to benefit strongly from the pro-life vote, but they’ve never received this pointed an assist from the Catholic bishops in the past.  To the contrary, the bishops have tended to maintain an arm’s length relationship with the GOP.  I say this despite the fact that the GOP is mentioned only once in the essay, and that to point out that in the past Catholics have distrusted Republicans. Nevertheless, the US has a two party system, and if the Catholic Church pointedly states that one of those two parties has abandoned Catholics, well, the implications aren’t hard to figure out.

What about Trump?  Yeah, he’s gotta be pretty pleased by this.  With the help of Kellyanne Conway, Trump has courted Catholics from the start of his campaign, and he has followed through with policy accomplishments and appointments in ways that no other president has – no matter their rhetoric.  Even though Trump is not mentioned once in Dolan’s essay, it’s hard to see this as much less than an endorsement.  Nuanced it may be, but this initiative could only have been made with the knowledge that it would help Trump.  And perhaps with the hint that continued good behavior could lead to more overt support.

Now, I’ve been referring to Dolan and the Catholic Church as if Dolan were the head of the Church in America, but he’s not.  Does that change any of the preceding calculations?  Does it render his essay a mere expression of personal opinion?  I think not.  While Dolan is no longer president of the USCCB, he has regularly assumed the position of a spokesman – a natural role for the Cardinal Archbishop of New York.  I think this momentous step – and it was, I believe, momentous – was taken only after thorough consultation with other like0minded bishops.

My take is that the calculations that went into this decision are something like this.  The Catholic bishops, having studied the politics of this new Trump era, have come to the conclusion that, as shepherds, they need to be with their flocks.  And they now know that thir flock is no longer a Democrat flock, and not likely to return to that fold in any definitive way.  As a further calculation, I believe that the bishops have recognized that if they lose the moral high ground – in the eyes of their flocks – on the all important social issues, the consequences could be dire.  They’ve already seen how Trump was able to speak over their heads to the faithful.  They can’t afford to allow that to become a pattern.

The final calculation is that offending Bergoglio is the least of the worries that the American bishops need be concerned about.  From this standpoint, Dolan’s essay may be a gauntlet thrown in the direction of the Vatican – a warning that the Church needs to take the populist wave sweeping the Western world seriously.

Mark Wauck blogs on religion, philosophy, and FISA at http://meaninginhistory.blogspot.com/.

Last Thursday Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York penned an essay in the Wall Street Journal.  The title of the essay, and its subtitle, tells you pretty much all you need to know if you don’t subscribe: “The Democrats Abandon Catholics: If you value religious education or life’s sanctity, you’re not welcome in the party.”

This is a far more political statement, in an overtly partisan way, than we’re used to seeing from the U.S. Catholic bishops, so what’s going on here?

For starters, it’s helpful to ask: who would have been pleased by this essay, and who would have been…well, let’s say displeased?

Let’s see…displeased?  The Democratic Party – that’s a no-brainer.  They just lost a presidential election because they lost the heavily Catholic Reagan Democrats in the Midwest.  This won’t help – not in 2018, not in 2020.

How about the Bergoglio Vatican?  Displeased?  You’d better believe it.  It’s a given that Bergoglio personally has no use for the USA, and all you have to do to remind yourself just how virulent that dislike is is reprise the article by Antonio Spadaro, the Jesuit editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, a journal reported to be personally vetted by Bergoglio himself.  The article is titled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism</a>, and you can find an analysis of it by Sam Gregg.  The long and the short of it is that Spadaro – and presumably Bergoglio – are disturbed by the ecumenical cooperation between Catholics and Evangelicals. Why?  Because they fear the rise of a “theocracy.”

Here’s how Gregg puts it:

Father Spadaro and Rev. Figueroa correctly observe that many Catholics and Evangelicals have found common cause in recent decades around issues such as “abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values.”  They then add that “Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.

And that’s more or less just for starters.  Take it from me: Spadaro doesn’t like Trump.  The dislike begins with the nefarious Norman Vincent Peale officiating at Trump’s first marriage and just goes on.

So, we can take it as given that the Vatican 1) wasn’t informed in advance that Dolan was writing this essay and 2) is mightily displeased about it.  In a sense, Dolan’s essay is a follow-on to an earlier snub that the U.S. bishops delivered to Bergoglio at their annual meeting. Back in November 2017, the US bishops rejected Cardinal Cupich – known as “the pope’s bishop” – for the leadership of their important and politically sensitive pro-life committee.  If Cupich had been elected, that would have been a signal to the Democrats that they could expect a more accommodating line from the Catholic Church.  Instead, Cupich was soundly defeated – a poke in the eye for Bergoglio – and a steadfast pro-life bishop was elected instead.

Who is likely to be pleased by all this?  Naturally, the Republicans, in a general way.  They’ve tended to benefit strongly from the pro-life vote, but they’ve never received this pointed an assist from the Catholic bishops in the past.  To the contrary, the bishops have tended to maintain an arm’s length relationship with the GOP.  I say this despite the fact that the GOP is mentioned only once in the essay, and that to point out that in the past Catholics have distrusted Republicans. Nevertheless, the US has a two party system, and if the Catholic Church pointedly states that one of those two parties has abandoned Catholics, well, the implications aren’t hard to figure out.

What about Trump?  Yeah, he’s gotta be pretty pleased by this.  With the help of Kellyanne Conway, Trump has courted Catholics from the start of his campaign, and he has followed through with policy accomplishments and appointments in ways that no other president has – no matter their rhetoric.  Even though Trump is not mentioned once in Dolan’s essay, it’s hard to see this as much less than an endorsement.  Nuanced it may be, but this initiative could only have been made with the knowledge that it would help Trump.  And perhaps with the hint that continued good behavior could lead to more overt support.

Now, I’ve been referring to Dolan and the Catholic Church as if Dolan were the head of the Church in America, but he’s not.  Does that change any of the preceding calculations?  Does it render his essay a mere expression of personal opinion?  I think not.  While Dolan is no longer president of the USCCB, he has regularly assumed the position of a spokesman – a natural role for the Cardinal Archbishop of New York.  I think this momentous step – and it was, I believe, momentous – was taken only after thorough consultation with other like0minded bishops.

My take is that the calculations that went into this decision are something like this.  The Catholic bishops, having studied the politics of this new Trump era, have come to the conclusion that, as shepherds, they need to be with their flocks.  And they now know that thir flock is no longer a Democrat flock, and not likely to return to that fold in any definitive way.  As a further calculation, I believe that the bishops have recognized that if they lose the moral high ground – in the eyes of their flocks – on the all important social issues, the consequences could be dire.  They’ve already seen how Trump was able to speak over their heads to the faithful.  They can’t afford to allow that to become a pattern.

The final calculation is that offending Bergoglio is the least of the worries that the American bishops need be concerned about.  From this standpoint, Dolan’s essay may be a gauntlet thrown in the direction of the Vatican – a warning that the Church needs to take the populist wave sweeping the Western world seriously.

Mark Wauck blogs on religion, philosophy, and FISA at http://meaninginhistory.blogspot.com/.



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