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20161013T1604 5870 CNS WIKILEAKS CATHOLICISM 800U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during an Oct. 11 rally at Miami Dade College. The same day WikiLeaks leaked email exchanges between Clinton campaign officials discussing conservative Catholics and Catholicism and that some critics said showed hostility toward the Catholic Church. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chief liaison to Republican nominee Donald Trump for Catholic issues said that emails released Oct. 11 by WikiLeaks "reveal the depths of the hostility of Hillary Clinton and her campaign toward Catholics."

The emails illustrate "the open anti-Catholic bigotry of her senior advisers, who attack the deeply held beliefs and theology of Catholics," said liaison Joseph Cella, who is the founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

On Oct. 12, Catholic News Service sent an email to the Clinton campaign seeking comment, but there was no immediate reply. A Time magazine story published online late Oct. 12 said Brian Fallon, a Clinton spokesperson, responded to the charges of anti-Catholicism, calling it a "faux controversy" courtesy of a WikiLeaks hack.

The leaked email chain was from 2011 and had as its subject "Conservative Catholicism." One exchange was between Jennifer Palmieri, a Catholic herself, who is now Clinton's communications director, and John Halpin, a fellow at the Center for American Progress. They discussed Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corp, a media conglomerate that includes Fox News in its holdings, and Wall Street Journal managing editor Robert Thomson having had their children baptized as Catholics.

"Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic -- many converts. ... It's an amazing bastardization of the faith," Halpin wrote in an email to Palmieri and John Podesta, Hillary's campaign chairman who was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and has been a counselor to President Barack Obama. "They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy."

Halpin added: "I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals."

Podesta, himself a Catholic, did not respond.

Cella said these advisers in "viciously mocking Catholics as they have, turn the clock back to the days of the 20th-century "No Catholics Need Apply" type of discrimination. Hillary Clinton and her campaign should be ashamed of themselves and should immediately apologize to all Catholics and people of goodwill in the United States."

Steve Krueger, president of the Boston-based group Catholic Democrats, said his group would not comment "on unsubstantiated documents."

WikiLeaks is a controversial nonprofit journalistic organization, headed by founder Julian Assange, that publishes secret information, news leaks and classified media from anonymous sources.

"But I will say that I have heard John Podesta speak of his faith and he has done so heartfully and eloquently," Krueger told CNS. "For any Catholic to impugn his, or anyone else's, Catholic faith is both morally wrong and also a violation of canon law."

A couple of days earlier, Krueger's group called on members of Republican nominee Donald Trump's Catholic advisory group to resign after NBC Oct. 7 leaked lewd remarks Trump made about women in 2005. The comments were captured on a "hot mic" before Trump gave an on-air interview for an entertainment show.

Other emails leaked by WikiLeaks included an email to Podesta from Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress. "This whole controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage, even though 98 percent of Catholic women, and their conjugal partners, have used contraception, has me thinking," said Newman. "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?" he asked in a Feb. 10, 2012, email.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.