Marginalizing Catholic Teaching One Grant at a Time

George Soros’ Open Society Institute is most often blamed for attempting to neutralize the abortion issue for Catholics by donating large amounts of money to progressive organizations like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to promote pro-choice politicians. Yet the recent attack on San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Codileone by Faithful America demonstrates that the real assault on the teaching authority of the Catholic Church is now coming from two gay billionaires—Tim Gill and Jon Stryker—who are doing everything they can to discredit Church teaching on sexual morality by directly attacking the Magisterium.

Unlike Soros, whose attack on the teachings of the Church was indirect and somewhat secretive, Stryker’s Arcus Foundation and the Gill Foundation have made their aims explicit in their grant making materials and on their IRS 990 reporting forms. In their 2012 filing to the IRS, the Arcus Foundation described itself as a private grantmaking foundation that supports nonprofit organizations around the world working in two areas: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights; and conservation of the world’s great apes.

In the former area, Arcus provides money to those organizations—including Catholic colleges as well as progressive faith-based organizations—who are working toward “full inclusion” of gays and lesbians, including access to same sex marriage. For example, hundreds of thousands of dollars has been awarded to Women’s Alliance for Theology Ethics for seeking to achieve social justice through the Arcus LGBT Rights Program. The goal of the $70,000 grant to Women’s Alliance for Theology Ethics in 2010 was identified by Arcus as intending to “create a cadre of Catholic, lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and their allies that would assume a leadership role within the Catholic community.” Escalating their attack in 2011, in their IRS 990 form, filed on December 31, 2012, Arcus disclosed that the $180,000 awarded to the Women’s Alliance for Theology and Ethics that year was to be used to: “Identify, network, train and amplify the voices of lesbian feminist Catholics and in so doing, create a counter-voice to the Catholic hierarchy that respects, values and affirms people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

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Arcus Buys a “Counter Voice” to the Catholic Hierarchy
The Arcus strategy is to help progressive Catholic organizations to convince Catholics of the goodness and morality of gay and lesbian behavior by providing large sums of money to them. For example, Fairfield University was a perfect choice for funding from Arcus since it houses theology professors like Paul Lakeland, an embittered ex-priest, and current head of Fairfield’s Catholic Studies Department. Lakeland, whose books Liberation of the Laity, and Catholicism at the Crossroads, demand dramatic changes in the Church—including the abolition of the College of Cardinals, and changes in Church teachings on reproductive rights, women’s ordination, and the inclusion of gay and married priests—received a $100,000 grant from the Arcus Foundation in 2010 “to hold and disseminate information from a series of forums at four academic institutions in order to expand the current discussion on homosexuality within Roman Catholicism to include the diverse opinions of progressive Catholic thought leaders and theologians.”

In 2011, Arcus provided $37,938 to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Foundation for a project entitled “Roman Catholic Thought Leaders Convening.” The goal of the project was “to strengthen and expand a network of pro-LGBT Catholic thought leaders working to promote the moral and civil equality of LGBT people.”

A few years ago, Thomas Peters documented how Stryker’s Arcus Foundation had already spent more than $700,000 by 2010 to subvert the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and same sex marriage by funding organizations including New Ways Ministries, WATER, Fairfield University, Dignity, and the Mainstream Media Project. The targeting of the Catholic Church by Arcus has increased exponentially since then.

“Speeding Equality” by Marginalizing the Bishops
While Stryker uses a more subtle strategy of attacking Church teachings through persuasion and conversations on campuses like Fairfield University, Tim Gill’s Foundation directly attacks the Magisterium with systematic assaults on individual bishops through organizations like Faith in Public Life and its subsidiary, Faithful America. Last week’s media attack on, and petition against, Archbishop Cordileone was funded in large part through Gill’s Movement Advancement Program—a program that is described in Gill’s IRS filings as helping to “speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. MAP’s work helps educate and persuade public audiences (such as policymakers, allied organized funders, media and the American public) and helps to support LGBT movement audiences.”

Toward the goal of educating the American public on the goodness of homosexual acts and same sex marriage, the Gill Foundation provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations like the Center for American Progress, and Media Matters. But, Gill knows that the biggest stumbling block to “speeding equality” for the LGBT community is the Catholic Church. To neutralize the teachings of the Church on sexual morality, he employs organizations like Catholics United and Faithful America.

According to Guidestar, Gill awarded $100,000 to Catholics United in 2011 to help meet the goal of changing Catholic views of homosexuality—including same sex marriage. Last month, Catholics United, which has also received funding from George Soros through its sister organization, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, called on Macon, Georgia Catholic high school Mount deSales Academy to reinstate a gay employee who had posted on his personal Facebook account his intention to marry. Calling such an action “discriminatory” Catholics United claimed the Macon school was “at odds with the leadership of Pope Francis.”

As funding from Gill and the Arcus Foundations increase, we can expect an expansion of such attacks from Catholics United. On April 28, 2014, the organization announced their intention to hire a full-time organizer for Pennsylvania as they expand what they call their “faith-based organizing work in Pennsylvania.”

Still, the attacks on the teaching authority of the Church from Catholics United are insignificant compared with the newest attacks coming from Faith in Public Life/Faithful America. Soros and Gill money has enabled Faith in Public Life to expand as they have stacked their Board and their staff with those who had been part of the Soros supported Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and disgruntled former employees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, including John Gehring, Tom Chabolla, and Fred Rotondaro. Unhappy that their progressive policies may be losing favor with some of the bishops at the USCCB, these individuals are paid to do all they can to destroy the teaching authority of the bishops on sexual morality.

As mentioned in an earlier Crisis article, Gehring, a former media office employee of the USCCB, has been especially aggressive in his attacks on individual bishops like San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone, Bishop Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, Bishop Jenky of Peoria, Illinois, and New York City’s Cardinal Dolan.

In 2012, the bishops responded to Gehring’s earlier attacks in a press release—identifying him by name—alleging that Gehring had juxtaposed “fact with fiction” in his description of the actions of the bishops. Since that time, Gehring has actually escalated his attacks on the Church. Faithful Catholics need to extend the bishops’ response to Faithful America—refusing to be silenced by well-funded bullies who are determined to diminish the teaching authority of the bishops—and mounting their own response to the lies that are bought by those who want to discredit and marginalize Catholic moral teaching.


  • Anne Hendershott

    Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. She is the author of The Politics of Envy (Crisis Publications, 2020).

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