Damian Thompson Damian Thompson

How the Democrats infiltrated the Catholic Church

Right-wing Americans see liberal conspiracies everywhere. Often their claims are fatuous — Donald Trump has just announced that the 2016 presidential election has been ‘rigged’ — and sometimes they incorporate poisonous myths about Jewish puppet masters. But liberals, like activists across the spectrum, do occasionally engage in co-ordinated plotting. The question is: what would a real liberal conspiracy — as opposed to some noxious far-right fantasy — look like, and how would it operate?

Now we know, thanks to WikiLeaks. Two batches of documents — one leaked this month, one in August — show that top-level Democrats and their allies have successfully infiltrated the Catholic Church in order to advance their social agenda. The two key players are John Podesta, chairman of the Hillary Clinton campaign, who is an extremely liberal Catholic, and George Soros, the left-wing billionaire philanthropist, who is an atheist.

In any other presidential election, this story would be huge. But this time round, no Democrat scandal can match the grotesque antics of the Republican candidate. And Trump himself — who, naturally, knows nothing about Catholicism — doesn’t even appear to understand what WikiLeaks have revealed.

On 12 October, in its daily ‘dump’ of emails hacked from Podesta’s Gmail account, WikiLeaks published comments by Jennifer Palmieri, now Clinton’s communications director, in which she mocked Republicans who converted to Catholicism because their ‘rich friends’ found it more ‘socially acceptable’ than evangelicalism. She was replying to emails (copied to Podesta) from John Halpin, a Democrat strategist, attacking these Republican Catholics for their ‘bastardisation of the faith’ — and the church for ‘severely backwards gender relations’. Cue outrage from conservative Catholics and Trump at the Clinton ‘smear’. But this was easily shrugged off by Hillary supporters because Halpin and Palmieri are both Catholics, voicing unremarkable snooty liberal opinions. Also, Palmieri wasn’t working for Clinton when the emails were written in 2011.

Podesta — a lawyer and veteran Democratic arm-twister who was Bill Clinton’s last chief of staff — must have been relieved that the secular media focused on Halpin and Palmieri rather than on another set of leaked emails.

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