"Resistance to this inside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been stark, and grantees are engaged in a live fight with a faction of the Church that seeks to curb the Pope's influence on social justice issues," the memo claimed.
The documents are not always accurate. The memo erroneously indicated the World Meeting of Popular Movements would take place in 2016, rather than 2017.
It added that Faith in Public Life and PICO can strengthen the foundations' program goals if they can "shift the U.S. Catholic Church to be a voice on behalf of the poor and communities of color." The memo said this is a long-term process that is "now underway."
A spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on the story.
An Open Society Foundations spokesperson responded to CNA Aug. 30, saying, "The Pope has personally championed many of the social justice issues we work on at the foundations. We saw his visit as an opportunity to further discussion and policy debate on those issues."
The foundations characterized the document leak, which some have attributed to Russian intelligence, as "a symptom of an aggressive assault on civil society and human rights activists that is taking place globally."
The PICO Network told CNA that the Open Society Foundations was "one of many individuals and foundations" that supported its work on income inequality, immigration reform and criminal justice "highlighted by Pope Francis and championed by the U.S. Catholic Church for many decades."
"We are pleased that our efforts in conjunction with the Pope's historic visit to the U.S. helped to share and advance his mission and message about the importance of the Catholic Church and people from all faiths standing with the poor and the powerless," PICO said.
The network said it continues to work with the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the U.S. bishops to advance Catholic Social Teaching. This includes a planned convening of the World Meeting of Popular Movements in the U.S. in 2017.
PICO did not answer questions about the alleged conflict within the U.S. bishops. It said Cardinal Maradiaga has supported its work with Central American faith communities for 10 years and spoke at a PICO launch event for its "Year of Encounter with Pope Francis" in early 2015.
PICO, founded in 1972 by Father John Bauman, S.J., describes itself as a nationwide network of faith-based organizations. It claims 1,000 member institutions in 17 U.S. states and claims success in increasing access to health care while improving public schools, affordable housing and neighborhood safety.
(Story continues below)
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The other grantee involved, Faith in Public Life, has at times undermined the U.S. bishops.
When the bishops launched their first religious freedom event, Fortnight for Freedom, in 2012 to protest Obama administration mandates violating Catholics' religious freedom, Faith in Public Life Catholic program director John Gehring spread talking points against the bishops.
Other Open Society Foundations documents discuss its backing for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, whose first contact with the foundations was in 2006.
It also backed the petition site Faithful America in order to mobilize "progressive faith voices." The site has sometimes targeted Catholic bishops and organizations that stand by Catholic teaching.
Other leaked documents appear to show the Open Society Foundations contributed $1.5 million to support Planned Parenthood's $7-8 million lobbying response to videos allegedly proving the abortion provider was engaged in the illegal sale of fetal body parts. The foundations are also funding pro-abortion rights groups to target Ireland's pro-life law as a potential model to end abortion restrictions in other Catholic countries like Poland.
The Catholic Legal Immigration Network is among the foundations' many grantees.