The memo said another critical Catholic moment the group influenced in 2009 was the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” but it did not specify any reasons for this claim.
The foundation memo said Catholics in Alliance fits into a broader strategy “to inspire greater public participation from mainstream and social justice oriented faith communities” on Open Society priority issues and also to “counter the outsize influence and impact of right-wing religious constituencies.”
Catholics in Alliance was mentioned in a recently leaked February 2012 e-mail exchange between Hillary Clinton’s present campaign manager, John Podesta, and Sandy Newman, president of the progressive organization Voices for Progress. They discussed the controversy over a federal rule requiring Catholic organizations to cover contraception.
Newman discussed the possibilities of a “Catholic Spring,” similar to Arab protests, to lead Catholics to demand “the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.” Newman wondered how one would plant “the seeds of revolution.”
Podesta responded by saying, “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this.” At the same time, Podesta suggested it lacked the leadership to do so. He suggested former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend be involved.
Newman replied to Podesta: “Great. I suppose it's conceivable that a few organizers could spark a high-profile demonstration or two (a la Occupy [Wall Street]) that might turn out to be the spark. But it is indeed a puzzle to figure out why some events, usually with very little planning, ignite a movement no one would have predicted, while other, far better planned things fashioned by experienced organizers don’t.”
As of 2009, Catholics in Alliance organized local Catholic activists to promote public policy. It followed a media organizing strategy to promote the voices of religious leaders, and conducted “strategic coordination and support of the Catholic social justice movement,” the memo said.
The memo praised Catholics in Alliance’s role in immigration reform and in states affected by immigration raids. According to the memo, the group planned to offer media training and leadership training for Latino faith leaders, including the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians, with a focus on immigration reform.
The memo named Catholics United as the group’s 501c4 sister organization. It claimed both groups had a combined membership of 60,000 and fundraising totals above $3 million as of 2009.
The memo also included a critical evaluation of Catholics in Alliance as an organization. It faulted the group for its alleged failure to incorporate and employ Latino Catholics, given demographic trends in Catholicism. The memo said the group was working to improve minority representation among Hispanics and people of color in its board of directors, its advisory council and its speakers’ bureau.
It said the departure of the group’s co-founder Alexia Kelley to join the Obama White House in 2009 left the group “without strong leadership.” Another co-founder, Tom Perriello, is mentioned in other documents in the Soros leak.
Another Soros foundations grantee, Faith in Public Life, is discussed in the 2009 memo for its role in media messaging on the University of Notre Dame controversy, stem cell guidelines, conscience protections for medical professionals, as well as issues like health care reform, climate change and immigration. Faith in Public Life is described as a partner organization for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.
The same document from the Soros foundations recommends a nearly $1.4 million grant to Podesta’s Center for American Progress and indicates previous Open Society Institute support for the center totaling nearly $5 million. It describes the Center for American Progress as “the most influential think tank in our funding universe.”
According to the memo, there is major foundation support for the center from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Humanity United Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, among others.
Other more recent documents leaked from the Soros foundations indicate the grantmaker aims to change Ireland’s pro-life laws against abortion as a model for Catholic countries. The grantmaker also took part in a $7-8 million dollar effort to respond to 2015 media reports appearing to show the abortion giant Planned Parenthood was involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue and organs.
The Open Society Foundations did not respond to a request for comment on the document. It has previously said a number of internal documents were removed from “an online community that served as a resource for our staff, board members, and partners across the world.” It charged that the publication of documents was an apparent symptom of “an aggressive crackdown on civil society and human rights activists that is taking place globally.”