Will Catholic Bishops Support Democrats in 2020?

By Christopher Manion Published on June 14, 2019

House Speaker (D-San Francisco) Nancy Pelosi wants to see Donald Trump in prison. But Trump is the most pro-life president in recent memory. Will Catholic bishops defend him?

They certainly defend Pelosi. After all, she calls herself “a practicing and respectful Catholic.” In September 2008, Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco issued an official statement praising her as “a gifted, dedicated and accomplished public servant. [She] has stated often her love for her faith and for the Catholic Church.” The Speaker has supported legislation that helped to implement some of the “social teachings of the Church,” he added.

That passage appears in a statement condemning Pelosi’s support for abortion. How’s that for a slapdown?

A Billion Taypayer Dollars for the Bishops from the Democrats

Of course, alienating Pelosi might shut off the billion taxpayer dollars that flow to the bishops every year. So they have followed Abp. Niederauer’s lead ever since. And Ms. Pelosi? She stands unfazed. She brazenly advocates her pro-abortion views “as a practicing and respectful Catholic. This [abortion] is sacred ground to me,” she said in 2013.

Today, the Democrats are the party of abortion and infanticide. But they are strong advocates of the bishops’ trinity of political priorities. These include fighting “racism,” passing amnesty for illegal aliens, and expanding the welfare state.

Praise for Obama, the Most Pro-Abortion President in History

It’s been going on for a long time. Since 1979, they have officially taught that “most” whites are racist, and no one else is. But Obama seemed poised to change that. When he won in 2008, Bishop Wilton Gregory, former president of the bishops’ conference, was exultant. Obama’s election was “a great step forward for humanity and a sign that in the United States the problem of racial discrimination has been overcome,” he proclaimed. But Obama didn’t end racism, he fanned the flames. Even after he left office, the ex-president who was supposed to end it all just poured more gas on the fire. America was “shrouded with hate, anger, racism,” he told the Obama Foundation. And the bishops haven’t changed their teaching, either.

The bishops played footsie with Obama for eight years. On ObamaCare, they naively thought they could finally achieve the national health care that bishops had championed for almost a century. Assured by Obama that the act wouldn’t fund abortion, they focused their efforts on other goals. Those priorities included amnesty for illegal aliens and more taxpayer funding for their “charities.”

Paying Gay Activist Lobbyists with Money from Sunday Collections

Bishops went out of their way to placate Obama’s supporters. As an overture to Washington’s powerful LGBTQ activists, Catholic Charities USA paid The Sheridan Group, Washington’s most notorious homosexual PR/lobbying firm, $476,750 in 2010. The firm lobbied for more taxpayer dollars, and Obama delivered: Catholic Charities received $4.6 billion in government funding the next year, 64% of its total budget.

But then Obama betrayed them. Abortion would be covered under ObamaCare. At the last minute, the bishops tried to stop the bill, but it was too late. The law allowed funding for abortions and the infamous HHS Contraception Mandate. This bureaucratic rule penalized Catholic institutions for obeying the basic teachings of the Church. The bishops looked on with dismay, but there was nothing they could do.

In 2013, when bishops’ conference president Cardinal Timothy Dolan realized that Obama had lied to him, he ruefully admitted on Meet the Press that the bishops stood among Obama’s “greatest supporters.” He regretted that they could no longer be one of his “cheerleaders,” he added.

Bishops went out of their way to placate Obama’s supporters. As an overture to Washington’s powerful LGBTQ activists, Catholic Charities USA paid The Sheridan Group, Washington’s most notorious homosexual PR/lobbying firm, $476,750 in 2010.

Bashing Trump Relentlessly

But then Donald Trump ran for president. Immediately, Cardinal Dolan made it clear that Trump wouldn’t have to worry about getting the Obama foot-rub from the bishops. Dolan mocked Trump’s hairdo and condemned his “nativism.” And Dolan paved the way for other bishops to condemn Trump and his supporters as “hypocrites,” “Pharisees,” and “bigots.” The bishops waxed desperate that Trump would cut back on the hundreds of millions they received every year from Obama. And, echoing Pope Francis, they bitterly opposed the Wall.

In spite of the bishops’ opposition, Trump won. As promised, he proceeded to enact the strongest presidential pro-life agenda in recent memory. While the bishops have dutifully acknowledged those efforts, they have supported the Democrats’ position on over a dozen key issues. These include:

  • Healthcare.
  • The travel ban.
  • Refugee policy.
  • Cuba policy.
  • The Paris agreement.
  • The death penalty.
  • Global warming.
  • The environment.
  • Immigration.
  • Foreign aid.
  • Sanctuary cities.
  • Deportations. And
  • Border security.

Backing Bernie Sanders on Open Borders

Most recently, bishops joined Socialist Bernie Sanders in hailing the House passage of Nancy Pelosi’s immigration bill. It opened a “path to citizenship” for millions of aliens already in the U.S. Bishops did not object when Democrats voted down efforts to exclude felons, gang members, and those committing fraud or DUI. Amnesty for illegals has always been their Prime Directive. And every Democrat running supports that goal.

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The Embryo in the Ointment

Finally, the one issue that haunts the bishops and their friendship with Democrats is abortion. Every Democrat running now has to support infanticide to please his core pro-abortion supporters. Yes, bishops have condemned the barbaric practice, but that’s all. Virtually all of them refuse to exercise the power that bishops alone have to bar from Communion the pro-abortion Catholic Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill. And there are over a hundred of them.

So will bishops support Democrats in 2020? Stay tuned.


Christopher Manion earned a Ph.D. in government from Notre Dame. For many years he was the staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, chaired by the late Senator Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). 

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