There are actually two conversations (at least) in the Wikileaked emails. The one between John Halpin and Podesta are a side issue, and more likely an unfortunately-worded reaction to the disparity between Rupert Murdoch’s show of Catholicism and his media apparatus’ pillorying of the most vulnerable in society. Those things were said in emails Podesta, Halpin and Palmieri thought would remain private, and they had a right to say them, plus it seems unfair to conclude this was a bigoted attack without a careful reading.
The real story was the potential undermining of the separation between religion and state, the ideals that Western society was founded on and the discourse on things that determine where society is headed. Sandy Newman (of Voices for Progress) proposed this to Podesta:
‘There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic church.’
A core principle of Catholicism (one taken quite seriously) is that the right to excercise freedom is ‘inseparable from his or her dignity as a human person‘, and rarely does anyone join the Catholic church or a religious order without a lengthy period of discernment. As it happens, a healthy number of people are making a conscious decision to join the faith, after spending months learning exactly what it entails (and more importantly why) before any commitment is made.
Compare this with ‘Voices for Progress’, which is a ‘unique organization made up of influential people advocating for the public interest’. Nowhere does it say who those ‘influential people’ are, and one must donate thousands of dollars to be privy to their lobbying activities. This isn’t about democracy, which is no good anyway without a constitution. This is about manipulating public opinion and conformity to the transient ‘values’ of George Soros and Clinton’s entourage.
Podesta replied that another organisation, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, was already set up for this purpose. I don’t know enough to tell whether this is a political front – it’s funded by George Soros – but it’s also entirely possible that Podesta was hinting that Newman’s plan would be counterproductive and that CACG was more suited to the task.
But it’s Newman’s opening sentence and her question that were most revealing:
‘This whole controversy with the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage even though 98% of Catholic women (and their conjugal partners) have used contraception has me thinking. . . There needs to be a Catholic Spring […] Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen.’
Revealing, because evidently the Church is not a dictatorship if (depending on where the 98% figure came from) the vast majority of Catholics are using contraception despite the advice of bishops, and it’s revealing because clearly this (non-)issue is just an excuse for instigating a ‘Catholic Spring’. Newman could, of course, have openly presented an intellectual case for his proposal, instead of resorting to underhanded manipulation and astroturfing.
Although he does declare his ignorance, which was apparent anyway:
‘Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church […] Even if the idea isn’t crazy, I don’t qualify to be involved and I have not thought at all about how one would “plant the seeds of the revolution,” or who would plant them. Just wondering . . .’
Yet despite that total lack of understanding, Newman pronounced it a dictatorship and took it upon himself to demand a ‘Catholic Spring’, without asking the question of whether one should ‘plant the seeds of a revolution’. This happens to be nicely descriptive of the arrogant mindset that led to the cock-up of a ‘revolution’ in Syria and Libya, the ensuing refugee crisis and regions being over-run by hardcore ‘Islamists’ hostile to basic human rights.