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Top Clinton aides under fire over email about 'conservative Catholicism' in WikiLeaks dump

Posted October 18

There's a message chain among the trove of hacked emails released last week by WikiLeaks that reportedly shows a key staff member for Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign mocking conservative Catholicism. (Deseret Photo)

There's a message chain among the trove of hacked emails released last week by WikiLeaks that reportedly shows a key staff member for Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign mocking conservative Catholicism.

An email exchange between Jennifer Palmieri, communications director for the campaign, and John Halpin, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is among the messages capturing attention in the wake of the release.

Palmieri was reportedly with the Center for American Progress Action Fund when the messages were sent.

The email chain, which was reportedly started by Halpin and sent to both Palmieri and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, has a subject line that reads, "Conservative Catholicism."

The message starts by discussing a 2011 New Yorker piece about Rupert Murdoch.

"Ken Auletta's latest piece on Murdoch in the New Yorker starts off with the aside that both Murdoch and Robert Thompson, managing editor of the WSJ, are raising their kids Catholic," Halpin reportedly wrote. "Friggin' Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus."

The email continued, "Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC and think tanks to the media and social groups. It's an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy."

While there's no reply from Podesta available in the chain, Palmieri reportedly wrote back with some brief thoughts of her own.

"I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion," she purportedly said. "Their rich friends wouldn't understand if they became evangelicals."

Halpin apparently responded that this was an "excellent point" and said the adherents could "throw around 'Thomistic' thought and 'subsidiarity' and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they're talking about."

The message was among those in a massive batch that Wikileaks is calling "The Podesta Emails" — messages that apparently belonged to Podesta, Bill Clinton's former chief-of-staff and the head of Hillary Clinton's campaign; Podesta has also served as chairman of the Center for American Progress.

Conservative Catholic outlets and groups were quick to react to the email chain, with Catholic News Agency releasing a blog entry by writer Addie Mena titled, "Leaked emails show Clinton’s team should read a catechism."

"I’m not gonna even dignify that gender relations comment with a response — the Church respects and promotes the dignity of women. Full stop," Mena wrote. "If you really still believe the Church’s positions on women are 'severely backwards' — please educate yourselves."

Additionally, some Catholic leaders are calling for Palmieri to be punished by the Clinton campaign, with Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org, saying she should resign. Bill Donohue, president of The Catholic League, also issued a harsh rebuke over the email chain.

"There's no evidence that Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta ever pushed back at these smears against Catholicism," Burch said in a statement. "Everyone has a unique faith journey, and it's just insulting to make blanket statements maligning people's motives for converting to another faith tradition."

Burch wants Palmieri to resign or be fired. Donohue, however, wants to see her punished, wondering what other aides might also be saying about Catholicism; he called Palmieri's "contempt for Catholicism ... palpable."

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com Twitter: billyhallowell Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell

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