Atheist-Funded Group Behind Attack on Koch Foundation Donation to Catholic U.

By Barbara Hollingsworth | December 18, 2013 | 3:22pm EST


Gibbons Hall at The Catholic University of America (CUA)

( – Faith in Public Life, a group that has been funded by atheist billionaire George Soros, is behind an attack on The Catholic University of America (CUA) for accepting a $1 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation, says Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

“The real story here is not the money being given to Catholic University by successful entrepreneurs; it is the source of the money being given to those who initiated the attack.

"To wit: Faith in Public Life spearheaded this highly politicized assault, and it is funded by left-wing zealot George Soros,” said Donohue, who praised CUA President John Garvey for “wisely standing his ground.”

“Soros is an atheist billionaire who is no friend of the Catholic community. In fact, he funds causes that the Catholic Church works hard to oppose: abortion, euthanasia, drug legalization, and many other radical initiatives,” Donohue said.

In 2008, Faith in Public Life received $200,000 from Soros’ Open Society Institute, according to the institute's IRS filing. (See 990.pdf)

Patrick Reilly, president of the The Cardinal Newman Society, agreed. "Faith in Public Life is a political organization that uses the Church as a vehicle to further its political aims." he told "For that organization to tell Catholic University what to do is like a parishioner who has not been to church in 10 years telling the pastor what to do.

"This is nothing but a political attack on the Koch Foundation," Reilly noted, adding that Faith in Public Life "is not looking to build up the Church."

The Koch Foundation’s gift, one of the largest single donations in the pontifical university’s history, will be used for CUA’s new School of Business and Economics to “support research into the role principled entrepreneurship can and should play in improving society’s well-being,” according to a November 12 CUA press release.

In conjunction with a $500,000 donation from the Busch Family Foundation, the Koch gift will be used to fund four visiting scholars who will “focus on understanding how business and economics become more effective when they are more humane,” according to Business Dean Andrew Abela.

But a December 13 letter circulated by Faith in Public Life that was signed by 50 Catholic academics urged CUA to refuse the gift. “The Koch brothers are billionaire industrialists who fund organizations that advance public policies that directly contradict Catholic teaching on a range of moral issues from economic justice to environmental stewardship,” the letter said. (See FINAL-CUA-Letter.pdf)

“As you well know, Catholic social teaching articulates a positive role for government, an indispensable role for unions, just tax policies, and the need for prudent regulation of financial markets in service of the common good,” said the letter, which also claimed that the Koch gift “sends a confusing message” that the libertarian billionaires” “anti-government, Tea Party ideology has the blessing of a university sanctioned by Catholic bishops.”

CUA has refused to back down, noting in a December 16 statement that “all the activities funded in the grant are related to the core mission of the University to teach and conduct research in service to the Church and the nation,” and calling the letter an “unfortunate effort to manufacture controversy and score political points at the expense of The Catholic University of America.” (See Catholic U statement.doc)

“The letter is presumptuous on two counts,” the statement pointed out. “First, its authors cast themselves as arbiters of political correctness regarding Charles Koch Foundation grants….Second they seek to instruct The Catholic University of America’s leaders about Catholic social teaching, and do so in a manner that redefines the Church’s teaching to suit their own political preferences.”

The CUA statement also wryly noted that “among the 50 signatories to the Faith in Public Life letter are 15 individuals who list affiliations with colleges and universities that receive Charles Koch Foundation support (San Francisco, Loyola/New Orleans, Notre Dame, Dayton, Duquesne, Villanova, [and] Holy Cross).

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