Bill Bennett: 'This Crowd Has Been Anti-Catholic for a Long Time'

By Susan Jones | October 13, 2016 | 6:40am EDT
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with communications director Jennifer Palmieri on campaign plane, Sept. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

( - "This crowd has been anti-Catholic for a long time," the conservative William Bennett told Fox News's Megyn Kelly Wednesday night. They were talking about Catholic-bashing emails written to and from Hillary Clinton surrogates.

The emails (reprinted below) were recently made public by WikiLeaks; the Clinton campaign blames Russia for the leaks, saying it is trying to interfere in the presidential campaign.

"This is leftist anti-Catholicism. These are trans-Atlantic agnostic progressives," Bennett, a Catholic who served as Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration, told Kelly. "They do not believe in things like the authority of the Catholic Church. Now, as a conservative, I worry that the age of Clinton has been with us too long and may last even longer, but I gotta tell you, I think the Catholic Church will outlast the Clintons, and I think it will be around when they are long gone."

Bennett said the notion of uprooting thousands of years of Catholic doctrine, as one of the emails suggested, is aimed at Catholic teachings on marriage, on homosexuality, on contraception "and most of all, on abortion. They just can't stand that," he said.

"Catholics, I hope, will take note of this. Their faith is being attacked, their faith is being disparaged. They should react to it."

Bennett said "heads would roll" if similar disparaging comments were made about Muslims.

The first anti-Catholic email exchange happened in April 2011, when John Halpin, a scholar at the left-wing Center for American Progress, wrote to Jennifer Palmieri, now a Clinton campaign official, but then at the Center for American Progress; and John Podesta, a Clinton supporter who later became her campaign chairman. Podesta apparently did not respond to Halpin, but Palmieri did, as follows.

The subject of the email was "Conservative Catholicism."

Date: 2011-04-11 21:10
Subject: Re: Conservative Catholicism
Excellent point. They can throw around "Thomistic" thought and "subsidiarity" and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they're talking about.

Jennifer Palmieri <> wrote:

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

----- Original Message -----
From: John Halpin
To: John Podesta <>; Jennifer Palmieri
Sent: Mon Apr 11 18:55:59 2011
Subject: Conservative Catholicism

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.  Friggin' Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

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.

(Palmieri told reporters on Wednesday she "didn't recognize" the email, but she did not deny writing it. She blamed the Russians.)

The second email is from Sandy Newman, the head of a group called Voices for Progress, to John Podesta. In it, Newman muses about a "Catholic Spring," similar to the pro-democracy Arab Spring in the Middle East.

Date: 2012-02-11 11:45 Subject:
Re: opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing . . .
We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up. I'll discuss with Tara. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend is the other person to consult.

On 2/10/12, Sandy Newman <> wrote:
> Hi, John,

> > 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, 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. Is contraceptive coverage an issue around which that could happen. The Bishops will undoubtedly continue the fight. Does the Catholic Hospital Association support of the Administration's new policy, together with "the 98%" create an opportunity?

> > Of course, this idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance, etc. 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 . . .

> > Hoping you're well, and getting to focus your time in the ways you want.

> > Sandy
Sandy Newman, President, Voices for Progress


Bennett said he doubts the Clinton campaign will apologize to Catholics: "They'll stall," he said.

"But the more that comes out, the more we see the heart and soul of this party...people who don't agree with us are backward, they need to be educated..."




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