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USCCB hires new spokeswoman for Cardinal Dolan.

Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that it has hired Kim Daniels to be a spokeswoman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, whose term as USCCB president ends in November. (This is a new position, and Sr. Mary Ann Walsh remains director of media relations.) "Daniels brings to the USCCB her experience as director of Catholic Voices USA," according to the press release, "an organization of lay Catholics that works to bring the positive message of the Church across a broad range of issues to the public square. She is also an attorney whose practice has focused on religious liberty matters." The press release does not mention two of Daniels's previous employers: Sarah Palin and the Thomas More Law Center.

Daniels served as Sarah Palin's "personal domestic-policy czar" in 2009 (as part of SarahPAC). And from 2000 to '09 she was a contract employee for the Thomas More Law Center, which was established in 1998 by its current president, Richard Thompson.Thompson tends to make news by making provocative comments about Islam. In February of last year, for example, he derided Islam as a Trojan Horse, claiming it "has entered America disguised as a religion. But its ultimate objective is political: Destroy America and establish an Islamic nation under Shariah Law." At a 2012 rally for religious freedom, Thompson delivered a fiery speech declaring that for Christians, "peace is not our goal":

According to the Thomas More Law Center's website, one of the group's "key issues" is confronting "the threat of Islam":

Radical Muslims and Islamic organizations in America take advantage of our legal system and are waging a Stealth Jihad within our borders. Their aim is to transform America into an Islamic nation. They have already infiltrated the highest levels of our government, the media, our military, both major political parties, public schools, universities, financial institutions and the cultural elite. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, political leaders still claim Islam is a religion of peace.

In February 2012, Thomas More's director of mission advancement tweeted, "Believe Islam a religion, then support the Becket Fund. Believe it will destroy US, then supt This prompted the Becket Fund, which has been running much of the litigation challenging the HHS contraception mandate, to shoot back with a press release titled, "Religious Liberty is Everyones Right Not Just Christians." The statement was signed by William P. Mumma, Mary Ann Glendon, and Robert P. George. (Mollie Wilson O'Reilly covered the Thomas More Law Center for us last year, along with Cathleen Kaveny and Greg Metzger.)Asked how she squares her own views about Islam with those of Richard Thompson and the Thomas More Law Center, Kim Daniels said, "My own view is that religious freedom and conscience protections should be cherished and protected for people of all faiths," noting that "the statement you refer to [presumably by Thomas More's director of institutional advancement] was made after I left [in 2009]."While it seems that Thompson's and his organization's statements about Islam became significantly more inflammatory over time, in 2007 Thompsonobjected to a proposed (now open) New York City English-Arabic public school, claiming it was "nothing more than an incubator for the radicalization that leads to terrorism." He called the school a "Trojan Horse," asserting that "the political goal of radical Islam is to destroy our Judeo-Christian culture." And in 2008Thompson defended an ex-Marine who was told he could not display on federal property anti-Muslim bumper stickers he'd put on his car. Two decals depicted a no symbol over "The KORAN"; another read, "ISLAM = TERRORISM"; and still another showed a boy urinating on a man wearing a turban. "The banning of these decals is political correctness run amok in the military," Thompson said.


Commenting Guidelines

Frank Gibbons:So the source of people's dislike of Sarah Palin is the fact that she chose to give birth to her son, Trig, who has Down Syndrome. I never heard that explanation before.Nice try. No cigar.

Sarah Palin gives women executives a bad name. She tries to substitute her appealing mother image and her good looks for ability to do work formerly reserved for men. She's an anachronism, and an incompetent one.

Abe - Democrat women do not like Palin because she is cute.;-)

... and now I'm so, so sorry I hit the Submit button on that one.

Claire wrote:"Im wondering if the pope could reduce the number of bishops. In this age of fast communication, why do the US need 270 bishops? Why not have, say, only a dozen bishops? The pope could simply not replace those who retire and merge their diocese with neighboring dioceses."In that case, most of us -- at least outside a privileged few cities -- would get little if any direct contact with our bishop. It's not just about "communication" in a mechanical sense, it's about being there, hands-on, to teach, to preside, to confirm, to deal in person with issues or problems, to just be present, to be the leader of the local church. I don't know about bishops you have encountered, but mine clearly delights in, and spends a lot of time, being out at parishes, schools, etc., with his people. And he keeps a schedule that would challenge the stamina of someone much younger.If we think of our bishops as shepherds, and spiritual fathers, instead of bureaucrats, one might even argue that we need MORE of them, not fewer.

This is an interesting set of comments. But here's something of a twist. So far as I can tell from what goes on in the diocese in which I live, "communication" from the bishop is a one-way street, as far as most of the people are concerned. He talks, in assorted ways, and we can either listen or tune him out. To my knowledge, and I have looked, there are no established channels for mutual communication. At this point in my life, I have no grand itch to say anything to any bishop. But bishops themselves ought to have serious itch concerns to hear what their people have to say. Otherwise, the "new evangelization" will likely be pretty fruitless.

Oh great, so Cardinal Dolan's new "spokesperson" was for ten years an advocate for a rightwing organization (Thomas More Law Center) known for spreading fear of Muslims, universal health care and the teaching of evolution in public schools? So why am I not surprised? The USCCB's current position on immigrantion and the needs of the poor are leftovers of American Church tradition, deeply a part of our history and of prime importance to Catholic minority groups. Why would the USCCB change its policies on these? On the other hand, on virtually everything else, we've seen rightwing drift, drift accelerated during the Bush 43 years toward whatever the Republican party and its fellow travelers believe, no matter how inimical to traditional American Catholic positions. Btw, those who say the Cardinal just wanted to put a female out front for PR purposes shouldn't be surprised if Sr. Mary Ann Walsh takes offense at that contention.;-)

Ken: tell "suit yourself" to Thomas Aquinas. Last time I looked, he is a Doctor of the Church.And you are .....????

Tangent: Rocco reports today that the person who shortly become the new bishop of Oakland is now a mere priest, not a bishop. This is a highly unusual move for dioceses of Oakland's size. Hmm. Are things in the dicastery for bishops also changing? I hope so.

Ann: Rocco used the term "simple priest." You say "mere priest."Lordy, lordy ... what does that make us lowly layfolk in this Divinely Instituted Hierarchy of Souls?Chopped liver immediately comes to mind.Those of us who reside (but do not worship) in the Diocese of Oakland wait to see what this new Bishop is prepared to bring to a highly demoralized local church. The 2 cardinal wannabes that were inflicted on us in the past (Vigneron and Cordileone) added little to the diocese except ticks to their resumes so they could move up and on.We hope that this new appointment signals a change in attitude and policy on the part of "the Pope" ... as if he really has that much knowledge of good and pastoral men who aren't already trimmed in red ... re: bishops.

Claire and Katherine:Claire, I think Katherine makes an excellent point. I like and agree with her definition of a bishop as one who is

. . . . there, hands-on, to teach, to preside, to confirm, to deal in person with issues or problems, to just be present, to be the leader of the local church. I dont know about bishops you have encountered, but mine clearly delights in, and spends a lot of time, being out at parishes, schools, etc., with his people. And he keeps a schedule that would challenge the stamina of someone much younger.

When it works like that, wonderful things can and do happen. An example: during Archbishop Romeros time (and before it), the thinking was that young people should not have to trek in from their remote hamlets in the countryside, to be confirmed at the cathedral; that is, the bishop should go to the people, not the people to the bishop. And so, even though the archdiocese of San Salvador was huge (it has since been divided into three dioceses), off Romero went, to where people lived, for confirmations and for many other events. Invite me, and Ill come, Romero would say. So people did invite him, and he accepted. I also remember Thomas Gumbleton saying how, in this same spirit, the then cardinal-archbishop of Detroit, John Dearden, told his four auxiliary bishops (Gumbleton being one of them), were going to divide the archdiocese into four areas, and each of you will be the regional bishop of one of those areas. That seems like a move in the right direction.

Yes, Gene, people do want personal attention from their bishops.Archbishop Hannan whom I mentioned recently as residing in our parish and saying Mass there on Sundays used to stand outside of the church after Mass to talk to whoever wanted to talk to him. When he died not long ago well in his 90's, the local newspaper noted his involvement in many, many local projects and said he was "beloved". I believe that -- today at Barnes and Noble at the attached cafe there were some refrigerator magnets on sale with all sorts of local images including sports stuff and historic stuff. One of the magnets was a portrait of Apb. Hannan. That, I think, corroborates the paper's estimation of him :-)

Katherine, Gene, Ann: ok. You've had better luck with your bishops than I have. My image of bishops is that they only interact with priests, unless they decide to go down into the political arena and fight, a move that I hate. I have no experience and no knowledge of what you're talking about. I just thought that reducing the number of bishops would make up for augmenting the number of staff such as the addition of the spokeswoman who is the topic of this thread.

Claire --The bishops of my diocese haven't all been equally good -- Archbishop Rummell was a great one, and I think Apb. Hannan was a good one, or at least better than average, and the current one seems to have a bit of independence. But we've had a couple of stinkers too. Like any group of any size you'll find all sorts in it. The best hierarchical structure will not alone ensure good leadership. But a poor one is intrinsically dangerous. I also think a distinction needs to be made between the structure of the Curia and the structure of organization(s) of bishops outside of Rome. I suspect that the Curia has to function something like the bureaucracy of a monarchy, while the bishops' organization(s) need to be more collegial. And somehow the lower clergy and laity need to be fitted in somewhere.