Three years ago, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops pressured a respected longtime editor at Catholic News Service to resign after he tweeted his frustration with controversial religious-liberty bills in the Tennessee legislature. Self-appointed Catholic watchdog groups on the right that had targeted other conference officials they deemed insufficiently orthodox unleashed a campaign targeting the editor for “promoting the LGBT agenda.” The episode marked the end of a distinguished journalistic career for Tony Spence, a recipient of the Catholic Press Association’s top award in 2010.
I’m thinking about that now in light of some unambiguously partisan tweets from Judy Keane, the current director of public affairs at the U.S. bishops’ conference. In a May 29 tweet, Keane gushed about President Donald Trump’s record. “Lowest unemployment rate EVER, incredibly robust economy under Pres. Trump,” Keane wrote. “Read all accomplishments here.” Keane linked to a web site called MAGAPILL that touts Trump’s successes in the categories of government, economy, and national security. “ICE has conducted a MASSIVE raid on sanctuary cities this week—498 illegal immigrants arrested,” reads one headline on the page. “DACA renewals drop 21 percent,” reads another.
It’s worth noting that Keane’s employer has opposed Trump’s wall and strongly denounced the president’s termination of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. “The cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible,” the president, vice president, and chairman of the USCCB’s committee on migration wrote in a 2017 statement. “It causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families… This decision is unacceptable and does not reflect who we are as Americans.” In a statement last month, the conference said the “inhumane conditions for children” being held in detention centers at the border “shock the conscience and demand immediate action.”