Fr. Bryan Hehir, the Sojourners, and George Soros

Joe Sacerdo | August 20, 2010 at 7:25 am | Tags: Archdiocese of Boston, Bryan Hehir | Categories: Bryan Hehir | URL:

The ancient Greek poet, Euripides (480 -406 BC) once said, “One can judge a man by the company they keep.”  Once you read about the connection between Fr. Bryan Hehir, Jim Wallis (who founded and leads an organization with anti-Catholic views called the Sojourners), George Soros, and the Democratic National Committee, we’ll invite you to revisit the Euripides quote and see if it applies. We assume you probably know about most of the players, but will recap on Jim Wallis first, as you’ll need the background for the rest of the story.

Jim Wallis is in the news a lot.  His own biography on Sojourners website describes him as “bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life.”  He is President Obama’s spiritual advisor and a policy advisor.  What are his views you might ask?  This March 24 report quotes Glenn Beck describing him a “a guy who believes a lot of the stuff that Jeremiah Wright does. He is a blatant redistribution of wealth advocate, a Marxist.”

Deal Hudson at just posted earlier this week about how George Soros and his Open Society Foundation have been funding Jim Wallis and his organization, the Sojourners.  And Fr. Bryan Hehir seems to have an association with the Sojourners and Mr. Wallis, or at least has had some association in the past.  We’ll get to that in a moment, but first let’s just cover the rest about the Sojourners and Jim Wallis. According to Hudson:

The funding from Soros’ foundation, The Open Society, was revealed by Marvin Olasky in World magazine.  This is the same foundation that provided six-figure funding to Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and Catholics United.  Both organizations are important Catholic voices in the Wallis-led coalition, and both have fully supported Obama’s pro-abortion agenda from the start.

Wallis is denying he receives support from Soros even though Jay W. Richards, author of the NRO post, has screen shots of the relevant pages from the Open Society web site showing grants of $200,000 in 2004 and $25,000 in 2006.  Dalyrmple posted PDFs from the Open Society web site on August 12 only to find they were removed a few days later.

Mr. Hudson refers to a piece in National Review which says:

Now, it isn’t news that both Sojourners and Wallis are friends of the Left; I explored the connections in my book Money, Greed and God, and others have connected the dots as well. But were Wallis and Sojourners actively involved with secular left-wing mega-donors and with the election machinery of the Left?

This article in In World magazine from July 17, partially answers that question by referencing a 2007 Washingon Post report that Wallis’s organization, Sojourners, loaned/rented Sojourners’ mailing list to the Obama campaign.

This is all rather timely, because earlier this month, Paul Melanson at LaSalette Journey blogged on this exact topic, and Fr. Bryan Hehir’s relationship with the organization.  We refer you to Paul’s excellent posts for more details and excerpt several here.

Why would Father J. Bryan Hehir choose to associate himself with such a leftist radical?

In a previous post I showed how Father J. Bryan Hehir of the Boston Archdiocese has associated himself with leftist radical Jim Wallis and his organization Sojourners (which has been financed by Nazi collaborator George Soros) and which promotes the New Age Globalist Earth Charter which seeks to replace the Ten Commandments and dismantle the Roman Catholic Church.

Jim Wallis, in his book entitled “The Great Awakening,” expresses his support for homosexual unions and even spiritual “blessings” for such unions. He writes, “I support civil rights laws for same-sex couples. That, for me, is a justice issue. Many Christians, and I include myself, prefer the solution of ‘civil unions’ from the state, and even spiritual ‘blessings’ for gay couples (from congregations prepared to offer them), rather than altering the church’s sacrament of marriage as between a man and a woman, but those differences should not be fundamentally divisive. Gay marriage should not be the primary battleground in the fight for the health and stability of marriage and family in our society. In a pluralistic democracy, we should support civil and human rights for all our citizens, regardless of our different theological and biblical interpretations of the complicated and thorny issues surrounding homosexuality.

Needless to say, this attitude is not consistent with the Magisterial teaching of the Catholic Church.

Here are a few excerpts from Paul’s previous post on Jim Wallis:

He wasn’t just against the Vietnam war, he rejoiced in America’s defeat there showing his leftist sympathies by publicly criticizing the Vietnamese and Hmong refugees who fled that communist regime…Wallis also supported the Sandinista Communists in their attempt to take over Nicaragua in the 80s, actively participating in resistance against the American military – AND working side by side in this cause with none other than Jeremiah Wright, the radical anti-American Chicago preacher who was our president’s pastor for twenty years.

In addition, Wallis supported the FMLN, a communist terror group from El Salvador itching to spread their Marxist revolution throughout South America. Men have been called ‘traitors’ for much less than what Wallis has stood for.

In 1983, the organization, Accuracy in Media published a lengthy book on the far left policies of Wallis and his organization, documenting 53 political positions of Sojourners on such issues as Israel’s right to exist, terrorism, socialism, capitalism, human rights, etc. In all 53 position statements, it was found that Sojourners’ views were completely in line with the views of hard-line Soviets.

Wallis believes that Castro’s Cuba, Chavez’s Venezuela, and Ortega’s Nicaragua are the Marxist paradises the US should emulate. It is not extreme at all to say, that one of his goals is to see the end of the US as we have known it — ‘Post-Americanism’ finally realized. So, after being arrested by the US government 22 times in forty years, where has he soft-landed? As spiritual advisor to President Obama. Now, with the help of our own government, he hopes to turn mere ideology into policy. He is a living, breathing advocate for total government control, complete socialism, or ‘totalitarian socialism.'” (See here for full article).

Sojourners is behind the “Call to Renewal” movement, a movement supported by Father J. Bryan Hehir of the Boston Archdiocese. The question is: why would a Roman Catholic priest wish to associate himself with a radical such as Jim Wallis? Especially since Sojourners promotes the New Age Globalist Earth Charter, an initiative which seeks to replace the Ten Commandments and to neutralize the Catholic Church.

If you’d like to read more about the problems with the Earth Charter and how Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have criticized the beliefs underlying the Earth Charter, here is an excellent article.

Oops, I nearly forgot to mention this overview of Wallis (from Discoverthenetworks, a guide to the political left), which cites how Wallis is a dedicated foe of capitalism and contends Biblical scripture calls for redistribution of wealth to help the poor:

To this day, Wallis remains fiercely opposed to capitalism and the free market system. In many interviews, he has stressed his belief that capitalism has proven to be an unmitigated failure. “Our systems have failed the poor and they have failed the earth.”

In 1995 Wallis founded Call to Renewal, a coalition of religious groups united in the purpose of advocating, in religious terms, for leftist economic agendas such as tax hikes and wealth redistribution to promote “social justice.”

More than a mere religious leader, Wallis, a registered Democrat, is also an adroit political operative, publicly portraying himself as a politically neutral religious figure whose overriding allegiance is to God. Always with the disclaimer that neither major political party can claim to authoritatively represent the values of religious faith, Wallis passionately contends that Republican policies tend to be immoral and godless.

After the 2004 presidential election, Wallis acknowledged that he had cast a vote for the Democratic candidate, John Kerry.  In January 2005, Senate Democrats invited Wallis to address them in a private discussion. Meanwhile, some fifteen Democratic members of the House made Wallis the guest of honor at a breakfast confab whose subject, according to The New York Times, was devising ways to instill support for the Democratic Party into the hearts of the religious faithful.

According to a March 10, 2007 Los Angeles Times report, in recent years Wallis has sought to re-brand traditional slogans of the religious right, like “pro-life,” to refer to such leftist agendas as working with AIDS victims in Africa or helping illegal immigrants in America achieve legal status so they can continue to live with their U.S.-born children.

In a January 13, 2006 radio interview with Interfaith Voices, Wallis was asked, “Are you then calling for the redistribution of wealth in society?” He replied, “Absolutely, without any hesitation. That’s what the gospel is all about.”

OK, let’s pause for a moment to catch our breath.  Now that we’ve established a bit about Sojourners, Jim Wallis, and George Soros’ help funding them, let’s take a look at Fr. Hehir’s involvement with Wallis.

Fr. Hehir spoke at Wallis’ Sojourners conference, “A Table in the Wilderness” in 1997, along with Wallis.   As Cabinet Secretary for Social Services, Fr. Hehir has also spoken on a number of panels with Jim Wallis in recent years.  In April of 2004, they both keynoted this Social Justice Conference in Richmond, Virginia.  Here’s Jim Wallis at the Boisi Center at Boston College in October 2005, where Fr. Bryan Hehir is on the Board of Advisors.  Here’s Fr. Hehir, Jim Wallis, and Mary Jo Bane on a April 2005 Harvard panel on the future of religion and politics.  On March 5 of this year, Fr. Hehir and Jim Wallis were together again at a forum at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

One of the more interesting panels where Fr. Hehir and Jim Wallis spoke together was on January 18, 2005 at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC.  In this transcript of the event, Fr. Hehir commented that he was finished reading all but 3 chapters of Wallis’s latest book (“”God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”), and agreed with a number of conclusions, but said he “would have gotten there a different way.”  How Fr. Hehir responded to his introduction at this panel was also noteworthy.  The moderator, E.J. Dionne, Jr, who introduced Fr. Hehir at the session described him as “one of the most insightful thinkers we have on the relation between faith and public life.”  He joked that Fr. Hehir had always been his candidate to be pope, but since he didn’t want to jinx that possibility, he said, “maybe I should nominate Bryan for a job he doesn’t want, which is to be chair of the Democratic National Committee, and then he might get to be pope.”  Fr. Hehir responded,

I feel the need at Brookings to make a sort of presidential statement, that I aspire neither to the papacy nor the head of the Democratic National Committee. I respect the Democratic National Committee and I reverence the papacy, but others can do both of those.”

OK, so readers may say we have a thing about words here, but words matter.  It’s common knowledge that many of the DNC’s positions stridently oppose Catholic Church teachings.  The DNC’s 2004 platform clearly supported abortion (“we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose”), embryonic stem cell research (“We will pursue this research”) and opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment that would have blocked gay marriage from spreading (“We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families.  We repudiate President Bush’s divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a “Federal Marriage Amendment.”).  Maybe Fr. Hehir was just bantering with the moderator in his comment.  But his statement that he respected the DNC was not followed by any other statement that qualified he did not mean that, so that raises questions.   Is this blog the right place to ask how any faithful Catholic could say he respected the DNC in the face of them holding and espousing these anti-Catholic positions?

So, what have we learned today?  We have George Soros funding Jim Wallis’ organization, the Sojourners.   We have seen Jim Wallis’ record of left-leaning Marxist views and the sort of causes and positions the Sojourners support and espouse, including ones contrary to Catholic teachings.  We have seen that Fr. Bryan Hehir spoke at a Sojourners conference, and has spoken on a lot of panels with Jim Wallis, so some people might infer from that some association between Fr. Hehir and Jim Wallis that goes beyond just happenstance.  We have noted Fr. Hehir on a panel with Wallis saying he agreed with many of the conclusions of Wallis’s latest book on religion and politics and Fr. Hehir respects the Democratic National Committee, with no comment about the fact that the DNC opposed the Church on issues like abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and gay marriage.

We come back to the Euripides quote: “One can judge a man by the company they keep.”  Do you think it might apply in this case?

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I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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