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Some progressives tried to divide the Church, says head of organisation ‘created’ by Clinton aide

President Barack Obama and Democrat advisor John Podesta, seen walking from the White House to the Department of the Interior in 2014 (PA)

The director of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) has said that some progressives have tried to divide the Church. But he insists his organisation has no such mission.

It comes after revelations that John Podesta, who runs Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, claimed to have “created” CACG in order to start a “revolution”.

Christopher Hale, who has led CACG since 2013, told the Catholic Herald: “I think there have been a lot of conversations within the progressive community on how to relate to the Catholic community and some of those conversations have veered off into trying to create divisions within the Church for political ends. But I think that conversation has died down significantly.

“I would argue that it’s immoral to try to create divisions in the Church to try and achieve a political end. I think it’s immoral and it’s impractical.”

In the emails from 2012 released last week by WikiLeaks, Podesta and fellow Democrat activist Sandy Newman discussed what Newman called 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.” Newman refers to this as a “revolution”.

Podesta replied: “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organise 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.”

CACG was founded by Tom Perriello in 2005. Perriello now works for a think-tank founded by Podesta.

Hale said that he did not know Podesta had spoken about CACG as a possible agent of “revolution”. He said: “I was unaware of the conversation that happened.” Hale also said that CACG’s original leaders “were not attempting to achieve those objectives that were communicated in that email.”

Hale said that “many people” were involved in founding CACG. “A lot of folks had different ideas about the direction or directions the organisation could go.” However, he added, “if our mission was to create division within the Catholic Church, we don’t do it well.”

He said: “I can say unequivocally that since I’ve been here in 2013, that there is no attempt whatsoever to promote a ‘Catholic Spring’ or a revolution in the Church.”

Asked about the email which WikiLeaks claim was sent by Podesta, Hale said: “What was communicated in that email is not the right way forward, but I also want to say that I know John Podesta. He’s a good man, he’s a good Catholic, he practises the faith seriously.”

Hale said that although he disagreed with the Democrats on life issues, “Donald Trump in 1999 said he was ‘very pro-choice’ and supported partial-birth abortion.”

CACG’s sole aim, Hale said, was “to promote the social teaching of the Church” rather than to reform the Church. Hale pointed out that he had described Planned Parenthood’s use of human organs as indefensible, and that CACG opposed the Obama administration’s efforts to coerce Catholic organisations to pay for contraception. He said: “We challenge the Democrat Party time and time again.”

CACG’s chairman Fred Rotondaro has called for the ordination of women, claimed that “Gay sex comes from God”, and asked whether “any practicing Catholic under age 80” agrees with the Church’s teaching on contraception.

Hale said: “We believe everything the Church professes and teaches” and that they did not agree with “everything that’s been written by a member of our organisation”.