By Anita Oh
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Historically, the Catholic vote has swayed election, and with just weeks to the November election, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput had harsh words for parishioners about both presidential candidates and the state of the current political landscape.
In a scathing weekly column, Chaput blasted the quote “Anti-Catholic,” emails between members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, recently hacked and released by Wikileaks.
He added that in 2008, two Catholics United staffers, who he called “obvious flacks for the Obama Campaign,” tried to convince him not to tie the church to single issues such as abortion.
One e-mail from Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, to John Podesta, now the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, wrote in part, “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages [sic] dictatorship,” in regards to “bishops opposing contraceptive coverage.”
“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,” Newman added.
In response, Podesta wrote, “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this…likewise Catholics United.”
Dr. Massimo Faggioli, a theologian and Villanova University Professor, also blasted those emails.
“The language of these people was inarticulate, vulgar, not knowing Catholicism, but they haven’t created something that weren’t there before,” Faggioli told Eyewitness News. “What Bishop Chaput is ignoring is that these divisions are not created by politics. This is not an anti-Catholic conspiracy. This is an intra-Catholic debate.”
In his statement, Chaput goes on to cite a friend, who describes the choice Americans face come November, as between, “A vulgar, boorish lout and disrespecter of women, or a scheming, robotic liar with a lifelong appetite for power and an entourage riddled with anti-Catholic bigots.”
While that may offend some, Raymond Strzelecki, a practicing Catholic from Phoenixville, says he respects Chaput speaking out. “Somebody has to take a stance and I think he’s doing that very well,” Strzelecki said.
Colleen Campbell of Mullica Hill, N.J. isn’t satisfied with any of the presidential candidates. “I think our choices out of all the wonderful people in this country are pretty pathetic,” Campbell said. “This is some election. It’s going to be a tough November.”
Eyewitness News reached out to the Archbishop for further comment, but a spokesman told us Chaput would not be available and that the column stands on its own.