Left-leaning financier George Soros is known for spending millions of dollars trying to influence U.S. presidential elections. This year alone he has devoted more than $25 million to promote the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and other Democratic Party candidates and causes. Recently, he seems to have decided to move the needle on the Catholic Church as well.
Board minutes for Soros's Open Society Foundations, dated February 9, 2016 and leaked via Wikileaks in August, reveal that the organization spent $650,000 last year trying to use Pope Francis's U.S. visit in September 2015 as a springboard for "shifting the priorities of the U.S. Catholic Church to focus on issues of injustice and oppression." Or at least on what Soros and his foundation regard as issues of injustice and oppression, which mainly center around liberal social causes such as gun control, global warming, uncontrolled immigration, antipolice activism, "communities of color," and what the Soros people call "over-incarceration" of convicted criminals.
What the leaked minutes also reveal is how little, in the way of results, the Soros people got for their $650,000. Indeed, the Open Society staff itself considered the efforts to capitalize on Francis's two-day stop in Philadelphia on September 26-27,2015, to be more or less a failure. There, among other things, the pope was to visit a prison. Meanwhile, one of the Soros grantees, a Catholic-led interfaith organization called PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organization) National Network, planned to hold a "Faith Matters in America" summit that weekend featuring clergymen involved in Black Lives Matter.
The hope was that Francis would speak out against police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S., and other topics of interest to Black Lives Matter, but the pope failed to comply. A candlelight vigil organized by PICO involving immigrants and families involved in "mass incarceration" was expected by its own organizers to draw 300 people, but it went largely unnoticed by the media despite the best efforts of PICO's press office. PICO had also, in June 2015, sent a Soros-funded interfaith delegation to Rome to talk up such issues as raising the minimum wage and President Obama's 2014 executive order halting deportations of illegal immigrants (since blocked by the the courts). But the group never got to speak to Francis himself, and the pope did not mention either point during his visit. "In hindsight, the time and money and resources devoted to events in Philadelphia could likely have been better deployed in the home cities of PICO's members," the minutes read.
Founded by the Jesuit Fr. Robert Baumann in 1972, PICO has a strong Catholic network at the progressive end of the Catholic spectrum and claims some 500 Catholic parishes among its members (there are 17,300 Catholic parishes in total in America). It seems to have maintained its Vatican street cred (the Holy See invited PICO to participate in its World Meeting of Popular Movements in Bolivia...