February 7, 2011 (CatholicVote.org) – “If you want to gain favor from President Obama, be a bad catholic.”
That personal observation gained even more credibility last week when President Obama announced the new makeup of his Council for Faith-Based Partnerships.
The only Catholic he appointed to this council is Sister Marlene Weisenbeck, former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Chairperson of the Catholic Health Association’s Sponsorship/Canon Law Committee.
But why did Sister Marlene merit an appointment to the President’s council? What makes her so special? Why does the President think she is the Catholic best-suited to represent the Catholic perspective on national policy issues?
Quite simply, because she played for Obama’s team during the health care debate. She was the acting president of LCWR when they came out in support of Obamacare. In fact, she signed the document announcing this endorsement not once, but twice.
The media helped blow her letter out of proportion, up to the point that the USCCB had to release an official statement clarifying that her letter did not in fact represent the views of all 59,000 American religious sisters.
But you didn’t see Sister Marlene trying to correct the record, instead you saw her representatives breathlessly sending the letter to wavering pro-life Congressman (seriously, watch the YouTube), most of whom took the bait.
Sister Marlene and Sister Keehan, through the Catholic Health Association, worked tirelessly to promote Obama’s health care agenda before and after the final bill passed.
Public records show that Sister Keehan has visited the White House fifteen times since Obama became president, seven times visiting the President personally. This is an unprecedented level of access. At a recent CHA meeting (pictured at right), Sister Keehan proudly waved the pen President Obama gave her as a gift for the critical help she and her organization gave him.
Now Sister Marlene has her “pen” … she is the sole “Catholic” voice on the President’s Faith-Based council, (ostensibly) tasked with such goals as lowering the abortion rate.
This is a smart move by President Obama. On the one hand, he can claim that Catholics are technically represented on this faith-based council. He can also rest assured that he will never encounter opposition from Sister Marlene, because she has fallen over herself in the past to promote his signature policy initiative.
At one point I started a list of dissenting Catholics who occupy high positions in the Obama administration. It’s long. And today, it just got longer. I still cannot find a single faithful Catholic who has been given any sort of significant responsibility in this administration.
This is the sort of common ground that Obama offers Catholics: give up your principles and follow me. Obama continuously welcomes dissenting Catholics into positions of authority, and shuns those who stand by their Catholic principles to oppose him.
Objective observers of this administration should recognize this, and those of us who do care about Catholic identity and principles being maintained should take note as well.
This article first appeared on CatholicVote.org. Reprinted here with permission.