PRESS RELEASE: Cuccinelli Blasts Catholic Church for “Creating Culture of Dependency” in Caring for Poor

Posted December 14, 2012

Calling the Catholic leadership “soft” and “weak,” presumptive GOP Va. gubernatorial nominee condemns charitable advocacy of Church

WASHINGTON – Citing efforts by the Catholic Church to alleviate the suffering of the poor and marginalized, saying it has “always cost [Americans’] liberty,” Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli blasted church leadership for fighting for universal health care and immigrants’ rights while speaking at September’s Cherish Life Ministries Christian Life Summit, the blog ThinkProgress has learned.

Saying the American church’s efforts to lobby for health care reform and strengthening the social safety net create “a culture of dependency,” Cuccinelli, a practicing Catholic and front-runner for the Virginia GOP’s upcoming gubernatorial nomination, condemned the US Catholic bishops for decades of lobbying the government on behalf of the poor. Cuccinelli suggested the church should not ask for government money in its mission to alleviate suffering.

“One of my great frustrations as a Catholic...is how soft and weak the leadership of my church has been,” Cuccinelli said. “They have for decades lobbied government to ‘do this’ and to ‘do that.’ All of which should be done by the church if they’re done at all in society. So over time, they’ve made themselves out to be the largest special interest group in the country.”

Following the Gospel mandate to serve the marginalized, the Catholic Church in America has been a powerful force in fighting poverty and hunger and to empowering struggling immigrant families through entities like Catholic Charities and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Catholic Charities USA, headquartered in his home state of Virginia, received more than $2.9 billion in federal grants in 2010 alone and employs hundreds of Virginians.

“Clearly Mr. Cuccinelli is unfamiliar with his Catholic faith, and specifically Catholic social teaching,” said James Salt, executive director for Catholics United. “There’s simply no other explanation as to why he would dare attack the Catholic Church for fighting on behalf of the poor and marginalized. If Jesus Christ stood for anything, it was to fight for the least among us. Mr. Cuccinelli’s comments demonstrate a profound misunderstanding of Catholicism. He should consult the Catechism of Catholic Church before making another ignorant statement about our faith.”

According to Bread for the World, a non-profit group dedicated to ending hunger worldwide, every house of worship in America, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim, would have to raise $50,000 every year for ten years to make up for the shortfall in funding for nutrition programs for struggling families if a budget similar to the one drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan were to become law. Cuccinelli supports this legislation.

Founded in 2004, Catholics United, and its educational arm, Catholics United Education Fund, are non-profit, non-partisan organizations dedicated to promoting the message of justice and the common good found at the heart of the Catholic Social Tradition.