On Friday, a group of left-wing Catholic academics bashed the Tea Party in a letter to John Garvey, President of Catholic University. They objected to the school’s recent acceptance of a $1 million donation from the Charles Koch Foundation to help fund a new school of business.
In the December 13 letter, the 49 signators, including Reverend Stephen A. Privett, the Jesuit President of the University of San Francisco, as well as several faculty members at Catholic University, Boston College, Notre Dame, and Holy Cross, complained that Koch’s Tea Party ideology conflicted with Pope Francis’s November 24 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
“While we understand the challenges of starting a business school during a time of fiscal constraints and restrained philanthropic and government funding,” they wrote, “we must raise our serious concerns about a recent $1 million gift the university has accepted from the Charles Koch Foundation.” The signators claimed that “Charles and David Koch have an ideological agenda when it comes to shaping the national debate over economics and politics that is not simply academic in nature.”
The main complaint of the signators is that “[t]he Koch brothers are billionaire industrialists who fund organizations that advance public policies that directly contradict Catholic teaching on a range of moral issues from economic justice to environmental stewardship.”
The letter’s authors singled out the Tea Party for particular criticism. “We are concerned that by accepting such a donation,” they stated, “you send a confusing message to Catholic students and other faithful Catholics that the Koch brothers’ anti-government, Tea Party ideology has the blessing of a university sanctioned by Catholic bishops.”
The signators also referenced Pope Francis’s much misinterpreted language on “trickle-down” economics contained in Evangelii Gaudium. “While the Koch brothers lobby for sweeping deregulation of industries and markets, Pope Francis has criticized trickle-down economic theories, and insists on the need for stronger oversight of global financial markets to protect workers from what he calls ‘the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal,’ ” they wrote.
The National Catholic Reporter reported that Catholic University officials issued a statement on Monday that their acceptance of the Charles Koch Foundation donations is “fully consonant with Catholic social teaching.”