Ray Flynn, who along with four other former U.S. Ambassadors to the Vatican endorsed Mitt Romney way back in January, is now appearing in a television ad for Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA). Flynn, a former mayor of Boston, who is described as a Democrat in the ad, has not endorsed a Democratic candidate for president since Bill Clinton, and endorsed Scott Brown for the late Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat over Democrat Martha Coakley.
But there is much more to Ray Flynn's political involvements than his Republican endorsements. He would probably rather we forget, but he has also been a leader of the Religious Right.
In 1995, the then-mighty Christian Coalition headed by Pat Robertson and Ralph Reed, formed a Catholic front group called The Catholic Alliance. It was quickly rebuked by Catholic Bishops for appropriating the name of the church while pushing a rightwing economic agenda that was incompatible with Catholic teaching. The group had nothing to do with the Catholic Church, they said.
The Catholic Alliance subsequently faded into obscurity until 1998 when it was folded into Fr. Frank Pavone's organization, Priests for Life, which has been one of the leading organizations of anti-abortion militancy in the United States. It has also been the subject of repeated complaints about electioneering in violations of its 501(c)(3) federal tax-exemption.
Ray Flynn became president of The Catholic Alliance in 1999.
In declaring its independence the previous year, The Catholic Alliance had emphasized that
Catholic Alliance no longer receives any financial support from the Christian Coalition. It is now a completely independent Catholic organization that is receiving financial support from private donations.The Alliance also announced that it would seek to influence the 1998 and 2000 elections, and included an advisory board of Catholic Bishops and Religious Right leaders suchas Paul Weyrich. Here is part of the press release on the Priests for Life web site:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: NEAL HOGANIn 2001, Flynn spoke at the tenth anniversary celebration of Priests for Life and declared that Catholics need to be told how to vote.
MARCH 9,1998 (202) 544-3603
Catholic Alliance announced today additional members of the Catholic Alliance Bishops' Advisory Council. "We are deeply honored to have the prayer, example and advice of these bishops. We desire above all else to be faithful to Catholic teaching as we build a non- partisan Catholic voters' movement promoting the common good. The Church has called for lay men and women to fully participate in the political process to build a more just society, which respects the dignity of all human life, the primacy of the family, authentic freedom and solidarity. Our movement is in response to that call," said Deacon Keith A. Fournier, President of Catholic Alliance.
"Our members are dedicated to effective political action and education in order to change America. As we approach the third millennium, the need for an active educated movement of Catholic voters has never been more urgent. We deeply appreciate the support of Bishops McHugh and Egan in their leadership of this advisory council as well as their demonstrated courage in their own pastoral leadership."
"Catholic Alliance seeks to consolidate a Catholic vote for Life, Family, freedom and Charity in the important 1998 and 2000 elections. Catholics are 23% of the vote in the United States. No political party or candidate can afford to ignore the Catholic vote.'
"We Catholics don't know how to vote. We need someone to tell us how to vote.He went on to offer a vague explanation of why he endorsed George W. Bush for president over Al Gore:
"I thought it was more important to be a good American and Catholic than be a good Democrat," said Flynn.In 2001 Flynn as head of the Catholic Alliance joined with other religious right leaders in urging the Department of Health and Human Services to oppose embryonic stem cell research.
By the 2004 election he had become the head of another Religious Right agency, Your Catholic Voice, that like the Catholic Alliance, had been formed by longtime Pat Robertson ally Keith Fournier. Unsurprisingly, among the leaders and advisors of this outfit were such Religious Right leaders as the late Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation, Michael Schwartz of Concerned Women for America, and of course, Frank Pavone.
That year, conservative bishops had made an issue of denying communion to prochoice Catholic politicians, notably John Kerry. When 48 Catholic Democratic Members of Congress objected to this politicization of communion, here is what Ray Flynn had to say on behalf of Catholic Voice:
"They want to be Catholic on election day and get the Catholic vote, but when they get to Washington or the state house, they consistently vote with every well financed radical group that is working against the most fundamental of all human rights."
Yep. Flynn said that the reason that Catholic pols like Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry are prochoice is because they are in the pocket of unnamed, but malevolently rich, radicals.
He has since moved on to other things. But he still makes news by posing as a Democrat who endorses Republicans.