Newer groups—including the Napa Institute, Legatus (launched by Domino’s Pizza founder Thomas Monaghan), and the Acton Institute—use the nonprofit designation to push an extreme libertarian economic agenda. Their devotion to individualism, unrestricted capitalism, and diminishment of government services, especially to the poor and marginalized, runs counter to the central tenets of Catholic social teaching.
“I think we’re in a kind of brave new world where these groups really are setting themselves up as authorities above the authorities,” said Stephen Schneck, former director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America (and a Sojourners board member). “I don’t know how else to say that. They’re challenging the legitimacy of existing structures of authority and trying to fill that space with their own agenda and their own people.”
Schneck sees the explosion of religious nonprofits not so much as a cultural phenomenon but rather “as something that leaked over from American politics,” where a flood of money influencing the direction of the two major parties is coming through groups that have little allegiance to traditional party structures or traditionally held positions and alliances.
I see truth here. Which is sad, as I’d love to support these public Catholic groups but cannot because I question how “Catholic” their aims really are.