Underlying the national debates on birth control and abortion is the enormous reach of the Catholic Church.
The church’s influence stems in part from its membership. About 24 percent of adults in the U.S. describe themselves as Catholic, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
That’s not to say that all Catholics agree with the bishops. A study by the Guttmacher Institute found that 98 percent of Catholic women who were sexually experienced and of child-bearing age had used a method of birth control other than natural family planning.
Despite the differences between clergy and laity, the church wields significant clout in Washington.
When Pew studied advocacy by religious groups last year, it ranked the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops second in expenditures, behind only the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The conference spent an estimated $26.7 million in 2009 on efforts to influence public policy.
Yet it hasn’t reported any national lobbying expenditures since 2006.
Pew took a broad view of advocacy, compiling information from questionnaires, along with research of web sites, mission statements, tax documents and other records.
The church evidently draws a more narrow definition of lobbying. Because it reported no lobby expenditures to Congress, Pew cited an expenditure in the conference financial reports, called “policy activity.”
|What is First Street? What is a political intelligence platform? Explore First Street and find out by signing up for 2 weeks of free access.|
Catholic colleges, hospitals and health networks are at the center of the conflicts over birth control spending. These institutions are more likely than the bishops to report activities that fall within the reporting requirements of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
We’ve assembled a list of 96 Catholic organizations reporting lobbying expenditures in 2011. The compilation is by no means exhaustive, since there are undoubtedly local and regional groups that have lobbyists in Washington.
Yet the list is extensive, drawing data from First Street, Pew, the Center for Responsive Politics and organizations such as the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
Altogether, the lobbying expenditures of these organizations totaled nearly $11.5 million last year. That’s on top of the amount the bishops spent on “policy activity.” The conference’s 2011 figures have not yet been released.
Catholic organizations that lobbied Washington in 2011:
|Alexian Brothers Hospital Network||$70,000|
|Alliance for Catholic Education||$75,000|
|Alliance of Catholic Health Care||$40,000|
|Alliance of Catholic Health Care Systems||$100,000|
|American Life League||$75,000|
|Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities||$100,000|
|Bon Secours Virginia||$305,000|
|Boys Town National Research Hospital||$100,000|
|Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans||$20,000|
|Catholic Health and Human Services||$40,000|
|Catholic Health Association of the United States||$520,000|
|Catholic Health East||$240,000|
|Catholic Health Initiatives||$10,000|
|Catholic Health Partners||$80,000|
|Catholic Healthcare Partners||$110,000|
|Catholic Healthcare System||$40,000|
|Catholic Healthcare West||$130,000|
|Catholic Radio Association||$10,000|
|College of Mount St. Vincent||$70,000|
|College of Notre Dame of Maryland||$10,000|
|College of St. Elizabeth||$30,000|
|Covenant Health System||$135,000|
|Franciscan Hospital for Children||$80,000|
|Georgian Court University||$35,000|
|Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center||$105,000|
|Holy Name Hospital||$80,000|
|Holy Redeemer Health System||$42,000|
|Holy Spirit Hospital||$10,000|
|John Carroll University||$29,540|
|Knights of Columbus||$75,000|
|Loyola Marymount University||$60,000|
|Loyola University Chicago||$200,000|
|Loyola University of New Orleans||$180,000|
|Marian University, IN||$60,000|
|Mercy Health Network of Iowa||$40,000|
|Mercy Health System||$12,599|
|New Hampshire Catholic Charities||$10,000|
|Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center||$50,000|
|Our Lady of the Lake University||$60,000|
|Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico||$40,000|
|Providence Health & Services||$1,229,000|
|Regis High School||$80,000|
|Resurrection Health Care||$160,000|
|Salve Regina University||$40,000|
|Seton Hall University||$80,000|
|Seton Hill University||$40,000|
|Siena Heights University||$50,000|
|Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health System||$142,775|
|Sisters of St. Francis Health Services||$60,000|
|SSM Health Care||$230,257|
|St. Ambrose University||$10,000|
|St. Anselm College||$40,000|
|St. Bonaventure University||$108,000|
|St. Edward’s University||$56,000|
|St. Joseph’s University||$120,000|
|St. Leo University||$200,000|
|St. Louis University||$100,000|
|St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers||$80,000|
|St. Norbert College||$63,000|
|St. Peter’s College||$60,000|
|St. Xavier University||$96,000|
|University of Dayton||$160,000|
|University of Notre Dame||$210,000|
|University of San Francisco||$200,000|
|University of St. Francis||$120,000|
|University of the Incarnate Word||$80,000|
|Vincentian Collaborative System||$51,000|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||$131,000|