The Catholic Lobby That Isn’t

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.”

Financial statements published on the conference web site show that this spending increased in 2010, to $31.2 million.

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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:

Organization Lobbying 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
Ascension Health $750,000
Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities $100,000
Benedictine Hospital $20,000
Benedictine University $120,000
Bon Secours Virginia $305,000
Boston College $200,000
Boys Town National Research Hospital $100,000
Cabrini College $60,000
Caldwell College $40,000
Calvary Hospital $50,000
Canisius College $80,000
Catholic Charities $214,900
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
Christus Health $510,000
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
Depaul University $140,000
DeSales University $40,000
D’Youville College $90,000
Emmanuel College $50,000
Franciscan Hospital for Children $80,000
Georgetown University $80,000
Georgian Court University $35,000
Gonzaga University $80,000
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
LeMoyne College $80,000
Lourdes College $36,000
Loyola Marymount University $60,000
Loyola University Chicago $200,000
Loyola University of New Orleans $180,000
Marian University, IN $60,000
Marquette University $50,000
Marywood University $40,000
Mercy Health Network of Iowa $40,000
Mercy Health System $12,599
Mercyhurst College $80,000
Molloy College $80,000
Network $300,000
New Hampshire Catholic Charities $10,000
OSF HealthCare $360,000
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
Provena Health $120,000
Providence Health & Services $1,229,000
Regis High School $80,000
Resurrection Health Care $160,000
Salve Regina University $40,000
Seattle University $120,000
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
Trinity Health $221,000
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
Total $11,488,071


  1. […] in Washington, a town where chiropodists probably have a lobby and other religious groups certainly do, at least de […]

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