California Catholic Conference – a history

According to Form 990  filed with the IRS, the 2011 expenses for the California Catholic Conference were more than $1.4 million. These expenses included a $144,216 salary for the executive director, Ned Doejsi, $88,065 legal expenses, $28,274 travel expenses, $90,000 lobbying expenses, and $125,527 for the Catholic Legislative Network.

Are the California bishops getting their money’s worth? What do the bishops in other states get from their bureaucracies?

Ron Johnson

1. In Arizona, a May 15, 2012 legislative wrap-up by the Arizona Catholic Conference is typical of executive director Ron Johnson’s work with pro-life and pro-family allies in the state:

“The Arizona Catholic Conference is appreciative that Gov. Jan Brewer has signed into law an important measure we initiated (HB 2625) pertaining to religious liberty. While there were many distortions from our opponents about this bill, HB 2625 simply exempts religious employers from being coerced by the government to pay for abortifacients and contraceptives in their insurance plans if doing so violates their faith.

“With the passage of HB 2625, Arizonans will now be better able to assert their rights by suing the federal government over the HHS contraceptive mandate, and if it is overturned, religious freedom in Arizona will be much better protected.

“The ACC is most grateful to Representative Debbie Lesko for sponsoring HB 2625 and her unwavering support in the face of the tremendous national attention garnered by the bill.

“In addition to HB 2625, a number of very substantial religious liberty and pro-life bills were also passed into law this session, including conscience protections for various professionals (SB 1365); a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy (HB 2036); and a prohibition on any taxpayer funding passing through the state to abortion providers (HB 2800).

“Similarly, the ACC initiated another very important bill (SB 1009) that became law and is aimed at keeping abortion providers out of public and charter schools. Under SB 1009, any discussion of abortion during class time must present childbirth and adoption as the preferred options. The ACC is particularly thankful for the great efforts Senator Nancy Barto made in sponsoring this bill.”

Johnson’s post about the 2008 Arizona victory of an initiative to protect marriage shows how serious the commitment of Arizona’s bishops was.

2. The Catholic Conference of Illinois joined this year with other pro-family groups in promoting a protect marriage rally at the state capitol in Springfield. (This in spite of opposition to marriage by the governor and heavy anti-marriage majorities in both houses of the state legislature.) The following is from a January 17, 2013 message from the conference:

“The Illinois Family Institute is sponsoring a Lobby Day to Preserve Marriage on Wed., Feb. 20, 2013, at the state Capitol in Springfield. Show up at the Capitol rotunda at 10:30 a.m., and look for a table sponsored by IFI in a hallway off the rotunda, where you can pick up information on lobbying your lawmakers.”

Governor Quinn

A good example of how forthright a Catholic conference can be when dealing with politicians is a letter written by the Illinois conference to Governor Patrick Quinn in November, 2011:

“We hope that you can make time in your schedule so that we might speak together about several topics, the first being your personal approval of laws permitting the killing of unborn children. Many of the citizens of Illinois recognize the biological fact that abortion kills an unborn child. Consequently, many find themselves disturbed about laws that fail to defend any human being before birth. The Catholic Church has taught for two thousand years that abortion is, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, ‘a heinous crime.'”

Or even better the sharp criticism by the Illinois conference in that same month of the governor’s awarding of a Pro-Choice Leadership Award:

“We deeply regret the governor’s decision to present this award, which so closely associates him with a political action group whose purpose is contrary to the common good,” the six bishops said in a Nov. 2 statement released by the Catholic Conference of Illinois.

“With this action, Governor Quinn has gone beyond a political alignment with those supporting the legal right to kill children in their mothers’ wombs, to rewarding those deemed most successful in this terrible work.”

Ronda Storms

3. The Florida Catholic Conference honors state pro-life legislators on its homepage. Among the recent awardees are Defensor Vitae, Defenders of Life state senator Ronda Storms, state representative Dennis Baxley (2012) Defensor Parentum, Defender of Parents, state senator Joe Negron and Defensor Vitae, Defender of Life representative Kelli Stargel (2011).

4. Michigan’s Catholic conference makes it clear what its legislative priorities are for the 2013-2014 legislative session:

From a February 4 press release: “Policies that protect the ability for faith based organizations to serve the general public in that organization’s faith tradition should be recognized by state law Michigan Catholic Conference stated today in announcing its advocacy priorities for the 2013-14 legislative session. In addition to protecting constitutional religious liberty rights for faith based entities, especially in health care and child placement, Michigan Catholic Conference will also continue to support legislation that excludes abortion coverage in health care plans and any federal/state health care exchange created through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).”

5. Even in liberal New York, the Catholic conference is staunch in its opposition to the pro-abortion agenda.

From the conference website:


Re: The Abortion Expansion Bill
“In relation to revising existing provisions of law regarding abortions”

The above-referenced legislation may come before you as a stand-alone bill (such as S.438, Stewart-Cousins) or may be re-packaged into a multi-point “women’s agenda” as advocated by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his 2013 State of the State message. We strongly urge you to oppose this abortion expansion plan, in whatever form it may take. It is unnecessary, extreme and dangerous. For the reasons outlined below, the New York State Catholic Conference strongly opposes this legislation and urges that it be defeated.

This legislation… does not simply “update” New York law or codify Roe vs. Wade. It would usher in extreme and sweeping changes to abortion policy in New York State.  More

Or read the fervent Respect Life blog on the New York conference website written by Kathleen Gallagher.

From a December 2012 posting:

“The post-election suggestion by some in the Republican Party that the GOP pro-life plank be dropped from the platform is more than misguided… it’s just plain wrong. All pro-life politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, need to stay the course; to continue to walk the pro-life walk. Their votes are critical to changing policies and saving lives.”

Editor’s note: Material on other state conferences is easy to find.  Anyone can Google another state conference of bishops and find bishops who are more engaged in pro-life and pro-family issues than the California conference.



California state senator Joel Anderson, a solid pro-life leader and a leader in fighting abortion funding, has served a pivotal role in the state assembly and now in the state senate. Anderson, a faithful, practicing Catholic, will not allow California Catholic Conference staff in his office because of the conference’s indifference and even hostility to pro-life and family issues and leaders.


Brian Johnston has been the director of the California ProLife Council for more than twenty-five years. The California ProLife Council is the state arm of National Right to Life with offices in Sacramento. Johnston is an international expert on end-of-life issues and the author of Death as a Salesman. Johnston has clashed with Ned Dolejsi repeatedly on the issues of nutrition and hydration of comatose patients at the end of life. Johnston says the current staff of the California Catholic Conference should be fired.


To read previous parts of this series, click below:

Part 1: the years before

Part 2: the gay agenda, euthanasia, abortion

Part 3: a layman takes over

Part 4: blurred vision

Part 5: lay-run initiatives





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  1. Just the Facts says:

    This story asks: ” Are the California bishops getting their money’s worth?”

    First, how much money did the California bishops provide to the California Catholic Conference in 2011?

    You can check the 2011 Form 990 Internal Revenue Service report by the California Catholic Conference at the “2011 expenses” link provided in the first paragraph of this story at:

    In Part VIII, line 2a (on page 9) you will see that “Diocesan Assessments” amounted to $1,465,944 during the 2011 calendar year.

    This $1,465,944 was “assessments” on California’s two archdioceses and ten dioceses to provide money to the California Catholic Conference.

    Presumably these funds were collected by the twelve (arch)dioceses from the parishes and the Catholics in those parishes.

    Clearly almost none of these California Catholics were even aware of these “assessments”.

    It seems clear from this Part 6 and the previous five parts of this series of stories about the California Catholic Conference, that not only did California’s bishops and Catholic people not get their “money’s worth”, but that the California Catholic Conference has done a great deal of damage in the last decades to the standing of the Catholic Church’s moral teachings and principles in the legislative and government “culture wars” in California.

    This is especially true with regard to the present dominance of the “Culture of Death” in California laws and budgets.

    The results of the recent elections, especially the most recent November, 2012 election, shows how this has occurred.

    More than two-thirds of the members of the California Assembly, state Senate, and Congressional delegation, and all those in state-wide offices from Gov. Jerry Brown on down are now pro-abortion Democratic party members, who promote the Planned Parenthood “war on women”, sexual corruption of youth, and an ongoing abortion holocaust.

    It is time to shut down or radically reform the California Catholic Conference, starting with a replacement for Executive Director Ned E. Dolejsi.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      Good for Senator Joel Anderson, he will never get the CCC’s Catholic Legislator of the Year award as have several pro-abortion politicians!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  2. Well I knew it was bad, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Now we know why anti-life “Catholics” are being honored in the Cathedrals. And now we know why the CCC has been so impotent in promoting the Pro Life cause in the state. $144000 is a pretty generous salary even if the recipient(s) is/are delivering the goods. It is a demoralizing scandal when they are in cahoots with the enemies of the Church. The Church members’ monies are being used to militate against the Church’s mission. If the bishops, now that they know about it, refuse to act, then they are complicit in this satanic rip off. In that case the laity of California have to take action. This is not about obedience to the bishops. There is a serious matter of justice here.

  3. While the hypocritical bishops may be getting their money’s worth for the $1.4 million per year for their lobby, the faithful Catholics in the pews are being betrayed.

    I dare any of the CALCATH readers to send a letter to the CCC and ask them for a list of pro-life legislators and pro-abortion legislators. they won’t send you such list because they rarely if ever lobby on the right to life.

    Ask any legislator who the leaders of the pro-life forces are and, guaranteed, they will never name the CCC as a pro-life leader.

  4. Anton L. Seidl says:

    We are losing the culture war. The enemies of the church are tearing us apart, bit by bit. Sadly, not all of them are outside the church. We have a fifth column actively working from within. They call themselves progressives. Many wear clericals, sheep in wolves’ clothes…

  5. Rod McKuen says:

    In ” American Catholicism: A Call to Arms” by Hillsdale College (Michigan) Prof. Paul A. Rahe, (February 14, 2012,, we see how long it takes a large organization like the USCCB to turn, like a super ocean liner that has to travel halfway around the world just to make a right turn.

    We see the pernicious, pervasive influence of kingmaker Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, (he didn’t molest seminarian Stephen Cook, and just to prove it, he paid him $3 million), how it took a nearly Herculean effort to throw off his shadow nearly 15 years after his death, finally with the election of Timothy Cardinal Dolan to the helm of the USCCB.

    But Bernardin’s spirit lives on, in the apparatchiks thoroughly embedded in the chanceries of many dioceses still today. The Bishops are only men, quite normally unable to root out such a destructive influence even after many years. They have to rely on their staffs to support most of their apostolates, professionals and lifers who for many reasons can’t just instantly be sent packing. Even the last Holy Father couldn’t beat the power of entrenched bureaucracy, though this one may give them quite a run for their money.

    If we are quick to criticize the Bishops, we may not have the vantage point to know what’s going on behind closed doors. There may be a lot of misconduct still at the higher levels; see “With the Pope Against Homoheresy” in LifeSiteNews for a real kick in the gut, then realize what our brains couldn’t fully process as deliberate, systematic, coherent and highly organized corruption.

    We need to pray, sacrifice and give alms for the intention of supporting those Bishops who are strong, those who are faltering and those who have fallen. The hour is late. The last Holy Father at once showed us that we will have to face persecution and at the same time, we can’t shirk our moral responsibility to stand up to the filth. The shenanigans and revelry that go on under cover of the violet and red will soon be muted when the real bad guys in charge of secular government finally get down to the business they’ve only just begun.

    Read Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson’s 1907 “The Lord of the World” (free on Amazon with Kindle computer reader), for a picture of how quickly many of the biggest talking heads in the hierarchy will fold once the man of perdition is revealed. In the reign of Henry VIII, only two Bishops stood up, the rest gave in, though they later had cause to regret it bitterly.

    Prayer is the strongest weapon. When we complain too much, we give the enemy of souls power. Never lose your joy. A sense of humor is itself a powerful weapon.

    Pray the we ourselves will stand up when the crisis comes.

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:

      By your comments that seem to state that the election of happy go lucky Cardinal Dolan was a good thing. Did you see the disgusting image of pro-everything that is evil “Catholic” Joe Biden receiving Communion in Dolan’s Cathedral right under Dolan’s nose? Worse yet, did you know that after that sacrilege, Biden had breakfast with Dolan?

      In order to see any success in this fight, we must first recognize who the enemy within are!

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  6. Until the CA Bishops ACT rather than just pay lip service to obstinate and SCANDALOUS Mortal Sins on the part of “Catholic” politicians – no one will pay any attention to these Bishops anyway.
    Bishops themselves who do not enforce the Code of Canon Law are disobedient to the Magisterium.
    Regarding Canon 915 – please see: “APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION SACRAE DISCIPLINAE LEGES of the SUPREME PONTIFF POPE JOHN PAUL II for the PROMULGATION of the NEW CODE OF CANON LAW” on the Vatican web site. It contains the following sentence. “Finally, the canonical laws by their very nature must be observed.”
    Note the word “MUST”.
    Any Cardinal, Bishop or Priest who KNOWINGLY gives Holy Communion to a public heretic or schismatic – is being disobedient to the Magisterium.
    In addition they are aiding and abetting in Scandal and Sacrilege.
    (See Canon # 915, and # 1399 “Code of Canon Law” on the Vatican web site.)

    • The Bishops should stick to the 6 non-negotiable sins of – ABORTION, EUTHANASIA, SAME-SEX MARRIAGE, CLONING, EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH, and being against FREEDOM of RELIGION.
      Their own personal political opinions mean nothing, especially when they deviate even in the slightest from the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.
      If the Bishops would publish the names of each politician and elected judge who supports violating any of the 6 non-negotiables a few months prior to each election – on the local, state and federal levels – then they would be doing a service. Otherwise they are wasting ‘Catholic’ dollars.

      • Kenneth M. Fisher says:



        God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
        Kenneth M. Fisher

  7. Time to send letters to our bishops, forwarding this article and asking to see real changes on the CCC.

  8. I would like the CCC to produce a list of the so-called Catholic legislators who have a pro-abortion record or position and those who have a prolife record. Would CALCATH ask Ned Dolesji to provide us with the list for publication?

  9. Marie Searles says:

    I was impressed reading of the pro-life actions of Catholic Conferences in Arizona, Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and New York, in contrast with the sad record of the California Catholic Conference which has been exposed in this six part series.

    Illinois and New York are both well known liberal big-government states dominated by the politics of their megapolis cities: Chicago and New York, but still their Catholic Conferences engaged in real pro-life actions.

    The Governor of Arizona and a number of state legislators in Arizona and Florida were commended by their state Catholic Conferences for their pro-life leadership.

    I wondered what their religious affiliations were. I thought: “How many are Catholics?”.

    Here are the facts:


    Governor Jan Brewer, Missouri Synod Lutheran
    State Senator Nancy Barto, Christian,
    State Representative Debbie Lesko, Missouri Synod Lutheran,


    State Senator Dennis Baxley, Pentecostal
    State Senator Joe Negron, Protestant
    State Senator Ronda Storms, Southern Baptist,
    State Representative Kelli Stargel, Baptist


    NOT EVEN ONE CATHOLIC among these six state legislators and a governor who were commended by the Arizona and Florida state Catholic Conferences for their pro-life actions.

    Two other governors were mentioned in the article:

    The Illinois Catholic Conference severely criticized Governor Patrick Quinn regarding his “personal approval of laws permitting the killing of unborn children”. Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn is Catholic

    The New York Catholic Conference criticized the “abortion expansion bill” supported by Governor Andrew Cuomo. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is Catholic.

    Very bad reality!

    The two pro-abortion governors mentioned were Catholic! I commend the Catholic Conferences in Illinois and New York for publicly chastising these Catholic governors for their pro-abortion, anti-life actions!

    Comparing these other states with California clearly show how pitiful California’s Catholic Conference is. Have they ever publicly rebuked Catholic Governor Jerry Brown for his militant promotion of taxpayer funded abortion or the homosexual agenda, including so-called “same-sex marriage”?


    Because this has been going on for so many, many years, one must assume that the archbishops and bishops of California are just plain invincibly ignorant (that is hard to believe) or just don’t care about the unborn.

    There has been an enormous failure of the Catholic Church in California and the USA to inform Catholic voters and officials, and the general public, about the true teachings of the Church on life and other moral issues.

    What will Catholic bishops and bureaucrats say at the Last Judgment when all their sins of omission will be revealed? Reminding God of their efforts to get taxpayer funded food stamps for the poor and drivers’ licenses for the undocumented is not going to go over too well in the face of millions of unborn babies murdered with taxpayers’ funds approved by Catholic legislators and governors!

    St. Matthew wrote about Our Lord’s words at the Last Judgment: “Then he will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place on his right hand, the goats on his left….Then he will say to those on his left: ‘Out of my sight, you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels'” Matthew 26:32-41

  10. annienonimouse says:

    Time to clean house!!!

  11. Kenneth M. Fisher says:

    Ex. pro-abortion, pro-sodomite New York State Governor Mario Cuomo Sr., was and probably still is a Knight of Columbus, chances are his rotten son, now Governor Cuomo is as well. So far we have not been able to get that information. If anyone out there knows the answer, please let CRCOA, Inc. know.
    God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
    Kenneth M. Fisher

  12. Why is the Catholic leadership so corrupt?

    • Abeca Christian says:

      If it’s corrupt Skai…perhaps the people too are corrupt? don’t you agree? Not all are corrupt. All it takes is a few strong ones to rock the boat. I hope that we grow holy so we can offset this growing cancer.

  13. We must all remember that Bishops’ Conferences are NOT mini-Magisteriums.
    We have no obligation to adhere to any of their machinations unless they are in full conformance with the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” in entirety – which unfortunately many Bishop do not encourage us to read.

    “….the Catechism has raised throughout the world, even among non-Christians, and confirms its purpose of being presented as a full, complete exposition of Catholic doctrine, enabling everyone to know what the Church professes, celebrates, lives, and prays in her daily life.” – Pope John Paul II (CCC page xiv)

    Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict) stated: “No episcopal conference, as such, has a teaching mission; its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual Bishops.”
    “We must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis, they do not belong to the structure of the Church, that cannot be eliminated; they have only a practical concrete function.”
    Both quotes can be found on page 59 & 60 of “The RATZINGER REPORT”.

    Only the Diocese Bishop (and ultimately the Pope) have any authority with the Diocese.

    • Abeca Christian says:

      I agree MIKE! God bless you…thanks for pointing that out. I appreciate it when a holy and devout priest once told the flock…that a priest or bishop is not to enforce his opinion but is to adhere to church/faith teachings instead as Christ has instructed…..something like that he said. It makes sense and he reminded us to pray and discern well asking the Holy Ghost to guide us.

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