SADOW: Landry Veto Encourages Genuine Catholic Action

As previously noted, while Republican Gov. Jeff Landry’s line item vetoes reflected generally fiscal probity while signaling even more emphasis on that in the future, he also made a statement about unwarranted political activism within Louisiana’s Roman Catholic Church bureaucracy.

Landry’s vetoes in three appropriations bills followed a general guideline he included in accompanying messages: that gifts of state money had to fulfill state purposes. In some instances, projects he zeroed out were too narrow geographically or too disconnected from state priorities, while others didn’t provide information to determine that.

Not that he didn’t manage to use the power simultaneously to pull political benefits from frequent opponents. The best example of that came from the axed $250,000 from The First 72+, a charitable organization backed by several prominent election officials that seeks to aid the recently incarcerated. According to its Internal Revenue Service Form 990 from 2022, that would have exceeded the entire contribution from government grants, and represents around 15 percent of its revenues. But no request ever was filed, as by Legislature rules, so that made it easy for Landry to vacate.

However, one veto stood out, that being of $1 million to Catholic Charities of Acadiana for operations of its homeless shelter. It was submitted as a request and its purpose did seem to have a function broadly in line with state priorities of charitable relief.

Last year, it received about $3.5 million for building purposes and $1.5 million apparently to operate the shelter. The operating dollars represented about 15 percent of all revenues, where over half of all came from grants and contracts from both government and other sources. All told, its revenues over expenses for all activities was just under $300,000.

Landry let through another capital outlay request for this year, but for the operational expenses subsequently gave a reason for the veto: “Part of Catholic Charities’ mission is to support the influx of illegal aliens into our country. Taxpayers should never foot the bill for nonprofits who are contributing to the illegal immigration crisis our nation is facing.” While Acadiana’s does offer some services that could encourage illegal immigration, it asserts that that vast bulk of those served by the shelter itself are (presumably legal) residents of the Acadiana region.

Yet potentially his move had much less to do with using taxpayer dollars to house illegal aliens than sending a general message addressing some issue preferences articulated by the Church bureaucracy in its lobbying activities – using the faithful’s donations. While Catholic Charities of Acadiana isn’t officially part of the Church hierarchy, it includes both diocesan Church laymen and clergy – of course Diocese of Lafayette Bishop Douglas Deshotel – as part of its leadership and perhaps was the best vehicle by which Landry could send a message.

And a well-deserved one with that: Louisiana’s Church needs to stick to public square judgments on moral and ethical matters as articulated in the Church’s Catechism instead of taking ideological, not based in our faith, flights of fancy when addressing other issues. One need only review the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops’ summation of the 2024 legislative session according to its preferences to see its follies. While those items dealing with individual and family formation rightly follow recognized tenets of our faith, others confuse a social/economic gospel with the actual Gospel that strays from the genuine article.


Landry as a Catholic is blessed with an additional tool to prevent that from happening. Perhaps by withholding the funding that will force his diocese to withdraw funds otherwise allocated to the sketchier uses to supplement running the shelter – hopefully those dollars that backed public policy efforts to implement half-baked ideas divorced from any comprehensive understanding of the tenets of Catholicism.

Dollars which in large part came from the faithful.

Catholics who wish to stay true to their faith should be outraged that their resources – for in each parish and diocese some of that makes its way to funding this kind of activism, both in word and deed – not only are wasted when they can be used to fulfill genuinely the Church’s mission through better uses but also even can work at cross-purposes to their faith.

Of course, we are called to support the material needs of the Church which typically is accomplished through our parishes, where they retain some of the bounty but the remainder is sent to the diocese and beyond. But if the Church’s bureaucracy by its choices for using it, perhaps with input from its ecclesiastical elements, strays from its genuine mission, that leaves the faithful in a quandary.

I have tried to target my donations through supplementary collections at mass or directly (my preference being for retired priests). But if neither option is presented (online, my diocese not only doesn’t provide any options for restricted donations but it also gives no financial information about how donations are spent – a red flag that should warn you away from donating), then the faithful should give to organizations outside of the diocese with a proven track record of fidelity to the Church’s spiritual teachings.

Until the Conference gets the message to keep human ideological musings out of its advocacy, sadly tactics such as Landry’s must be employed, justifying his latest action.



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