Donald Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton hates Catholics elicited boos at an annual charity event benefitting the Archdiocese of New York Thursday night. The remark was one of, if not the sharpest, barb the Republican presidential nominee fired at his Democratic counterpart during the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City.
Trump's comments Thursday night -- “Here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics” -- are based on a hacked email criticizing Catholicism unearthed by WikiLeaks earlier this month and involving multiple Clinton campaign officials.
A think tank fellow sent a series of emails to Clinton’s campaign Chairman John Podesta and spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri in 2011, which appear to make judgments about Catholicism.
“Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the [Supreme Court] and think tanks to the media and social groups,” the email said. “It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”
Palmieri responded in part: “I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion.”
Podesta, who did not respond, and Palmieri are Catholics.
The Trump campaign demanded an apology from Clinton and pro-Catholic groups pounced at the news.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was seated between Trump and Clinton at the dinner Thursday night, suggested there would have been an apology if the comments were made about any other faith.
"Extraordinarily patronizing and insulting to Catholics… If it had been said about the Jewish community, the Islamic community, within 10 minutes there would have been an apology and a complete distancing from those remarks, which hasn't happened yet,” Dolan told Colorado ABC affiliate News Channel 13 Monday. “I'm hoping that she's going to distance herself from these remarks by her chief of staff."
Dolan could be seen talking and smiling with each candidate and did not show any outward signs of animosity to Clinton.
The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops fired off an angry letter condemning Clinton and her campaign, according to Life News.
“There have been recent reports that some may have sought to interfere in the internal life of the Church for short-term political gain. If true, this is troubling both for the well-being of faith communities and the good of our country,” Archbishop Joseph E Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, wrote this week.
The emails also prompted an op-ed published by Philly.com that said Clinton and her campaign have treated Catholics “with contempt.”
Clinton herself has never actually responded to the claims, including Thursday night, but her press secretary tweeted shortly after the news broke Oct. 12 that it was a “faux controversy.”
Clinton’s vice presidential nominee, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, is a practicing Roman Catholic who has social views that go against those of the Catholic Church, such as being pro-choice.
The Alfred E. Smith Dinner is a fundraiser at its essence but it is also a political tradition that features presidential nominees roasting one another and poking fun at themselves as a respite of sorts from the contentious rigors of the campaign trail.
Historically, candidates have taken playful shots at each other. But Trump's comments Thursday night -- much like his campaign -- bucked that establishment tradition, which prompted the audience to heckle and boo him on several occasions.