U.S. News and World Report religion blogger Dan Gilgoff has been blogging away about the alleged sins of pro-choice Democrats in the eyes of Catholic America. His coverage, though, is lost in the fog of right-wing press releases.

For several days, Gilgoff has fanned the Catholics-are-up-in-arms-about-Obama's-Notre-Dame-commencement-speech fire. His tweet yesterday afternoon read, "Protests of Obama at Notre Dame are still mounting. Looks like the furor caught the White House and lberal [sic] Catholic groups caught off guard."

Really? None other than the editor of the National Catholic Reporter, Joe Feuerherd, this week laid bare the machinations behind the manufactured controversy. Mincing no words, Feuerherd accused Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, of drumming up opposition to Obama's speech, calling Reilly the "self-appointed ayatollah to Catholic academia."

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, told me, "The Cardinal Newman Society and Patrick Reilly are masters of being outraged and disgusted," adding, "The majority of Catholics voted for Obama and Catholics want to see our President speak at one of our leading Universities."

Part II of Gilgoff's drummed-up Catholic outrage is his promotion of a highly questionable story by Julia Duin in the Washington Times, which claims that Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Kathleen Sebelius (who has been denied communion by the archbishop of her diocese) will be denied communion in Washington if she is confirmed by the Senate. "So far Archbishop [of Washington Donald] Wuerl has not denied communion to anybody and in fact he was one of the leaders among the bishops saying that this was not a good strategy," Fr. Thomas Reese, a Senior Fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, told me. Reese added, "I really doubt that he will get into the business of denying communion to [Sebelius]. . . . I don't think it will become an issue."

--Sarah Posner

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