Billionaire George Soros spent $650,000 (£497,000) trying to “shift the priorities of the US Catholic Church”, according to leaked emails released through WikiLeaks.

The two groups that received funding were Pico, a faith-based community organising group, and Faith in Public Life, which works to promote left-wing social justice causes.

Minutes from the May 2015 meeting of Soros’s Open Society Foundation in New York showed that in the planning stages of the US papal visit, the group planned to work through one of the Pope’s key advisers, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga.

Using the opportunity provided by the Pope’s visit to the US, the report said that “we will support Pico’s organising activities to engage the Pope on economic and racial justice issues, including using the influence of Cardinal Rodríguez, the Pope’s senior adviser, and sending a delegation to visit the Vatican in the spring or summer to allow him to hear directly from low-income Catholics in America”.

A report by the foundation said successful achievements included the “buy-in of individual bishops to more publicly voiced support of economic and racial justice messages … to create a critical mass of bishops who are aligned with the Pope.”

Last week it was reported that the Open Society Foundation was funding attempts to repeal Ireland’s laws against abortion, hoping that this would provide a springboard to change the laws in other Catholic countries too.

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