Blockchain and Crypto’s New Adherent: Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum ID 82254103 © Marie Elena Sager | Dreamstime.com

Blockchain and crypto have a new convert.

Former U.S. Senator and contender for the U.S. presidency Rick Santorum has joined the advisory board for Cathio, a mobile app for donations to Catholic charities. On its website, Cathio describes itself as a platform “that aligns with Catholic values.” It has a stablecoin, a token whose value remains constant with respect to a fiat currency or a basket of goods, that will be used to conduct transactions across borders. Users can search for local and global charities using the app and donate to them.

For his part, Santorum wants to bridge the gap between those values and current technology trends. “Millennials don’t carry cash, they date on apps and watch on-demand entertainment. We have to be there, we have to learn from successful tech companies, and we have to provide a universal solution that makes it easy for younger generations to engage with the Church,” he stated in a press release.

Blockchain and Catholicism: A Match Made In Heaven?

Santorum is most famous as crusader for “Christian” values. He is against same sex marriage and has argued against the separation of church and state. On its website, Cathio describes itself as a “platform that aligns with Catholic values.” It follows then that association with his name should bring publicity to the app and burnish its credentials as a Catholic organization.

The problem is that blockchain’s promise of transparent and secure transactions might be at odds with the Bible. As Jemima Kelly outlines in a smart FT Alphaville post, the Bible exhorts Christians not “to perform your righteous acts before men to be seen by them.” At first, Cathio CEO Matthew Marcolini told her that transparency would help the government track people who did the “wrong thing”. Subsequently, he pivoted to a spiel about using the app to bring Catholic millennials into the fold. Given that PayPal supports Planned Parenthood, a pro-choice organization, that might sound like a noble endeavor.

Except Cathio is a for-profit company that plans to charge a 2 percent fee from each transaction. Typically, transactions involving cryptocurrencies have minimal fees. Kelly from FT Alphaville likens the fee to interest being charged on the stablecoin and points out that the concept of usury may not sit well with devout Catholics. The advisory board also owns shares in the company. This means that Santorum might be in for a hefty payday, if the app (and its token) take off.