Is Steve Bannon's Next Fight Against Pope Francis?

He's reportedly aligned with the pope's conservative critics within the church
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2017 9:38 AM CST
Is Steve Bannon's Next Fight Against Pope Francis?
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A spate of headlines this week have surfaced about Trump adviser Steve Bannon and his views on Pope Francis. The stories center on allegations that Bannon, a Catholic, has joined forces with the pope's conservative critics within the church in order to torpedo the pontiff's agenda. A look at some of the coverage:

  • The story driving the conversation is a front-page piece in the New York Times that says Bannon "bonded" with one of Francis' fiercest critics, a US cardinal named Raymond Burke, on a trip to Rome in 2014. The gist of the piece: "Just as Mr. Bannon has connected with far-right parties threatening to topple governments throughout Western Europe, he has also made common cause with elements in the Roman Catholic Church who oppose the direction Francis is taking them." Bannon and these critics see Francis "as a dangerously misguided, and probably socialist, pontiff," while the pope's opponents in the church view the rise of Bannon and President Trump as "potentially game-changing."
  • NPR provides more background and highlights a speech Bannon gave at the Vatican in 2014 before a conservative Catholic group: "We're at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict," he said, urging those in the room to join together against a "new barbarity." He then spelled it out: "We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it."

  • Columnist EJ Dionne at the Washington Post digs into the story and doesn't think Bannon wants to force Catholics in the US to have to choose between their president and their pope. But, he concludes, "Bannon’s worldview could incite the same showdown in the church that he has already ignited in politics." Read the full column.
  • Anti-Francis posters showed up in Rome over the weekend, another sign of growing friction in the church. They referenced the pope's decision to exert more influence on a centuries-old Catholic group called the Knights of Malta, reports Fox News. (The posters say he "decapitated" the group, which had been critical of him.)
  • The Economist has an explainer on the Knights of Malta rift here.
  • Cardinal Burke will lay out his position in a lecture Friday in Kansas, notes the Kansas City Star. His talk is called "The Challenges to the Defense of the Faith in Our Times."
  • A blogger at Catholic Culture thinks the idea that Bannon and Burke are conspiring against the pope is "baloney."
(More Pope Francis stories.)

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