President Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon doesn’t seem to be satisfied with pushing the alt-right movement, disparaging the American media and trashing the whole of Islam. He also has a major problem with Pope Francis and is apparently doing everything he can to undermine the pontiff.
Let’s start with this: Conservative Catholics had no problem with demanding full faith in Pope John Paul II. Any dissent to now-Saint John Paul was illegitimate. He was to be followed and his teaching to be heeded. He was the Bishop of Rome who provided guidance to Catholics world wild. I have no problem with that.
However, now that Francis is pope, his approach to world events, causes and thoughts on how to make the world a better place can be second guessed, undermined and otherwise dismissed. I am not ok with that.
Forgive the informality but either the pope is the man or he’s not. You don’t get to pick and choose which one is legitimate based on your politics.
Bannon, on the other hand, is all about politics and only politics. His interests are a means to an end. The thought here is that he doesn’t give a rat’s tail about the health and wellbeing of the Catholic Church and certainly not Catholics. He desires power. If he can achieve that by telling the media to “keep its mouth shut,” so be it. If it’s by currying favor with white supremacists through his supposedly more palatable moniker “alt-right movement,” that’s ok too. All Americans, indeed all Catholics should beware of Bannon.
By most accounts, Pope Francis is focused on a more inclusive, more merciful Church. He recognizes the challenges of today’s age including lifting up the poor, the concentration of wealth in a few and dealing with very real climate change. He battled with Trump the candidate over the “Great Wall.” Purveyors of fake news trumpeted a Francis endorsement of Trump right before the election. (The “endorsement” was surpassed in its absurdity only by the Hillary Clinton child-sex-ring-in-a-DC-pizza-joint canard.)
So Bannon encourages an open and honest exchange of ideas with Francis, right? After all, a lay American can’t be punished or marginalized by the pontiff. No. Bannon chooses to engage Francis’ detractors right in the Vatican itself. Why debate when you can undercut?
We in this country have enough to worry about with Bannon having a permanent seat on the National Security Council—a purely political force on a body charged with the safety of Americans. Now we have to worry about him weakening the head of the Church.
Bannon’s effort to undermine Francis consists largely of cozying up to American Cardinal Raymond Burke, an archconservative and fierce critics of Francis in the Vatican. Burke and his allies are working with Bannon and his to push their philosophy: Islam is to be conquered, the elite is to remain powerful and any outreach to the poor is a sign of weakness.
Trump and Bannon are human hand grenades tossed into the American political system by disaffected white people who were sold a bill of goods. They should stick to the dysfunctional American system and butt out of the Catholic Church.