A Washington Post editorial writer believes president Trump's national security adviser, Steve Bannon is about to disrupt the Roman Catholic church "by joining forces with right-wing Catholics who oppose Pope Francis".
Trump won overwhelmingly among conservative American Catholics last year, because Obama’s unpopular foreign policy especially towards Islam, was far closer to the Vatican’s approach than is Trump’s. But the fact that about a third of American Catholics are Latino, is the only hope the Vatican has to beat Bannon at the game of identity politics.
In his speech to the Institute for Human Dignity, an traditionalist group based in Rome in 2014, Bannon decried the Pope’s stance on Islam.
Bannon told his audience that “the Judeo-Christian West is in a crisis” and has called for the return of “the church militant” to “fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity” which threatens to “completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2 000, 2 500 years”.
The Pope has insisted on dialogue with Muslims, but Bannon has emphasised “the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam” that reached as far back as the eighth century to defeat Islam and “kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna, or Tours, or other places”.
“See what’s happening,” Bannon insists, “and you will see we’re in a war of immense proportions”.
Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University and a close student of the Vatican, says Francis is unpopular with the majority of conservative American bishops as a result of the Vatican II’s reforms, which shifted church teaching toward religious pluralism, and argues that Bannon’s patriotic views are basically “Nazism”.
Several leaders in the Catholic Church are openly challenging Pope Francis’s decision to condone the rapid spread of Islam in Europe.
“[T]hey are not refugees, this is an invasion, they come here with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar’, they want to take over,” said Laszlo Kiss Rigo, head of the Catholic Hungarian southern community.
Action Francaise, a French nationalist group condemned by the Vatican, are also against the Pope for much the same reasons.
Catholic commentators are questioning the Pope’s “blindness” about the danger Europe is facing. One is the cultural editor of the French magazine Valeurs Actuelles, Laurent Dandrieu:
“Islam has every chance massively to strengthen its presence in Europe with the blessing of the Church. The Church is watching the establishment of millions of Muslims in Europe… and Muslim worship in our continent as an inescapable manifestation of religious freedom. But the civilizational question is simply never asked.”
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna has appealed to save Europe’s Christian roots. “Many Muslims want and say that ‘Europe is finished,’ ” he said, before accusing Europe of “forgetting its Christian identity.” He then denounced the possibility of “an Islamic conquest of Europe.”
Cardinal Dominik Duka, Archbishop of Prague and Primate of Bohemia, has openly questioned Pope Francis’s “welcoming culture”, while the leader of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Miloslav Vik, also warned against growing Islamization. “Muslims in Europe have many more children than Christian families; that is why demographers have been trying to come up with a time when Europe will become Muslim.”
“Europe will pay dearly for having left its spiritual foundations; this is the last period that will not continue for decades when it may still have a chance to do something about it,” Cardinal Vik said. “Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamized and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society.”
Bannon has not directly asked American Catholics to choose between their president and their pope. But the battle is on to define the true meaning of Catholicism. Bannon’s worldview has ignited the debate of the role of religion in politics.
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