Media storm erupts over Bannon and the Pope

What happened?

Donald Trump’s chief of staff Steve Bannon has been accused of “carrying his battles to the Vatican”. Jason Horowitz, Rome correspondent for the New York Times, reported that in 2014, when Bannon was head of Breitbart News, he had met Cardinal Raymond Burke in Rome. The paper suggested that the pair shared opposition to Pope Francis – since Cardinal Burke is one of the four cardinals who have submitted the dubia asking for Amoris Laetitia to be clarified.

What the US media said

In the Washington Post, Emma-Kate Symons compared Cardinal Burke’s criticisms of Islam to “the vicious anti-Semitism” of some 1930s clerics. She wrote: “The virulently anti-Islam (‘capitulating to Islam would be the death of Christianity’), migrant-phobic, Donald Trump-defending, Vladimir Putin-excusing Burke is unrepentant and even defiant, continuing to preside over a far-right, neo-fascist-normalising cheer squad out of the Holy See.”

In Esquire, Charles P Pierce wrote that Bannon “wants to establish himself at the head of a new, worldwide authoritarian elite that will reach into every institution and that will demolish any of those institutions that stand in the way of what he wants. The man is a political thug, and Burke is a theological thug.”

What Catholics said

Carl Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, pointed out that Symons’s piece was based on little more than the – already speculative – New York Times article. It adds up to “a combination of echo-chamber thinking, obsession with politics and the cult of personalities, and laziness. Far-right? Neo-fascist? White Christian dominance? I’d say this is hysterical, but hysterical seems mellow compared to this sort of vacuous, shrieking rot.”

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