Letter from Rome

Pope Francis or Steve Bannon? Catholics must choose
Letter from Rome

A 2018 file image of Steve Bannon, former strategic adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump. (Photo by Michal Cizek/AFP)

Robert Mickens, Rome
International
June 24, 2019
Among all the world's political and social leaders, Pope Francis stands increasingly alone as the most powerful force for global peace and stability. Thank God — and the cardinals who elected him in March 2013 — that the Argentine Jesuit is the current Bishop of Rome.

In an age when alt-right populists are masquerading as Christians and using religious symbols to scare believers into embracing racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and ultra-nationalism — all so starkly at odds with the Gospel, by the way — Francis has played an indispensable role in preventing a dangerous spiral into a full-blown clash of civilizations.

This is because there are people as crazy as the populists in other currents, as well.

Another pope may not have had the courage, fortitude or deep and genuine faith to stand against all this and not allow himself to be co-opted to the Christian sovereigntists' cause.

And while the 82-year-old Francis has not been able to convince enough voters to reject the populists, he has kept most bishops, cardinals and other Catholic leaders from publicly endorsing them. This is no small matter.

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Populists state that their intention is to defend the Judeo-Christian heritage of the Western world. And, unfortunately, this is quite enticing to those for whom Catholicism is, in essence, a Eurocentric philosophical ideology and moral code.

Tribal Catholics of the "no salvation outside the Roman Church" type like the message.

And the man who has enlisted them is Steve Bannon.

  

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