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Steve Bannon’s Advice Is the Last Thing Pope Francis Needs Right Now

<p class="body-dropcap”>I think they’ve hired some new blood in the 2019 writer’s room because, I have to admit, this new story arc in which Steve Bannon, lost heir to House Harkonnen, overthrows the pope caught me by surprise. From NBC News:

The populist political consultant has a new target in his crusade against “globalism” — Pope Francis.

“He’s the administrator of the church, and he’s also a politician,” said Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump. “This is the problem.

..

. He’s constantly putting all the faults in the world on the populist nationalist movement.

”Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has expressed a consistent message on the type of “America First” nationalism championed by Bannon. Two years ago, the pope cautioned against growing populism in Europe, warning it could lead to the election of leaders like Hitler.

He has called for compassion toward migrants, saying that fearing them “makes us crazy,” as well as other marginalized groups including the poor and gay people. He has also defended diversity.

Bannon alleges that Francis has mismanaged numerous sex abuse scandals roiling the church, and says the pope is not treating the issue seriously enough.<p class="body-text”>I have my own problems with how Papa Francesco has handled the latter crisis, and especially how he has dealt with its more recent iterations.

(Of course, I have many of the same problems with every one of his predecessors, largely because too few of their solutions contained the words “full extent of the law.”) But the idea that the Church ne the tender ministrations of this vandal is the worst idea to hit Catholicism since the Cadaver Synod, of which Bannon looks like the perfect person to assay the role of the unfortunate Pope Formosus.

But Bannon is not alone in criticizing the pontiff. A raft of conservative Catholics, from bishops to lay theologians to firebrand pundits, have attacked Francis.

They were supporters of Francis’s traditionalist predecessor, Benedict XVI, who unexpectedly resigned in 2013. On Thursday, Benedict published a letter outlining his views on the sex abuse crisis.

“The crisis, caused by the many cases of clerical abuse, urges us to regard the church as something almost unacceptable, which we must now take into our own hands and redesign,” he wrote. Bannon has found an ideological ally in conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke, a former archbishop of St.

Louis who was demoted by Francis and has supported calls for the pope‘s resignation.<p class="body-text”>The recent letter from Benedict XVI illustrates how utterly absurd the whole concept of a “pope emeritus” always has been.

(The only other pope to resign, Celestine V, at least tried to disappear back into the life of a hermit monk. I’d like to think that, somewhere out on a barren isle in the Ionian Sea, there an ancient monastic cell with Benedict‘s name on the door.

) How one squares apostolic succession with both an actual pope and a retired pope who commands a power base within the institutional Church, at least without somebody decamping to Avignon, is a question best left to people who believe that Christ actually appointed the bishop of Rome to run things. What I do know is that He didn’t leave the keys to the kingdom to a hot-wire expert from the lunatic American right.

<p class="body-text”>(In this, he is abetted by Burke, who should be off on an adjoining desert isle by now himself. He is an immensely silly man who walks around dressed like an entire Renaissance light-opera company.

)

<p class="body-text”>Benedict‘s letter was a comical restatement of a whole tangle of the endless Bill-Donahue-approved talking points that have been thrown up around the institutional church to disguise the fact that, for centuries, it has functioned as an international conspiracy to obstruct justice. The problem, it seems, began at Woodstock—the rock festival, and not the seminary, although perhaps there as well.

This has been the conservative position on the scandal ever since it first erupted in the 1990s. It is incoherent and strange.

(Bernard Cardinal Law, to name one unpunished miscreant, did not learn how to cover up crimes on Yasgur’s farm.) Benedict, however, bravely let his freak flag fly.

Among the freedoms that the Revolution of 1968 sought to fight for was this all-out sexual freedom, one which no longer conceded any norms. The mental collapse was also linked to a propensity for violence.

That is why sex films were no longer allowed on airplanes because violence would break out among the small community of passengers. And since the clothing of that time equally provoked aggression, school principals also made attempts at introducing school uniforms with a view to facilitating a climate of learning.

<p class="body-text”>What is he talking about? Who knows? I was in a Catholic high school in 1968 and we still had a dress and hair code when I graduated three years later. School uniforms were not “introduced” as a defense against death metal.

They always were there. In fact, jackets and ties are still required at my old high school.

I don’t know what that weird stuff about porn on airplanes is about, but it rings very similar to the kind of fantastical bullshit the president slings. (I keep waiting for Benedict to talk about the big, burly firefighter, in tears, who came to him backstage and thanked him for saving baby Jesus from the immigrant hordes.

)

<p class="body-text”>Benedict is being ridiculous, but he’s being ridiculous in a very specific way, and you’d have to have been comatose since 2015 not to see Bannon’s fine hand in this, especially since the campaign against the actual pope seems based primarily among revanchist American members of the Clan of the Red Beanie. Christ told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against his Church.

He never said anything about a guy in five shirts. That may turn out to have been something of an oversight on His part.

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