VATICAN CITY — Strolling through St. Peter’s Square, the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, Steve Bannon surveyed the enemy camp.
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.”
"The Catholic Church is heading to a financial crisis that will lead to a bankruptcy," he said. "It could actually bring down, not the theology, not the teachings, not the community of the Catholic Church, but the physical and financial apparatus of this church."
In a speech ending a landmark Vatican conference on the issue of clerical sexual abuse in February, the pope vowed to "decisively confront the phenomenon," adding: "The church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case."
Every abuse is an atrocity. In people's justified anger, the Church sees the reflection of the wrath of God. It is our duty to listen attentively to this silent cry. #PBC2019https://t.co/Gx9M9MgzTX
Francis, the first pope from the Southern Hemisphere, was a trailblazer and an outsider from the start, and the elevation of an Argentine brought a new “geopolitical perspective” and priorities to the papacy, Faggioli said.
While Benedict saw Catholicism’s future squarely within the Western world, Francis has espoused a vision of “global Catholicism” in which issues of social justice are paramount.
John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown, said this reformist impulse has rankled church traditionalists. Accustomed to favorable treatment from the Vatican, many American Catholics saw themselves sidelined by Francis' progressive agenda.
“If you’re an archbishop living in a big house with a big car and he says you need to have the smell of the sheep, that’s threatening,” Carr added. “He looks at the world from the bottom up and from the outside in. If you’re on top, if you’re an insider in the church, in the economy, in politics, he can threaten you.”
The backlash has been swift. Weeks after Francis’s election, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, a prominent conservative, announced that members of the right wing within the church had “not been really happy.”