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Steve Bannon and Cardinal Burke of the Vatican

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) February 15, 2017: The conservative columnist Ross Douthat, a convert to Roman Catholicism, has published a column titled "The Trump Era's Catholic Mirror" in the New York Times (dated February 15, 2017), downplaying the connection between Stephen K. Bannon, President Donald J. Trump's influential adviser, and Cardinal Raymond L. Burke of the Roman Catholic Church. I do not think that the connection between the two men should concern liberals and progressives.

The connection between the two men was reported by Jason Horowitz in "Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub" in the New York Times (dated February 7, 2017), and commented on by the liberal columnist E. J. Dionne, a practicing Catholic, in the Washington Post (dated February 8, 2017).

Birds of a feather flock together, right? Both Cardinal Burke and Steve Bannon come from an American Catholic background. When the thrice-divorced Bannon covered Pope Francis' canonization in 2014 of former Pope John-Paul II for Breitbart News, Bannon met Burke. (Burke is based at the Vatican.)

JPII famously declared that ordained priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church is rightly restricted to males, and Pope Francis has not reversed JPII's ruling on this matter. So it is not surprising that Pope Francis rushed to canonize JPII.

Moreover, Pope Francis has not reversed the church's anti-abortion zealotry, not even concerning legalized abortion in the first trimester in the United States. Basically, he is doctrinally conservative.

Now, 60 percent of white Catholics voted for Trump, perhaps because Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential candidate, supports legalized abortion in the first trimester. Because conservative white Catholics read Breitbart News, it is not surprising that Breitbart News covered JPII's canonization.

Now, Burke has emerged as an outspoken critic of Pope Francis' attempted modest reforms within the Roman Catholic Church. Within the context of the Roman Catholic Church, Burke can be described as conservative, just as Pope Francis can.

Now, the Roman Catholic Church is officially committed to "conserving" Roman Catholic faith and practice, as the bishops define understand them. The shorthand way of referring to this "conserving" spirit is to refer to tradition.

Now, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York says that for Catholics, Tradition is capitalized. Even though I do not plan to capitalize this term regularly, I mention this point to say that Roman Catholics tend to venerate the "conserving" spirit of their tradition of faith and practice, as defined and understood by the bishops.

Perhaps an analogy will help OEN readers in the United States understand the tension between Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke. In the United States, certain Republicans like to accuse selected other Republicans of being Republicans in name only (RINOs).

Now, in certain ways, Trump and Bannon can be described as conservative. Moreover, in the RINO-denouncing spirit of certain Republicans, many conservative American Catholics tend to vilify Pope Francis -- and some of them even admire Burke.

In conclusion, progressives and liberals should worry about Trump and Bannon, and be concerned about conservative white American Catholics, some of whom admire Burke. Progressives and liberals should hope that the conservative white American Catholics who voted for Trump will soon regret their vote.

 

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell
Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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