The Trump Melt Down and the Catholic Church

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In my six decades I have never seen anything like, in American history, the meltdown and rabid hysteria that has seized the left since Donald Trump won the last Presidential election.  It is as if leftists awoke from a beautiful dream in which their political adversaries were forever vanquished to the, in their eyes, brutal reality of Donald Trump.  We are now seeing this same type of hysterical hatred being aimed against orthodox Catholics.  Carl Olsen, who I now designate the truthful chronicler for American Catholics of our bizarre age, at The Catholic World Report, gives us the details:


A couple of weeks ago I came across the following, written by Oscar Wilde some 125 years or so ago:

In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralising. Somebody – was it Burke? – called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time, no doubt. But at the present moment it really is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism. In America the President reigns for four years, and Journalism governs for ever and ever. Fortunately, in America journalism has carried its authority to the grossest and most brutal extreme. As a natural consequence it has begun to create a spirit of revolt. People are amused by it, or disgusted by it, according to their temperaments. But it is no longer the real force it was.

It’s worth pondering in light of nearly any and all journalism, news (or “news”), and punditry today, even if Wilde didn’t happen to be a perfect prophet. After all, news itself has become news; in a certain way, for better or worse, much of “news” is simply discussion and debate about “news”, to the point that journalism and opinion don’t just overlap but become uneasy mates. In some cases, the opinion turns upon its mate, leaving only faint traces of journalistic remains scattered among the dense underbrush of innuendo, suggestion, implication, and overt subjective assertion.

A case in point is a February 7th New York Times’ article titled “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican”. Bannon, of course, has become the focal point of those on the left who are intent on branding President Trump a “fascist”, which is (along with “communist”) the word used by lazy, unlearned people who wish to silence or even destroy their political enemies (an online search for “Bannon” and “fascism” turns up endless examples). The piece opens with this:

When Stephen K. Bannon was still heading Breitbart News, he went to the Vatican to cover the canonization of John Paul II and make some friends. High on his list of people to meet was an archconservative American cardinal, Raymond Burke, who had openly clashed with Pope Francis.

In one of the cardinal’s antechambers, amid religious statues and book-lined walls, Cardinal Burke and Mr. Bannon — who is now President Trump’s anti-establishment eminence — bonded over their shared worldview. They saw Islam as threatening to overrun a prostrate West weakened by the erosion of traditional Christian values, and viewed themselves as unjustly ostracized by out-of-touch political elites.

“When you recognize someone who has sacrificed in order to remain true to his principles and who is fighting the same kind of battles in the cultural arena, in a different section of the battlefield, I’m not surprised there is a meeting of hearts,” said Benjamin Harnwell, a confidant of Cardinal Burke who arranged the 2014 meeting.

First, what is an “archconservative” cardinal? The term is political, of course, because the Times, like almost all big media outlets, simply cannot think or exist outside of political categories. Cardinal Burke, by any sane and knowledgeable measure, is a thoroughly orthodox Catholic when it comes to Church belief and practice. (Note also that the piece refers to Cardinal Burke twice as “Mr. Burke”. Strange.)

Secondly, is it really so outrageous to believe that Islam—mindful even of all the different divisions and groups within Islam—desires to conquer the West, especially given old history, new history, and the statements that come from a wide range of Islamic groups and leaders?

Thirdly, lest ancient history be too easily forgotten, Cardinal Burke was named prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in July 2008 by Pope Benedict XVI (the same pope whose first encyclical melted minds over at the Times). He was removed from that post in September 2014 by Pope Francis, in a surprising move that took place shortly before the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops met in the fall of that same year. The chronology is notable because the recent Times piece, as quoted above, suggests that a Cardinal Burke-Bannon conspiracy was underway in April 2014, quite some time before Cardinal Burke was suddenly demoted. As Terry Mattingly states in a helpful piece at Get Religion:

The timing of the meeting is fascinating and, for journalists, a bit problematic. They key is that Bannon is in Rome to attend the canonization rites for Pope John Paul II (who for some reason loses his papal title in the lede) – which took place on April 27, 2014.

Meanwhile, the much-discussed public clashes between Cardinal Burke and Pope Francis began the following October, during the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The red-flag on that whole affair was a Times piece – “Pope Demotes U.S. Cardinal Critical of His Reform Agenda” – that ran on Nov. 8, 2014.

So in what sense was Cardinal Burke already “openly” clashing with Pope Francis at the time of the St. John Paul II rites, months before the conservative cardinals public actions at the synod?

Perhaps unwittingly, the piece lets the front paws of the cat out of the bag when it states, “Until now, Francis has marginalized or demoted the traditionalists, notably Cardinal Burke, carrying out an inclusive agenda on migration, climate change and poverty that has made the pope a figure of unmatched global popularity, especially among liberals.” Put another way, the problem with Cardinal Burke, in the eyes of the Times and Co. is not that he’s a heretic (since he isn’t) or a schismatic (because he isn’t), but because he’s not in tune politically with an overtly political pontificate that has increasingly shown itself friendly to a wide range of left-wing, secular perspectives and assumptions.

Thus: “Yet in a newly turbulent world, Francis is suddenly a lonelier figure. Where once Francis had a powerful ally in the White House in Barack Obama, now there is Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon, this new president’s ideological guru.” (As I recently remarked to a friend, I sometimes think Francis acts more like a politician than a pope, while President Obama, during his two terms in office, acted more like a pope—that is, a religious figure leading a religious movement—than a politician.)

Mattingly points out that the piece provides no real sourcing or quotes to back up its central assertion about Cardinal Burke and Bannon (and Trump) working to undermine and battle Pope Francis. “At this point, it is clear that the Times needs to provide information proving that these Roman Rad Trans exist and that they have had extensive contacts with Trump, through Bannon. We are not talking about journalists and chattering-class folks. We are talking about actual source inside church structures. Right?

As bad as the Times piece is, it is a Valentine’s card compared to an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post by Emma-Kate Symons, titled, “How Pope Francis can cleanse the far-right rot from the Catholic Church”. Even accounting for it being an opinion piece, it is one of the most vile, slanderous pieces of trash I’ve ever read in a mainstream news publication, which is saying something.


Go here to read the rest.  Much of the left has simply become unhinged, and we must never forget that Catholic leftists are most definitely of the left.  Leftists hate Donald Trump now, but orthodox Catholics are never far from the top of their list of hate objects, as the prior administration demonstrated.  Wild times ahead my friends.  Stay tuned.

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  1. What is this “Huffpo” about which you write?

    Anyhow, liar liberals (redundant) only “roll out” the Pope when his comments (not ex cathedra) “validate” the heinous narratives. Sadly, this Pope seems to do that with unhappy regularity.

  2. Which of course lends credence to talk of a highly coordinated globalist efforts which involve the Vatican at varied levels.

  3. Kind of funny to watch the sheer boogeyman nature this guy has taken on. Here’s another hysterical article for those curious. Meanwhile the One Who Used to be a Catholic Apologist writes things like, “Francis, Bannon, and the Neopelagian Crisis. Bannon is a seducer of the faithful.” and “Bannon is the single most dangerous and toxic Catholic in American public life. He has figured out that prolife conservative Catholics are now radically immunocompromised to the rise of the ethnonationalist blood and soil fertility cult swill he advocates and is doing his best to foment schism against Peter. . . . Any lunatic hankering for war with China and laboring to foster the rise of ethnonationalism in Europe should not be on the National Security Council or anywhere near the White House.”

    Honestly have these folks NEVER understood the fable of the boy who cried wolf?

  4. As I recently remarked to a friend, I sometimes think Francis acts more like a politician than a pope, while President Obama, during his two terms in office, acted more like a pope—that is, a religious figure leading a religious movement—than a politician.

    Also, that’s a brilliant quote right there.

    “For you are men sacred to me, for I, the Lord, your God am sacred.”
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…”in sovereign personhood.
    The Supreme Sovereign Being is three Sovereign Persons in one God, Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, sacred, unchangeable, and immutable.
    Man’s Sovereign Personhood is sacred, created in original innocence, morally and legally innocent, irreplaceable and self-determined. Man’s Sovereign Personhood is endowed at the very first moment of his existence, his existence being brought into being by The Supreme Sovereign Being, man’s body and soul being endowed by his Creator with innate human rights enumerated and codified as “unalienable” civil rights by the sovereign state; the sovereign state that is instituted by man’s sovereign personhood.
    “that among these rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”, The Unanimous Declaration of Independence of the United States ratified by every state.
    “The enumeration in The Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Amendment IX.
    The Sovereign Personhood of man enables all men to be self-determined, that is, to accomplish himself, to seek and find his destiny and to satisfy his intellect. In addition, man is free to express his talents and pursue his “Happiness” even unto eternal life, in original innocence, complete moral and legal innocence, with integrity, and the free will endowed by his “Creator” in freedom.
    In the beginning of man’s existence, he enjoys complete moral and legal, original innocence, the substance of his sovereign personhood. At the age of reason, usually about seven years of age and the initiation into adulthood about fourteen years of age and the emancipation from parental dependency at about eighteen years of age, the human being, through his sovereign personhood, accepts his responsibility and engages his freedom to pursue his Happiness and destiny into the being of the transcendent, metaphysical, rational, immortal, human soul of his sovereign personhood.
    If the rational human being makes irrational choices or chooses to violate Justice, injury to his sovereign personhood becomes a reality that radiates throughout his being, mortal and immortal. The man loses his sovereignty over himself incrementally as to the weight and grievousness of his crimes. The man becomes an outlaw.
    A man with damaged or incrementally violated sovereign personhood can only institute the sovereign state to the degree that his sovereignty over himself is viable.
    Only through the crime of capital one homicide, murder in the first degree, does a man lose his sovereign personhood. Having taken another man’s life, the murderer must live his victim’s life, unto eternity, unless through total and perfect contrition, the capital one murderer expires with grief over his crimes and releases the sovereign personhood of his victim’s life.
    God let the first murderer, Cain, live because the life Cain was living was Abel’s life. Abel must have forgiven Cain as he lay dying. Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground and God heard Abel’s cry for Justice. Cain became a wanderer living Abel’s life, without a life of his own, as a sign of Justice; Abel’s Justice through God’s love for Abel. If the victim refuses to forgive his murderer, or the murderer does not expire with grief over his crime against mankind, the murderer must be put to death to release the murderer’s victim. Living the life of his victim, the murderer must be put to death. The murderer’s victim is dead.
    Other instances of total obliteration of a man’s sovereign personhood, are bloodlust in war and treason and the embrace of atheism, the denial of his and all of mankind’s “Creator”. Obliteration is not annihilation, the sovereign personhood of a man, once created even though discarded, remains as a testimony to his self-destruction and the Justice of God.
    It goes without saying, that a man who has denied his sovereign personhood and obliterated Justice in his soul, becoming an outlaw, has no authentic authority to institute the sovereign nation. His lack of Justice and sovereignty over himself cannot be imposed on a Just and sovereign nation.
    Sovereign personhood is endowed to man by his “Creator” in original innocence at existence. The sovereign person enjoys his sovereignty over himself. This is who man is. Personality is what man makes of himself, using his sovereign personhood. Obliterating his sovereign personhood through violation of Justice brings man to a criminal personality. The cult of a just man, saints and statesmen, is rejoicing. The cult of an unjust man, or criminal, is fear and trepidation. Enabling an unjust man in his pursuit of damnation is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. End
    Rene Descartes said: “I think therefore, I am.” giving rise to the cult of personality to individuals who think and otherwise, disregarding individuals who are in being. Rene Descartes meant to say: “I am, therefore I think; I am, therefore, I will; I am, therefore, I am.”

  6. “Journalism governs for ever and ever. Fortunately, in America journalism has carried its authority to the grossest and most brutal extreme.”
    The media is 95% of the problem by pushing America to the extreme and the real damage happens when extreme ideas become part of our educational system and even found in leaders of our Church. They have led the younger generation to mistrust and doubt the practices of their parents. We have seen generations cut off from one another. It doesn’t matter how good of a parent they really were.
    Take Archbishop Charles Chaput (who I agree with on most things) comment last week about the refugee ban:
    “Being ‘pro-life’ involves a great deal more than a defense of unborn life, though it should naturally start there,” he said. “We also have grave responsibilities to the poor, the infirm, the elderly and the immigrant — responsibilities that will shape our encounter with the God of justice when we meet him face-to-face. There are few embodiments of the weak more needy or compelling than refugees.”
    Most people are moderate on the issue of refugees and immigration. Those who are truly pro-life are not the same people who are part of the complete restrictive extremist position.
    But the argument is completely accepted in American culture. If you don’t support X, then you don’t care about the poor, infirm, or elderly. X usually is taking the most liberal position. Take the liberal things the left has thrown in for X over the past 60 years. Most of them now sound ridiculous. The media is responsible for driving us to extremes. It sells papers to find just one rich Pastor to use as X. If a Pastor then seen buying a car they are now part of the shameful “rich” religious leaders. Most of the time in America we have been driven to the most liberal positions. Colleges and our religious leaders have picked up on this and this has led to a cutting off of one generation from another on false pretenses

  7. The left’s vociferous attack on Trump is truly bizarre when you consider that Trump isn’t even a conservative. Hell, he’s hardly a Republican.

    “Carl Olsen, who I now designate the truthful chronicler for American Catholics of our bizarre age,..”

    More like “selectively” truthful chronicler.

  8. Kind of funny to watch the sheer boogeyman nature this guy has taken on. Here’s another hysterical article for those curious.

    The portside is nothing if not assiduous about reciting the talking points. You’ll recall the bogeyman of the Bush II administration was Karl Rove, a fairly unremarkable campaign technician.

  9. To be sure, Carl, you cannot get to everything. But you did manage to get around to publishing a puff piece by a popular priest (now a bishop) extolling the “depth of Catholic faith” of a pro-abort comedian and TV personality as well as a hideous “consequentialist” screed by Mark Shea.

    Neither of these pieces should have passed editorial muster at any respectable Catholic publication.

    I would agree that what you write is normally very good. But you are also the editor of that publication and you bear responsibility for what makes it on its pages. I am sure you would hold the editors at the New York Times and Washington Post responsible for what you correctly called a “slanderous” piece of trash. After all, the buck stops with the editor, not the writer. But yet, when editors at Catholic publications like Catholic World Report publish stuff like the two pieces cited above and continue to stand by them, why should they be taken seriously when they decry the secular mainstream media?

  10. How about “Ministry of Truth, Fiction Department”? I think we could use that for a large part of the media. Hat tip: George Orwell 1984.

  11. All of this means that Cardinal Burke, Trump and Bannon are doing the right thing. May God be with them. May we pray for them.

  12. One of the great charges against the Jesuits has been that the order is too concerned with political power. Another is that they favor moral laxity. Which is why many opposed making them Cardinals much less pope. Now we have a Jesuit pope.

  13. If one takes a close look at the tactics of the left in agitation, agit-prop, censorship of news, stifling free speech wherever possible, support of radical social change idolizing the deviant and condemning the convention, one detects strong strains of 1933. Both sides of my family left Germany during Kulturkampf and the remainder were never heard from after 1941. History often repeats and the second time is not always farce.

  14. I didn’t/wouldn’t vote Trump, but don’t consider myself a “leftie” as implied in this article. I’m a complex person, yet you choose to paint all who voted in two categories, left, and right. In this column, the left are the bad people. Give me a courageous Republican cut from the cloth of John McCain and I’ll be a “righty.” I don’t like Trump’s character and voted accordingly. I’m distressed that the church hails this man. You wouldn’t include his insults in any of your sermons, yet subtly supported him. I was just comping to grips with the Coverup reality, now this.

  15. “I’m distressed that the church hails this man.”

    But the Church does not. The current powers that be within the Church are quite anti-Trump and are attempting to falsely connect their adversaries within the Church to Trump.

    As for the left being bad people, what was the source of the persecution of the Church during the last administration where the Little Sisters of the Poor were demanded to obey Caesar rather than Christ?

  16. One of the great charges against the Jesuits has been that the order is too concerned with political power. Another is that they favor moral laxity. Which is why many opposed making them Cardinals much less pope. Now we have a Jesuit pope.

    I’m recalling the scandals out of the house of formation in the California province in 2002. I think it was The Economist who said they weren’t photographs found in a spotty novice’s drawer, they were photographs the province put up on a web server for the world to see. Even before the scandal, the number of seminarians had fallen to such a low level that it was consistent with fewer than 30 ordinations per year (when there were about 250 ordinations per year ca. 1962, if I’m not mistaken). One rather caustic dissident in the Society described its charisms as ‘single-malt scotch and sodomy’.

  17. This past election was a choice between two egotists. I believe that we will all be much better off with a failed Trump than a successful Clinton. The rest is just a matter of details.

  18. The Times piece is bad journalism – the WAPO editorial is shameful. I don’t know if this fits in anywhere, but we might recall in that 2015 Bergoglio stated that Trump was not a Christian because he wants to build walls. Out of the blizzard of odd and eccentric quips coming from Bergoglio that is the one that struck me as the most outrageous. Are we to believe that the a Roman Pope has second sight? Can he announce that a man he’s never met and knows little about is not a Christian, even though Trump says he is. Was Bergoglio excommunicating Trump from whatever denomination he owes loyalty to? Can Bergoglio just tell what’s in Donald Trump’s heart? Does a political position held in fact but almost every country on earth (and if you look at the EU today, it looks like legal wall building has a whole lot of traction) mean that people that hold that view cannot receive God’s grace. Am I a Catholic if I think Bergoglio has been and continues to be a catastrophe for the Church? I just don’t understand why a devout Cardinal would need inspiration on the part of a right wing American journalist to make him wary of a Pope that is making a foggy proto-socialist economic and political program as the Church’s own. He’d find Bergoglio misled just by watching the Vatican’s Juan Peron in action.

  19. (W)e might recall in that 2015 Bergoglio stated that Trump was not a Christian because he wants to build walls.
    –Eric Bergerud

    Then we’d be recalling Fake News. Read the interview in context and with generosity not hostility toward Pope Francis. He did not name Trump at all in the remarks to which Mr. Bergerud refers. Reporting that Pope Francis attacked Trump specifically was an invention of the Fake News media.

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