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A Vatican Shot Across the Bow for Hard-Line U.S. Catholics

Even before the article was published, many Catholic supporters of Mr. Trump, who won the white Catholic vote, were already wary of Francis for suggesting during the campaign that Mr. Trump was “not Christian” because of his preference for building walls rather than bridges.

Francis’ apparent openness on key issues such as granting communion to Catholics remarried outside the church has galvanized the opposition, led by the American cardinal Raymond L. Burke, an outspoken critic whom Francis has repeatedly demoted.

The essay, which critic have dismissed as woefully ignorant of religion’s deep history in American politics, has energized camps on both sides of the divide. In a Breitbart article headlined “Papal Advisers Bash American Christians in Bigoted Screed,” Thomas Williams, the site’s Rome correspondent and an associate of Mr. Bannon’s, wrote that instead of attacking Mr. Trump and Mr. Bannon, “they have ended up attacking America itself.”

Benjamin Harnwell, a Catholic traditionalist in Rome, fan of Mr. Bannon and confidant of Cardinal Burke’s, said the article’s authors were doing little more than “trolling Steve Bannon.” Mr. Bannon, a former altar boy who once articulated his worldview to a Vatican conference, wrote in a brief email that the pope’s associates “lit me up.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, a standard-bearer for conservatism in America, likened the Civiltà Cattolica authors in his weekly newsletter to the “useful idiots” who supported the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. He called the article “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.”

If Archbishop Chaput’s own thwarted ambitions are any indication, Francis might not agree. The pope has vexed conservatives by repeatedly declining to elevate Archbishop Chaput to the rank of cardinal, a requirement for entrance into the conclave that will choose the pontiff’s successor.

“I was a little bit disappointed,” Cardinal Gerhard Müller, a German conservative appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as the church’s chief doctrinal watchdog, said in a recent interview. “The appointment of the cardinals should not be a personal relation with the pope’s to these bishops,” he said, adding that he was puzzled as to why Francis passed them over. “I don’t know,” he said. “Politics.”

Source: NYT > World

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