Cardinal Raymond Burke, the ultraconservative “leader of the opposition” to Pope Francis, has distanced himself from Steve Bannon, former strategist of Donald Trump and self-proclaimed leader of the European right-wing populists, fiercely criticising both his extreme right-wing “gladiator school” and his ideas on Catholic doctrine.

The intrigue

In a message posted to his Twitter account, Burke lashed out at Bannon over statements he made to the ultraconservative website LifeSiteNews, which revealed that the politician seeks to make a film based on In the Closet of the Vatican, the book by French author Frédéric Martel that lifts the lid on the hypocritical homosexuality of high officials in the Vatican.

“I do not, in any way, agree with Mr. Bannon’s assessment of the book in question”, said Burke in his statement, adding that “I am not at all of the mind that the book should be made into a film”.

For the record

“I disagree completely with a number of Mr. Bannon’s statements regarding the doctrine and discipline of the Roman Catholic Church”, continued Burke, adding that he finds “objectionable” Bannon’s “calling into question the Church’s discipline of perpetual continence for the clergy, in accord with the example and desire of Christ, Head and Shepherd of the Church”.

Why it matters

In his statement Burke also distanced himself from Bannon’s political machinations. Through his Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Bannon has been trying to establish a “gladiator school” to train future European populist political leaders in the Italian monastery of Trisulti.

Although Burke clarified that he has been involved “for some years” with the Dignitatis Humanae Institute “because of its work to support Christians in public life who act with respect for the moral law and, therefore, promote the common good”, he made it clear that, because of his disagreements with Bannon, he has resigned the office of Honorary President and has ended “any relationship” with the organisation.

The reason? That Bannon and the others responsible for the Institute have ignored Burke’s requests that the Institute return “to its original purpose,” and that the Institute “has become more and more identified with the political program” of Bannon, and not with Christian humanism.

One level deeper

Burke in his statement not only criticised Bannon, however. The cardinal also attacked LifeSiteNews, the ultraconservative website that published (and then pulled) Bannon’s statements, and accused the website of spreading fake news by linking him to the Bannon projects.

“LifeSiteNews made no contact contact with me to verify my possible involvement” in the planned film of In the Closet of the Vatican, the cardinal complained, proving once again that LifeSite is one of the websites that does most damage not only to the Church but also to the service of the truth in religion journalism.