An Irish priest has warned that bishops’ cozying up to the alt-right is “reaping a bitter whirlwind”.

– “Ultra-traditional Catholics” being given “undue deference” by hierarchy

“Ultra-traditional Catholics who vociferously proclaim their loyalty and support of the Church but who vehemently oppose change” are being given “undue deference by members of the hierarchy who have been known to lavish attention, even while being regularly challenged by them”, former communications officer of the diocese of Waterford and Lismore Father Liam Power decried in a September 15 column in the Waterford News and Star which was reproduced by the Irish Association of Catholic Priests on their website.

Power included in that group of Catholic ultra-traditionalists “extreme alt-right media groups” such as Church Militant, Lifesite News, Breitbart and EWTN which although they claim fidelity to the Church “are unabashedly partisan in their support for extreme right-wing politics”.

“These media outlets, while professing loyalty to the Church, represent some of the most public anti-Pope Francis forces in the Catholic world and would like him to resign”, the priest deplored.

– Ultra-Catholics insisting on receiving on the tongue during COVID are endangering lives

In his column, Power warned of the most obvious danger represented by those ultra-Catholics that are fanning a “whiff of fascism” in the Church and society.

Citing noted US theologian Massimo Faggioli, the priest said the ultra-traditionalists “have ‘unlearned democratic culture’ and have created a worrying polarisation” in Catholicism and beyond.

Though he did not take anything away from the political dangers represented by that Catholic fascism, Power also pointed to the threats to public health posed by ultra-traditionalism in the context, specifically, of the coronavirus pandemic.

Catholic traditionalists who insist on receiving Communion on the tongue show scant regard for the health and safety of priests and other parishioners, Power denounced.

To illustrate that point, the priest recounted two recent episodes in local churches in which ultra-Catholics blatantly defied both Government health regulations and the indications of the Irish Bishops that believers receive only in the hand.

The priests involved in the two episodes – one of them elderly, and with underlying health issues – both refused those Catholics’ demand that they receive on the tongue, Power said.

But not before the ultra-traditionalist agitators had created tense stand-offs “during the celebration of the Eucharist which is meant to be a breaking of bread together to build up community”, the priest lamented.

– A clear message to accommodationist prelates: “There must be limits to appeasement”

Those episodes of Catholics demanding Communion on the tongue in Waterford and Lismore churches are not the only recent examples of ultra-Catholic haughtiness in Ireland, Power recalled.

In that vein, the priest brought to mind recent ultra-Catholic harassment of priests – including the Archbishop of Dublin – who have made gestures of interfaith solidarity with the country’s Muslim community.

But returning to the phenomenon of ultra-Catholicism in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, Power denounced that some extremist faithful claim that COVID-19 is all “a conspiracy theory” designed “to collapse the present world order”.

Those Catholic coronavirus negationists “oppose vaccines and refuse to wear masks, and they wantonly contravene” the orders of the health authorities, Power denounced.

Catholics associated with the “toxic politico-religious cocktail” stirred up by COVID-19 in wider society “could easily be dismissed as a lunatic fringe element” in the Church were it not for the accommodationism of certain bishops, the priest continued.

To those members of the hierarchy who are attempting to ingratiate themselves with the dangerous alt-right COVID-19 denialists Power had a clear message: that they consider “the political implications of extreme views” which not only “serve to undermine the pontificate of Pope Francis” but also endanger public health.

“There must be limits to appeasement”, the priest warned.

More on Novena on the dangers of alt-right Catholics:

The Napa Institute is passing off poisonous right-wing vinegar as gospel wine

“Little purchase on either reality or substance”: Irish priest takes down conservative Pope Francis critics

Vatican expert denounces up to 30% of global Church against Francis, “hard core” of cardinals “already trying to influence” next conclave

Irish archbishop says “utter irresponsibility” not to maintain social distancing; priest blasts Catholics insisting on receiving on tongue


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.