Peers of Pope Francis Criticize Steve Bannon’s “Apocalyptic” Worldview

August 3, 2017
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by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

A still from FRONTLINE's documentary, "Bannon's War."

Less than three years before he entered the White House as President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen Bannon participated in a Vatican conference where he portrayed himself as a combatant in an epic war for the soul of Western civilization.

“We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict. We are in an outright war against jihadist Islam, Islamic fascism,” Bannon says in the rare footage, which appeared in the May 2017 FRONTLINE documentary Bannon’s War. “And this war is, I think, metastasizing almost far quicker than governments can handle it.”

Now, Bannon has been criticized as “a supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics” by two associates of Pope Francis in a Jesuit-run journal whose contents are vetted by the Vatican, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

In an essay that appears in La Civiltà Cattolica, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa analyze the nexus between fundamentalist evangelical Christians and American conservative Catholics. They list Bannon among the exponents of  a “dominionist” doctrine that “submit[s] the state to the Bible with a logic that is no different from the one that inspires Islamic fundamentalism.”

“Theirs is a prophetic formula: fight the threats to American Christian values and prepare for the imminent justice of an Armageddon, a final showdown between Good and Evil, between God and Satan,” Spadaro and Digueroa write.

In his 2014 talk to attendees of the Vatican conference, Bannon outlined what he saw as a battle between Western civilization and “radical Islam,” saying, “I believe the world and particularly the Judeo-Christian West is in a crisis.”

“He has kind of reduced all of the conflicts of modern society to that essential faceoff between the terrorists and the Americans,” Marc Fisher of The Washington Post told FRONTLINE in Bannon’s War.

It remains unclear whether the essay received the pope’s blessing, though according to The Times, “there has apparently been no reprimand from the pope.” Bannon, a former altar boy, wrote in a brief email to The Times that the pope’s associates “lit me up.”

To learn more about how Bannon’s worldview came to be, and how it has resonated with President Donald Trump, watch Bannon’s War. From Michael Kirk and his team, the documentary explores who Bannon is, what shaped his mission to disrupt the establishment, and his role in the power struggles and policy clashes of Trump’s presidency.

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