Thursday, June 27, 2019

“A room for 8,000 euros a night”

“Chacune de ses nuits cette semaine à Paris dans l’une des plus belles suites de l’hôtel Bristol coûte 8.000 euros…” (“Each of his nights this week in Paris in one of the loveliest suites of the Hotel Bristol costs 8,000 euros…”). —Article in the French publication Le Journal du Dimanche (“The Sunday Journal”) on May 18, 2019 (link), describing the cost of the hotel room in Paris where American political activist Steve Bannon stayed in Paris in mid-May as the European elections in France were drawing near. (Note: 8,000 euros is about $9,100, so the room was approaching $10,000 per night.)

Bannon was in Paris to support Marine le Pen, the Populist candidate.

On May 19, Bannon has acknowledged, he met at his hotel with Dr. Frederic Martel, a declared homosexual and leading French homosexual rights activist who had just published an explosive book entitled In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.

Martel had gathered material for his book over several years, staying numerous times at the Domus Santa Marta, where Pope Francis lives, and speaking to dozens of Vatican monsignors.

His goal: to reveal the extent of homosexuality in the Vatican, that is, in the central government of the Catholic Church.

His book, published on February 20, 2019, in English — and simultaneously in several other languages, indicating that there was an efficient and well-financed organization behind the work’s publication — argued that the majority of officials in the Curia are homosexuals, including, Martel contended, some of the more “conservative” prelates who publicly oppose homosexuality.

It was this “hypocrisy” which, Martel wrote, particularly irritated him, causing him to put the word “hypocrisy” in the book’s title.

So Martel’s book has exploded in different directions, hitting with its various, often unverifiable, allegations and insinuations, “progressive” and “conservative” Vatican officials alike.

Bannon in May invited Martel to meet with him to discuss buying the film rights to Martel’s book in order to make a film on the subject.

The film was evidently envisioned as a way to help to bring about changes in Church leadership which would have policy consequences.

Martel said Bannon endorsed allowing priests to marry and other changes to the Church’s sexual doctrine so that the Church could focus on “the important issue: China, Islam, immigration and so on.” (link)

The film’s evident goal: to arouse outrage among ordinary Catholics around the world, and from this outrage, bring about major changes in the leadership at the Vatican.

When a report that this Bannon-Martel meeting had occurred appeared briefly earlier this week on LifeSiteNews (the report was taken down at Bannon’s request after about an hour), American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who had occasionally met with Bannon in recent years and had been honored by a Bannon-supported, Catholic-inspired organization, the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, as its honorary president, issued a terse statement publicly breaking all relations with the Institute.

This breaking of relations seems important, because the Bannon-Burke connection was regarded as a significant point of contact between “conservative” and “populist” American political forces and a “conservative” Catholic group in the leadership of the Church.

That link has now, evidently, been, for the moment, severed.

Inside the Steve Bannon-Frederic Martel Negotiations to Make a Film on Homosexuality in the Vatican

However, many observers continue to see a “link” between American political forces and “conservative” Catholics in the Church leadership.

Here below is a Google-assisted (and imperfect) translation of a long, rambling French language article which appeared yesterday, June 26, on the website of the online magazine Slate.

The article is by Frederic Martel.

It is impressionistic and in many ways incorrect. Martel, for example, categorizes certain orthodox prelates like Cardinal Robert Sarah as “of the extreme right.” This political category is not fitting in an evaluation of the religious thought of a man like Sarah.

But still, the article seems useful to read for those concerned about the intensifying battle in the Catholic Church over the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and on sexual morality in general.

The article offers Martel’s version of his meeting with American political activist Steve Bannon. Bannon has said he asked to use Martel’s book, Inside the Closet in the Vatican, as the basis for a film. In the end, Martel indicated that he did not want to license his book to make such a film…

Above, photos of Steve Bannon (top) and French author Frederic Martel (top). The two met in Paris on May 19 in the Hotel Bristol

Here is the article published in French yesterday on Slate (link).

Steve Bannon, the not very secret agent of the open war between Trump and Pope Francis

By Frédéric Martel
Slate, June 26, 2019 at 13:04 – updated on June 26, 2019 at 14:05

An unprecedented battle in the Church, led by ultra-conservative cardinals and by the former special advisor to the American president, whom I met

It was by sending me a text message that Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former special advisor, invited me to lunch on Sunday, May 19th.

A few days earlier, his main collaborator in Rome, the ultraconservative English Catholic Benjamin Harnwell, had warned me: Bannon wanted to meet me to discuss my latest book, Sodom: Inquiry into the Heart of the Vatican.

After a first telephone exchange with Bannon himself, he offered to join him in his prestigious suite at the Bristol Hotel in Paris (1).

Such a meeting, of course, was not self-evident, neither for him, nor for me. What is in common between an extreme right-wing American Catholic, Donald Trump’s most famous spin-doctor and mentor during the US presidential campaign, and a French liberal of the left, atheist and openly gay, like myself?

Bannon, well-informed, had no problem in having lunch with a “free spirit,” he told me and, for my part, being at once a journalist, researcher and democrat, I have always accepted, on principle, to meet everyone.

A certain fascination also motivated me to accept this invitation and all the more because I have been working for several years on the Catholic extreme right and the battle it is waging against Pope Francis.

At the heart of this veritable civil war: Steve Bannon. His complex and intricate personality intrigued me. One can regret bitterly the election of Donald Trump, which is my case, and remain fascinated by the political strategist who achieved the spectacular defeat of Hillary Clinton. What a political animal! What a tactician! What a man!

Put the Church back in order

In Rome, Benjamin Harnwell is the correspondent of Bannon and his man of confidence. Since 2017, I have frequented him assiduously: he agreed to see me many times, and again for dinner on Tuesday, June 18 in Rome. The 40-something, exalted bachelor, Harnwell is English and close to the far right. The man has a complicated resume.

After being a parliamentary assistant to an English member of the European Parliament, Harnwell is now head of the ultra-conservative Dignitatis Humanæ Institute, and a discreet political lobby, of which Cardinal Raymond Burke is the president among a dozen cardinals. The board of this traditional group brings together some of the Vatican’s most extreme prelates and brings together some of the darkest orders of fundamentalist Catholicism. Steve Bannon is directly connected to Harnwell (something both men confirm to me).

During a dozen appointments, lunches and even a weekend spent with Harnwell in the monastery of Trisulti in Collepardo (Italy), where he lives, I was able to penetrate this secret organization.

The great project of Cardinal Burke, Steve Bannon and Benjamin Harnwell is to create a school in this remote monastery, two hours drive from Rome. The school’s name would be, it is not invented, “The Western Judaeo-Christian Academy,” When I visited the place with Harnwell, lodging and eating there with him for a weekend, he shows me future classrooms where students will learn Latin, live in community and pray.

The association Dignitatis Humanæ Institute that Harnwell heads with Burke, and under the supervision of Bannon, was given the management of this Cistercian monastery by the Italian government, provided they maintained this heritage classified as a national monument.

The project of Harnwell and Burke is to make the monastery their Italian headquarters. In his plans, which he describes to me at length, Harnwell wants to offer hundreds of seminarians and American faithful a retreat. By staying a few weeks or a few months in the Carthusian monastery of Trisulti, these missionaries of a new kind would be formed and revitalized. Ultimately, Harnwell, Burke and Bannon aim to create a broad movement of mobilization to put the Church in order “in the right direction”: in other words, the goal is to fight the ideas of Pope Francis.

The anti-Francis cardinals

The cardinals who revolve around the Dignitatis Humanæ Institute (Raymond Burke, Renato Raffaele Martino, Robert Sarah, Dominique Mamberti, etc.) are all ultraconservatives. And if they claim officially to defend Pope Francis, they sometimes tend to plot, directly or implicitly, against him.

On all themes dear to the Pope — sexual morality, ecology, theology of liberation, China, Cuba, Christians of the East, the death penalty, ordination of women — these cardinals are in fact leading a war against his ideas. They represent his extreme right-wing internal opposition.

The tensions between this fringe of Catholicism and Pope Francis have become frequent. The sovereign pontiff has well perceived the conspiracy in progress and already sanctioned several opponents — they are “Judases,” according to the severe word of the Pope’s entourage.

Cardinal Robert Sarah is the tutelary figure of the French far right. Not without a certain hypocrisy, he claims to be close to the Pope but he is, behind the scenes, his most active opponent. The African did not hesitate to describe divorce as a “scandal” and remarriage as “adultery”! In 2015, he even made a hysterical speech denouncing the “beast of the apocalypse,” a seven-headed, 10-horned animal sent by Satan to destroy the Church. And what is this demonic beast that would threaten? His speech is explicit on this point: it is about “gender ideology,” homosexual unions and the “LGBT lobby.” And the cardinal compared this threat to… Islamist terrorism: they are two sides of the same coin, according to him, the “two beasts of the apocalypse” (I quote it here from the official transcript that I procured ). By comparing homosexuals with Daesh, Sarah has lost much of his credibility in the Vatican where, privately, some bishops and cardinals call him “over the top” or “a fanatic.” He is now a public enemy of Pope Francis, who has already sanctioned him several times (the Pope quietly removed Sarah from the Pontifical Council Cor unum, before appointing him to head the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, where he deprived him of all of his collaborators and is now just a figurehead). Sarah is effectively hemmed in.

American cardinal Raymond Burke is another enemy of Francis. He too, in public, says his devotion to the Holy Father but spends his time organizing the resistance against him. Rigid by nature, Burke was fired by Francis, who dismissed him from his position as prefect in charge of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s appellate jurisdiction. As a consolation prize, the Pope named him — promoveatur ut moveatur (promoted to get rid of it) — representative of the Pope to the order of Malta. But as Burke acted once again in a sectarian and caricatural manner, the Pope again disavowed him: Burke retains his title but he has been stripped of all his powers, which have been transferred to the Pope’s deputy Secretary of State. “The Holy Father has given me the title of Cardinalis Patronus, but I do not have any function anymore. I am no longer informed, either by the order of Malta or by the Pope,” Burke later complained.

The third rebel is called Ludwig Müller. This German cardinal has also challenged the Pope many times while, as the Number 3 of the Vatican, he presided over the important Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the old Inquisition. After several tensions and calls to order, the Pope did not retain him in that post — a rare early retirement. When I met him in the Vatican twice, for my book, Müller told me he had an unshakable fidelity toward the Pope, but he has systematically criticized Francis, leading a veritable ideological guerrilla war against him. He, too, has joined the long list of Judases, redoubling his attacks against Francis since he lost his post.

This list of anti-François cardinals is long. It includes, besides Sarah, Burke and Müller, the Spaniard Antonio Rouco Varela, the Mexican Norberto Rivera, the German Walter Brandmüller, the Italians Mauro Piacenza, Angelo Bagnasco and Camillo Ruini, among dozens of others.

Steve Bannon belongs to a category of people who have an inclination to act without needing instructions.

What is new in this battle is not so much that there are ideological tensions in the Vatican — there have always been — but the fact that cardinals are working behind the scenes to try to lead the Pope to resign. All these opponents rely on Pope Benedict XVI (he has strangely prefaced a book by Cardinal Sarah) and try to express themselves in his name.

Cardinal Burke’s and Steve Bannon’s plans for Rome (and perhaps, indirectly, Donald Trump’s) are to consolidate this opposition to Francis in order to contain the Vatican’s progressive wing. However, I believe that Steve Bannon is freewheeling: he belongs to a category of extraordinary people who have an inclination to act without needing instructions. In my opinion, when he networks as he does today in Europe, he receives no orders from anyone, neither the ultraconservative wing of the Vatican, nor Donald Trump, with whom he has officially broken all collaboration since summer 2017.

We must therefore not overestimate the influence of Bannon on the anti-Francis networks in the Vatican, even if they espouse the same views. The most conservative cardinals did not wait for Bannon to arrive in Rome to hate the Pope; it was enough for them to follow their extremist course to hate him. The positions of the pontiff on immigrants, the poor, the Christians of the East, and his geopolitical vision on Cuba, Venezuela or China, are all points of fundamental disagreement.

Trump vs. Francis

It must be said that Donald Trump and Francis have become the two antithetical figures of our time. The Pope is, ideologically, the No. 1 enemy of the American president, and, although they may have had a courteous encounter, the battle between them is of an unprecedented violence. John Paul II maintained close relations with Ronald Reagan and Benedict XVI was pleased with his cooperation with George W. Bush (although relations were colder with Barack Obama).

Everything opposes Trump and Francis. Europe first.

Donald Trump and Steve Bannon try, by all means, to dynamite the European idea. The former has just officially supported Brexit while the latter is trying to rally the sovereignists to denounce Brussels and revive nation states.

On the other hand, Pope Francis, who is unfamiliar with Europe and even less familiar with France, is generally in favor of the European Union.

On Latin America, the positions of Pope Francis are also in opposition to those of Trump-Bannon. Francis is close to the so-called current of liberation theology, while Trump and Bannon are bitter anti-communists.

Francis is reluctant to criticize the Maduro regime in Venezuela while Donald Trump is the man to bring it down.

On Cuba, Francis has always been lenient while the American chose to abandon the harmonious ideas of rapprochement imagined by Barack Obama.

As for Colombia, Trump is close to the politicians supported by far-right paramilitaries, Francis was one of the architects of peace with the FARC.

In Brazil, Trump is also close to Bolsonaro, whose action he supports, while Pope Francis tried to stop the rise of the Brazilian far-right.

Finally, on Mexico, François privately welcomed the election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, when Donald Trump is wary of this man viscerally left.

Steve Bannon meets all these cardinals in his own name, but also in a broader battle plan.

In the Middle East, the vision of the two giants of history differs just as much. Donald Trump has a binary reading of the war against political Islamism, in the name of the battle for Christian values, even if he shows himself to be more indulgent to Saudi Arabia. Francis has always refused to defend the Christians of the East as such, preferring to pay tribute to all victims, whatever they are. From Lesbos, he brought back Muslim migrants, which exasperated far-right cardinals in Rome. The Pope also knows that the Catholic Church has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, which is unique in the world (2).

Finally, there is China. Donald Trump is ready to embark on a new cold war against Beijing, and Steve Bannon is multiplying hysterical speeches against Chinese nationalism. On the other hand, Pope Francis organizes informal meetings to open a constructive dialogue with China (Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin has been entrusted with these secret missions), which is criticized by Cardinals Burke and Müller and, virulently, by Bannon.

On most major issues of the moment, whether geopolitical or thematic, Pope Francis and Donald Trump are therefore declared enemies. They fight each other by cardinals interposed. Steve Bannon meets all these cardinals in his own name, but also in a broader battle plan.

American support

All these Roman networks are supported — and sometimes funded — by the American and European radical right. The ideological struggles of Cardinal Sarah, for example, are backed by ultra-conservative American foundations, as I had the opportunity to reveal on Slate.

Italy’s powerful interior minister, Matteo Salvini, also enjoys good relations with these networks that he officially supports (Cardinal Burke received Salvini at his home along with the Minister for the Family, Lorenzo Fontana, a homophobe close to the Italian far right).

In recent years, Donald Trump has sent to the Vatican another envoy in the person of Callista Gingrich, the third wife of the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, officially appointed ambassador of the United States to the Holy See. According to Harnwell and Bannon, whom I interviewed, she is close to their ideas: an objective alliance was born between the American ultra-right and the ultra-right of the Vatican.

Bannon at the Bristol Hotel

When I ask Bannon about all these networks, in his suite located on the noble floors of the Bristol Hotel, he is strangely talkative.

At first, our lunch is rather tense and formal: Dan, his “head guy” [his right arm], an intriguing American and Trumpian, inspected me from every angle before I entered Bannon’s suite, while another bodyguard with a well-dressed cowboy’s prudence also inspected me.

Casual and freewheeler, plain-spoken, Bannon has the talent of the Irish on the East coast to immediately put their interlocutors at ease: he speaks simply and clearly. He offers me to sit simply at a circular table of luxurious wood in his beautiful living room, which is extended by a large terrace. It was late Sunday morning: a brunch was needed. Bannon orders eggs Benedict and, with a calculated concern to distinguish me from him on the essential things, but not on the details, I choose the same dish.

The homosexuality of the Cardinals makes Steve Bannon rather laugh, whether they are right-wing and anti-Francis, or more liberal and close to the Pope.

From the beginning of our exchange, Bannon tells me that he read my book Sodoma in English and that he “adored” it. A little surprised by my revelations, he had called one of his “henchmen” in Rome (probably the director of the Roman bureau of his agency Breitbart News) to question him about the fact that a very large majority of priests and Vatican cardinals, 80% perhaps, would be homosexuals. “My henchman told me you were wrong: it’s not 80%, but rather 90%,” says Bannon, laughing. “Your book is the book of the year” (3).

At this moment of our conversation, I make Bannon understand that many of his contacts in Rome, how to say… Bannon cuts me off. “You mean they’re gay?” He interrupted me. “I think, yes, maybe,” I say. And Bannon burst out laughing, as if to confirm that he knows and that it does not matter to him.

Steve Bannon is intelligent and he has a lot of ideas. He is, basically, a libertarian, and with regard to sexual morality he has no taboos. His strategy deserves to be described as it is original. As he describes it to me, the battle should no longer be played in Rome on issues of sexual morality. He also lets me know that we must even turn this page because it divides the Church.

Is Steve Bannon aware of my thesis that the main cardinals of curia are homosexuals, especially those who are the most rigid? During our interview at the Bristol Hotel, he does not seem shocked by this hypothesis. The homosexuality of the cardinals makes him rather laugh, whether right and anti-Francis, or more liberal and close to the Pope.

He thinks like me that the battle is no longer played in Rome between pro-Francis cardinals who would be gay or gay-friendly, and anti-Francis cardinals who would be homophobic and heterosexual. Everyone, on the right, as on the left, would be fairly homophile or homosexual. Steve Bannon has no problem with this observation: he also came to it himself.

I suddenly understand the plan of Catholic Bannon. The Church may have to abandon its moral positions on sexuality that are hypocritical, anachronistic and, given the large number of gay cardinals in the Vatican, schizophrenic. These questions of sexual morality divide the Church and we must stop this useless and counter-productive battle to focus on the essential topics. In his eyes, the important things are the struggle against federal Europe, against immigration, against Cuban-Venezuelan communism. Above all, it is necessary to wage ideological war, in the name of Catholicism, against China, Iran, Islam and perhaps even Russia. And in the end, for these reasons, we must wage war against Pope Francis.

During our exchange and in several recent interviews, Bannon launched the offensive against the Holy Father with the sense of nuance that we know of him. According to him, the hostilities were triggered by Francis himself when, returning from a trip to Mexico where he taunted Trump by celebrating a Mass near the border, before denouncing those who “build walls instead of building bridges,” who, for this very reason, “cannot be Christians.”

“The pope is politically active. He embraces the ideas of the globalized establishment, of climate change: he is a Green. ” —Steve Bannon

Today, Bannon does not hesitate to attack the Pope by name to be “the ally of the party of Davos.” When the Pope speaks of immigration and “open borders,” according to Bannon, Francis would be out of step with the “ordinary Christian people,” an important component, he insists, of Donald Trump’s electorate, of Italy’s Matteo Salvini, of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, of Britain’s Nigel Farage and of Marine Le Pen. The insidious and repeated attacks of the Pope against these popular and populist elected representatives are inadmissible, Bannon judges.

The pope’s “naïve” and “foolish” speech against global warming also obsesses Bannon. “The pope is politically active. He embraces the ideas of the globalized establishment, of climate change: he is a Green. He is not even a center-left person. He is [by himself] a political party on the far left. His language is clearly that of the Greens.”

According to Bannon, the Pope is in line with the theology of liberation already mentioned earlier, the post-Marxist movement born in Latin America that valued a “preferential option for the poor.” In the 1970s, many “worker” bishops and priests defended the “liberation of the oppressed peoples,” decolonization, and denounced extreme right-wing military dictatorships. Some, even more leftist, even joined the guerrillas.

“Francis is a trained Latin Jesuit [he used the term “inculcated”] in the theology of liberation,” says Bannon. For him, this theology “is nothing more than a cultural Marxism with a thin veneer of the Gospel of Matthew on top of it, right? It’s Jesus as social justice warrior.”

And Bannon pushes the point: “Francis is both a Peronist [Argentine nationalist in the lineage of President Juan Peron, ed] and a Jesuit at the same time […]. The Catholic Church is controlled now by a group that comes out of liberation theology. The Frankfurt School is now in Rome! Everything they do, it’s Gramsci! A cultural [war] for hegemony,” concludes Bannon.

“He’s making a pact with the devil.” —Steve Bannon on Pope Francis’s policy of compromise with regard to China

Steve Bannon on the compromise strategy with China of Pope Francis

There is no doubt that Cardinal Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis, was very much influenced by these ideas, although he rejected violence.

A fan of Che Guevara in his youth, he even defended in Argentina a “theology of the people” which is, it is true, a merely local and nationalist version of the same theology. François is, on the one hand, an “alterglobalist” Pope who has very close ties today with the main theologians of the liberation: the Peruvian Gustavo Gutiérrez or the Brazilians Leonardo Boff and Frei Betto (during an interview with the latter, Betto confirmed to me his proximity with Francis). We also know that Leonardo Boff is one of the ghostwriters of the Pope and he is said to have written in particular one of his most famous encyclicals, Laudato si ‘, that which is precisely devoted to the “integral ecology.”

As for China, Bannon has no words harsh enough to denounce the compromise strategy of the Pope. Donald Trump’s former special adviser sees China as a “totalitarian country” that is developing one of the “states where mass surveillance is among the most virulent in the history of humanity” and with which no “secret agreement,” as envisaged by the Pope, would be possible. “He is in the process of making a pact with the devil.” (4)

Finally, the issue of sexual assault is the last breaking point for Bannon. According to him, the summit held in the Vatican against this violence last February was “a disaster” even as these cases are “gangrenous” for the Catholic Church and are now “metastasizing.” But, explains Bannon, the Pope does nothing to seriously fight against these evils and has not even called for “zero tolerance.”

The Western Judeo-Christian Academy is the aim

Nourished by these clear political ideas, Bannon is now in an open war against Pope Francis. Does he speak for himself or is he the indirect spokesperson for Cardinals Burke, Müller, Brandmüller and Sarah, or even Donald Trump and Matteo Salvini? It is difficult to say but I would be inclined to think that he speaks freely while reflecting quite faithfully the thinking of right-wing cardinals and hard-right politicians who cannot attack the Pope so directly.

The Western Judaeo-Christian Academy that Bannon wants to found in the monastery of Trisulti is part of this fight. However, the big project is now at a standstill. An administrative appeal against the attribution of the monastery to this group of the extreme right has been filed: the Academy wings have been clipped. But “the Academy already exists,” Bannon tells me. “This project will see the light of day. We’ll start training people. And if the site of the monastery is not held because of these legal issues, the project will be shifted to Rome or elsewhere.”

More recently, a fratricidal battle has broken out between Cardinal Burke and Steve Bannon: the former reproaches the latter for his too libertarian ideas on sexual morality (5).

At the end of this long lunch — more than two hours in a tête-à-tête — I finally wonder about the motivations of Steve Bannon. Why the devil did he want to meet me? Was he trying to divide his opponents, as some people suggest? Did he want, through me, to know and identify gays of the Vatican, as I thought for a moment? Would he be homophobic, or secretly gay?

None of that, actually. Heterosexual pure juice and historical Catholic, Steve Bannon leads to Rome three main fights for which he needs Catholics: first an open war against Islam and Chinese nationalism. Then a defense of the Christian roots of Europe. Finally, a war against Francis, the Pope too progressive in his eyes who, on the issue of migration, poverty or even China and the Arab world, has become his natural enemy.

Whether he’s still the pilot fish of Donald Trump in this battle, or acting on his own, it’s obvious that Steve Bannon is preparing the new battles ahead. It is at the heart of the war that is taking place today on European soil as in the rest of the world between the Pope and the American president. Francis has indeed become the global enemy of Donald Trump.


1 – That day, the JDD described in an article, this suite cost 8.000 euros per day. The journal explored the question of the mysterious guests invited by Bannon

2 – A relative and a minister of Francis, the French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, however, shortly before his death, was able to officially meet officials of the Saudi regime and even celebrate a Mass at the residence of the French ambassador, as it is a practice tolerated for several years in Saudi Arabia, on the margins of French secularism.

3 – He then told the same thing to several journalists from Valeurs actuelles and the far-right LifeNews website.

4 – Bannon takes up here the ideas of the cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, very critical of the strategy of Francis.

5 – I was implicated in this battle between the two men as Italian and American media have largely echoed recently.

(end, Letter #38: “A room for 8,000 euros a night”)


Guarding the Flame: A Conversation with Cardinal Peter Erdo

A book containing several days of interviews I conducted with Cardinal Peter Erdo of Hungary has just been published by TAN (Thomas A. Nelson) Books, which specializes in the important work of reprinting traditional Catholic works now out of print. To purchase a copy of my new book with Cardinal Erdo, you may do one of three things:

(1) Go to the publisher’s website (link)

(2) Go to the Amazon website and order the book there: (link)

(3) Write back to me by return email, including a complete mailing address and phone number, tell me how many copies you would like, and I will send you one or more signed copies at the cover price of $27.95, plus shipping and handling (about $5 inside the US, but considerably more, up to $26 or more, outside of the US).—RM

Where is the Catholic Church going?

Guarding the Flame: The Challenges Facing the Church in the Twenty-First Century: A Conversation With Cardinal Peter Erdő

By Robert Moynihan and Viktoria Somogyi

How will the Church face the challenges of the 21st century? Do the recent advances in modern technology pose a threat to the human soul?

In this wide-ranging, candid conversation, Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Budapest, Hungary, one of the most respected cardinals in the Catholic Church, speaks with Dr. Robert Moynihan, founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, about the Catholic Church’s place in an increasingly secularized world.

As the two-time president of the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, Erdő is the leading bishop of Europe. And as Europe has descended into a deep secularism—more pronounced and rapid even than in the United States—Erdő is uniquely positioned and qualified to identify and tackle the issues that secularism presents.

Here, for the first time in in one place, the cardinal speaks forthrightly about the need to “guard the flame” of the traditional Christian faith in the face of all temptations and obstacles. Guarding the Flame is a courageous call to remain faithful to the faith handed down from the Apostles, whatever the cost.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and Primate of Hungary, was born in Budapest on 25 June 1952, the first of six children. He was created Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 2003. He has published more 250 articles and 25 books on Canon Law, as well as other spiritual works.

Robert Moynihan (Harvard College, B.A.,1977 and Yale University, Ph.D., 1988) founded Inside the Vatican magazine in 1993. He has covered the Vatican and Church affairs for more than 30 years and is the author of books on Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Viktoria Somogyi, born in Hungary, has lived and worked in Rome at the Hungarian language desk of Vatican Radio. She studied International Relations at the University of Rome.

Special Note to Readers: Consider sponsoring the Moynihan Letters as the need for an independent view (my view) on events in the Church is becoming increasingly important, as today’s news shows (here is a link to the donation page: link). Your support is the only way I can stay independent. A monthly donation of even just $2.50 — a cup of coffee — would be deeply appreciated, and helpful. —RM

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