My Comments on the Steve Bannon Interview

Here’s the brief interview with LifeSiteNews: Exclusive Interview: Steve Bannon clarifies his position on Catholic moral teaching.

Why are Catholic media outlets interested in what Steve Bannon has to say about Catholicism? Is it really because he is a baptized Catholic? When you reject the Roman Pontiff and the Papal Magisterium, you need a replacement. The sheep naturally (and supernaturally) seek a Shepherd. But he who rejects the Vicar of Christ, rejects Christ. So the schismatics are now seeking replacements for the Pope. That is why they exalt certain minor Catholic leaders, like an auxiliary Bishop from a small diocese in a distant part of the world. They would have zero interest in what someone like that has to say, except that his ideas mirror their own. And that is why they treat Steve Bannon as if he were Catholic leader. He has prominence in the secular media, and he has views similar to their own.

When discussing the accusation of heresy against the Roman Pontiff, people sometimes suggest that the body of Bishops or an Ecumenical Council would take the lead in judging him or removing him (which is not possible, of course). But what happens in reality is that very minor figures with little real authority and great incompetence in theology step into that role. The “Declaration of Truths” is filled with heresies and other errors. The Open Letter is heretical, scandalous, and makes severe false accusations against the Vicar of Christ.

The signatories of the Open Letter are termed by Steve Bannon in the above interview as “19 theologians”. What a ridiculous lie. There are a few theologians and a few priests who are really not theologians among the 19. But many of these signatories have zero degrees in theology or philosophy, and have contributed nothing of any substance to the field of theology. They are not 19 theologians. One is a physicist, another has an advanced degree in literature and culture, another teaches high school (not even high school theology), and among those with relevant degrees, there is very little published theology that would contribute to the field.

I must also add that it is dogma that no Roman Pontiff can possibly teach or commit heresy, and so the signatories of the Open Letter are themselves guilty of heresy, schism, grave scandal, and bearing false witness against the Roman Pontiff.

But appealing to Steve Bannon in one’s attempt to further undermine the papal Magisterium and build some type of position in opposition to him is absurd. He himself correctly states that he is not a theologian.

Bannon: “Married priests are not the solution to the sexual abuse scandal, nor are they the solution to the massive vocation crisis we see in the Church.”

He has no qualifications to decide what is or is not a solution to the abuse crisis, nor the vocation crisis. Married deacons have proven to be a part of the solution to the vocation crisis. The question of ordaining *more* married priests is complex. And it is should not be treated like a political position.

Bannon: “The Orthodox Church, where priests are expected to marry, is also suffering a virtually identical crisis.”

So Bannon not only stands in judgment over the Catholic Church, to decide what is best, but also over the Orthodox Churches (plural). This is the influence of sinful secular society, which teaches each person to take the role of judging all things, without needing any study or expertise in any area. Consider the many news commentary TV shows, in which the commentators are often entirely unqualified in the area which is the object of their commentary. They act as if they are experts in all things, just because they have a TV show or some prominence in the secular media.

Bannon: “The paradigm is between Traditionalists and Progressives, i.e. between Catholics who believe the Vatican Council is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. And here’s the rub — the demographic crisis over the next two to three generations is going to totally wipe out the Progressive Church.”

Anyone who rejects the Second Vatican Council, or any other Ecumenical Council, is a schismatic, and, in the case of Vatican II, also a heretic. Many of the teachings of Vatican II, even if they were originally non-infallible, have now been taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, so as to have become infallible. This idea that the Traditionalists have the role or authority to stand in judgment over an Ecumenical Council and reject it as “part of the problem” is an extreme example of the sin of pride, and of schism.

The division of the Church into Progressives and Traditionalists is a false dichotomy. The claim that the Progressives will disappear is false. When the Protestants repent and unite with the Catholic Church, most of them will tend more toward the liberal side of Catholic doctrine and discipline. Also, recall that when Christ criticized the Pharisees (conservatives) and the Sadducees (liberals), His more frequent and harsher words were directed at the former.

Bannon: “There seems to be unanimity among the popes that the Church does not have the authority to ordain women…. I’m no theologian….”

Wrong. Most Popes have not spoken on the subject. Pope Saint John Paul II infallibly taught that the Church lacks the authority to ordain women to the priesthood, leaving the question of ordination to the diaconate open. And unanimity is only infallible when it is the body of Bishops led by the Pope, dispersed in the world or gathered in an Ecumenical Council. A succession of Popes teaching non-infallibly is generally not the type of unanimity that answers questions definitively — unless one or more exercise Papal Infallibility.

Bannon: “Regardless, the real issue isn’t women’s ordination — it’s genuine lay leadership irrespective of gender.”

Christ chose to structure the Church thusly: Peter and his successors as the Vicar of Christ and the head of the Church on earth, as the Teacher and Shepherd of all Christians (including conservatives), with the body of Bishops as leaders under and with the Roman Pontiff. So the solution to problems in the Church is not to reject that plan and substitute lay leadership.

Consider what the lay leadership is like within the conservative Catholic subculture today. Many conservative leaders teach heresy, promote schism, reject an Ecumenical Council, reject a Roman Pontiff, and commit grave sins of scandal and false accusations against the Vicar of Christ. Then, on the subject of the abuse crisis, many conservative lay leaders have defended Cardinal Pell, who is a convicted child molester with a history of decades of accusations against him. No, lay leadership cannot replace Episcopal and Papal leadership.

Bannon makes a few good comments on homosexuality and vocations to the priesthood. Read them.

Bannon: “an onslaught of charges of heresy against Pope Francis by some of the leading theologians in the Church today…. Yesterday Cardinal Brandmüller, a wise and holy man, accused the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon of heresy and apostasy.”

It is intellectually dishonest to exalt the credentials and alleged holiness of persons whose views are like one’s own. Calling a Cardinal “wise and holy” because he make a public attack on the Roman Pontiff, in the form of accusatory and disingenuous “dubia” is dishonest.

The signatories to the Open Letter are mostly not theologians, mostly not scholars, and absolutely none of them are “leading theologians”. A few qualify as theologians, but their contributions to the field are minor, and overshadowed by their schismatic and heretical rejection of Pope Francis.

The Synod of Bishops in the Amazon has so far issued only a working document. Such a document cannot possibly be obstinate in any of its assertions, since it is “working”. So it cannot be heretical. The claim that it is apostasy is an absurd extreme exaggeration and a gravely immoral false accusation against a large number of Bishops.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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3 Responses to My Comments on the Steve Bannon Interview

  1. Guest says:

    I used to be a traditionalist. The problem we are seeing is that people will only listen to people who say what they want to hear. And if anyone, be he pope or not, says something that challenges their understanding of the faith, these people are rejected as false teachers or heretics. That is, you don’t really need a teacher as much as a spokesman who propagates what you agree with. Sedevacantists just take this mentality to the logical conclusion, only accepting a bishop who does not teach what you suppose apriori is a heresy,.

    The reason people admire Cardinal Sahrah, say, is because he says exactly what they want to hear. If he started teaching things they strongly disagree with, they would replace him with some other person who agrees with them.

  2. franciscofigueroa1 says:

    At the end of the day Jesus gave the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to Rock (Peter in English) and it has been passed on to his successors only. Giving the Keys is a sign of authority and the only person who has those keys today is Pope Francis. Therefore, he deserves our respect and submission because of the authority given to him by Christ Himself.

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