Doug Mainwaring reports for LifeSiteNews – After President Donald Trump posted a tweet thanking Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò for his open letter to him, media and opinionators were quick to react, sometimes ridiculing both the president and the former papal nuncio to the United States.
“So honored by Archbishop Viganò’s incredible letter to me,” wrote the president in a tweet last night, concerning the letter Viganò penned, published June 6 by LifeSiteNews.
At the time of this writing, the president’s tweet has been “Liked” over 134,000 times.
The Washington Post and major Catholic news outlets such as Rome Reports, which covers the Vatican; the National Catholic Register; and the Catholic News Agency (CNA) produced mostly straight news stories about the tweet and recounting the events that led to it.
However, within minutes of the president’s social media posting, a writer for America Magazine — a Jesuit mouthpiece — felt duty-bound to offer “context for journalists who don’t cover the church everyday.”
Michael J. O’Loughlin warned that the site that the president had linked to — LifeSiteNews — “is a fringe Catholic outift [sic] that pushes conspiracy theories and dislikes (to put it mildly) Pope Francis.”
“The archbishop he mentions pushes ‘deep state’ and ‘deep church’ conspiracy theories,” tweeted O’Loughlin.
“Vigano was the Vatican’s rep to the US and was instrumental setting up the Pope Francis/Kim Davis in 2015, without the pope’s knowledge about the movement Davis represented. In retirement, Vigano has committed himself to undermining Pope Francis,” continued the Jesuit magazine writer. Pope Francis is a Jesuit.
“Trump has been courting white Catholics in recent months, a demographic key to the president’s 2016 win. Trump launched a ‘Catholics for Trump’ group, counts on the support of ‘Priests for Life,’ and hosted a call with Cardinal Dolan and other church leaders about schools,” lamented O’Loughlin.
Fr. James Martin, SJ, retweeted O’Loughlin’s postings.
“Trump trying to grab Catholics by the Vig*,” quipped Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University theologian and Commonweal contributor, in a tweet.
“I foresee a paper at the AAR on the ecclesiology of ‘deep church,” he added.
“President Donald Trump watches Fox News, so I hope he caught this story that calls disgraced Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò a ‘Rome archbishop’ as if he had some influence. In the event, he is not even in Rome and his influence is zilch,” wrote the National Catholic Reporter’s Michael Sean Winters.
“But, as I mentioned the other day, if Viganò and Trump become pen pals, look for the president to start telling his next rally about the third secret of Fatima. Buckle up!” warned Winters.
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“President Trump has tweeted his support for Archbishop Viganò, former papal ambassador to the US (Viganò has just released a letter backing Trump),” began The Tablet’s Christopher Lamb in a series of tweets.
“This risks damaging relations between the US and the Holy See given Viganò’s call for Francis to resign in 2018,” continued Lamb.
“It puts high profile Catholics in the US who claim loyalty to Pope Francis and support for President Trump in a difficult position. How can you claim to do both?” he asked.
“Any weaponising by Trump of Viganò and his theories during the 2020 election campaign is likely to trouble the consciences of Catholics who had previously supported the President,” Lamb concluded.
Lamb later offered a fuller explanation of his view at the Tablet, in an article ominously headlined, “Trump’s attack on the papacy is likely to backfire.”
“With a single tweet, President Donald Trump has put the relationship between the United States and the Holy See under strain while potentially jeopardising his support among Catholics,” declared Lamb.
“I wonder for how long the institutional level of the Catholic Church – in Rome, at the USCCB, in DC – can pretend that this is not happening,” wrote Massimo Faggioli, commenting on Lamb’s hypothesizing.
Last month, Faggioli penned an article for Commonweal Magazine suggesting that Archbishop Viganò was “using the pandemic to undermine Pope Francis.”
Italy’s Huffington Post was alarmed that “During the night, the U.S. President sided with the former nuncio.”
The headline for Maria Antonietta Calabrò’s story blared, “Trump and Viganò: The strange couple against Francesco.”
“The ‘exchange’ between Trump and Viganò has therefore to do with two successions: the next American presidential election and the future of the Catholic Church and the outcome of the future conclave,” wrote Calabrò.
The Washington Post’s religion writer, Michelle Boorstein, tweeted, “In normal times, this would be huge news: Trump tweets praise for letter saying there are two sides in America, who are enemies: ‘just as God and Satan are eternal enemies.’”
“Vigano’s recent comments make apocalyptic claims about a one-world government, denounce the Second Vatican Council, and claim the 3rd secret of Our Lady of Fatima was not fully revealed by Pope St. John Paul II,” tweeted JD Flynn, editor-in-chief for Catholic News Agency (CNA).
The sprawling, 2,600-word CNA account reached back to Viganò’s explosive August 2018 testimony, critical of the hierarchy’s handling of then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual predation, and then spanned all of the former nuncio’s subsequent writings.