Deep State, Deep Church: How QAnon and Trumpism Have Infected the Catholic Church

Type Investigations

October 30, 2020

By Kahryn Joyce

Catholicism’s increasingly powerful political right reflects fringe America, fueled by paranoia, conspiracy, racism, and the threat of apocalypse


In 2018, Viganò released an 11-page letter charging that Francis ignored early warnings about a defrocked cardinal who’d sexually abused minors and seminarians; he decried a Vatican “homosexual network” and called for Francis to resign. Around the world Catholic bishops’ conferences immediately voiced support for the pope, but the U.S. conference took weeks to do the same, and even then, some two dozen bishops announced support for Viganò instead.

Partly that reflected how deeply the U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis had scarred American Catholics. In the context of America’s political parties, says Massimo Faggioli, a church historian at Villanova University, the crisis came to be interpreted along polarized lines, with the left blaming hierarchical church culture and the right, essentially, homosexuality.

“On the right they’ve used that massively at every level,” says Faggioli. “Conservatives have weaponized the scandal to try to get rid of Pope Francis and said nothing about what John Paul II knew, what Pope Benedict knew. Only Pope Francis and a list of liberal cardinals or bishops.”

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