‘Church Militant’ Theology Is Put to New, and Politicized, Use

Source: The New York Times

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A week after Stephen K. Bannon helped engineer the populist revolt that led to Donald J. Trump’s election, Buzzfeed unearthed a recording of him speaking to a Vatican conference of conservative Catholics in 2014.

In his presentation, Mr. Bannon, then the head of the hard-right website Breitbart News and now Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, called on the “church militant” to fight a global war against a “new barbarity” of “Islamic fascism” and international financial elites, with 2,500 years of Western civilization at risk.

While most listeners probably overlooked the term “church militant,” knowledgeable Catholics would have recognized it as a concept deeply embedded in the church’s teaching. Moreover, they would have noticed that Mr. Bannon had taken the term out of context, invoking it in a call for cultural and military conflict rather than for spiritual warfare, particularly within one’s soul, its longstanding connotation.

As the Trump administration prepares to take office, the use of Church Militant theology has gone well beyond its religious meaning and has taken on a political resonance. To fully grasp what “church militant” means in this highly politicized atmosphere, it helps to examine the broader movement and the role of a traditionalist Catholic website called — to no surprise — ChurchMilitant.com.

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