February 5, 2017
Sunday 5 February 2017
A powerful American cardinal who is engaged in a bitter feud with Pope Francis has met Matteo Salvini, the rightwing Italian nationalist who is a staunch supporter of Donald Trump and has praised Benito Mussolini.
The reported meeting between Cardinal Raymond Burke and Salvini, the head of the Northern League party, is a sign that intense divisions between traditionalists and the pope are becoming increasingly political.
Pope Francis’s allies in the church, who back his message of inclusion and support for immigrants, are speaking out against the US president’s travel ban against refugees and immigrants from majority-Muslim countries. Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, who was recently promoted by Francis, called Trump’s executive order a “dark day” for America. Tobin has also suggested that Trump is a conman.
At the same time, Francis’s harshest critics appear to be aligning themselves with the new Republican president and his acolytes around the world, including Salvini.
Burke, who is one of four cardinals who signed an open letter to Francis last year questioning new guidance allowing priests to decide whether divorced and remarried believers should be able to receive communion, praised Trump after his election in November. He said the surprise victory represented a clear win for pro-life causes and said the US president tended to surround himself with “very sound advisers”.