An odd article by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) appeared this week, alleging that Catholics at the White House resent Trump’s tweets touting “two figures with polarizing reputations among Catholics: former papal nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, and the author and online polemicist Taylor Marshall.” The title of the article is, “Why White House Catholics are concerned about Trump’s Catholic tweets.”
“White House Catholics” apparently refer to a couple of opportunistic Never Trump-style Catholics who snuck into the White House and are now leaking at the expense of the president out of snobby Catholic factionalism.
It makes sense that Trump would be drawn to figures who are trying to drain the Catholic swamp.
“Two Catholics in senior positions in the administration told CNA the decision to elevate Viganò and Marshall has put the White House at odds with the U.S. bishops, instead of putting a focus on issues of agreement, and has frustrated some Catholic administration officials,” reported CNA.
Oh, my. God forbid Trump be “at odds with the U.S. bishops” by tweeting about actual Catholics. Of course, Trump was at odds with the U.S. bishops long before he tweeted about Viganò and Marshall. But it is telling that these officious Catholics felt the need to team up with CNA to fret over the feelings of the bishops.
“It puts those of us who care about the Church and care about the work we are doing here in a bind,” a White House official said to CNA. “I believe in the work I’m doing, and believe it matters as a Catholic. But I spend enough time just defending that simple premise — I don’t want to have to deal with crazy Catholic Twitter too.”
Sounds like a Never Trumper who is desperate to impress the bishops and liberal Catholics. One wonders why he joined the administration. That Trump obviously doesn’t care about his petty intramural concerns shouldn’t come as a surprise to him. It makes sense that Trump would be drawn to figures who are trying to drain the Catholic swamp.
CNA sees itself as a great arbiter of what is and what is not appropriately Catholic. Trump’s elevation of Viganò and Marshall threatens what it smugly sees as its monopoly on the “Catholic mainstream,” as if anything outside of it is unworthy of attention. It doesn’t seem to occur to CNA that closeness to the Catholic mainstream isn’t much of a credential given the crumbling state of the Church.
Much of the piece is a smear on White House aide Dan Scavino for supposedly pushing Trump to quote Viganò and Marshall:
The officials each independently attributed the decision to highlight support from outside the Catholic mainstream to Dan Scavino, White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and the president’s social media director. They said it is part of a broader effort to stoke enthusiasm among the president’s most ardent supporters through social media engagement.
“You know who is putting [Viganò’s letter] in front of the president?” one official said, “It’s coming from [Dan] Scavino. He runs all of that side of things.”
“Around him and the rest, they have only one plan right now, or only one they are talking about: weaponize the base, the base, the base.”
Who talks like that — mocking the “base”? Again, it sounds like a Never Trumper who entered the White House for self-serving reasons. He probably would prefer Trump quote George Weigel. Never mind that Weigel signed an anti-Trump manifesto in 2016.
Another revealing quote from the piece:
“There is no way the serious Catholics in the administration are pushing this stuff. They have too much to do,” the first official told CNA.
Too much to do? Apparently not if they have time to leak to CNA. And what exactly makes them “serious Catholics”? The premise of the piece is that they are somehow more “serious” than Viganò and Marshall. Why? Because they are closer to the bishops? That makes them less serious and indicates their obtuseness.
“The other senior source said the same, and lamented that some in the administration seem to view a combative stance against the bishops as a good in itself,” says CNA. Again, who cares? Scavino and company have correctly sized up the bishops as enemies of this administration.
The piece doesn’t bother to spell out how the “work” of Catholic staffers is undermined by Trump’s tweets — unless that “work” is trying to please the bishops. The only thing that is really newsworthy about the piece is that a couple of factionalist Catholic busybodies are in cahoots with CNA and sought to smear Viganò, Marshall, and Scavino through leaking against the president — leaking that is simply a reflection of their own shallowness and snobbery.