We need to talk about Catholic extremism and violence

The Vatican in Rome

Blogger and PHD student João Silva Jordão argues that organised Catholicism is instrumental in spreading religious extremism and violence.

It is all too common for us to talk about “Islamic extremism.” And rightly so. Anyone who claims that it is not an important problem is either ignorant or dishonest. But when those who claim to be concerned about religious extremism and terrorism only talk about Islam, and not about other religions’ use of violence, then it is fair to question their motives.

Most people will admit that most, if not all, religions have had problems with violence in the past. Most people have heard of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The recent persecution and massacre of the Rohinghya Muslims in Burma have brought international attention to the rise of Buddhist extremism. Likewise for Hindu nationalism, as well as Israel’s use of the Jewish religion to legitimise violence against the Palestinians.

But how many have heard of the Knights of Malta? Have they heard of the Society of Jesus? Probably not. Amidst the furore about religious extremism and violence, the Catholic Church seems to be omitted from the discussion. But perhaps it should be at the very centre of any discussion regarding religious extremism, not least because unlike Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus or other Christians, Catholics have an overbearing, centralised institution capable of highly-organised and coordinated action. It should therefore be under much more scrutiny than it currently is.

Catholic Church

To study Catholic extremism and violence is also to study its various institutions and factions – after all, the Catholic Church stands today as the institutional inheritor to the Roman Empire, and as such, has a strict hierarchy, a code of obedience and is shrouded in secrecy and mystery.

So let’s begin.

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George W. Bush, although not officially a Catholic, said that it was God who told him to “end tyranny” by invading Iraq in 2003, a war we now know to be the single most violent and horrific act of the 21st century so far, killing hundreds of thousands and throwing the country into a seemingly unending civil war.

He also tried to convince then French-President Jacques Chirac to have France join the USA in the invasion by telling him that he believed that when he looked at the Middle East he saw “Gog and Magog at work,” a reference to the Bible.

Tony Blair is Catholic

Even though George W. Bush is not known to be a Catholic, his father, George H. W. Bush, is allegedly a member of the Knights of Malta, a very powerful and shadowy Catholic Order which acts virtually as an independent country. One of the names it goes by is the “Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta,” and it gained notoriety during the Crusades. It enjoys Observer Status in the United Nations.

Tony Blair, another main figure behind the invasion of Iraq, officially converted to Catholicism in 2007 whilst admitting he had been a closet Catholic for 30 years. We now know he wanted to end the speech he delivered on the eve of the start of the Iraq invasion with the words “God Bless,” only to be advised against it by Alastair Campbell.

Other notable figures involved in the invasion of Iraq are also linked to the Knights of Malta, namely Durão Barroso, who went on to become President of the European Commission and later a member of Goldman Sachs. Barroso hosted Tony Blair, George Bush and Jose Maria Aznar in the Azores in March of 2003 in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.

Erik Prince, the founder of the shadowy and now infamous private mercenary firm Blackwater (now rebranded as XE Security), a firm known for its war crimes in Iraq, has also for a long time been accused of belonging to the Knights of Malta.

Rupert Murdoch, a kingpin of the media empire that tends to push a clearly anti-Islamic agenda, spreading Islamophobia at every opportunity and peddling lies that often serve as justification for military aggression against Islamic peoples, is a Knight of the Order of Saint-Gregory, a lesser known Catholic Order.


One will also find that a disproportionately high number of high-ranking officials in the USA’s military structure are either Catholic or have been educated by Jesuits, which is to say, Catholic Universities.

The CIA’s founder, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, was a devout Catholic. Former CIA directors like William Casey, Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta, and its current director, John Brennan, all hail form Jesuit universities.

The most notable of the early CIA directors, Allen Dulles, although officially a Presbyterian, was also allegedly a Knight of Malta. His nephew, Avery Dulles, was a Jesuit priest who was also a professor in the Jesuit’s Fordham University. His predecessor, Walter Badell Smith, was also a Catholic. Three out of the last five CIA directors are Catholic and Jesuit-educated.

The Catholic Herald even has a fascinating article trying to explain “Why Catholics Thrive in the CIA,” admitting that “Some of the most influential directors in CIA history have been Catholic – men such as Walter Bedell Smith, John McCone, William Colby and William Casey.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

They were not just casual Catholics. They were devout Mass-goers – in many cases, members of groups like the Knights of Malta.” It then tries to minimise the Catholic element of the CIA by reassuringly asking whether “their dominance could be weakening?” and by asking why if the Catholics hold so much power over the USA, haven’t there been more Catholics Presidents?

I don’t feel reassured. At all. And neither should anyone preoccupied with “religious extremism.” The fact that the Catholic Church seems to have such a disproportionately high influence and representation within the United States Federal Government’s military and security apparatus should be enough to raise questions over their involvement in religiously-motivated violence.

We even find the symbol of the Roman Empire, the eagle, on many of the logos of the military and “security” institutions of the Federal Government of the United States of America, most notably, the CIA and the NSA.

In fact the USA Federal Government has come to be symbolised by the Eagle as it is the central image in the Great Seal of the United States, which in turn is filled with symbols alluding to the Roman Empire, namely the olive branch, the bundle of arrows and of course, the eagle. Its motto, E Pluribus Unum, usually translated to “from many we make one” or “unity in diversity,” is written in Latin, the official language of the Vatican.

Islamophobia industry

But we also have to start pointing to the disconcerting presence of devout Catholics within the Islamophobia industry. From Stephen Bannon, a devout Catholic whose worldview can be summed up by his belief in the need to wage war on Islam, and who calls the Pope “Your Holiness,” to Milo Yiannopoulis, another Catholic who used to write for the Catholic Herald, and who called for the deportation of all Muslims in the West, it’s hard not to notice the influence of Catholic power structure in spreading Islamophobia.

Whilst Muslims usually solely point at Zionists for spreading Islamophobia, which is certainly partially true, it is perhaps time we also give some time to investigating the Catholic Church’s role in what is increasingly looking like calls for mass deportation or even at times full-on genocide. It is a historical fact that the Catholic Church periodically has engaged, whether it be against Jews, Muslims, or other Christian sects, in bloody warfare with clear intent to exterminate all those expounding different theological views.

We could continue for several paragraphs with other worrying facts such as these. So the question is: with all this evidence, why does no one talk about the role of the Catholic Church in today’s wars? Why do we not speak of their universities as “centres for religious indoctrination and radicalisation?” Why is their disproportionately high representation in the USA’s military machine not discussed more often?

What makes Catholic extremism and violence most preoccupying is that unlike most of the “Islamic terrorism” we witness, it is not limited to non-State actors. The Catholic Church has immense influence over some of the most powerful State apparatuses in the world. And in indeed a structure like that of the CIA, which has been at the centre of some of the most vile acts of violence, torture, subversion and sabotage we have witnessed over the last decades, is indeed under the ideological influence of the Catholic Church, why does virtually no one talk about it?

If a structure with such a nefarious past, and which today also holds one of the most intricate and invasive espionage structures mankind has ever seen, should it not feature high up on our list of religious extremists?

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