While not necessarily an outspoken critic of Francis, Tim Busch has long been known as a central figure in more established circles of conservative U.S. Catholicism — circles that have become increasingly resistant to Francis’ message.
The founder and CEO of the Pacific Hospitality Group, a hotel and resort company, Busch endowed the Catholic University of America’s business school with the largest donation in the history of the school, and he recently said that “the capitalist culture is consistent with the virtues of Catholicism.”
A prominent conservative philanthropist who once sat on EWTN’s governing board, Busch also is the co-founder of the Napa Institute, an organization whose website say it is “empowering Catholic leaders to renew the church and transform the culture.” In practice, the institute hosts conferences that bring together Republican politicians such as former Attorney William Barr and former Vice President Mike Pence with business leaders and Catholic Church officials. In the past, Busch has defended its mission, saying it is not “some sort of master plot to overthrow the papacy.”
He has been tied to Viganò, particularly a public letter the archbishop published in 2018 claiming Vatican officials helped cover up accusations that disgraced American prelate Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians. Viganò argued Francis knew about the allegations years before they were made public, although a 2020 Vatican investigation on the matter was seen to absolve Francis of blame. The New York Times reported at the time that Busch consulted with Viganò on the letter before its publication in an EWTN-owned outlet, a charge Busch has repeatedly denied (the Times stands by its reporting).
Michael Voris, the founder and president of Church Militant, a Catholic media outlet that has been accused of racism and homophobia, also anchors “The Michael Voris Show,” a web-based video that accused the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for profiting from human trafficking (a critique of the bishops’ helping migrants at the border) and generally “destroying America by promoting Marxist communism.”
Voris has aligned with right-wing political figures such as Bannon and Milo Yiannopoulos, a sometime ally of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has also attacked the pope. In 2021, Voris invited Bannon and Yiannopoulos to speak at a protest against the USCCB’s fall meeting in Baltimore, prompting an unsuccessful lawsuit from city officials, who feared the protest would incite violence.
At the far right end of the Catholic spectrum is Fuentes, a young Catholic influencer known for espousing Christian nationalist, antisemitic and white supremacist views. He heads America First, a movement primarily populated by young men and whose attire was by rioters spotted on the Senate floor during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. While Fuentes is regarded as an extremist outsider, he has found political boosters in U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, and Greene, who have spoken at America First gatherings. (Greene later distanced herself from the organization.)
Fuentes, who has called for “Catholic Taliban rule in America,” made his biggest splash when he dined last year with former President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago in the company of Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.
This article originally appeared here.