Vatican-reviewed magazine accuses Catholics of ‘hate’ for supporting Trump

Vatican-reviewed magazine accuses Catholics of ‘hate’ for supporting Trump

Pete Baklinski

ROME, July 13, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Conservative Catholics in the United States have formed an “ecumenism of hate” with Evangelical Protestants in their united support for President Trump and his policies, claimed an Italian Jesuit magazine that is reviewed by the Vatican prior to publication.

The article published July 13 in La Civiltà Cattolica claims that some U.S. Catholic conservatives have built ties with fundamentalist Evangelicals for political purposes that evince “enormous differences” with Pope Francis.

“Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists brought together by the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere,” the article states.

“Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned.”

“There is a well-defined world of ecumenical convergence between sectors that are paradoxically competitors when it comes to confessional belonging. This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values. Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state,” it adds.

The authors of the report are two of Pope Francis’ close confidantes, editor-in-chief Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, an Argentine Presbyterian pastor who leads his country’s edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Spadaro and Figueroa state that the “most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism” is an “xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations.”

“The word ‘ecumenism’ transforms into a paradox, into an ‘ecumenism of hate,’ the writers state.

“Clearly there is an enormous difference between these concepts and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis with various Christian bodies and other religious confessions. His is an ecumenism that moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges,” the writers add.

The writers specifically name the U.S. Catholic news service Church Militant run by Michael Voris as an example of what they call a “warlike and militant approach” of forcing theology into politics.

“Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church. Spirituality cannot tie itself to governments or military pacts for it is at the service of all men and women. Religions cannot consider some people as sworn enemies nor others as eternal friends. Religion should not become the guarantor of the dominant classes. Yet it is this very dynamic with a spurious theological flavor that tries to impose its own law and logic in the political sphere,” they write.

The traditionalist Catholic blog Rorate Caeli called the article “unprecedented” in its “overreach” [see comment below].

“Due to its unprecedented nature, and the direct attack it makes on the United States, its current administration (including President Trump and Steve Bannon, one of the President’s highest advisors), American Evangelicals, Conservative Catholics in the United States (and Europe and Africa, concerned with the rise of Islamism), and even on a specific website and person (Church Militant and Michael Voris), the article’s overreach is nothing if not breathtaking,” the blog stated.

Wall Street Journal Vatican correspondent Francis Rocca said that it’s “unlikely” that the authors would have written the article without the Pope’s “approval, presumed or explicit.”

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16 comments on “Vatican-reviewed magazine accuses Catholics of ‘hate’ for supporting Trump

  1. The Anti-American Pope – two of Francis’ closest confidantes attack US, American conservatives in Pope’s own journal

    Posted by New Catholic at 7/13/2017

    The article was written in La Civiltà Cattolica, the journal considered the official voice of the Vatican, and its diplomatic department (the Secretariat of State), and authored by two of the Pope’s own closest confidantes, Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ (the editor) and Argentine Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa (shockingly, the editor of the Spanish-language edition of the journal).

    Due to its unprecedented nature, and the direct attack it makes on the United States, its current administration (including President Trump and Steve Bannon, one of the President’s highest advisors), American Evangelicals, Conservative Catholics in the United States (and Europe and Africa, concerned with the rise of Islamism), and even on a specific website and person (Church Militant and Michael Voris), the article’s overreach is nothing if not breathtaking.

    The Civiltà site is down at the moment, so before any item is changed, this is what was originally published:

    ***

    Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism

    [By] Antonio Spadaro S.J., Editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica
    [and] Marcelo Figueroa, Presbyterian pastor, Editor-in-chief of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano

    In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto. It appeared for the first time on a coin in 1864 but did not become official until Congress passed a motion in 1956. A motto is important for a nation whose foundation was rooted in religious motivations. For many it is a simple declaration of faith. For others, it is the synthesis of a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy.

    Religion, political Manichaeism and a cult of the apocalypse

    Religion has had a more incisive role in electoral processes and government decisions over recent decades, especially in some US governments. It offers a moral role for identifying what is good and what is bad.

    At times this mingling of politics, morals and religion has taken on a Manichaean language that divides reality between absolute Good and absolute Evil. In fact, after President George W. Bush spoke in his day about challenging the “axis of evil” and stated it was the USA’s duty to “free the world from evil” following the events of September 11, 2001. Today President Trump steers the fight against a wider, generic collective entity of the “bad” or even the “very bad.” Sometimes the tones used by his supporters in some campaigns take on meanings that we could define as “epic.”

    These stances are based on Christian-Evangelical fundamentalist principles dating from the beginning of the 20th Century that have been gradually radicalized. These have moved on from a rejection of all that is mundane – as politics was considered – to bringing a strong and determined religious-moral influence to bear on democratic processes and their results.

    The term “evangelical fundamentalist” can today be assimilated to the “evangelical right” or “theoconservatism” and has its origins in the years 1910-1915. In that period a South Californian millionaire, Lyman Stewart, published the 12-volume work The Fundamentals. The author wanted to respond to the threat of modernist ideas of the time. He summarized the thought of authors whose doctrinal support he appreciated. He exemplified the moral, social, collective and individual aspects of the evangelical faith. His admirers include many politicians and even two recent presidents: Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

    The social-religious groups inspired by authors such as Stewart consider the United States to be a nation blessed by God. And they do not hesitate to base the economic growth of the country on a literal adherence to the Bible. Over more recent years this current of thought has been fed by the stigmatization of enemies who are often “demonized.”

    The panorama of threats to their understanding of the American way of life have included modernist spirits, the black civil rights movement, the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements and so on. And now in our day there are the migrants and the Muslims. To maintain conflict levels, their biblical exegeses have evolved toward a decontextualized reading of the Old Testament texts about the conquering and defense of the “promised land,” rather than be guided by the incisive look, full of love, of Jesus in the Gospels.

    Within this narrative, whatever pushes toward conflict is not off limits. It does not take into account the bond between capital and profits and arms sales. Quite the opposite, often war itself is assimilated to the heroic conquests of the “Lord of Hosts” of Gideon and David. In this Manichaean vision, belligerence can acquire a theological justification and there are pastors who seek a biblical foundation for it, using the scriptural texts out of context.

    Another interesting aspect is the relationship with creation of these religious groups that are composed mainly of whites from the deep American South. There is a sort of “anesthetic” with regard to ecological disasters and problems generated by climate change. They profess “dominionism” and consider ecologists as people who are against the Christian faith. They place their own roots in a literalist understanding of the creation narratives of the book of Genesis that put humanity in a position of “dominion” over creation, while creation remains subject to human will in biblical submission.

    In this theological vision, natural disasters, dramatic climate change and the global ecological crisis are not only not perceived as an alarm that should lead them to reconsider their dogmas, but they are seen as the complete opposite: signs that confirm their non-allegorical understanding of the final figures of the Book of Revelation and their apocalyptic hope in a “new heaven and a new earth.”

    Theirs is a prophetic formula: fight the threats to American Christian values and prepare for the imminent justice of an Armageddon, a final showdown between Good and Evil, between God and Satan. In this sense, every process (be it of peace, dialogue, etc.) collapses before the needs of the end, the final battle against the enemy. And the community of believers (faith) becomes a community of combatants (fight). Such a unidirectional reading of the biblical texts can anesthetize consciences or actively support the most atrocious and dramatic portrayals of a world that is living beyond the frontiers of its own “promised land.”

    Pastor Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001) is the father of so-called “Christian reconstructionism” (or “dominionist theology”) that had a great influence on the theopolitical vision of Christian fundamentalism. This is the doctrine that feeds political organizations and networks such as the Council for National Policy and the thoughts of their exponents such as Steve Bannon, currently chief strategist at the White House and supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics.[1]

    “The first thing we have to do is give a voice to our Churches,” some say. The real meaning of this type of expression is the desire for some influence in the political and parliamentary sphere and in the juridical and educational areas so that public norms can be subjected to religious morals.

    Rushdoony’s doctrine maintains a theocratic necessity: submit the state to the Bible with a logic that is no different from the one that inspires Islamic fundamentalism. At heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world-views of jihadists and the new crusaders and is imbibed from wells that are not too far apart. We must not forget that the theopolitics spread by Isis is based on the same cult of an apocalypse that needs to be brought about as soon as possible. So, it is not just accidental that George W. Bush was seen as a “great crusader” by Osama bin Laden.

    Theology of prosperity and the rhetoric of religious liberty

    Together with political Manichaeism, another relevant phenomenon is the passage from original puritan pietism, as expressed in Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, to the “Theology of Prosperity” that is mainly proposed in the media and by millionaire pastors and missionary organizations with strong religious, social and political influence. They proclaim a “Prosperity Gospel” for they believe God desires his followers to be physically healthy, materially rich and personally happy.

    It is easy to note how some messages of the electoral campaign and their semiotics are full of references to evangelical fundamentalism. For example, we see political leaders appearing triumphant with a Bible in their hands.

    Pastor Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) is an important figure who inspired US Presidents such as Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. He officiated at the first wedding of the current president and the funeral of his parents. He was a successful preacher. He sold millions of copies of his book The Power of Positive Thinking (1952) that is full of phrases such as “If you believe in something, you get it”, “Nothing will stop you if you keep repeating: God is with me, who is against me” or “Keep in mind your vision of success and success will come” and so on. Many prosperity prosperous televangelists mix marketing, strategic direction and preaching, concentrating more on personal success than on salvation or eternal life.

    A third element, together with Manichaeism and the prosperity gospel, is a particular form of proclamation of the defense of “religious liberty.” The erosion of religious liberty is clearly a grave threat within a spreading secularism. But we must avoid its defense coming in the fundamentalist terms of a “religion in total freedom,” perceived as a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state.

    Fundamentalist ecumenism

    Appealing to the values of fundamentalism, a strange form of surprising ecumenism is developing between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists brought together by the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere.

    Some who profess themselves to be Catholic express themselves in ways that until recently were unknown in their tradition and using tones much closer to Evangelicals. They are defined as value voters as far as attracting electoral mass support is concerned. There is a well-defined world of ecumenical convergence between sectors that are paradoxically competitors when it comes to confessional belonging. This meeting over shared objectives happens around such themes as abortion, same-sex marriage, religious education in schools and other matters generally considered moral or tied to values. Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.

    However, the most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations. The word “ecumenism” transforms into a paradox, into an “ecumenism of hate.” Intolerance is a celestial mark of purism. Reductionism is the exegetical methodology. Ultra-literalism is its hermeneutical key.

    Clearly there is an enormous difference between these concepts and the ecumenism employed by Pope Francis with various Christian bodies and other religious confessions. His is an ecumenism that moves under the urge of inclusion, peace, encounter and bridges. This presence of opposing ecumenisms – and their contrasting perceptions of the faith and visions of the world where religions have irreconcilable roles – is perhaps the least known and most dramatic aspect of the spread of Integralist fundamentalism. Here we can understand why the pontiff is so committed to working against “walls” and any kind of “war of religion.”

    The temptation of “spiritual war”

    The religious element should never be confused with the political one. Confusing spiritual power with temporal power means subjecting one to the other. An evident aspect of Pope Francis’ geopolitics rests in not giving theological room to the power to impose oneself or to find an internal or external enemy to fight. There is a need to flee the temptation to project divinity on political power that then uses it for its own ends. Francis empties from within the narrative of sectarian millenarianism and dominionism that is preparing the apocalypse and the “final clash.”[2]
    Underlining mercy as a fundamental attribute of God expresses this radically Christian need.

    Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church. Spirituality cannot tie itself to governments or military pacts for it is at the service of all men and women. Religions cannot consider some people as sworn enemies nor others as eternal friends. Religion should not become the guarantor of the dominant classes. Yet it is this very dynamic with a spurious theological flavor that tries to impose its own law and logic in the political sphere.

    There is a shocking rhetoric used, for example, by the writers of Church Militant, a successful US-based digital platform that is openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses Christian symbols to impose itself. This abuse is called “authentic Christianity.” And to show its own preferences, it has created a close analogy between Donald Trump and Emperor Constantine, and between Hilary Clinton and Diocletian. The American elections in this perspective were seen as a “spiritual war.”[3]

    This warlike and militant approach seems most attractive and evocative to a certain public, especially given that the victory of Constantine – it was presumed impossible for him to beat Maxentius and the Roman establishment – had to be attributed to a divine intervention: in hoc signo vinces.

    Church Militant asks if Trump’s victory can be attributed to the prayers of Americans. The response suggested is affirmative. The indirect missioning for President Trump is clear: he has to follow through on the consequences. This is a very direct message that then wants to condition the presidency by framing it as a divine election. In hoc signo vinces. Indeed.

    Today, more than ever, power needs to be removed from its faded confessional dress, from its armor, its rusty breastplate. The fundamentalist theopolitical plan is to set up a kingdom of the divinity here and now. And that divinity is obviously the projection of the power that has been built. This vision generates the ideology of conquest.

    The theopolitical plan that is truly Christian would be eschatological, that is it applies to the future and orients current history toward the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace. This vision generates a process of integration that unfolds with a diplomacy that crowns no one as a “man of Providence.”
    And this is why the diplomacy of the Holy See wants to establish direct and fluid relations with the superpowers, without entering into pre-constituted networks of alliances and influence. In this sphere, the pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the root of conflicts there is always a fight for power. So, there is no need to imagine a taking of sides for moral reasons, much worse for spiritual ones.

    Francis radically rejects the idea of activating a Kingdom of God on earth as was at the basis of the Holy Roman Empire and similar political and institutional forms, including at the level of a “party.” Understood this way, the “elected people” would enter a complicated political and religious web that would make them forget they are at the service of the world, placing them in opposition to those who are different, those who do not belong, that is the “enemy.”

    So, then the Christian roots of a people are never to be understood in an ethnic way. The notions of roots and identity do not have the same content for a Catholic as for a neo-Pagan. Triumphalist, arrogant and vindictive ethnicism is actually the opposite of Christianity. The pope on May 9 in an interview with the French dailyLa Croix, said: “Yes Europe has Christian roots. Christianity has the duty of watering them, but in a spirit of service as in the washing of feet. The duty of Christianity for Europe is that of service.” And again: “The contribution of Christianity to a culture is that of Christ washing the feet, or the service and the gift of life. There is no room for colonialism.”

    Against fear

    Which feeling underlies the persuasive temptation for a spurious alliance between politics and religious fundamentalism? It is fear of the breakup of a constructed order and the fear of chaos. Indeed, it functions that way thanks to the chaos perceived. The political strategy for success becomes that of raising the tones of the conflictual, exaggerating disorder, agitating the souls of the people by painting worrying scenarios beyond any realism.

    Religion at this point becomes a guarantor of order and a political part would incarnate its needs. The appeal to the apocalypse justifies the power desired by a god or colluded in with a god. And fundamentalism thereby shows itself not to be the product of a religious experience but a poor and abusive perversion of it.

    This is why Francis is carrying forward a systematic counter-narration with respect to the narrative of fear. There is a need to fight against the manipulation of this season of anxiety and insecurity. Again, Francis is courageous here and gives no theological-political legitimacy to terrorists, avoiding any reduction of Islam to Islamic terrorism. Nor does he give it to those who postulate and want a “holy war” or to build barrier-fences crowned with barbed wire. The only crown that counts for the Christian is the one with thorns that Christ wore on high.[4]

    FOOTNOTES

    [1] Bannon believes in the apocalyptic vision that William Strauss and Neil Howe theorized in their book The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. See also N. Howe, “Where did Steve Bannon get his worldview? From my book”, in The Washington Post, February 24, 2017.
    [2] See A. Aresu, “Pope Francis against the Apocalypse”, in Macrogeo(www.macrogeo.global/analysis/pope-francis-against-the-apocalypse), June 9, 2017.
    [3] See “Donald ‘Constantine’ Trump? Could Heaven be intervening directly in the election?”, in Church Militant (www.churchmilitant.com/video/episode/vortex-donald-constantine-trump).
    [4] For further reflection see D. J. Fares, “L’antropologia politica di Papa Francesco», in Civ. Catt. 2014 I 345-360; A. Spadaro, “La diplomazia di Francesco. La misericordia come processo politico”, ib 2016 I 209-226; D. J. Fares, “Papa Francesco e la politica”, ib 2016 I 373-385; J. L. Narvaja, “La crisi di ogni politica cristiana. Erich Przywara e l’‘idea di Europa’”, ib 2016 I 437-448; Id., “Il significato della politica internazionale di Francesco”, ib 2017 III 8-15.

  2. … the article’s overreach is nothing if not breathtaking

    Yeah. Voris gets a call-out. Skojec got a call-out, too, on the Mueller thing.

    When does AQ get our call-out from Rome!?

    • Voris and Skojec’s stuff is continual and mostly original. AQ’s (at least mine) while being continual, is not original but mostly copycat (or rather, copy-and-paste).

      • Yeah, but the comments have class!

        • The comments – especially Howl’s (such as his latest ongoing series involving Boris, Natasha et al. – in fact, all of his similar posts) – are in the AQ comments section where they don’t get much notice (for better or worse) and are not picked up by aggregators such as Canon212 and PewSitter, both of which pick up many of our posts. Thus, such items should be posted as posts rather than comments; then AQ might get a dishonorable mention from the NewChurch Vatican.

  3. Vatican Advisor Attacks Church Militant

    Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ accuses this apostolate [i.s., Church Militant] of “shocking rhetoric” and “ultraconservatism”

    by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. • ChurchMilitant • July 13, 2017

    VATICAN CITY – An influential Vatican advisor is slamming Church Militant as belligerent, an apostolate that employs “shocking rhetoric” to allegedly impose a “ultraconservative” political agenda in Catholic dress.

    Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J. is Editor-in-Chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, considered the official voice of the Vatican and whose contents are reviewed and approved by the Vatican Secretary of State before publication. Spadaro is also one of Pope Francis’ closest associates and an influential advisor. In an article titled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism,” published in the current issue of the journal, Spadaro goes on the attack against American conservatives, Evangelicals and President Trump, and laments “Catholic integralists” who allegedly insert politics into their work of saving souls.

    “There is a shocking rhetoric used, for example, by the writers of Church Militant,” Spadaro writes, “a successful US-based digital platform that is openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses Christian symbols to impose itself. This abuse is called ‘authentic Christianity.'”

    Michael Voris, founder of Church Militant, responded. “The hypocrisy of Fr. Spadaro is shocking,” Voris says. “He accuses Church Militant of using theology to advance a political agenda — which isn’t true — while he spends every waking hour using the Vatican and the Church to publicly advance a left-wing agenda.”

    In his article, Spadaro — referring to Michael Voris’ commentary comparing the work of the current president in protecting the Church to that of secular emperor Constantine before his conversion — continues, “And to show its own preferences, it has created a close analogy between Donald Trump and Emperor Constantine, and between Hilary [sic] Clinton and Diocletian. The American elections in this perspective were seen as a ‘spiritual war.'”

    Spadaro goes on:

    This warlike and militant approach seems most attractive and evocative to a certain public, especially given that the victory of Constantine — it was presumed impossible for him to beat Maxentius and the Roman establishment — had to be attributed to a divine intervention: in hoc signo vinces.

    Church Militant asks if Trump’s victory can be attributed to the prayers of Americans. The response suggested is affirmative. The indirect missioning for President Trump is clear: he has to follow through on the consequences. This is a very direct message that then wants to condition the presidency by framing it as a divine election. In hoc signo vinces. Indeed.

    He complains, “This vision generates the ideology of conquest.”

    In spite of the fact that La Civiltà Cattolica is vetted by the Vatican before it goes to press, questionable articles have been published promoting positions contrary to Catholic teaching. In February, Vaticanista Sandro Magister noted the “peculiar” nature of an article promoting the possibility of a female priesthood:

    La Civiltà Cattolica has published an essay by its deputy editor, Father Giancarlo Pani, which seeks to reopen the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood. This journal, published by the Jesuits but vetted by the Vatican Secretariat of State, has long been a means of communicating lines of thought which reigning popes consider important. Therefore, the kindest way to describe this particular article is “peculiar.” It is, in fact, peculiar in at least three serious ways: politically, administratively and theologically.

    Church Militant spoke with Dr. Christopher Manion, who writes for The Wanderer, and offered his reaction to Spadaro’s current piece.

    “Spadaro conjures up a curious mélange of American factoids — apparently the result of a desperate Google search — and patches them together to condemn American Catholics, Evangelicals, and other believers as the personification of evil itself — when in fact they actually recognize sin,” Manion remarked.

    “Spadaro notices that these faithful Christians believe that Satan is at war with the Church, hungry to devour as many souls as possible,” Manion continues. “How violent! Spadaro dismisses this ‘combative’ pose with the same insouciant wave of the limp wrist that he dismisses the reality of sin itself.”

    “Rest assured, however lame and uncharitable Spadaro’s attack might be, it will undoubtedly be required reading in ‘social justice’ classes in Jesuit universities throughout the country this fall,” Manion concluded.

    And in comments to Church Militant, Michael Hichborn of the Lepanto Institute said:

    Father Spadaro, often described as Pope Francis’ “mouthpiece,” is an open critic of Tradition and orthodoxy. It was Fr. Spadaro who wrote a post on Twitter referring to the four Cardinal signers of the dubia as “witless worms.” He then created a fake Twitter account to continue his attack on the four Cardinals anonymously. Father Spadaro was also the one who infamously claimed that Catholic theology is not mathematics because, according to him, in theology, sometimes 2+2=5. If Catholic priests are called to be lights unto the world, Fr. Spadaro’s personal disposition to the Truth has made him about as relevant as a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt.

    Voris observes, “Father Spadaro occupies an important position with neither the wit nor intelligence to fill his position well. His article is poorly reasoned and incompetently written.”

    “Both the Church and Pope Francis are badly served by him,” Voris adds.

  4. Straw Man. Those who voted for Trump did so for different reasons. Primarily, if the pro-abortion Communist and Illuminati candidate (Hillary) had won the presidency all of civilization would be facing destruction and there would be nowhere safe for Christians to flee to for refuge from such anti-Christian policies. Terrorism is a real danger which Trump did not invent. There is no Gospel mandate for the kind of open borders currently destabilizing European countries and subjecting their inhabitants to rape and terror.

    In the election between Trump and the anti-child Hillary harpy, there was only one moral and defensible choice – to vote against her and her anti-Christian totalitarian policies. Trump’s Supreme Court selection makes the case for that very clear. Catholic leaders should be defending Christian civilization and Christian culture and not enabling the anti-Christian multiculturalism and political correctness which will end civilization in France, Germany, Sweden, and wherever else it is imposed by the anti-Christian Illuminati and globalist elites hell-bent on destroying Christianity and Western culture for their godless agenda.

  5. An ignorant, intemperate Vatican assault on American conservatism

    By Phil Lawler | Jul 13, 2017

    With a text harsh denunciation of American conservatism, published in the semi-official Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, the Vatican has plunged headlong into a partisan debate in a society that it clearly does not understand, potentially alienating (or should I say, further alienating) the Americans most inclined to favor the influence of the Church.

    Why? Why this bitter attack on the natural allies of traditional Catholic teachings? Is it because the most influential figures at the Vatican today actually want to move away from those traditional teachings, and form a new alliance with modernity?

    The authors of the essay claim to embrace ecumenism, but they have nothing but disdain for the coalition formed by Catholics and Evangelical Protestants in the United States. They scold American conservatives for seeing world events as a struggle of good against evil, yet they clearly convey the impression that they see American conservativism as an evil influence that must be defeated.

    While they are quick to pronounce judgment on American politicians, the two authors betray an appalling ignorance of the American scene. The authors toss Presidents Nixon (a Quaker), Reagan, Bush, and Trump into the same religious classification, suggesting that they were all motivated by “fundamentalist” principles. An ordinary American, reading this account, would be surprised to see the authors’ preoccupation with the late Rev. Rousas Rushdoony and the Church Militant web site: hardly major figures in the formation of American public opinion. The essay is written from the perspective of people who draw their information about America from left-wing journals rather than from practical experience.

    The central thesis of the Civilta Cattolica essay is that American conservatives have developed an ideology, based on fundamentalist Protestant beliefs, that sees the US as morally righteous, with other people as enemies and thus justifies conflict and exploitation. Again and again the authors describe this attitude as “Manichean;” they insist on the need to “fight against” it. They insist on tolerance, but they have no tolerance for this attitude. Nowhere in the essay does one find a suggestion of the attitude, made popular by Pope Francis, that the Church should “accompany” sinners. No; the sins of American conservatism are unforgivable.

    “Triumphalist, arrogant and vindictive ethnicism is actually the opposite of Christianity,” the authors tell us. So this is a heresy, then—the “Manichean” references were purposeful—and it must be condemned? The Vatican today lauds Martin Luther for his desire to reform the faith, but denounces Evangelical Protestants for—for what, exactly? The Civilta Cattolica essay speaks—in typically incendiary terms—of an “ecumenism of hate.” But it is not obvious, frankly, who hates whom.

    As the author round to their conclusion, they tell us that Pope Francis “wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution, and Church.” So the Pontiff intends to detach the Church entirely from public issues, even when moral principles are involved? Yes, the authors reply; in the realm of political affairs, “the Pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the roof of conflicts there is always a fight for power.” So, for fear of becoming mired in a power struggle, should the Church step aside, eschewing involvement in moral debates—and, more than that, condemn those who do frame public issues in moral terms?

    The ignorance and intemperance of the Civilta Cattolica essay are doubly troublesome because the authors are so close to Pope Francis. Journalists often overstate the influence of Vatican officials, identifying mid-level staff members as “key advisers” to the Roman Pontiff. Unfortunately the two authors of this essay really are among the closest advisers to Pope Francis. Father Antonio Spadaro, the editor of Civilta Cattolica, is a regular visitor to the Pope’s office in the St. Martha residence, described by one seasoned Vatican-watcher as the “mouthpiece of Pope Francis.” Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian minister who was friendly with then-Cardinal Bergoglio in Argentina, who was hand-picked by the Pontiff to launch a new Argentinean edition of the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. And speaking of official publications, the Spadaro-Figueroa essay appeared in Civilta Cattolica, whose contents are cleared before publication by the Vatican Secretariat of State. It is not unreasonable, then, to assume that this essay reflects the Pope’s own thinking. That is frightening.

    • A partisan vision at the Vatican? Further thoughts on that Civilta Cattolica essay

      By Phil Lawler | Jul 19, 2017

      A week after the appearance of the Spadaro-Figueroa rant against American conservatives, I am still shaking my head with disbelief, wondering how a semi-official Vatican journal could have published such a harshly partisan and grossly misinformed analysis of American politics. I am not alone.

      Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia was characteristically polite but firm in his critique, describing the already infamous Civilta Cattolica essay as “an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.” Archbishop Chaput—who has been a prime mover in Catholic-Evangelical cooperation, and thus implicitly a target of the Spadaro-Figueroa diatribe—pointed out the absurdity of the suggestion that American Baptists in particular are working toward a theocratic regime, noting that “the whole idea of Baptist faith cuts against the integration of Church and state.”

      And what’s wrong with ecumenical cooperation in the public sphere? Archbishop Chaput remarks:

      The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power.

      Ordinarily one might think of Father Spadaro (“the mouthpiece of Pope Francis”) as a champion of dialogue in general and ecumenical dialogue in particular. But not here. Rather than reaching out to reassure the readers who were appalled by the essay, he doubled down, as it his wont. On his Twitter account he cited the angry reaction as a demonstration of the essay’s accuracy: “The reaction of the ‘haters’ seems a clear sign that our article is telling the truth about the ‘ecumenism of hate.’” There is no impulse here toward “accompanying” people who have other ideas; only a willingness to demonize the “haters” who disagree. He charges that American conservatives see their political battles as contests between good and evil, but Father Spadaro seems to adopt that attitude himself.

      By the way, I cannot provide a link to Father Spadaro’s tweet (above) because I—like all those who criticize his views—have been blocked from access to his Twitter account. Dialogue, anyone?)

      Before moving on to another subject—and I hope to a more rational argument—let me make two final points about the Civilta Cattolica essay: one minor, the other more important:

      In the essay, Spadaro and Figueroa refer to the “value voter” bloc in America. A friend in Rome called attention to a detail that I had not noticed when I read the essay. In the US, it is invariably described as the “valueS voter” bloc; no one ordinarily uses the singular. Or almost no one. When my sharp-eyed friend searched the Web for uses of the singular “value voter,” he turned up a list of references in left-wing publications. Maybe the authors of the Civilta essay intended to use the plural, and I’m making too much of a simple typo. But it’s a coincidence, at least, that the term, unfamiliar to American ears, turns out to be favored by left-wing pundits in America and papal advisers in Rome.

      But now let me turn my attention to the phrase that I found most curious in the piece: the claim that in international conflicts “the Pope does not want to say who is right or who is wrong for he knows that at the root of conflicts there is always a fight for power.” There is an element of truth, certainly, in the observation that every international conflict involves a struggle for power. However:

      ~At the outset, notice how bizarre it is to hear that the Pope “does not want to say who is right or who is wrong.” Ordinarily don’t we think of that as part of the job description for a Roman Pontiff: to help us distinguish between right and wrong?

      ~Sometimes a fight for power does involve a contest between right and wrong. St. John Paul II perceived a worldwide battle between the “culture of life” and the “culture of death.” The Church should not shrink from that battle.

      ~Moreover Pope Francis has been quite clear in his statements on what he considers right and wrong on issues such as immigration, the environment, and arms trafficking. The claim made by Spadaro and Figueroa seems demonstrably inaccurate.

      ~But maybe the authors mean that the Pope is reluctant to take sides on specific sorts of issues: military conflicts (as in Syria) or political conflicts (as in Venezuela). Fair enough. Prudence dictates that the Vatican should always be cautious about statements that could be interpreted as advocacy for a partisan political viewpoint. Which is why the Civilta essay should never have been written.

      • Pope Francis had no problem asserting who was right and who was wrong when he bloviated about climate change and air conditioning, or about it being better to build bridges than walls, or on the need for the E.U. to increase its political influence. With all of the fresh air of the modern world blowing the Spirit of Vatican II around, It seems that jesuitical hair splitting at La Civiltà Cattolica takes some effort these days.

      • I’m right; you’re wrong: the Spadaro-Figueroa approach

        By Phil Lawler | Jul 20, 2017

        Marcelo Figueroa—the co-author, with Father Antonio Spadaro, of that astonishing Civilta Cattolica essay—is not dismayed the critique offered by Archbishop Charles Chaput. On the contrary, he tweets: “Esto me confirma que escribimos lo correcto.”

        If you say he’s right, that confirms he’s right.

        If you say he’s wrong, that confirms he’s right, too, because if you disagree with him, that confirms you’re wrong.

        This is called dialogue.

  6. This Civilta Cattolica article is good, free publicity for Church Militant and OnePeterFive.

    It reminds me of the occasion (before the rise of the Internet) when Fatima Crusader Fr. Gruner (R.I.P.) organized a Rome conference which the Vatican did not like and published a notice to that effect in all language editions of L’Osservatore Romano, including the date and place of the conference: Good, free publicity, because if the establishment thinks that it is so bad that they have to publish a widespread notice to that effect, there must be something good about it.

  7. [L’Osservatore Romano parrots the Civilta Cattolica line]

    ‘An ecumenism of hate’

    Catholic World News – July 14, 2017

    In an article entitled “An ecumenism of hate,” the July 14 edition of the Vatican newspaper offered a four-paragraph summary of a Civilta Cattolica essay decrying a “Manichean” strain in American conservatism and a political alliance between Catholics and Evangelical Protestants.

    The Civilta Cattolica essay was written by Father Antonio Spadaro, the journal’s editor, who has been a regular adviser to the Pontiff; and Marcelo Figueroa, the Argentine Presbyterian pastor who was asked by Pope Francis to launch that nation’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

  8. [A veiled criticism of the Civilta Cattolica/Osservatore Romano articles in the form of a defense of the US Catholic-Evangelical alliance? Why not an explicit criticism naming names, as Bill says that he did when the liberal media attacked the Alliance Defense Fund as a “hate group”? Oh, the Catholic League can’t criticize anti-Catholicism from/in “Catholic” sources/institutions – especially “establishment” ones such as the NewVatican!]

    CATHOLIC-EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE IS STRONG

    7/14/17

    Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the Catholic-Evangelical alliance:

    Traditional Catholics and evangelical Christians have much in common, the latest example of which happened yesterday.

    Following an event on July 11th where U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), ABC News, NBC News, and CNN smeared ADF, portraying it as a hate group. I quickly came to the defense of ADF (click here), and just as quickly came words of gratitude from ADF founder Alan Sears and ADF president Michael Farris.

    The Catholic-Evangelical alliance began in the 1980s when Paul Weyrich and Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority. It was formalized in the 1990s when Catholic theologian Father Richard John Neuhaus and evangelical leader Chuck Colson came together to bridge the differences between the two faith communities, focusing on their common interest in defending traditional moral values and religious liberty.

    The alliance was further strengthened when Christian Coalition president Ralph Reed and Family Research Council president Gary Bauer reached across the pew in the 1990s to embrace Catholics.

    The big moment came in 2004 when Catholics such as Deal Hudson and myself found common ground with evangelicals such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. It was values voters who carried the reelection of President George W. Bush in 2004. Today we have evangelicals such as Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. and Rev. Franklin Graham working with Catholics.

    There is much work to be done. Most important, we must push for religious liberty, with a concentration on religious exemptions. We must also fight for the rights of the unborn, as well as the dispossessed, and stand up to those who seek to bully us. We will not be intimidated by anyone.

  9. La Civiltà Cattolica versus Captain America

    [“A plague on both your houses!”; i.e., Modernism and Americanism – in both their paleo- and neo- forms as well as their religious and secular types]

    JUL 14, 2017
    BROTHER ANDRÉ MARIE

    Two collaborators of Pope Francis have written an editorial lambasting America’s religious right in the pages of La Civiltà Cattolica. The editorial, penned by Father Antonio Spadaro S.J. (Civiltà’s editor) and Argentine Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa, is entitled Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism, and can be read in its entirety in English at Rorate Caeli.

    Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica (a Jesuit publication since its inception), is a prominant progressivist ecclesiastic, and is considered a close collaborator of, and even an unofficial spokesman for, Pope Francis. For his part, besides being a Presbyterian pastor, Marcelo Figueroa is, scandalously, the editor of the Argentine edition of the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

    With grandiose subheadings like “Religion, political Manichaeism and a cult of the apocalypse” and “Theology of prosperity and the rhetoric of religious liberty,” the article is a confused hodgepodge of two elements: valid observations concerning America’s false religiosity and modernist drivel, which includes attacks on Biblical inerrancy (“They place their own roots in a literalist understanding of the creation narratives of the book of Genesis that put humanity in a position of “dominion” over creation, while creation remains subject to human will in biblical submission.”)

    Yes, there is a certain religious-political messianism that we Americans love, and this is one thing that is wrong with America. But that messianism, in its secular form, is also shared by unchurched Americans, who have stripped the shining city on a hill of any creed or worship, and decorated it instead with the banners of “liberty” and “spreading our [liberal] way of life.”

    Yes, there is also a Manichean element in America’s political-religious history, with Puritans portraying the evil Injuns as so many Amorites, Moabites, Jebusites, and Amelikites to be cleared away by force in our Christian domination of the new Promised Land. The march from sea to shining sea was indeed full of injustices of this sort, and prominant among those who protested the cruelties to the Indians were the the Catholic missionaries, especially the Jesuits.

    All that is true, and one need not be a “bleeding heart liberal” to see it as true.

    But one of the most destructive things about the current Anglo-American political religiosity is its constant warmongering. This bellicosity largely takes place under the banner of Christian Zionism, a particularly sanguinary ideology responsible for so much of our government’s interventionism in the Middle East. Yet not a word is said about this by Spadaro and Figueroa, presumably for fear of being labeled “anti-semitic” (a canard, to be sure, but an effective one). This omission is a glaring one in an editorial intended to portray the marriage of religion to politics and foreign policy in the U.S.A.

    The worst thing about conservative Catholicism in America (or what most often passes for it) is its indifferentism to the false religions of our countrymen. This indifferentism manifests itself in an uncritical attitude toward, and even a wholehearted agreement with, our globe-trotting messianic militarism. But, even worse than that by far, it reveals itself as religious indifferentism full stop, and many, if not most, self-identifying “conservative” American Catholics consider the false (i.e., non-Catholic) religions of their countrymen to be sufficient for salvation, even if they are not an expression of “the fulness of truth.” That indifferentism is a heresy.

    It should be mentioned that “Integralism,” the name by which the authors label conservative Catholicism, is a word more used in Europe, and is, generally, what progressivists call traditionalists. A traditionalist, especially one who advocates for the social reign of Christ the King, is dismissied by the liberal as an “integralist.”

    Spadaro and Figueroa also go on a bit about Rousas Rushdoony and “Christian Reconstructionism,” which are by no means the most influential trends in the Protestant American religious right, whose members are more influenced by Mega-Church pastors and televangelists who are not Rushdoonians, but who are — to a man — ardent students of the Scofield Bible, but we can’t talk about that.

    Curiously, the authors take direct aim at Michael Voris’ Church Militant, which has since shot back. Despite having common cause with the pro-life, pro-family, etc., elements of American Conservative Protestantism, Voris and his associates are neither USA!-chanting warmongers nor religious indifferentists. In fact, they do an admirable job of trying to spread the Catholic Faith in this country, and trying to wake American Catholics out of their indifferentist lethargy.

    The worldview of Spadaro and Figueroa is not that of America’s Protestant “religious right”; nor is it the worldview of democratic messianism, with its false promises of liberty. No, their worldview is one of progressivist globalism and sheer religious indifferentism — with their own false promises of liberty.

    I would rather not choose either poison. I guess that makes me a despised “integralist.”

  10. Translation from the original Italian: modernist fruitcakes in the Vatican are very worried about conservative Catholics in the U.S. forming a political alliance with anti-gay Protestant fundamentalists and are particularly concerned about the obscure Church Militant’s focus on homo heresy…[disclaimer: no actual American Catholics were consulted before the article went to print]

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