First Things Misses the Mark on the Spadaro-Figueroa Screed

First Things Misses the Mark on the Spadaro-Figueroa Screed

by Christopher A. Ferrara
July 20, 2017

Yesterday’s column [Antonio Spadaro and the Gospel of Conformity] addressed a liberal screed published in the Pope’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano (OR), co-authored by “papal mouthpiece” and close collaborator Antonio Spadaro, SJ and Marcelo Figueroa, a longtime Protestant friend of Pope Bergoglio’s whom he made editor of the Argentine edition of OR.

The piece has understandably provoked fierce criticism even among “mainstream” Catholic commentators, who rightly note that Spadaro-Figueroa have produced a meandering, pseudo-intellectual jumble of liberal clichés. One such commentator is P.J. Smith, writing in First Things. Smith does a good job of exposing the two authors’ rejection of the Church’s constant teaching on the necessary organic connection between Church and State, religious truth and political life, and against the errors of modern “liberty,” which have severed the State from the Church as its conscience and very soul, leading to the moral and spiritual death throes of the body politic we are now witnessing.

As Smith points out, when Spadaro and Figueroa deride “Catholic integralism” — an empty epithet which, in the manner of all demagogues, they never define — they reveal only that they:

“are squarely against the Church’s tradition. They apparently intend to deny the integralist doctrines contained in Leo XIII’s Libertas praestantissimum, Immortale Dei, and Diuturnum illud, to say nothing of St. Pius X’s Fin dalla prima nostra and Notre charge apostolique….

“They also apparently intend generally to deny the condemnations of liberalism contained in Gregory XVI’s Mirari vos and Bl. Pius IX’s Quanta cura and Syllabus. No doubt they see in the Second Vatican Council, particularly Gaudium et spes, Dignitatis humanae, Nostra aetate, and Unitatis redintegratio, the rejection of such tedious anti-liberal doctrines….”

So far, so good. But Smith stumbles badly when he attempts to put distance between Pope Bergoglio and the two authors of the piece, who are, after all, his close friends and collaborators, writing in his own semi-official newspaper. Most implausibly, Smith insists that Spadaro and Figueroa are wrong when they assert that while “fundamentalists and integralists want to unite the spiritual power and the temporal power, Francis wants to erect a wall of separation between the two.”

Sorry, but that won’t fly. For it is none other than Pope Bergoglio who flatly declares: “States must be secular. Confessional states end badly. That goes against the grain of History. I believe that a version of laicity accompanied by a solid law guaranteeing religious freedom offers a framework for going forward.”

In other words, the separation of Church and State is mandatory, according to Pope Bergoglio. As for the “solid law guaranteeing religious freedom” he posits, the modern regime of “religious liberty” guarantees the freedom of any and all religions, including those whose very mission is to oppose the Catholic Church and negate her teaching on faith and morals, above all Islam. The resulting religious fragmentation of the modern state system, even in overwhelmingly Catholic countries, is precisely why it is morally and spiritually falling to pieces.

Smith gamely asserts that Spadaro and Figueroa are wrong to aver that Francis “wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church”. His search for proof texts in the Bergoglian manifestos, however, produces scanty results: a few stray phrases that hardly constitute a ringing endorsement of anything like the Christian commonwealth that both he and the two authors have emphatically rejected. Pope Bergoglio, says Smith, has declared in Evangelii gaudium that “the whole is greater than the parts,” whereas in Laudato si’ he observes that “the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality,” and thus he calls for “a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge … in the service of a more integral and integrating vision.”

That’s it? Indeed, it is: a mere vague appeal to a new humanism that integrates knowledge according to some ill-defined “vision” that has nothing to do with the Catholic faith as the unifying matrix of social order and the Church as the conscience and soul of the State. One will search in vain through the mountain of verbiage Pope Bergoglio has produced for any sign that he accepts the very teaching Spadaro and Figueroa reject as “Catholic intregralism.” Every indication is to the contrary. For example, Evangelii Gaudium’s infamous condemnation of “the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism…” And so on and so forth, over the past four years of nearly daily denunciations of tradition-minded Catholics — something absolutely without precedent in Church history.

Sorry, Mr. Smith, but Spadaro, Figueroa and Bergoglio are three peas in a pod. That is why they are friends and collaborators at the highest level of the Church. And that is why the Church has reached what must be the final stage of the worst crisis in her long history — a crisis from which the Mother of God will ultimately rescue the Church through Her most powerful intercession. Just as She promised at Fatima.

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4 comments on “First Things Misses the Mark on the Spadaro-Figueroa Screed

  1. With one possible exception: Bergoglia’s Ultamontane extension of papal authority to air conditioning. He’s an eco-socialist theocrat on climate change and global warming.

  2. Just wanted to point out a little typo in your post, Howl.
    “BergogliA” should be…
    Oh, wait…never mind.
    Nobody who surrounds himself with fags, and appoints them to the highest offices, can be considered masculine.
    Don’t be scandalized, folks. Remember, it is precisely out of respect for the *office* that one must DISrespect the *person* who is unworthy of the office. If you don’t disrespect the unworthy person, it has to mean that you have more respect for the person than the office. Government deals with the common good, not individual persons.

    “He’s an eco-socialist theocrat on climate change”
    Good point…which helps to illustrate the farcical lie that Francis is trying to make a wall of separation between Church and state.
    Any “solid law guaranteeing religious freedom” is a solid law guaranteeing secular agnosticism.

    Because the moment you say that the state has no religion, you have said that the state is agnostic — and agnosticism is a religion (albeit cleverly hidden).
    How does that work?
    1) Religion is defined as that belief, or system of beliefs, which states what is man’s ultimate reason for existing (and usually also how to attain that goal).
    2) Agnosticism states that man cannot know his ultimate reason for existing. But man cannot live without a reason for living.
    3) And so, by default, agnosticism means that man simply lives for the moment, that is, the saeculum, that is, this earthly time.
    4) And so agnosticism really does propose an ultimate goal for man, and is hence a religion.

    That is why…
    SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE IS A METAPHYSICAL IMPOSSIBILITY.

    So people just need to stop talking about it. There is no such thing. Never has been. Never will be.
    Just get over it, and make up your mind:
    WHICH religion will the state profess?

    • Bergoglio, yes. It probably started out as Bergoglian Ultramontanism and the Bergogliology got interrupted. A senior moment. Computer keyboards speed up the writing process in the Gutenberg Galaxy but not editing for those of us about to approach the memento mori zone. At least we no longer have to change the typewriter ribbon, there is no ink to dry, and italicizing Latin is easier.

      Marshall McLuhan, call your office…

  3. The hysteria and shrill tone of the emotional and paranoid reaction in the modernist article in La Civiltà Cattolica and its complaints about a Catholic political alliance with Evangelical Protestants would seem to indicate a personal issue. The hysteria might be less about Trump than other Evangelical Protestant issues, such as the Kentucky court clerk’s position on marriage controversies. Suggesting an alliance with the secular Left as preferable (for progressive modernists) was also revealing.

    How many American conservative Catholics were consulted before the article went to print? Anyone want to guess? Whatever happened to the imprimatur and nihil obstat process of the Censor Librorum. ‘Memba them?


    There are problems with Protestant theology, but U.S. politics which operates on expediency and lesser evils is not the best place for advanced analysis of such issues. There could be an interesting debate about all of these topics, including the debates over David Schindler and Father John Courtney Murray, S.J., The Naked Public Square by Richard Neuhaus, problems with modernism and Americanism, the errors of the Enlightenment, what will happen if the Catholic faith is not taught at Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S., etc. Cardinal Bellarmine and Edward the Confessor were not running against Hillary this time. A thrice-married Presbyterian real estate tycoon from Queens was. That may present certain difficulties and might reveal certain deficiencies of modern American culture, but that was the situation. Political culture is not always pretty.

    They are going to have serious problems expecting Catholic tidiness in U.S. politics as long as Catholic identity and Catholic teachings are suppressed at Catholic colleges and universities.

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