An official Vatican publication has condemned Catholic conservatives in America for participating with evangelicals in an “ecumenism of hate.”
The article, “Evangelical Fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists: A Surprising Ecumenism,” was published in the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica. Its authors are Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest, and Marcelo Figueroa, the editor of the Argentinian edition of the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. An article on the controversy describes both as “close associates” of the Argentinian Jesuit Pope Francis.
The article is a mashup of Trump derangement syndrome, stereotypes of American “fundamentalism,” and alarmism over R. J. Rushdoony’s “theocratic” theories. It accuses American evangelicals of a “Manichean” division of the world between good and evil. (You can’t find such a division in Catholicism? Or in leftist political rhetoric? Or in this article?)
But its main emphasis is blasting American Catholics for allying with these heretics in their political conservatism. (Catholics, of course, have been leading the American conservative movement ever since William F. Buckley and before, suggesting that this is not simply a Protestant plot.)
The authors charge this Protestant/Catholic cabal of supporting capitalism and denying the dogma of global warming, violating beliefs that have apparently attained doctrinal status among liberal Catholics.
The “ecumenism of hate” refers to alleged antagonism against Muslims and immigrants. “Hatred” refers to an internal emotion, which the left insists is the real motivation, not even considering the possibility of any objective concerns about radical Islam and illegal immigration.
Of course, the left uses accusations of “hate” against anyone who opposes same-sex marriage, has moral objections to the sexual revolution, and who questions the ability of human beings to change their gender and their sex. That is, following the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
The excruciating irony of this article is that it is attacking the very Catholics who are most supportive of church teaching. Catholics were anti-abortion long before Southern Baptists and other evangelicals, and they continue to be leaders in the pro-life movement.
Catholic conservatives hold to the church’s teachings about sex, marriage, birth control, and abortion. They also reject women’s ordination. And they support the authority of the Pope. Whereas liberal Catholics often do not.
That the Pope, either actively or tacitly, is throwing his strongest American supporters under the bus is ungenerous in the extreme.
And framing the issues in terms of a faulty “ecumenism” between Catholics and evangelicals is bizarre, especially for a Vatican administration that thinks ecumenism is a good thing. The Pope participates in a common worship service with a bishop who is both female and a lesbian from a Lutheran (?) church that performs gay weddings, and yet he vilifies Catholics who associate with pro-life, pro-marriage evangelicals?
American Catholic conservatives are pushing back against the article. See, for example, this article–which summarizes and links to others–by George Weigel.
For us Reformation Christians, the controversy reminds us of our problems with the papacy. The medieval papacy insisted not just on authority over the church, but authority over earthly regimes. (This article attacks Catholic and evangelical conservatives for their political preoccupations, while–with more irony–it exhibits even greater political preoccupations!) If this article reflects the current pope’s beliefs, it would seem that this tendency continues.
You readers who are Catholics and conservatives, what do you think of these charges? Are you engaged in an “ecumenism of hate”?
Photograph of Pope Francis addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress, 24 September 2015, by USCapitol (Pope Francis Visits the United States Capitol) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
HT: Mary Moerbe