La Civiltà Cattolica

Those dueling New York Times editorials (one in news) on Catholics, evangelicals and U.S. politics

Those dueling New York Times editorials (one in news) on Catholics, evangelicals and U.S. politics

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes in Catholic cyberspace in recent weeks has, I am sure, dipped a toe or two into the oceans of ink poured out in commentary about the recent La Civiltà Cattolica essay that ran with the headline, "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism."

First, note the title's trailblazing work in the field of subtle labeling in public discourse about religion.

We are not talking about mere "evangelicals" or "fundamentalists." In this case we are talking about "evangelical fundamentalism," which would be fundamentalists who preach their fundamentalism with an evangelical zeal?

Anyway, key is that the authors -- universally hailed as allies of Pope Francis -- have taken to the pages of a "Vatican-vetted publication" in an attempt to link decades of high-profile public contacts between culturally, and doctrinally, conservative Protestants and Catholics (as well as Jews, Orthodox Christians, Mormons, etc.) with the painful political chaos surrounding the rise of President Donald Trump. The goal of all those contacts in the past, it appears, was an American theocracy backed with Sharia law, only defended with quotes from the Catholic Catechism and the works of St. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Apparently it took some time for The New York Times to ramp up a doctrinal response to all of this for circulation at the highest levels of mainstream journalism.

The result is some fascinating editorial writing, in the form of a new Times column by Catholic conservative Ross Douthat ("The Vatican’s America Problem") and, the same day, an alleged news story straight from the world of hushed, anonymous conversations in the hidden corners of Rome.

Let's keep this as short as possible, starting with the overture in the "news" piece: "A Vatican Shot Across the Bow for Hard-Line U.S. Catholics."

VATICAN CITY -- Two close associates of Pope Francis have accused American Catholic ultraconservatives of making an alliance of “hate” with evangelical Christians to back President Trump, further alienating a group already out of the Vatican’s good graces.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Son of 'Da Vinci Code'? 'Symbols' in Vatican-linked political blast cry out for translation

Son of 'Da Vinci Code'? 'Symbols' in Vatican-linked political blast cry out for translation

Actor Tom Hanks brought to life (on screen) the fictional Harvard University "symbologist" Robert Langdon, the hero of Dan Brown's fanciful novels "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons."

If there actually were a "symbologist" floating around, it might be useful to page them -- or Tom Hanks -- to help interpret a Vatican-linked bit of commentary about, of all things, American politics, the late Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and President Donald Trump's chief White House strategist Steve Bannon.

Put all THAT in your word processor, Dan Brown! Can't you almost see the trailer for that movie, releasing perhaps in time for Campaign 2020? 

Instead, we are, fortunately. in the capable hands of Rachel Zoll, religion writer for the Associated Press, and Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher. Each approaches the subject in a professional manner. Dreher, of course, has his opinions, which we'll get to in a moment.

Let's start with the AP, via Maine's Portland Press Herald. Take a gander at this longish excerpt, published under the headline "Pope confidant sees unholy U.S. alliance," to see what's causing all the fuss:

A close confidant of Pope Francis, writing Thursday in a Vatican-approved magazine, condemned the way some American evangelicals and their Roman Catholic supporters mix religion and politics, saying their worldview promotes division and hatred.
The Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of the influential Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, said a shared desire for political influence between “evangelical fundamentalists” and some Catholics has inspired an “ecumenism of conflict” that demonizes opponents and promotes a “theocratic type of state.” ...

Please respect our Commenting Policy