Not all religious ultraconservatives go to Heaven.
A pair of Pope Francis’ close associates took aim at American Catholic ultraconservatives and accused them of partaking in an “ecumenism of hate” in the journal, La Civiltà Cattolica. They suggest certain voters across the country are using their cause of religious liberty and opposition to abortion to institute a “theocratic type of state.”
The article, titled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integrism” identifies President Trump’s chief strategist at the White House, Steve Bannon, as a “supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics,” who has blocked action on climate change and exploited “xenophobic and Islamophobic visions that wants walls and purifying deportations.”
Bannon, a former altar boy who has been outspoken about his faith, told the New York Times the essay “lit me up.”
Author Rev. Antonio Spadaro told the newspaper it was important to examine the “apocalyptic narrative which inspires” Bannon.
Spadaro, a confidant of the Pope who edits the journal, and fellow author Marcelo Figueroa, an Argentine Presbyterian Minister also close with Francis, said the perspectives of American evangelicals and traditional Catholics, which are based on literal interpretations of the Bible, are “not too far apart” from the worldview of a jihadist.
They additionally contend the American evangelical and ultraconservative Christians could taint the Roman Catholic faith by forcing “religious influence in the political sphere.”
The essay has received its share of both backlash and praise, and Spadaro, who has previously been called “the pope’s mouthpiece,” said the response was “incredible.”
He told the New York Times critics were primarily opponents of Francis “who are trying to downplay the role of this pontificate.”
Since the election of Pope Francis in 2013, conservatives have been concerned about his stance on social issues, including abortions and same-sex marriage. Some have gone so far as to accuse him of diluting the church’s doctrine.
Spadaro said the underlying focus of the article is the pope’s argument against religion in the service of politics or power. He added such manipulation of religious principles could render the church a “sect of the pure,” according to the Times.
Spadaro would not say whether the article earned Francis’ approval nor whether he’s spoken to the Pope since its publication.
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