Misfired Volley

Father Antonio Spadaro, an Italian Jesuit priest, editor of the Italian journal, La Civilta Cattolica, and a close advisor to Pope Francis, and the Argentinian Presbyterian minister, Marcelo Figueroa, who is the editor of the Argentinian edition of L’Osservatore Romano, released an article that attempts to trace the roots of American conservatism and Evangelical Protestantism. The article goes further by stating a “Manichean” strain in American conservatism, as exemplified by President Donald Trump, has encouraged a strong political alliance between Catholics and American Evangelicals on issues of family values and pro-life.

The authors correctly identify the somewhat vitriolic nature of the debates in the “culture wars” between the progressives and traditionalists. As we have previously pointed out, civility has gone out the window in most conversations. Both the “right” and the “left” can be pretty nasty in its comments.

Among the many charges made is that every Republican U.S. President since the 1970s (Nixon, Reagan, both Bushes) has maintained the same belief system. This is not the case.

Likewise, it paints all conservative Catholic bloggers with the same broad brush. At best, some are marginal voices in the Church.

The article has received much criticism from many North American Catholic journalists like Phil Lawler, who describes the article as “an ignorant, intemperate Vatican assault on American conservatism.”

It might be best for all to take a step back before things become even more heated. There is no need to pit Pope Francis vs. President Trump.

We should heed the advice of another fine Jesuit theologian, Bernard Lonergan:

“Classical culture cannot be jettisoned without being replaced; and what replaces it, cannot but run counter to classical expectations. There is bound to be formed a solid right that is determined to live in a world that no longer exists. There is bound to be formed a scattered left, captivated by now this, now that new development, exploring now this, now that new possibility. But what will count is a perhaps not numerous center, big enough to be at home in both the old and the new, painstaking enough to work out one by one the transitions to be made, strong enough to refuse half-measures and insist on complete solutions even though it has to wait.”

One thought on “Misfired Volley

  1. Perhaps The Tablet should have provided a link in its online edition to Rev. Antonio Spadaro, SJ and Marcelo Figueroa’s essay “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism”
    ( http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articolo/evangelical-fundamentalism-and-catholic-integralism-in-the-usa-a-surprising-ecumenism/ ) and allow Tablet readers to judge if “it paints all conservative Catholic bloggers with the same broad brush.” It certainly singled out Church Militant.

    There are conservatives than masquerade a right wing political ideology in a veneer of Catholicism (just as much as there are liberals that do the same.) There is an interview in Cruxnow (June 2) with Christoph Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna entitled “Forget ‘Left v. Right’ — look for ‘bright’ and ‘Catholic,’ cardinal says” that Tablet readers can reference ( https://cruxnow.com/interviews/2017/06/02/forget-left-v-right-look-bright-catholic-cardinal-says/ ). The fact that many conservatives who happen to be Catholic are political partners with radical evangelicals, who possess an anti-intellectual, un-academic, and outright moronic religious worldview, proves that. For example, the Spadaro article points out that Church Militant compared Donald Trump’s election victory to that of Constantine over Maxentius, Hillary Clinton to Diocletian, and “asks if trump’s victory can be attributed to the prayers of Americans.” That is terribly unfair to the history of Diocletian and Constantine. One should not forget that many of the “great” evangelical leaders over the years were also noted bigots (e.g. Jerry Falwell and Norman Vincent Peale) who would advance errors about Catholicism.

    On the opinion/editorial page in The Tablet we often see a radical right wing political ideology of readers that often purports to be Catholicism; sometimes they are quite mean spirited but more often than not just outright humorous. A Tablet reader can compare and contrast professional Catholic George Weigel’s weekly column with that of Rev. Robert Lauder (whose column should be nationally syndicated as Catholics learn something from it) and it is obvious who is the actual believer.