Saturday, July 15, 2017

Papal Advisers Bash American Christians in Bigoted Screed

In a peculiar, rambling essay, papal adviser Father Antonio Spadaro SJ has caricatured white southern evangelicals as well as conservative American Catholics as ignorant, theocratic, Manichean, war-mongering fanatics anxiously awaiting the apocalypse.
It is “these religious groups that are composed mainly of whites from the deep American South” that push conflicts and justify belligerence, while favoring the Old Testament “rather than be guided by the incisive look, full of love, of Jesus in the Gospels.”
The article appeared in both Italian and English in the Vatican-vetted journal La Civiltà Cattolica, of which Father Spadaro is editor-in-chief. In it, the Jesuit priest says that U.S. Evangelicals and Catholics have engaged in “an ecumenism of conflict” that seeks to advance “a theocratic type of state.”
Spadaro, a friend and counselor of Pope Francis, was assisted in drafting the essay by an Argentinian Presbyterian minister, Marcelo Figueroa, an old friend of the Pope’s who was hand-picked by the pontiff as editor-in-chief of the Argentinean edition of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
Conservative Christians, the article warns, are ultimately driven by “the desire for some influence in the political and parliamentary sphere and in the juridical and educational areas so that public norms can be subjected to religious morals.”
But is this really so? The story that has dominated religious liberty discussions in the U.S. since 2011 has been that of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns that was harassed by the Obama administration under the HHS mandate of the Affordable Care Act and made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Do Spadaro and Figueroa really believe that the good sisters were fighting for “some influence in the political and parliamentary sphere” rather than simply asking to live according to their religious beliefs? READ MORE