Two collaborators of Pope Francis have written an editorial lambasting America’s religious right in the pages of La Civiltà Cattolica. The editorial, penned by Father Antonio Spadaro S.J. (Civiltà’s editor) and Argentine Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa, is entitled Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism, and can be read in its entirety in English at Rorate Caeli.
Father Antonio Spadaro S.J., the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica (a Jesuit publication since its inception), is a prominant progressivist ecclesiastic, and is considered a close collaborator of, and even an unofficial spokesman for, Pope Francis. For his part, besides being a Presbyterian pastor, Marcelo Figueroa is, scandalously, the editor of the Argentine edition of the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.
With grandiose subheadings like “Religion, political Manichaeism and a cult of the apocalypse” and “Theology of prosperity and the rhetoric of religious liberty,” the article is a confused hodgepodge of two elements: valid observations concerning America’s false religiosity and modernist drivel, which includes attacks on Biblical inerrancy (“They place their own roots in a literalist understanding of the creation narratives of the book of Genesis that put humanity in a position of “dominion” over creation, while creation remains subject to human will in biblical submission.”)
Yes, there is a certain religious-political messianism that we Americans love, and this is one thing that is wrong with America. But that messianism, in its secular form, is also shared by unchurched Americans, who have stripped the shining city on a hill of any creed or worship, and decorated it instead with the banners of “liberty” and “spreading our [liberal] way of life.”
Yes, there is also a Manichean element in America’s political-religious history, with Puritans portraying the evil Injuns as so many Amorites, Moabites, Jebusites, and Amelikites to be cleared away by force in our Christian domination of the new Promised Land. The march from sea to shining sea was indeed full of injustices of this sort, and prominant among those who protested the cruelties to the Indians were the the Catholic missionaries, especially the Jesuits.
All that is true, and one need not be a “bleeding heart liberal” to see it as true.
But one of the most destructive things about the current Anglo-American political religiosity is its constant warmongering. This bellicosity largely takes place under the banner of Christian Zionism, a particularly sanguinary ideology responsible for so much of our government’s interventionism in the Middle East. Yet not a word is said about this by Spadaro and Figueroa, presumably for fear of being labeled “anti-semitic” (a canard, to be sure, but an effective one). This omission is a glaring one in an editorial intended to portray the marriage of religion to politics and foreign policy in the U.S.A.
The worst thing about conservative Catholicism in America (or what most often passes for it) is its indifferentism to the false religions of our countrymen. This indifferentism manifests itself in an uncritical attitude toward, and even a wholehearted agreement with, our globe-trotting messianic militarism. But, even worse than that by far, it reveals itself as religious indifferentism full stop, and many, if not most, self-identifying “conservative” American Catholics consider the false (i.e., non-Catholic) religions of their countrymen to be sufficient for salvation, even if they are not an expression of “the fulness of truth.” That indifferentism is a heresy.
It should be mentioned that “Integralism,” the name by which the authors label conservative Catholicism, is a word more used in Europe, and is, generally, what progressivists call traditionalists. A traditionalist, especially one who advocates for the social reign of Christ the King, is dismissied by the liberal as an “integralist.”
Spadaro and Figueroa also go on a bit about Rousas Rushdoony and “Christian Reconstructionism,” which are by no means the most influential trends in the Protestant American religious right, whose members are more influenced by Mega-Church pastors and televangelists who are not Rushdoonians, but who are — to a man — ardent students of the Scofield Bible, but we can’t talk about that.
Curiously, the authors take direct aim at Michael Voris’ Church Militant, which has since shot back. Despite having common cause with the pro-life, pro-family, etc., elements of American Conservative Protestantism, Voris and his associates are neither USA!-chanting warmongers nor religious indifferentists. In fact, they do an admirable job of trying to spread the Catholic Faith in this country, and trying to wake American Catholics out of their indifferentist lethargy.
The worldview of Spadaro and Figueroa is not that of America’s Protestant “religious right”; nor is it the worldview of democratic messianism, with its false promises of liberty. No, their worldview is one of progressivist globalism and sheer religious indifferentism — with their own false promises of liberty.
I would rather not choose either poison. I guess that makes me a despised “integralist.”