Leading Jesuit Condemns Pro-Life Movement, Trump Voters and Conservatives
Yes, you read that headline right. Just such an editorial appeared last week in the Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica. It might quickly be forgotten, except that the magazine has quasi-official status. Its contents need approval from the Holy See’s Secretariat of State.
The piece was written in clunky, pseudo-intellectual rhetoric. One author was Rev. Antonio Spadoro, S.J. (In the past, he claimed that “faith” can make 2+2 equal 5.) The other was the Argentinian Mainline Protestant, Rev. Figueroa, whom Pope Francis for some reason chose to make editor of that country’s Vatican newspaper.
Was This Written in North Korea?
The column offers variety. It contains the most boot-licking flattery to appear outside of North Korea in many years (aimed at Pope Francis). It spices that up with malicious and culpable falsehoods. There’s no way to prettify it. The column is a sustained effort of slander. Who were the targets? They were many:
- The worldwide pro-life movement (the authors sneer at “values voters”)
- Conservative U.S. Protestants
- Patriotic citizens worried about Islamic colonization, terrorism, and sharia
- Catholics who voted for Donald Trump
- Catholics and Protestants who work together defend innocent life, the natural law, and religious liberty.
The piece is chock-full of outright errors, logical fallacies, and libels. I could spend 5,000 words unpacking them all. But let’s just cover the most cringeworthy.
Pro-Life and Pro-Family Voters Want Christian Sharia
For decades, pro-life and pro-family activists have battled the false charge that we are “theocrats.” Atheists, pro-abortion activists, gay activists and radical leftists have long thrown this accusation around. They claimed that any attempt to encode the natural law in civil law — by protecting unborn children, or natural marriage — amounts to Christian sharia. We have effectively fought back. How? By relying on the findings of natural reason, science, and legal theory to make our case. Now a Vatican magazine comes along to tell the atheists and abortionists that they were right.
The column lumps in all theologically conservative Protestants with hard line “fundamentalists.” It claims that the whole Christian Right is beholden to the views of a few obscure Calvinists. To people who wish to enshrine Old Testament law in the U.S. (That includes the death penalty for adulterers and disobedient children.) So the next pro-choice or anti-marriage politician can thank a high ranking Jesuit writing in an official venue for support.
Conservatives Are All Racists
The authors smoosh together resistance to “the black civil rights movement” with conservative Christians’ objections to a long list of other things. For instance, to theological Modernism, which hollows out the Bible. Also to “the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements.” Then the authors jump to the present day, and claim that the same bigotry now animates American Christians who are obsessed with “the migrants and the Muslims.”
There was plenty, of course, to criticize in the hedonistic “hippy movement,” in Communism and in feminism. (Not to mention broken borders that admit intolerant Muslims.) But Spadaro and his co-author slander millions of sincere Christians who agree with official Catholic teaching on each of these subjects. They equate such Christians’ views with the rejection of civil rights. This is the standard leftist tactic: vilify any conservative anywhere by accusing him of racism. I’d expect this kind of cheap smear from the Southern Poverty Leadership Center. Or some George Soros front group. Coming from Jesuit who has been called “the mouthpiece of Pope Francis,” it’s even more contemptible.
Oppose Socialism? Then You Hold the “Prosperity Gospel”
Then the authors attack any defense of a basically free market economy. How? Again, through the crassest sort of guilt-by-association. They show contempt for any Christian who holds (as Pope Leo XIII and most of his successors held) that private property is “sacred” and that the economy shouldn’t be crushed by bureaucracy or smothered by redistribution. … Or who thinks that America is uniquely blessed by God with freedom …
You know what those Christians really believe? According to Spadaro and Figueroa, they are fans of the “Prosperity Gospel.” That is, the small and widely ridiculed movement espoused by some late night TV preachers. It teaches that God magically rewards good Christians with material wealth.
The authors denounce Catholics who cooperate with Protestants to fight abortion, radical Islam, gay activism, or Marxism. We are examples, they say, of an “ecumenism of hate.”
The Stream: An Ecumenism of Hate
The authors denounce Catholics who cooperate with Protestants to fight abortion, radical Islam, gay activism, or Marxism. We are examples, they say, of an “ecumenism of hate.” I am proud to say that the specific line denounced in this piece, comparing the Trump/Clinton race to the contrast between Constantine and Diocletian, first appeared in one of my columns here at The Stream. I was disappointed, however, not to be condemned by name.
As for the column’s attacks on the many good, faithful non-Catholic Christians. On friends of mine who have joined the fight for innocent life and religious freedom. … Let me apologize on behalf of a billion other Catholics. We are better than this. And so are you. We are on the same side in the war against the spirit of Antichrist, which walks abroad.
Stream Senior Editor John Zmirak is author, most recently, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.