Discerning the significance of this article requires a little Vaticanology (that's like Kreminology or Trump-White-Houseology -- the study of the powers behind particular instituional pronouncements.) NCR commentators insist the authors, editor-in-chief Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa, an Argentine Presbyterian pastor who leads his country's edition of Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, are close to Pope Francis.
They mince no words; right-wing evangelicals and Catholic "theoconservatives" are leading the Christian faithful in a terrible direction:
The piece goes on to combat the preposterous theological edifice that is the Prosperity Gospel whose promise that seeking riches is godly harmonizes the Christian message so comfortably with our capitalist system. These writers insist:
The panorama of threats to their understanding of the American way of life have included modernist spirits, the black civil rights movement, the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements and so on. And now in our day there are the migrants and the Muslims. To maintain conflict levels, their biblical exegeses have evolved toward a decontextualized reading of the Old Testament texts about the conquering and defense of the “promised land,” rather than be guided by the incisive look, full of love, of Jesus in the Gospels.
Within this narrative, whatever pushes toward conflict is not off limits. It does not take into account the bond between capital and profits and arms sales. Quite the opposite, often war itself is assimilated to the heroic conquests of the “Lord of Hosts” of Gideon and David. In this Manichaean vision, belligerence can acquire a theological justification and there are pastors who seek a biblical foundation for it, using the scriptural texts out of context. ... There is a sort of “anesthetic” with regard to ecological disasters and problems generated by climate change. They profess “dominionism” and consider ecologists as people who are against the Christian faith. 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.
... Theirs is a prophetic formula: fight the threats to American Christian values and prepare for the imminent justice of an Armageddon, a final showdown between Good and Evil, between God and Satan. In this sense, every process (be it of peace, dialogue, etc.) collapses before the needs of the end, the final battle against the enemy. And the community of believers (faith) becomes a community of combatants (fight). Such a unidirectional reading of the biblical texts can anesthetize consciences or actively support the most atrocious and dramatic portrayals of a world that is living beyond the frontiers of its own “promised land.”
... Both Evangelical and Catholic Integralists condemn traditional ecumenism and yet promote an ecumenism of conflict that unites them in the nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state. However, the most dangerous prospect for this strange ecumenism is attributable to its xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations.
This is not the sort of pronouncement we expected from the Vatican before Pope Francis -- there's much here to ponder for all American Christians.
The theopolitical plan that is truly Christian would be eschatological, that is it applies to the future and orients current history toward the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace. This vision generates a process of integration that unfolds with a diplomacy that crowns no one as a “man of Providence.”
... [Pope] Francis radically rejects the idea of activating a Kingdom of God on earth as was at the basis of the Holy Roman Empire and similar political and institutional forms, including at the level of a “party.” ...
Clark locates the "ecumenism" involved in alliances between fundies and right-wing Catholics in their shared determination to limit women's control of our bodies. My NCR comrades can't go there, but I can.
Sixty years ago and 30 years ago, white evangelicals instinctively evaluated every cause or “issue” by weighing it against the paramount concern of proclamation evangelism. Today they seem to demonstrate that same instinct, but it’s no longer proclamation evangelism that they worry may be undermined — it’s opposition to legal abortion. ...
... white evangelicals may be permitted, conditionally, to consider some other, tangential causes — “creation care,” or “racial reconciliation,” or “human trafficking,” or whatever you like — but only to the extent that these things do not distract from the absolute, paramount duty white evangelicals have to support the election of Republicans to every branch and every level of government in the hopes that they will eventually pack the Supreme Court with enough anti-abortion justices to overturn Roe v. Wade.
That’s a starkly blunt way of putting it ... All those other causes, you see, may be laudable and commendable in and of themselves, but they’re all also vaguely liberal-seeming. And it’s dangerous to permit ourselves to have too much sympathy for liberal-ish causes because that might undermine our resolve to vote for the kind of anti-liberals we need to support in order to fulfill our paramount obligation of criminalizing abortion. ...
Wherever we come from, we need to make peaceful moral outrage effectual.
Their plea was a reminder, particularly to more secular liberals, that religious witness in politics is not confined to the political right, that Christianity has long had a lot to say about economic and social inequities, and that pushing prophets inspired by faith out of the public square would be harmful to progressives as well as conservatives.
In speaking out as they did, the socially minded nuns — who do the work of justice and mercy every day in hospitals, clinics, homeless shelters and schools — made clear that depriving millions of Americans of health coverage truly is a moral outrage.