The Real “Ecumenism of Hate”

by E. Michael Jones

 

In mid-July 2017, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, rocked the Catholic world by publishing an attack in Civilta Cattolica, the official journal of the Vatican, on Integralist Catholics in the United States. Spadaro gets off to a bad start by accusing American Catholics of holding a proposition that is foreign to religious thought in the United States.  Catholic Integralism, according to Edmund Waldstein, O. Cist.:

is a tradition of thought that rejects the liberal separation of politics from concern with the end of human life, holding that political rule must order man to his final goal. Since, however, man has both a temporal and an eternal end, integralism holds that there are two powers that rule him: a temporal power and a spiritual power. And since man’s temporal end is subordinated to his eternal end the temporal power must be subordinated to the spiritual power.[1]

Defining the American conservative Catholic position as integralist is a bad start for a bad essay because it has never existed in the United States. Catholics in this country have always accepted the separation of Church and State and the lack of a confessional state as part of the political landscape. At certain times they accepted it grudgingly as a necessary evil; at other times—and here I’m thinking of John Courtney Murray’s campaign to baptize the separation of Church and State as part of Dignitatis Humanae at Vatican II—some have tried to embrace it as compatible with the Catholic faith. But there has never been a time when this separation hasn’t been a fundamental part of Catholic life in America. In this the United States is unlike Pope Francis’s native Argentina where Integralism was a powerful political force in the period following the Buenos Aires Eucharistic Congress of 1934, as I pointed out in my recent book Pope Francis in Context.

Spadaro, as I pointed out in that book, is the Jesuit who interviewed Bergoglio after he became Pope Francis. It was Spadaro who recorded Pope Francis as saying:  “I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism” in an interview which was published in Jesuit journals throughout the world. The pope also confessed to Spadaro that “My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems.”[2] The fact that Spadaro is so closely associated with the pope makes his article especially troubling. The fact that it is full of errors, fabrications, myths and the Jesuit equivalent of locker room gossip indicates that the opinions lack any basis in reality; their only real source is what is now the collective Jesuit consensus on the state of the Church. That consensus feels that American Catholics are guilty of an Integralism which never existed in the United States. Worse, Spadaro lumps Protestant Evangelicals together with Catholics who never heard of the term in the same conspiracy, as when he writes:

At times this mingling of politics, morals and religion has taken on a Manichaean language that divides reality between absolute Good and absolute Evil. In fact, after President George W. Bush spoke in his day about challenging the “axis of evil” and stated it was the USA’s duty to “free the world from evil” following the events of September 11, 2001.  Today President Trump steers the fight against a wider, generic collective entity of the “bad” or even the “very bad.” Sometimes the tones used by his supporters in some campaigns take on meanings that we could define as “epic.” . . . These stances are based on Christian-Evangelical fundamentalist principles dating from the beginning of the 20th Century that have been gradually radicalized. These have moved on from a rejection of all that is mundane – as politics was considered – to bringing a strong and determined religious-moral influence to bear on democratic processes and their results.

If Spadaro, like Pope Leo XIII before him, had accused Catholics of Americanism, then virtually every Catholic in the country would have to plead guilty. Unfortunately, Americanism is the exact opposite of Integralism. Americanism accepts completely the separation of Church and State which Integralism seeks to abolish. Like fellow Jesuit Pope Francis, Spadaro is challenged when it comes to making philosophical distinctions.

That being said, Spadaro is right; there was a Catholic-Evangelical alliance. I know because I was a part of it. It was created by Deacon Keith Fournier, who wrote a book called A House United?: Evangelicals and Catholics Together and got Televangelist Pat Robertson to provide institutional cover for his endeavor. Fournier’s vehicle for political collaboration during the heyday of the Catholic-Evangelical Alliance was the American Center for Law and Justice, which Fournier ran out of offices on the Robertson compound in Virginia Beach. The main Catholic-Evangelical operation at the time was not the ACLJ; it was the Christian Coalition, run by the then famous, now disgraced and no longer boyish Ralph Reed.

I used to travel to Virginia Beach on a regular basis. Culture Wars came into being as a result of my contacts there. I was also there when the wheels fell off the Catholic-Evangelical bandwagon. Fournier had a falling out with Pat Robertson and left to become a deacon in the Washington area. But my personal memory of imminent collapse came in what must have been the late spring of 1996. I was walking down the hall of the Founders Inn on the Robertson compound with Pat Monaghan, who is still associated with the ACLJ. Walking toward us was Ralph Reed. Seeing him Monaghan said, “We’re all going to support Pat Buchanan, aren’t we, Ralph?” The look of contempt on Reed’s face at Pat’s question remains in my mind to this day. The fix was already in, and Reed’s look of incredulity at Pat’s ignorance spoke volumes. By throwing Christian Coalition support behind Bob Dole, Reed stopped Buchanan’s momentum in South Carolina and eventually allowed Dole to win the Republican presidential nomination in 1996. As Phyllis Schlafly later stated, no one in his right mind felt that Dole could defeat Clinton’s bid for a second term. Dole’s job was not to win the election; it was to purge the Republican Party of Buchanan supporters, which was a euphemism for Catholics. The Catholic-Evangelical Alliance died as a result.

So Father Spadaro was right in alleging the existence of a Catholic-Evangelical alliance. He was just a little off in his chronology, announcing breathlessly his discovery of the alliance’s existence roughly 21 years after its demise.  Ralph Reed left a bankrupt Christian Coalition under the shadow of financial scandal in 1997. He then became deeply involved with Jack Abramoff, who went to jail for conning Indians, whom he regularly referred to as “monkeys,” out of $82 million. Ralph Reed might have gone to jail too if Karl Rove hadn’t intervened in the judicial process:

Reed correctly notes that he has never been charged with a crime and implies that he had been fully investigated by John McCain's Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. But the implication is deceptive. According to one very famous, disgraced former lobbyist, Reed was supposed to have been called before McCain's committee but Karl Rove intervened and pressured McCain not to call Reed. (Reed was an enormously powerful fund-raiser for the Republican Party.)[3]

Although he was technically no longer part of the organization, Reed used the Alabama branch of the Christian Coalition to launder money from “Casino Jack’s” lobbying efforts with various Indian tribes. “Casino Jack” Abramoff asked Reed to lead an anti-gambling campaign; the hidden agenda behind the campaign was to force the Indians to hire Abramoff to counter Reed’s efforts. E-mails

and other evidence revealed the participation of the Christian Coalition in the alleged fraud, particularly the Alabama chapter of the Christian Coalition, which received large amounts of donations from the casino money. It is alleged that Abramoff engaged Reed to set up an anti-gambling campaign to include the U.S. Family Network, the Christian Coalition, and Focus on the Family in order to frighten the tribes into spending as much as $82 million for Abramoff to lobby on their behalf. To represent him in connection with the scandal, Reed retained defense attorney W. Neil Eggleston, then of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. Eggleston served as White House associate counsel during the administration of President Bill Clinton.[4]

I bring up this long sordid story to show the real history of the Catholic-Evangelical Alliance and why it fell apart, but also to show that it had nothing to do with the people Spadaro claimed were involved in it. In 1996, one year before Reed left the Christian Coalition, Michael Voris was nowhere near the Catholic-Evangelical Alliance. He was engaging in homosexual sex on gay cruises. No one is a less likely candidate for participation in what Spadaro calls the “ecumenism of hate” than Michael Voris. When there was a Catholic-Evangelical alliance, Voris was deeply involved in the homosexual demimonde. After he started Real Catholic TV, ecumenism was the farthest thing from his mind. Voris, if anything, went out of his way to insult Protestants on his show. If there were one thing driving his operation it was Voris’s homosexual narcissism, sublimated into Wanderer-style attacks on bishops like Cardinal Dolan of New York, from whose seminary Voris had been expelled.

So why didn’t Spadaro mention all of this? The simplest explanation is ignorance. Spadaro simply has no understanding of what has transpired in American Catholicism over the past 20 years. As I said, it could be sheer ignorance that allows Spadaro to link Michael Voris and an alliance that had fallen apart over a decade before Voris launched himself as the great Catholic apologist, but it goes deeper than that. The fact that Voris is a homosexual and that homosexuality is the driving force behind the Leather Bar Catholicism that Voris is promoting at Real Catholic TV goes unmentioned because, well, Jesuits don’t criticize homosexuals. As the world’s most famous Jesuit famously said, “Who am I to judge?” Jesuits now build bridges to certain select groups—not Southern Evangelicals or Integralist Catholics, to be sure—but certainly to homosexuals. America editor Rev. James Martin, S.J.’s book Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity is proof of that.  What we see emerging from Martin’s fawning book and Spadaro’s abysmally ignorant article is a desperate attempt on the part of Jesuits like Spadaro and Martin to negotiate a separate peace in the culture wars.  But if we examine Spadaro’s description of the alleged Catholic-Evangelical “ecumenism of hate” more closely a new picture begins to emerge:

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.[5]

Wait! Isn’t Spadaro’s “ecumenism of hate” really a description of Zionism? Instead of talking about Dispensationalism and the Scofield Bible and all of the other intellectual strains that make up Christian Zionism in America, Spadaro singles out the late Rousas John Rushdoony as the representative Evangelical in an alliance he never would have joined and an even more unlikely candidate, Michael Voris, as the alliance’s Catholic representative. To put both men in the same alliance is nothing short of preposterous and a serious indication that Spadaro doesn’t have the faintest idea of what he is talking about.

If, on the other hand, Spadaro had identified Christian Zionism as the hidden grammar of the Catholic-Evangelical Alliance, he would have given an accurate account of why that alliance fell apart in the mid-1990s. The catalyst for its dissolution was Pat Buchanan, whose evocation of America First also brought about the demise of conservatism as well. In 1992, the Jews saw Pat Buchanan as “the next Hitler,” and they did everything within their power to destroy him as a candidate and disenfranchise anyone who wanted to vote for him. That included yanking the chain around Bill Buckley’s neck and getting him to denounce his friends Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran as anti-Semites in the pages of National Review.

Those efforts only intensified in 1996, when Ralph Reed threw the Republican nomination to Bob Dole. As his sordid association with Jack Abramoff showed, Ralph Reed was working for the Jews. Is this surprising? After giving the classic description of Zionism as the root of all evil in American politics, Spadaro fails to mention the fact that it was the Jews who were paying the bills of the televangelists he decries as warmongers. Instead of blaming the Jews who control the televangelists, Spadaro blames the victim, namely, the gullible white southerners who send their nickels and dimes to people like Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, the disgraced Jimmy Swaggart, and the shameless John Hagee. The state of Israel gave the late Jerry Falwell his own airplane so that he could fly around the country and promote the Christian Zionism which Spadaro finds so odious but refuses to name.

And why does he refuse to give the proper name to the alliance he condemns? In addition to not criticizing homosexuals, Jesuits don’t criticize Jews any more either, and the results of this unmentioned Catholic-Jewish alliance have been catastrophic for the Church and the world. Jesuits don’t criticize Jews because they are now part of the same Catholic-Jewish alliance which has caused so much damage in the Catholic Church.  Just ask the Jesuit in chief and his friend Rabbi Skorka.  Before he writes another article deploring American Catholics, Father Spadaro should consult back issues of Civilta Cattolica, in particular the series on “The Jewish Question,” which appeared in that periodical over the fall of 1890. In those articles, he will find a ringing endorsement of the Integralism he deplores. But beyond that he will discover the real source of the problems he ascribes to American Catholics. The source of the problem which Spadaro can’t name is the Jewish Revolutionary Spirit. The United States is now suffering through a calamity similar to what France experienced after their revolution of 1789 and Russia after the Bolshevik coup d’etat in 1917 because, as the Jesuits pointed out then, any country which turns away from the laws created by (or consistent with those created by) Christian kings will end up being ruled by Jews.CW

E. Michael Jones is the editor of Culture Wars magazine.

This article appears in the September 2017 issue of Culture Wars.

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Footnotes


[1] https://thejosias.com/2016/10/17/integralism-in-three-sentences/

[2] Ivereigh, Austen, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope (2015) p. 190.

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/09/the-deceptions-of-ralph-reed/63568/

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Reed

[5] https://laciviltacattolica.com/june-2017/evangelical-fundamentalism-and-catholic-integralism-in-the-usa-a-surprising-ecumenism/


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