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Antonio Spadaro and the Gospel of Conformity

by Christopher A. Ferrara
July 19, 2017

Antonio Spadaro, SJ, commonly referred to as the “mouthpiece” of Pope Bergoglio, has co-authored for the Pope’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano (OR), a cliché-ridden mélange of liberal certitudes, jumbled together with a valid observation or two about American exceptionalism and the “prosperity Gospel.” Spadaro’s co-author, Marcelo Figueroa, is a mainline Protestant friend of Pope Bergoglio’s whom he decided to appoint as editor of the Argentine edition of OR.

The piece, entitled “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” is essentially the usual summons to placid conformity to the spirit of the age as reflected in the modern state system.  Conformity to the political status quo is portrayed as a civic virtue, whereas any form of Christian resistance is dangerous “fundamentalism” no different in principle from the terrorism of ISIS.

Lost on the likes of Spadaro is Francis Fukuyama’s telling observation that “The liberal state growing out of the tradition of Hobbes and Locke engages in a protracted struggle with its own people.” (The End of History and the Last Man, p. 215.)  The liberal state is the end result of a trail of blood spilled in violent revolutions by which an enlightened few first imposed their will upon the Christian masses. The enlightened ones continue their oppression of Christians today via the now unchallengeable coercive power of that same state, which compulsorily subsidizes the mass murder of unborn children and now, with the madness of state-imposed “gay marriage” and transgenderism, threatens to obliterate not only every last vestige of Christian morality in public life but even the recognition of being itself.

Archbishop Charles Chaput has penned a rebuke to Spadaro and Figueroa, found here, which — too politely in my view — rightly suggests that they are what Lenin putatively described as “useful idiots” of the West, cooperating in their own subjugation and ultimate destruction. As useful idiots of the modern state system do reflexively, Spadaro and Figueroa recite the usual litany of liberal fears about any sign of a Christian militancy that might pose a challenge to the secular hegemon. Hence, they dutifully denounce their fellow Catholics along with evangelical Protestants for the following sins against state secularism:

  • “the problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy”;
  •  “this mingling of politics, morals and religion”;
  • “Christian-Evangelical fundamentalist principles”;
  • “a strong and determined religious-moral influence to bear on democratic processes and their results”;
  • “a literal adherence to the Bible”;
  • any criticism of “modernist spirits, the black civil rights movement, the hippy movement, communism, feminist movements and so on”;
  • “whites from the deep American South”;
  • “a literalist understanding of the creation narratives of the book of Genesis that put humanity in a position of ‘dominion’ over creation”;
  • “fight[ing] the threats to American Christian values”;
  • “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”;
  • “political leaders appearing triumphant with a Bible in their hands”;
  • a “‘religion in total freedom,’ perceived as a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state”;
  • “the persuasive temptation for a spurious alliance between politics and religious fundamentalism”;
  • “exaggerating disorder, agitating the souls of the people by painting worrying scenarios beyond any realism”;
  • the idea that “Religion [is] a guarantor of order and a political part would incarnate its needs”;
  • “a strange form of surprising ecumenism… between Evangelical fundamentalists and Catholic Integralists brought together by the same desire for religious influence in the political sphere”;
  • “a theocratic necessity: submit the state to the Bible with a logic that is no different from the one that inspires Islamic fundamentalism… the same cult of an apocalypse that needs to be brought about as soon as possible.”

In short, our useful idiots demand the total disqualification — indeed the veritable criminalization as ISIS-like “terrorism” — of any role for Christianity in politics. That is precisely the antithesis of the Church’s constant teaching on the Social Kingship of Christ, recognized (however imperfectly) even by the more conservative evangelical Protestants as the sociopolitical imperative of the Incarnation, compelled by reason itself. As Pope Leo XIII declared in Immortale Dei (On the Christian Constitution of States): “Such, then… is the Christian organization of civil society; not rashly or fancifully shaped out, but educed from the highest and truest principles, confirmed by natural reason itself.”

The post-Vatican II abandonment of the Social Kingship doctrine, in favor of an irrational and ultimately fatal divorce of the Law of the Gospel from public life, is symptomatic of the terminal disease of our once Christian civilization, which John Paul II lamented (too little, too late) as “silent apostasy.”  As Pius XI warned in 1922 in his landmark encyclical on the Social Kingship of Christ, Ubi Arcano:

“What We said at the beginning of Our Pontificate concerning the decline of public authority, and the lack of respect for the same, is equally true at the present day. ‘With God and Jesus Christ,’ we said, ‘excluded from political life, with authority derived not from God but from man, the very basis of that authority has been taken away, because the chief reason of the distinction between ruler and subject has been eliminated. The result is that human society is tottering to its fall, because it has no longer a secure and solid foundation.’”

The liberal Jesuit Spadaro and his liberal Protestant co-author typify the smug certitude of the doctrinaire conformism they equate with enlightened Christianity. Praising Pope Bergoglio without realizing they are in fact indicting him as a traitor to the Church’s mission of making disciples of all nations, they declare: “Francis wants to break the organic link between culture, politics, institution and Church.” They mindlessly applaud the deliberate, self-inflicted disintegration of the Christian body politic.  They preach, not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but The Gospel of Conformity to the Spirit of the Age.

Spadaro and Figueroa doubtless view themselves as intellectually subtle defenders, alongside Bergoglio, of a “realistic” modern Catholicism. In fact, they are posturing buffoons who lock themselves in a jail cell and then jauntily toss the key to their jailers, while condemning Catholics who will not likewise consent to their own imprisonment. The current triumph of political modernity over the Church is owing largely to the assistance of such ecclesiastical quislings.  But in the end, of course, God “shall laugh at them [and] shall bring all the nations to nothing.” (Psalm 58)