Michael Sean Winters: Evangelicals’ audience request: Pope Francis, it’s a trap

(NCR Online) Elisabeth Dias at Time magazine reported this week on a letter from a group of evangelicals who advise President Donald Trump. The letter was sent to Pope Francis requesting a meeting.

According to that article, and a subsequent article in The Washington Post, the letter was sent through the Archdiocese of Washington. Well, I remember writing letters to Santa Claus as a boy and to similar effect: A source at the archdiocese told me that they certainly did not forward any such letter to the Vatican and, in fact, they never would because any such letter would be redirected to the papal nuncio.

“Ah!” you object. “Why would evangelicals know to go to the papal nuncio?” Well, remember they got Kim Davis in to see the pope through the nuncio. And the “they” in question is not a figment of my imagination. Kim Davis’ lawyer was Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, and the current letter was signed by Johnnie Moore, a former vice president at Liberty University and colleague of Staver’s.

“We think it would be of great benefit to sit together and to discuss these things,” the letter to the pope reads in part. “Then, when we disagree we can do it within the context of friendship. Though, I’m sure we will find once again that we agree far more than we disagree, and we can work together with diligence on those areas of agreement.” How lovely.

I have a message for Pope Francis too: Don’t do it! Better to meet with the dubia cardinals than with these pastors who seek to give cover to a presidency that is repulsive to almost everything we Catholics believe about the social and political significance of the Gospels. It is a trap.

The outlines of the trap were set forward in the very same article that provoked the letter: the Civilta Cattolica article by Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Presbyterian Pastor Marcelo Figueroa that discussed the alliance of conservative Catholics and fundamentalist evangelicals, and the regrettable consequences of that alliance. I have written about that article extensively and need not revisit my arguments here except to note that the signatories of the letter demonstrate better than any argument I can make how right Spadaro and Figueroa are. [More]

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