Vatican speaks out again against fundamentalism

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The Vatican continues to plead its cause against Christian and Catholic fundamentalism. La Civiltà Cattolica, a Jesuit magazine linked to the Vatican, published a long article on the genesis and effects of fundamentalism in the United States. One of the co-authors of the article, the Jesuit Brother Antonio Spadaro, is a close confidant of Pope Francis.

Spadaro presents some of the historical development of fundamentalism in this country dating back to the early 1900s. More importantly, it describes some of the effects of what has become the religious right in our country, and how it influenced Presidents Reagan, Bush and now Trump.

First, there is the emphasis on the last book of the Bible, Revelation. If we consider the end of the world to be one of the most convincing tenets of our faith, it radically changes the way we see the world. War and major weather disruptions (climate change) are signs the end is near. Even the creation of conflict can be seen as a positive effort to help bring about the last days.

There is no reason to work for peace, justice, or better climate as one is only interfering with God’s plan to bring about the end of time.

In addition, there is the notion of dominionism. The book of Genesis grants man dominion over creation. Public standards must be subject to religious morality. The article notes that there is little difference between some Christian fundamentalisms and Islamic fundamentalisms. The goal of Christian fundamentalists is to create a theocracy where the state submits to the Bible.

Although the article does not say enough about religious freedom in my opinion, it does say that we must avoid defending the notion of total freedom, which seems to be a direct challenge to the secularism of the state. It becomes easier to understand why fundamentalist Christians believe their freedom of religion is threatened while others who disagree also have the freedom. They see their position as true and therefore others who believe differently have no rights. Many Catholic bishops in the United States seem to have a similar position.

Finally, Spadaro explains how the religious right and conservative Catholics have formed a united front on issues they have in common. These issues include abortion, same-sex marriage, and other issues considered to be moral or value-related. Their strange ecumenism, as Spadaro calls it, leads to xenophobia and Islamophobia which tends to promote hatred, deportations and the building of walls rather than bridges.

The fundamentalist plan is to establish a kingdom of the divine here on earth. While Protestants and Catholics who embrace this concept may differ in how they understand it, they both subscribe to an ideology of conquest. They see the recent elections as a spiritual warfare in which divine intervention may have been involved.

On the other hand, Pope Francis rejects this concept of the kingdom of God on earth. The authors of the article quote Pope Francis as saying: “Yes, Europe has Christian roots. Christianity has a duty to water them, but in a spirit of service such as washing the feet. The duty of Christianity for Europe is that of service. “

This right-wing movement seems to be motivated mainly by fear, and the need for religion to impose a necessary order on culture and government. François rejects this notion. He refuses to reduce the Islamic religion to terrorism.

Some who reject Spadaro’s thesis say he is talking about people who do not exist. No known Catholic holds all of these specific views. Of course, each individual has their own set of beliefs, but such an argument misses Spadaro’s analysis. He speaks of forces at work which have led to some joint efforts. Republicans and the religious right work together to achieve certain ideological goals that coincide with their religious beliefs. Catholics have worked with religious law to achieve some common moral goals.

NCR’s Thomas Reese, reviewing Spadaro’s article, agrees with much of it, but encourages additional attention to how fear has contributed to where we are in our situation. current policy. Most importantly, he argues that we need to listen to those who are troubled by today’s world, whether in Appalachia, Alabama or Europe, and better discern what makes them tick.

I would conclude with my conviction that it was the biblical literalism of the religious right that made this question so intractable. Once you deny evolution and consider what scientists and others are saying to be false, everything is easily considered false (fake news). It is difficult to thwart such strong beliefs. If I believe that my religion and therefore my whole way of life is threatened if the Bible is not accepted literally, I cannot change this point of view and maintain my sense of who I am. How do you break this? If scientists cannot be believed then climate change is a hoax and politicians who subscribe to such questions cannot be believed when they speak out.

Fortunately, Catholics have not embraced Genesis literalism and do not see their religion threatened by evolution. Catholics, however, have clung to the idea that nothing exists except the issue of abortion. If they agree with a politician on everything except abortion, that candidate is not worth considering. They found ready allies in the religious right and therefore their alliance.

I agree with Fr. Reese that we need to engage in dialogue with those who distrust the government and fear the direction our country is taking. It will be a monumental challenge, but it must begin with our service to those in need. We need to demonstrate that we have their best interests at heart and, more importantly, that we have ideas that can really improve their lives.

Again, Pope Francis: “Christianity’s contribution to a culture is that of Christ washing the feet.



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