U.S. President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisers asked to meet with Pope Francis in an attempt to settle a dispute over accusations from Vatican allies that American Catholics and fundamentalists were misreading the Bible to promote their political agenda.
Last month, Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica published an article co-authored by its editor Antonio Spadaro which accused conservative American Catholics of teaming up with evangelical fundamentalists to form a Christian alliance of “hate” supporting Trump. The piece also said the two religious groups were misreading the Bible to stir conflict, and warned against using anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage values to propel their political agenda, Time relayed.
In addition, the article said the two religious groups’ views went against Pope Francis’ call for inclusion. Spadaro and another individual close to the pontiff said the Vatican’s Secretariat of State had approved the article.
On Aug. 3, Trump’s evangelical advisor Johnnie Moore wrote a letter to the Archdiocese of Washington asking for a meeting with Pope Francis together with other U.S. evangelical leaders. He conveyed the intention to iron out the conflict through a dialogue.
“Rather than being offended, we have chosen to attempt to make peace,” said Moore in the letter. “We would be willing to get on a plane tomorrow to Rome to meet with whoever, whenever to create a space for dialogue instead of conflict.”
Moore acknowledged that conflict between Washington and the Vatican is inevitable. However, he said the two parties can disagree on some things “within the context of friendship.”
Meanwhile, NPR host Lulu Garcia-Navarro noted that the La Civiltà Cattolica article had caused some conservative Catholics in the U.S. to accuse the Vatican of overstepping its boundaries. National Catholic Reporter’s Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee told Garcia-Navarro that the two authors were merely trying to point out that the right-wing groups were trying to put up walls while Pope Francis was trying to foster dialogue among different cultures and groups.
Nevertheless, McElwee noted that American Christians are divided on the said issue. Some Catholics agree with the two authors, but there are also those who criticized the Argentine and Italian writers for criticizing American affairs without including a U.S.-based author.