A leading evangelical advisor of President Donald Trump is requesting a meeting with Pope Francis following the publication of a critical article in a Vatican-reviewed magazine.
Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, wrote a letter to Pope Francis on Aug. 3, in response to an article in the Jesuit-run journal La Civiltà Cattolica, which criticized American Catholics for forming an alliance of “hate” with evangelicals in backing Trump.
The article was authored by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, one of Francis’s closest collaborators, and Marcelo Figueroa, a longtime Protestant friend hand-picked by Francis to edit the Argentinian version of L’Osservatore Romano.
Moore, who previously served as the vice president at Liberty University, described the piece as “incendiary,” but he said he decided to “make peace” rather than be offended by it.
“It’s in this moment of ongoing persecution, political division and global conflict that we have also witnessed efforts to divide Catholics and Evangelicals,” Moore wrote, according to Crux.
“We think it would be of great benefit to sit together and to discuss these things. 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,” he added.
In the July 13 article, Spadaro and Figueroa warned that the political alliance between some American Catholics and evangelicals has “gradually radicalized” to promote conflict and hatred, as well as a “xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations.”
The piece has drawn criticism from conservative American Catholics and evangelicals, who contended that their views have been grossly misrepresented. Spadaro and Figueroa, on the other hand, have stood by the article and have reposted it regularly on Twitter over the last month.
Moore said that he was surprised that the pope, who is known for being a “bridge builder,” would allow such an article to be published.
Francis has made helping refugees and immigrants a top priority of his papacy, and he has frequently contradicted Trump’s view of Muslim refugees fleeing from Syria and other parts of the Middle East. He has also expressed his objection to the rising populism against the world, and he has criticized Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall with Mexico as “not Christian.”
The Vatican has not yet issued a public comment regarding Moore’s letter, and there has not been any indication that such a meeting with the pope will take place.