Washington D.C., Aug 3, 2017 / 21:08 pm
A prominent Jesuit publication’s essay on American religion and politics continues to provoke responses from critics concerned its two authors fundamentally misunderstand the situation of Catholics in the United States.
“Their essay is bad but important,” said New York Times columnist Ross Douthat Aug. 2, saying its apparent intention is to warn about Catholic support for “the darker tendencies in Trumpism” like xenophobia, stigmatization of enemies, the “prosperity-gospel inflected worship of success,” and a “crude view of Islam.”
For Douthat, however, the authors’ understanding of American religion “seems to start and end with Google searches and anti-evangelical tracts.” In his view, secularization and political polarization have made the place of Catholics in the U.S. “more difficult and perplexing.” Both Catholic support for Trump and more radical Catholic critiques “are not the culmination of the Catholic-evangelical alliance but rather a reaction to its political and cultural failures — and the failures of liberal religious politics as well.”
On July 13 the Jesuit-run journal La Civilta Cattolica published an analysis piece co-authored by its editor, Father Antonio Spadaro, S.J., and Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian pastor who is editor-in-chief of the Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano, the daily newspaper of Vatican City.