Exclusive interview: Antonio Spadaro on his article about ‘The Ecumenism of Hate’ in the U.S.
Pope Francis accepts an issue of La Civilta Cattolica from Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the Jesuit-run magazine, in February. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano, handout)
What is the central question you wish to raise with this article?
The central question is the mutual manipulation between politics and religion, which is a risk that is not exclusive to the United States, it’s a constant risk.
Is it usual for La Civiltà Cattolica to express its opinion on the Catholic Church in a particular country to such an extent?
Since last February, La Civiltà Cattolica has been an international review published in five languages. It is necessary, therefore, to have an international outlook at both the religious and political levels. We [Spadaro and his Protestant co-author] have not expressed our opinion on the Catholic Church in general. We have expressed our opinion on a phenomenon and sought to make our contribution to understanding it.
So you are focusing on the phenomenon rather than the country?
Exactly! But, I should add that it is the tradition of La Civiltà Cattolica to reflect on ecclesial phenomena that can concern various countries in the world. Normally, there is one article in each issue on the various countries in the world from the point of view of international politics and the politics of the church at the international level. This has been part of our tradition since the founding of the review in 1850. In this edition, we wanted to underline a phenomenon and tried to understand it, not to focus on a nation.
Some early responses to the article have suggested that it conflates mainstream conservative political/religious alliances (around issues like abortion, religious liberty and same-sex marriage) with the extreme fringe positions it describes. Others have suggested that it demonizes anyone who can be connected to these positions even as it calls for a broader spirit of dialogue. How would you respond to these critics?
It was not our intention to demonize anybody. We highlighted the risk in certain situations. We did not wish to demonize the conservatives or the progressives in these situations on which we focused. We highlighted how some religious values are manipulated for political ends. I see this manipulation as very risky, irrespective of whether it’s done by the progressives or by the conservatives. It’s problematic. Today we see the manipulation of religion by parts of the ultra-conservative political forces in various countries. But we hold that in the political field differences of position are not only legitimate but also necessary. …