With a harsh denunciation of American conservatism, published in the semi-official Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica, the Vatican has plunged headlong into a partisan debate in a society that it clearly does not understand, potentially alienating (or should I say, further alienating) the Americans most inclined to favor the influence of the Church.
Why? Why this bitter attack on the natural allies of traditional Catholic teachings? Is it because the most influential figures at the Vatican today actually want to move away from those traditional teachings, and form a new alliance with modernity?
The authors of the essay claim to embrace ecumenism, but they have nothing but disdain for the coalition formed by Catholics and Evangelical Protestants in the United States. They scold American conservatives for seeing world events as a struggle of good against evil, yet they clearly convey the impression that they see American conservativism as an evil influence that must be defeated.
While they are quick to pronounce judgment on American politicians, the two authors betray an appalling ignorance of the American scene. … The essay is written from the perspective of people who draw their information about America from left-wing journals rather than from practical experience.
The central thesis of the Civilta Cattolica essay is that American conservatives have developed an ideology, based on fundamentalist Protestant beliefs, that sees the US as morally righteous, with other people as enemies and thus justifies conflict and exploitation. Again and again the authors describe this attitude as “Manichean;” they insist on the need to “fight against” it. They insist on tolerance, but they have no tolerance for this attitude. Nowhere in the essay does one find a suggestion of the attitude, made popular by Pope Francis, that the Church should “accompany” sinners. No; the sins of American conservatism are unforgivable.
“Triumphalist, arrogant and vindictive ethnicism is actually the opposite of Christianity,” the authors tell us. So this is a heresy, then—the “Manichean” references were purposeful—and it must be condemned? The Vatican today lauds Martin Luther for his desire to reform the faith, but denounces Evangelical Protestants for—for what, exactly? The Civilta Cattolica essay speaks—in typically incendiary terms—of an “ecumenism of hate.” But it is not obvious, frankly, who hates whom.
Read the bolded portion in the quote again. The fact is, at present, and when it comes to moral issues, we are indeed living in an era of two Churches: one is a Church of the World, and one is a Church of Christ (and note that this is true for Protestants as well).
Now, while both sides view themselves as the Church of Christ, it is, in fact, only one side–the liberal / progressive side–that is pushing to conform the Church to the world, rather than vis versa. And this can be seen in the fact that liberals and progressives are more than willing to throw out Christians scriptures and traditions that they do not like in order to make themselves more appealing to the world around them, whether it is by appealing to secularists or Islamists or whomever. By contrast, traditionalist and orthodox believers are not willing to do this, and so they are maligned by the world, just as Christ said they would be. And that is the key clue as to which Church is the Church of Christ and which is the Church of the World.