A leading Evangelical advisor of President Donald Trump has written a letter to Pope Francis, requesting that the pontiff meet with Evangelical leaders after an article in a Vatican-reviewed journal accused the Trump administration of being under the sway of a “strange ecumenism” made up of fundamentalists and “integralist” Catholics leading to a “Manichean vision.”
The August 3 letter was sent by Johnnie Moore, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board. Moore currently serves as the CEO of The Kairos Company, a public relations and communications consulting firm he founded, and is a former vice president at Liberty University.
Only a short excerpt of the letter has been made public, and was published in Time on August 7, 2017.
“It’s in this moment of ongoing persecution, political division and global conflict that we have also witnessed efforts to divide Catholics and Evangelicals. 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.”
The letter was in response to an article in the Jesuit-run journal La Civiltà Cattolica, which is reviewed by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State prior to publication, written 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.
The two men argue an alliance between conservative Catholics and fundamentalist Evangelicals in the United States is undergirded by a dualistic “Manichean vision,” which is based upon “hate.”
Among other things, the article cited Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who’s a Catholic, suggesting he’s a “supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics.”
“I am and a lot of us are genuinely surprised that a pope who has principally a reputation as a bridge builder, if he did know about this, that he’d allow something like this to be published,” Moore told the Washington Post. “Whether his bridge-building extends even to those in his own church and the greater church or the extended church that disagree with this piece.”
On Twitter, Moore called the article “incendiary,” adding, “rather than being offended, we have chosen to attempt to make peace.”
Moore also tweeted two Bible verses related to the issue: “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother?” (Romans 14:10); and “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18).
Francis has had several meetings with Evangelical groups during his papacy. In 2014, he made a “private visit” to the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in Caserta, about 130 miles south of Rome, which was pastored by a friend the pope made in Argentina, Giovanni Traettino.
In 2016, the pope held an informal two-hour meeting with several Evangelical and Pentecostal leaders around the world.
Earlier this summer, Francis met with Evangelical leaders in Rome on the eve of Pentecost.
There has been no comment from the Vatican regarding Moore’s letter, nor any indication if any meeting with Francis will take place.