Archbp. Chaput responds to Jesuit Fr. Antonio “2+2=5” Spadaro and La Civiltà Cattolica


One of you readers caught this and posted in the combox.

To submit a reply to Archbishop Chaput’s column, the anti-spam quiz currently is “What is 2 plus 2?” Very shrewd. This will prevent Fr. Antonio “2+2=5” Spadaro from leaving a reply.

For the comment and for the person who set up the comment form at Catholic Philly.

Fr. Z's Gold Star Award


__ Originally Published on: Jul 18, 2017 @ 13:37

chaputHis Excellency Most Reverend Charles Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, has weighed in on the anti-American attack in Inciviltà cattolica.

Among other things, Chaput is the author of the thoughtful book: Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian WorldUS HERE – UK HERE

The coauthors of the anti-American attack are Jesuit Fr. Antonio “2+2=5” Spadaro and Argentinian Presbyterian pastor Marcelo Figueroa.

Spadaro is so interested in the life and works of Pier Vittorio Tondelli that he created his own website about him (HERE).  Figueroa once had a TV show with the future-Pope Francis and a rabbi and is now the editor of the Argentinian edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

Here is Archbp. Chaput at Catholic Philly with my by-now-legendary ornamentation:

A word about useful tools

History is full of great quotations that people never said. One of the best lines comes from Vladimir Lenin. He described Russian progressives, social democrats, and other fellow travelers as “useful idiots” – naïve allies in revolution whom the Bolsheviks promptly crushed when they took power.  [The Archbishop is off to a good start.  Where will this go, I wonder!]

Or so the legend goes. In fact, there’s no evidence Lenin actually spoke those words, at least in public. But no one seems to care. It’s a compelling line, and in its own way, entirely true. The naïve and imprudent can very easily end up as useful tools in a larger conflict; or to frame it more generously, as useful innocents. The result is usually the same. They’re discarded. [What popped into my mind on reading the above is another thing that wasn’t precisely said by the one who said it, Joseph Goebbels, about the “Big Lie”. You know how it goes: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”  He sort of said it, however.  Read more about that fascinating quote HERE  It’s origin happens to be Mein Kampf (one of the books that Benjamin Wiker identifies among the 10 that “screwed up the world”. US HERE – UK HERE]

History is also full of unfortunate comments that really were said – as found, for example, in a recent Rome-based journal article that many have already rightly criticized. The article in question, La Civiltà Cattolica’s “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A Surprising Ecumenism,” is an exercise in dumbing down and inadequately presenting the nature of Catholic/evangelical cooperation on religious freedom and other key issues.  [In an ironic twist, Spadaro and Figueroa are trying to create “useful idiots” with their article.  To a certain extent they succeeded.]


Catholics and other Christians who see themselves as progressive tend to be wary of the religious liberty debate. Some distrust it as a smokescreen for conservative politics. Some see it as a distraction from other urgent issues. Some are made uneasy by the cooperation of many Catholics and evangelicals, as well as Mormons and many Orthodox, to push back against abortion on demand, to defend marriage and the family, and to resist LGBT efforts to weaken religious freedom protections through coercive SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity) “anti-discrimination” laws.  [It is interesting to see who lines up in support of the Civiltà attack. Not a few have a vested interest in the “coercive SOGI” agenda, don’t they.]

But working for religious freedom has never precluded service to the poor. The opposite is true. In America, the liberty of religious communities has always been a seedbed of social action and ministry to those in need. [It is exasperating that some liberals will lambast those in favor of tradition with complaints about paying attention to, say, liturgy, instead of paying attention to the poor, as if a) it weren’t possible to do more than on thing at the same time and b) liturgy is also for the poor and c) without proper worship of God at the heart of works, working for the poor turns into a self-congratulatory exercise.]

The divide between Catholic and other faith communities has often run deep. Only real and present danger could draw them together. The cooperation of Catholics and evangelicals was quite rare when I was a young priest. Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civilta Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power. [Right.  It is hard to understand how they don’t understand that we banded together in some respects because we are in a fight for our lives, over here.]

As an evangelical friend once said, the whole idea of Baptist faith cuts against the integration of Church and state. Foreign observers who want to criticize the United States and its religious landscape – and yes, there’s always plenty to criticize — should note that fact. It’s rather basic.

Dismissing today’s attacks on religious liberty as a “narrative of fear” — as the La Civiltà Cattolica author curiously [a kind word] describes it — might have made some sense 25 years ago. Now it sounds willfully ignorant. It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief.  [Those who support the Civiltà attack are also those who tend to harp at “culture warriors”.  A writer at Fishwrap is a perfect example.]

So it’s an especially odd kind of surprise when believers are attacked by their co-religionists merely for fighting for what their Churches have always held to be true.  [Which epitomizes the aforementioned Fishwrap.]

Earlier this month, one of the main architects and financiers of today’s LGBT activism said publicly what should have been obvious all along: The goal of at least some gay activism is not simply to assure equality for the same-sex attracted, but to “punish the wicked” – in other words, to punish those who oppose the LGBT cultural agenda.  [Wow.   I looked that up and found it at The Christian Post.  HERE  Tim Gill, a software entrepreneur, has spent over $422 million to advance the homosexualist agenda.  He was interviewed in that bastion of virtues Rolling Stone.  “We’re going into the hardest states in the country,” the Rolling Stone article quoted Gill as saying. “We’re going to punish the wicked.”]

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out whom that might include. Today’s conflicts over sexual freedom and identity involve an almost perfect inversion of what we once meant by right and wrong.  [What do you want to bet that the homosexualist list will line up with the S-lists of some highly placed church officials.  What do you want to bet?]

Catholics are called to treat all persons with charity and justice. That includes those who hate what we believe. It demands a conversion of heart. It demands patience, courage and humility. We need to shed any self-righteousness. But charity and justice can’t be severed from truth. For Christians, Scripture is the Word of God, the revelation of God’s truth – and there’s no way to soften or detour around the substance of Romans 1:18-32, [see below] or any of the other biblical calls to sexual integrity and virtuous conduct.

Trying to do so demeans what Christians have always claimed to believe. It reduces us to useful tools of those who would smother the faith that so many other Christians have suffered, and are now suffering, to fully witness.

This is why groups that fight for religious liberty in our courts, legislatures, and in the public square – distinguished groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom and Becket (formerly the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty) – are heroes, not “haters.”

And if their efforts draw Catholics, evangelicals and other people of good will together in common cause, we should thank God for the unity it brings.

Fr. Z kudos to Archbp. Chaput for getting involved and responding to Inciviltà cattolica.

What does Paul say in Romans 1:18-32?

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. 29 They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. robtbrown says:

    Dismissing today’s attacks on religious liberty as a “narrative of fear” — as the La Civiltà Cattolica author curiously [a kind word] describes it — might have made some sense 25 years ago. Now it sounds willfully ignorant. It also ignores the fact that America’s culture wars weren’t wanted, and weren’t started, by people faithful to constant Christian belief.

    It’s already happened with the Hobby Lobby case, in which HL was being forced by Obamacare to provide abortifacients for employees via insurance. A similar case is now in the courts re the Little Sisters of the Poor.

    Of late, an Austrian journalist is being prosecuted for writing against homosexuality.

    I will say this about Fr Spadaro: He doesn’t let his own ignorance prevent him from propating erroneous opinions.

    Beam me up, Scotty. There’s no intelligent life down here.

  2. lawoski says:

    To submit a reply to Archbishop Chaput’s column, the anti-spam quiz currently is “What is 2 plus 2?” Very shrewd. This will prevent Fr. Antonio “2+2=5” Spadaro from leaving a reply.

    [ROFL! That made my DAY!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. rdb says:

    Kudos to Archbishop Chaput. I’ve always thought it was hypocritical of the leftist Catholics who claim those who are pro-life and promote religious freedom as culture warriors because we pray in front of abortion mills and before state houses but then have no problem with those who offer the Holy Mass at the border fence as being faithful to the Gospel.

  4. steve-s says:

    Unfortunately, the reading from Romans 1 stops at 1:25 and not 1:32 in the lectionary. If it’s never read at mass, how are we to know the full scripture passage?

    [Interesting. No? I guess the Council Fathers who want people to have more Scripture at Mass should have said, “Use the hard parts, too, and don’t edit it into Swiss cheese.”]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  5. Mike says:

    When I taught high school boys religion (now I teach other subjects) they didn’t believe me when I referenced Romans in homosexuality…I had to open the Bible and show them. Thanks, Archbishop Bugnini!

  6. mlmc says:

    as always ArchBp Chaput is an island of sanctity & sanity in a storm. I pray he will be given a red hat soon- can’t be soon enough. He can’t write enough books to keep me happy.

  7. LeeF says:

    Obviously ABp Chaput is to be commended for his courage and clarity in publicly fighting back. How many of his brother bishops in the US will be equally courageous? Wonder if Card. O’Malley will bother to say anything to the HF on this.


  9. Dafyd says:

    The movement Chaput describes who wishes to “punish the wicked” reminds me of a quotation from Frank Herbert’s Children of Dune.

    “When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles.”

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