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Vatican-Vetted Magazine Accuses Steve Bannon of ‘Apocalyptic Geopolitics’

A close confidant of Pope Francis, writing Thursday in a Vatican-approved magazine, has condemned those within American presidential administrations who espouse the ideology of "Christian fundamentalism" — naming White House chief strategist Steve Bannon as a proponent of such "apocalyptic geopolitics."

In a damning article, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of the influential Jesuit journal La Civilità Cattolica, also took aim at conservative religious support for President Donald Trump, accusing activists of promoting a "xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations."

Trump has sought to bar travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump visits the Vatican
Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor of U.S. President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, U.S. First Lady Melania Trump, U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Pope Francis pose for a photo during their private audience in Vatican City, 24 May 2017. ALESSANDRA TARANTINO / POOL / EPA

In a story entitled, "Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism," Spadaro criticized the way some American evangelicals and their Roman Catholic supporters mix religion and politics, saying they demonized opponents and promoted a "theocratic type of state."

He added that their vision was "not too far apart" from Islamic fundamentalism.

The article — which was co-written by a Presbyterian pastor, the Rev. Marcelo Figueroa, who is editor of the Argentine edition of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano — was published just days after evangelical leaders met Trump in the Oval Office and laid their hands on him in prayer.

The relationship between the president and pontiff appears to be largely cordial. In May Trump traveled to Rome to meet the Catholic leader where they had a 30-minute private conversation.

But the pair have disagreed on issues including environmental protection. Last month the head of the Vatican's Academy of Sciences said Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris accords would be a "slap in the face for the Vatican."

Articles in La Civilità Cattolica are read by the Vatican Secretariat of State before they are published. Under Francis, who is a Jesuit, the publication has become something of an "authoritative" outlet for the Vatican, although it is not an official mouthpiece of the papacy, Spadaro told NBC News.

The political alliance between Catholics and American Protestants that is at the heart of Spadaro's article emerged in the late 20th century.

In the 1980s and '90s, some conservative religious leaders built an affiliation over such issues as abortion and marriage, culminating in a 1994 declaration written by the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism, and Chuck Colson, the Watergate felon turned born-again Christian.

Spadaro said this relationship has "gradually radicalized," dividing the world into only good and evil and promoting division and hatred.

The reverend specifically criticized the Catholic American media organization ChurchMilitant.com. Spadaro said the media outlet framed the presidential election as a "spiritual war" and Trump's ascent to the presidency as "a divine election."

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Michael Voris, who founded the outlet, said in an interview that he was shocked by the article.

"Here's a fellow who is accusing us of trying to use the church to push a political agenda, which is completely absurd," Voris said, when "they are using a leftist agenda to pursue leftist goals."

Some political conservatives have accused Francis of promoting socialism or Marxism, a characterization he rejects. The pope has frequently lashed out at the injustices of capitalism and the global economic system, and has urged governments to redistribute wealth to the poor.

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