NEW YORK (AP) — Evangelical supporters of President Donald Trump on Monday requested a meeting with Pope Francis over a recent critical article in a Vatican-vetted journal.
Johnnie Moore, a leader of Trump’s evangelical advisory board and a spokesman for some of its members, said he sent the request to Rome in response to an article published last month that accused some American Catholics of building an alliance of “hate” with evangelicals who backed the president.
The two authors of the piece are confidants of Francis. They published their article in the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, which is reviewed by the Vatican Secretariat of State.
Moore said he sought the meeting with the pope and Vatican officials to address “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,” Moore wrote in his letter to the pontiff.
The July 13 article warned that the decades-old political alliance between some American Catholics and evangelicals had “gradually radicalized” to promote conflict and hatred and a “xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations.”
Francis has made helping refugees and immigrants a top priority of his papacy. Trump has sought to bar travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and vowed to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The president has said the measures were key to fighting terrorism and protecting national security.
The article has prompted an outpouring of criticism from conservative American Catholics and evangelicals, who contend the article grossly misrepresents their views to make a political point. The article’s authors have stood by their conclusions, re-posting the piece regularly on Twitter over the last month.