Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has strongly rejected a critique of American Christianity written by two of the Pope’s associates.

He said the piece, published in the Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, was an “exercise in dumbing down”.

The archbishop said the article misrepresented the nature of cooperation between Catholics in Evangelicals in the United States, adding that it seems “wilfully ignorant” of the cultural battles they face.

The Civiltà Cattolica article, written by papal confidant Fr Antonio Spadaro and Protestant theologian Marcelo Figueroa, accused American conservative Catholics of joining Evangelical Protestants in an “ecumenism of hate” on issues such as immigration.

Fr Spadaro and Mr Figueroa said this alliance was concerned with gaining political power over the state, and described senior politicians as holding a “Manichaean” mindset that divides the world into absolute good and absolute evil. But writing for Catholic Philly, Archbishop Chaput said Catholics and Evangelicals had traditionally had strong differences and only a “real and present danger” could draw them together.

“Their current mutual aid, the ecumenism that seems to so worry La Civiltà Cattolica, is a function of shared concerns and principles, not ambition for political power,” the archbishop wrote, adding that it was an “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.”

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