One of our deepest divides is surely cultural: language. What I quote below – a piece recently published in the Vatican-reviewed journal La Civiltà Cattolica – has a lot of very big words and larger thoughts, which many of the practical world may find intimidating or perhaps even offensive.

The piece, headlined “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism,” declares that some American evangelicals and Catholics have become a “community of combatants” who oppose what Pope Francis stands for and seek to impose a “xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations.”

The Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, and the Rev. Marcelo Figueroa, a Presbyterian minister and editor-in-chief of the Argentinian edition of L’Osservatore Romano, take “value voters” to task for wanting religion to influence politics in what the authors call a “nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state.”

The authors claim that conservative Catholics and evangelicals come together over “shared objectives,” such as combating abortion and same-sex marriage or promoting religious education in schools, fostering an “ecumenism of conflict” that demonizes others.

“The panorama of threats to their understanding of the American way of life have included modernist spirits, the black civil rights movement, the hippie movement, communism, feminist movements and so on,” the authors write. “And now in our day there are the migrants and the Muslims.”

I am almost certain that the phrase “ecumenism of conflict” will baffle even some people with doctorates, and “panorama of threats” will exude dinosaurs, rather than ideas.

It is a difficult world to traverse within our languages, and much harder when much of the voting populace does not understand the word “populace.” But that is the job: help them understand, without bamboozling them, as perhaps they have in fact been bamboozled.

Elizabeth Burke

Portland