That maxim about Democrats falling out and Republicans falling into line never seemed truer than today, at least the second part, as Pastor John Hagee tosses out huge chunks of his own evangelical Protestant theology, preached by him on countless, often televised occasions, because its open anti-Catholicism might hurt John McCain’s campaign. Josh Marshall’s headline says it all: “Hagee: Just Kidding! ” Here is most of the Wall Street Journal‘s report:
Washington Wire – WSJ.com : McCain Backer John Hagee Apologizes to Catholics
McCain Backer John Hagee Apologizes to Catholics
John Hagee, the controversial Evangelical pastor who endorsed John McCain, will issue a letter of apology to Catholics today for inflammatory remarks he has made, including accusing the Roman Catholic Church of supporting Adolf Hitler and calling it “The Great Whore.” (See a copy of the letter PDF.)
“Out of a desire to advance greater unity among Catholics and Evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful,” Hagee wrote, according to an advanced copy of the letter reviewed by Washington Wire. “After engaging in constructive dialogue with Catholic friends and leaders, I now have an improved understanding of the Catholic Church, its relation to the Jewish faith, and the history of anti-Catholicism.”
In the letter, addressed to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League and one of Hagee’s biggest critics, Hagee pledges “a greater level of compassion and respect for my Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ.”
Hagee met with 22 Catholic leaders in Washington on Friday to apologize for his comments, according to a source familiar with the meeting. Despite the McCain’s condemnation of Hagee’s anti-Catholic remarks, the campaign had no role in that meeting or Tuesday’s apology, according to the source who said it was something Hagee did because he felt it was necessary.
Donohue is expected to release a letter in response today, accepting Hagee’s apology. The Catholic leader slammed both Hagee and McCain in February, releasing a statement titled “McCain Embraces Bigot.”
“For the past few decades, [Hagee] has waged an unrelenting war against the Catholic Church,” Donohue wrote then. The Catholic League also compiled a bullet-point list on things they object to about Hagee titled “Veteran Bigot.”
Hagee’s letter explains some of the harsh words he has used when describing the Catholic Church. “I better understand that reference to the Roman Catholic Church as the ‘apostate church’ and the ‘great whore’ described in the book of Revelation” — both terms Hagee has employed — “is a rhetorical device long employed in anti-Catholic literature and commentary,” he wrote.