Notes and quotes on The Pope's War: Why Ratzinger's Secret Crusade Has Imperiled The Catholic Church and How It Can Be Saved by Matthew Fox.
Not being Catholic, I confess that I have not paid much attention to the world of Roman Catholic church politics. Like many, I had a good impression of Pope John Paul II and an unfortunate impression of Pope Benedict XVI. But reading The Pope's War introduced me to a war, sometime overt but mostly covert, by John Paul II and Benedict XVI against modernity.
John Paul knew very well how to use the media to create a good impression. What many did not realize is that John Paul worked very hard to reverse the changes of Vatican II and that Benedict was his right hand man in that endeavor. Both were arch-conservatives who preferred that the Catholic Church be organized on a monarchical pattern, much like during the Middle Ages. So they actively persecuted Roman Catholics who questioned this approach (see the list here). Specifically, they sought to destroy Liberation Theology, and they completely succeeded. In the process, they sided with and frequently funded right-wing dictators in South America, in concert with the Reagan Administration and the CIA.
Liberation Theology was a movement designed to emphasize the responsibility of the church to take care of and represent the poor and oppressed. One thinks of the "social gospel", and it is hard not to reach the conclusion that this was the perspective maintained by Jesus himself, as witnessed in the canonical gospels. Yet John Paul and Benedict suppressed this movement, fearing that it had become Marxist and that it would undermine their authority. Given John Paul's history combating communism in Poland, this perspective is perhaps understandable, and it certainly fit into the CIA's concern about democratic movements that destabilized the CIA's influence around the world. Unfortunately, this was all a lie. Liberation Theology was not Marxist at all, but rather a legitimate expression of the social gospel.
Many forget that under John Paul, Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern successor to the Holy Inquisition. Ratzinger's role was to suppress Liberation Theology and to entrench hyper-conservative elements in the Vatican bureaucracy. Consider that all of the Cardinals who participated in the recent election of Pope Francis were made cardinal by either John Paul or Benedict. Therefore, the Vatican hierarchy completely represents their conservative point of view. No exceptions.
Consider also the incredible level of support given by John Paul and Benedict to the most conservative of Catholic religious orders, at the expense of the traditional orders:
These organizations are characterized by the following principles, all of which mark them as fascist and authoritarian:
- Women are subservient to men.
- Sexuality and reproduction need to be controlled.
- Opposition to modernity, especially relativism.
- Secret tribunals with no representation or appeal.
- Anti-communist and pro-capitalist.
- Ideology over theology.
- Absolute obedience to authority.
- Preference for the elites over the people.
- Militantly anti-intellectual.
There is a rather interesting connection of this conservative trend with Spanish fascism and links to Generalisimo Francisco Franco. Frank Cocozzelli wrote a series of 36 articles on this on Talk2Action, which have been reproduced here with his permission. If this connection is true, it should not surprise us that the last two popes should maintain links with right-wing dictators in the Western Hemisphere, at the expense of social and economic justice.
But what is particularly appalling about this is that while embarked on a campaign to dilute Vatican II, cripple Liberation Theology, and silence theologians who thought outside the conservative box (including the author - Matthew Fox), these same popes ignored - and therefore enabled - the clergy sex abuse crisis which has so badly damaged the Roman Catholic Church in the past 30 years. Not only did they suppress evidence of systematic abuse by priests and bishops around the world, including by the head of the Legion of Christ (Marcial Marciel), they refused to take action against any accused clergy for decades. Their denial of this issue is in keeping with their focus on retrenchment; they simply view criticisms from without as evidence of plots by a hostile media to damage the church. Their view of women is patriarchal, and their desire to protect the church eclipses any damage done by abusive clergy; therefore the sex abuse scandals simple were not important enough to deal with. Self-preservation and secrecy trumped honesty and integrity.
Unfortunately, in denying the credibility of the stories and accusations - not to mention the incredible pain suffered by the thousands of abused and ignored - the Vatican under John Paul II and Benedict XVI has lost all credibility, all claim to being a spiritual organization. The Catholic Church has become a neo-fascist boys-only club which protects a global pedophile culture.
A further development that is of concern are the links that the Roman Catholic Church has in the USA to uber-conservative political groups, such as a membership in the Heritage Foundation. Without digressing into excruciating detail, let me ask the question: Why would a church involve itself in conservative politics in the USA? A church devoted to the message and teachings of Jesus Christ?