Saturday, March 16, 2013


Francesco, Il Papa

Liberty for whom? To do what?

"I demand the liberty to impose my authority on you."

It seems that Il Nuovo Papa was selected for the Triple Tiara from among such an august conclave of worthies in part due his excellent service on behalf of the fascist military dictatorship that ruled Argentina during the Unpleasantness often referred to as "The Dirty War." Which was part of the murderous rightist dictatorships and rampages throughout much of Latin America during a particularly unfortunate period of history. Not so very long ago.

I don't have all the details by any means, but the outline of Bergoglio's complicity in the disappearances, torture and murder of thousands of Argentinians is crystallizing, and it ain't pretty. Oh no. Not a bit.

Say what you will about Ratzinger's Nazi associations -- Hitler Youth and all, but of course renounced after the War when he went into the priesthood. This Bergoglio was not committing the typical youthful indiscretions. He was apparently actively upholding "liberation" -- of the Argentine military and its dictatorship in order to stamp out the Evils of Leftism, the Very Devil Himself as it were, in Argentina and wherever else on God's Green Earth it was to be found.

No matter its cost in the blood and treasure of the innocent. They will, after all, receive their reward in Heaven.

Yes, he loves the poor, every one of them, let there be more of them, let the Church Itself be Poor, world without end, amen.

Liberation? For whom? To do what?

It is being bruited about in rather appalling detail how opposed Bergoglio has been to the error and heresy of Liberation Theology, once embraced by the Church, especially in Latin America, but now renounced in no uncertain terms. When priests at mass, bishops on their rounds, nuns in their cloisters, and Catholic laypeople of all sorts are brutally shot down, their bodies dumped where the feral animals can feed on them, and when civilians are tortured and murdered en masse, entire villages put to slaughter, it seems to concentrate the minds of hierarchies of all sorts, not solely that of the Church, to dwell on the errors of their ways, and for the Church Universal, the error identified was the very Liberation Theology that had done so much and gone so far to raise up the People from their abject state toward the Light of Heaven.

Liberation? For whom? To do what?

When I witnessed the rapturous crowds in St. Peter's Square cheering the sight of white smoke pouring forth from the Sistine Chimney, then screaming accolades to their new and relatively unknown Pope, simply because he had been chosen, I reflected on the summer of '63, and the first papal transition I remember witnessing (I probably saw the television coverage of the transition from Pius XII to John XXIII in 1958, too, but for some reason I don't recall it.) The pomp and ceremony was mesmerizing. I'd never seen anything like it. The wildly cheering crowds of Faithful. The full pageantry of the Church on display. Those were the days when the Pope was still carried around in his gilded and red velvet throne by husky young Italian Men of Faith,  fan bearers on either side slowly wafting their ostrich plumes to cool His Holiness's tiaraed brow and ensure the ample distribution of the Holy Spirit among the multitudes (so I interpreted it, anyway).

John XXIII had been a champ, but this Paul VI, eee, what a sourpuss. Not the same at all, and his benedictions didn't carry nearly the warmth and charity of his predecessor. From his throne carried high on the shoulders of his litter bearers, he seemed to be a throwback to the Church of yore, a Church full of cobwebs, empty ritual, and corruption. In those days, one never mentioned the unmentionable goings on in the sacristies and cloisters. You mean it was happening then, too? Ohfergawdsake, yes.

I've been told since then that Paul VI was actually quite a forward thinking progressive prelate -- at least compared to more recent heirs to St. Peter -- and that while he may have lacked the common touch and charisma of John XXIII, he was no slouch when it came to opening up and airing out the mustier corners of the Church. There have even been claims that it was he who put the Imprimatur on Liberation Theology, though my own recollection was that he was not in favor of it and tried to suppress its growth and development.

Well. It was a long time ago, and as one ages, one's memories fade and combine with unrelated snippets of this or that occurrence or story from times gone by.


In the context of the Church? One must think it through. So many millions have given up the Church, consciously separating themselves from its tender mercies and for good reason, one of which is their dawning liberation from its stultifying embrace.  My father was excommunicated for daring to defy his bishop and marrying my mother (A Divorced Woman), but he thought of his dismissal from the Bosom of the Church as his own liberation from its more ridiculous strictures. "Picking and choosing" as it were. A Cafeteria Catholic -- as most typically are. When a priest was sent to administer the Last Rites after his heart attack, my father is said to have revived and practically drove the poor man out with a stick. At any rate...

There has been much to-do over the fact that Bergoglio is a Jesuit, something no Pope has ever been, but I wouldn't make too much of it. The Jesuits and all the rest of the many Orders have long since been absorbed into the Borg (to coin a phrase), and there is no independence of either thought or action among them, especially not at the level of Cardinal. They are a unit.

No, what seems to make Bergoglio the unique and chosen one to be Pope is his antipathy toward anything modern, let alone anything "leftist."

From the World Socialist Website, we have this:

But some of Bergoglio’s harshest critics come from within the Catholic Church itself, including priests and lay workers who say he handed them over to the torturers as part of a collaborative effort to “cleanse” the Church of “leftists.” One of them, a Jesuit priest, Orlando Yorio, was abducted along with another priest after ignoring a warning from Bergoglio, then head of the Jesuit order in Argentina, to stop their work in a Buenos Aires slum district.

During the first trial of leaders of the military junta in 1985, Yorio declared, “I am sure that he himself gave over the list with our names to the Navy.” The two were taken to the notorious Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA) torture center and held for over five months before being drugged and dumped in a town outside the city.

Bergoglio was ideologically predisposed to backing the mass political killings unleashed by the junta. In the early 1970s, he was associated with the right-wing Peronist Guardia de Hierro (Iron Guard), whose cadre—together with elements of the Peronist trade union bureaucracy—were employed in the death squads known as the Triple A (Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance), which carried out a campaign of extermination against left-wing opponents of the military before the junta even took power. Adm. Emilio Massera, the chief of the Navy and the leading ideologue of the junta, also employed these elements, particularly in the disposal of the personal property of the “disappeared.”

Yorio, who died in 2000, charged that Bergoglio “had communications with Admiral Massera, and had informed him that I was the chief of the guerrillas.”

Yes, well... It gets much worse.

The collaboration with the junta was not a mere personal failing of Bergoglio, but rather the policy of the Church hierarchy, which backed the military’s aims and methods. The Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky exposed Bergoglio’s attempted cover-up for this systemic complicity in a book that Bergoglio authored, which edited out compromising sentences from a memorandum recording a meeting between the Church leadership and the junta in November 1976, eight months after the military coup.

The excised statement included the pledge that the Church “in no way intends to take a critical position toward the action of the government,” as its “failure would lead, with great probability, to Marxism.” It declared the Catholic Church’s “understanding, adherence and acceptance” in relation to the so-called “Proceso” that unleashed a reign of terror against Argentine working people.

This support was by no means platonic. The junta’s detention and torture centers were assigned priests, whose job it was, not to minister to those suffering torture and death, but to help the torturers and killers overcome any pangs of conscience. Using such biblical parables as “separating the wheat from the chafe,” they assured those operating the so-called “death flights,” in which political prisoners were drugged, stripped naked, bundled onto airplanes and thrown into the sea, that they were doing “God’s work.” Others participated in the torture sessions and tried to use the rite of confession to extract information of use to the torturers.

This collaboration was supported from the Vatican on down. In 1981, on the eve of Argentina’s war with Britain over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, Pope John Paul II flew to Buenos Aires, appearing with the junta and kissing its then-chief, Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, while saying not a word about the tens of thousands who had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

Now of course, Bergoglio was only the Jesuit Provincial back in the day, he was not even Archbishop of Buenos Aires, a mitre he did not receive until 1998.

A Provincial takes orders, you see.

Whatever could he do?

Liberation? For whom? To do what?


  1. During a private audience, Pope John Paul is reported to have reproved the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Ballestrero of Turin, for his lack of enthusiasm for CL: "When you come to know them better", the cardinal replied, "you won't like them that much either." ---

    The modern Church has become a Right-Wing political organization. A mistake for which I believe it will one day soon face a reckoning. (The last time the Church was this cynical and political, we got Martin Luther.)

  2. The Church I remember was pretty rigid and rightist right up to the advent of John XXIII. The papacy was notorious for getting in bed with ALL the Fascist dictators wherever and whenever they arose. There wasn't a Fascist the Holy See didn't adore and lavish affection upon.

    Of course, that habit of behavior had a tendency to discredit the Holy Father in the minds of the public, especially during the War and after the defeat of the Nazis, et al. Whuh-oops.

    My skin would crawl at the very mention of Pius XII, and his picture made me wretch.

    So the Church's current fascination with the fringes of Rightist politics doesn't surprise me. The bishops and the papacy are on the fringes of the right, obsessing over things that are none of their holy business. In a manner of speaking.

    This Francis is trying a different tack to be sure, but he's aiming for the same destination.


  3. The Church got a pass on it's support for Fascism during the cold war because, after all, many of the same corporations that admired Mussolini and Hitler (sometimes quite openly, before the War) ended up running the Western half of the world after the War, and they figured the Church was an outfit that they could do business with.

    I think things will be different soon, without something like the Soviet Union to scare people into place. (Putin, it appears, has his own church to do his bidding these days.) Misery is being inflicted on the world, and I honestly don't think it will stand, and with the choices in leadership and doctrine of the Church, I think they are going to end up on the wrong side of History.

    But what do I know? I was an altar boy in a Catholic church for many years but these days I'm a Theravada Buddhist, so I probably shouldn't be commenting on the Church of my childhood.

  4. The Church has been on the wrong side of history more than once in the last 2,000 years, but it seems to have absorbed few of the lessons it might have learned -- well, except for PR.

    And for the last few decades, the PR has been pretty much a disaster, too.

    This Bergoglio/Francesco has so far proved to be quite the PR coup, though. He comes across as so very appealing, warm and almost cuddly. Unlike any Pope since JXXIII. He could shake things up as much as Roncalli did, but backsliding would be institutionally inevitable.

    As for comments on the Church of One's Childhood, it's always apropos as far as I am concerned.