Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Papal news, 3/18/13

Posted by Charles II on March 19, 2013

In my previous post, I posed the following as one of the key questions raised by the elevation of Jorge Bergoglio to Pope.

4. Since past money-laundering by the Church has involved CIA operations to overthrow left-wing governments, is Communion and Liberation part of such an effort to overthrow the Bolivarian governments of Central and South America?

The point is that the CIA and the Church share a near-paranoid, or perhaps actually paranoid fear of Communism. Even today, Argentine Dictator Jorge Rafael Videla is shouting from his prison cell that his compatriots need to maintain the physical ability to combat the Marxism of duly elected president Cristina Kirchner. This is just a bit crazy.

Yes, Communist governments have persecuted the Church. But Communism is only one of many forces that have been pernicious to the Church. Wealth has been a far more deadly enemy. In Germany, the Church was seduced into joining the State.

Kyle Barron of NACLA has provided some historical context to help understand the question posed. In particular is the interesting note that John Paul II appointed a conservative to head the Jesuits in 1980. Rafael Videla was dictator until 1981, and dictatorship continued until 1983. Barron notes that:

The CIA was the primary instrument used to influence the church. A year-long investigation by Mother Jones magazine in 1983 revealed that after World War II the CIA “passed money to a large number of priests and bishops—some of whom became witting agents in CIA covert operations,” even creating a special unit devoted to working with the Vatican. In the 1970s the CIA began supplying information on practitioners of radical religion and sat by as 850 nuns and clergy were tortured, killed, or arrested. Its main strategy was to divide the church between progressive and conservative elements.

The CIA funded various conservative religious groups throughout Latin America, including Opus Dei members in Chile who subsequently entered into Pinochet’s administration after the 1973 coup, as well as funding the Bolivian Interior Ministry at the time it drew up and disseminated the “Banzer Plan,” which called for the persecution of progressive priests and clergy. The United States saw Liberation Theology as a threat that signaled Latin America’s move toward Marxism. The fight against progressive elements in the church was seen as another battlefront in the Cold War.

On another topic, Jim in comments, linked a Washington Post article on Cardinal Bergoglio’s dealing with sex abuse cases.

Also, there’s an interesting NCR piece by John Allen claiming to have inside information sugggests that Bergoglio was selected as “the last man standing,” an outsider who might have a shot at reforming the Vatican, and a Latin American who could shore up the Church’s standing in that region.

I think it’s pretty clear that this story will simmer for a while without anything further being resolved. Argentina as a nation, and Catholics generally, will want to give the new Pope a chance.

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6 Responses to “Papal news, 3/18/13”

  1. Phoenix Woman said

    Thanks for following up on this, Charles.

  2. Jim said

    The Bergoglio situation wrt to the dirty war history is back in the news.

    These reports offer a brief description of an article behind a paywall at The Tablet.


    Jesuit questions Pope Francis’s record in Argentina
    Priests says institute in Buenos Aires never criticised or opposed the government

    Deep divisions between the conservative Argentine province of the Jesuits, for long headed by Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and other Jesuit provinces in the west, are detailed in report in today’s Tablet , the British Catholic weekly, by Fr Michael Campbell-Johnston SJ, a former provincial of the British Jesuits.

    Fr Campbell-Johnston spent many years as a priest in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.

    I Tried To Show Him How It Was Out Of Step

    In some countries, the Jesuit social institutes were forced to act underground and in secrecy, he writes, “ but . . . our institute in Buenos Aires was able to function freely because it never criticised or opposed the government. As a result, there were justice issues it could not address or even mention.

    This was the topic I remembered discussing at length with Fr Bergoglio. “He naturally defended the existing situation, though I tried to show him how it was out of step with our other social institutes on the continent. Our discussion was lengthy . . . [but] we never reached an agreement.”

    Additional Background on Fr. Michael Campbell-Johnston SJ here in the newsletter of the British Province of the Society Of Jesus, Feb 2012. The title of the article is “Jesuit recalls end of a “brutal” 12 year war”.

    • Charles II said

      Thanks for the links. Jim.

      I especially like Campbell-Johnston’s comment in SJ that “A Christian who defends unjust situations is no longer a Christian.”

      • Jim said

        “A Christian who defends unjust situations is no longer a Christian.” That view and his personal experiences in Central and South America may have something to do with the content of what is in the Tablet article. I would very much like to read the entire article, but not at that price.

        I will be watching for further comments from Fr Michael Campbell-Johnston. I would not be surprised to see more from him on these issues.

      • Charles II said

        I fixed the comment, Jim.

    • Thanks for the links, Jim.

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