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.