Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

“The most sordid 42 years of Catholic history since the Borgias”

Posted by Charles II on February 28, 2013

Former Dominican friar and current Episcopal priest Matthew Fox on the dysfunction in the Catholic hierarchy:

MATTHEW FOX: …Yeah, I think I’ll take the pope at his word here when he says he’s tired. I would be tired, too, if I left as much devastation in my wake as he has, first as inquisitor general under the previous pope. He brought the Inquisition back.

It’s become a viper’s nest there, obviously—the Vatican is…. It’s really sick, what’s going on, obviously—the cover-up of the pedophile priests.

So, history and cheerleading of popes, what I call papolatry, will not cover up the facts. This has been the most sordid 42 years of Catholic history since the Borgias. And as I say, I think it’s really about ending that church as we know it. I think Protestantism, too, needs a reboot. I think all of Christianity can get back more to the teachings of Jesus, a revolutionary around love and justice. That’s what it’s about. And that’s why there’s been such fierce resistance all along from the right wing. The CIA has been involved in, especially with Pope John Paul II, the decimation of liberation theology all over South America, the replacing of these heroic leaders, including bishops and cardinals, with Opus Dei cardinals and bishops, who are—well, frankly, it’s a fascist organization, Opus Dei is. It’s all about obedience. It’s not about ideas or theology. They haven’t produced one theologian in 40 years. They produce canon lawyers and people who infiltrate where the power is, whether it’s the media, the Supreme Court or the FBI, the CIA, and finance, especially in Europe.

Pope John XXIII called the [Second Vatican] council in the early ’60s,…it definitely was a reform movement, and it gave inspiration to the poor, especially in South America. And after the council, the movement of liberation theology, which had a principle of preferential option for the poor, this really took off.

And this non-hierarchical, this far more horizontal and circular approach to Christianity and to worship was a big threat, of course, to certain people in Rome, but it was even a bigger threat to the CIA. When Reagan was elected, two months later there was a meeting of his National Security Council in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to discuss one thing: How can we destroy liberation theology in Latin America? And they concluded: We can’t destroy it, but we can divide the church. And so they went after the pope. They gave him lots and lots of cash for solidarity in Poland. And in exchange, they got the permission, if you will, the commitment on the part of the papacy, to destroy liberation theology.

And this is very much documented. It’s actually documented by Carl Bernstein, of all people, in a cover story in Time magazine…

I loved his description of nailing an updated 95 theses, ala Martin Luther, to Cardinal Bernard Law’s door in Italy (Fox did the same to Cardinal Ratzinger, but there’s a special place in my heart for Bernard Law).

Fox’s basic point, with which I agree, is that the politicization of the church is what is causing its dysfunction. Having read some of Fox’s work elsewhere, I find some of his theology kind of bizarre but, as he indicated, freedom of conscience is essential to any true belief. At any rate, it does well to remember that Catholics outside of the hierarchy have led–often heroically–many of the movements for reform, civil rights, and social justice of the 20th century, but the hierarchy has almost always served the forces of reaction, and sometimes of totalitarianism.


5 Responses to ““The most sordid 42 years of Catholic history since the Borgias””

  1. Dickeylee said

    It goes waaay back more than 42 years…Mussolini paid off the Church for appearances of legitimacy…Looked the other way for the Nazi’s in Germany…Used virtual slaves in Ireland for, well forever!
    This pedophile infiltration of the priesthood is really the last straw though, they just need to go away. I don’t care much about all of Ratzinger’s boyfriends as long as they were of age, but I have a sneaking suspicion some were not.
    A simple enough question, why don’t the Church fully embrace castration for the priesthood? Doesn’t that solve all their problems? Well, except for finding new priests!

    • Stormcrow said

      Even further back than that.

      Over the last month or so, I’ve read at least four books which took different cross-sections through the history of the Church between 1200 and 1600.

      I’m no stranger to that period, but I guess I noticed the discussions of how the Church behaved, as an organization, and why, more than I used to. Possibly because of the last few years’ deluge of revelations about how abominably the Catholic hierarchy has behaved over the course of the last century.

      Even though the last few decades have made me into a pretty hardened misanthrope, I found the depth and foulness of the corruption I saw described therein, simply stunning. Even compared to general European politics and statecraft of the time, which was a snakepit.

  2. Charles II said

    I would say that:

    1) these things go in waves. There are periods of decay and periods of reform.
    2) one has to recognize that the Catholic Church is a huge organization, capable of doing both good and evil, and
    3) in many ways churches reflect society at large.

    In making sweeping generalizations about the Church’s behavior in the last century, don’t leave out the Second Vatican Council, which was responsible for significant improvements in rural Latin America or fail to recognize that the Church both collaborated with and resisted fascism in World War II.

    In the modern era, the pedophile scandal, nasty as it is, pales in contrast to the assistance the Church gave to dictators like Franco of Spain (murders running into the hundreds of thousands), Rios Montt and others of Guatemala (roughly 100,000 murders), Haiti, Chile, Honduras, etc. In that sense, Fox’s characterization exaggerates the evils of the post-Vatican II era. But I think it was meant to capture the degree of intrigue and double-dealing that the modern hierarchy engages in.

  3. Dickeylee said

    Well OK, but the modern day slogan for the Catholic Church seems to be “Remember, with little boys you don’t need birth control, because that would be a sin.”

  4. MarkH said

    Doctors and big corporations say they deserve to be paid like God, but sued like a pauper.

    Republicans say they want spending cuts, but blame the Sequester on Obama.

    The Pope says he’s the voice of God, but can’t actually argue for the Church to behave itself.

    What do you expect from mere mortals? It’s the hypocrisy and lying and weasely behavior that gets me irritated. If they could just hide it better I might be okay with them doing whatever garbage they want.

    Remember, what’s important is honesty and propriety and once you can fake that you’ve got it made. ( paraphrasing George Burns )

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