Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for the ‘politics masquerading as religion’ Category

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.

Posted in CIA, politics masquerading as religion, The Vatican | 6 Comments »

“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.

Posted in politics masquerading as religion, The Vatican | 5 Comments »

Unfortunately, probably not

Posted by Charles II on February 15, 2013


When one runs across items such as the following, one realizes that there are far worse papal candidates than Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.

Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, 62, Honduras. Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, is widely seen as a rising star in the Latin American church. He served as president of CELAM, the federation of Latin American bishops’ conferences, until 1999. A Salesian, he speaks near-perfect Italian and English (along with passable French, Portuguese, German, Latin and Greek), plays the piano, and has taken pilot training. He is ferocious on social justice issues. He was part of a small group that met German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in Cologne to hand over the Jubilee 2000 petition for debt relief. “Neoliberal capitalism carries injustice and inequality in its genetic code,” he said in 1995. However some say his rhetoric is not matched by a command of policy details. His theological training came in the post-Vatican II period. He studied at the Alfonsian Academy in Rome where he took classes from the legendary liberal moral theologian Bernard Häring, whom Rodriguez calls an “idol.” He has a reputation for being unusually open on ecumenical questions for a Latin American bishop, many of whom have little experience in religiously pluralistic settings. Rodriguez has a warm smile and a ready sense of humor.

Rodriguez Maradiaga, of course, supported the coup against Manuel Zelaya, and is the head of Opus Dei in Honduras. As the previous link makes clear, Opus Dei is fundamentally a political organization that undermines Christian teaching in order to support authoritarian governments and plutocracy. For National Catholic Reporter to gloss over this serious issue, not even mentioning the Cardemal’s support for the coup, just goes to show how much control Opus Dei exerts over conversation within the Catholic Church.

Rodriguez Maradiaga is only one of the papal candidates who is a member or supporter of Opus Dei. Among others mentioned is Cardinal Juan Cipriani Thorne. More troubling, Betty Clermont at Daily Kos explains how Opus Dei members exert control over who becomes the next Pope.

Posted in Honduras, politics masquerading as religion, Pope Ratzinger, The Vatican | 1 Comment »

Ireland takes responsibility for enslavement at Magdalene Laundries.

Posted by Charles II on February 5, 2013

This is an issue that Phoenix Woman has covered previously. Thirty thousand women were effectively enslaved by the Catholic Church, with the collusion of the state, and without due process. The Magdalene Laundries were not finally closed until 1996. Now Ireland has stepped up to the plate to admit that the state took part in this travesty.

Harry McDonald, The Guardian:

Ireland has officially recognised the state’s guilt in the “enslavement” of more than 30,000 women, most of whom were sent against their will into church-run institutions where they received no pay, no pension and no social protection.

Labelled the “Maggies”, the women were sent to the Magdalene laundries where they worked for nothing, serving in some cases “life sentences” simply for being unmarried mothers or regarded as morally wayward.

Justice is far from being done. Human justice cannot even come close to remedying the wrongs.

Posted in politics masquerading as religion, sexism | 8 Comments »

News from the Vatican

Posted by Charles II on January 27, 2013

Betty Clermont has an epic post on the nature of intramural and extramural conflicts in the Vatican. While I think that reports of the Church’s demise are just a bit premature, the main thread is that there has been a lack of accountability, particularly with regard to financial transactions. Probably the most incendiary allegation has to do with suspicions of institutional involvement of l’Istituto per le Opere di Religione (the Institute for Religious Works) in transactions in which “clergy may have acted as fronts for corrupt businessmen and the Mafia.” It looks improbable that charges will be filed, but to be unable to explain multimillion dollar transactions speaks to a disregard for the niceties.

This in turn bears on whether the Vatican is involved in promoting certain politicians/positions in the EU. What does seem clear is that the hyper-hierarchical structure at the apex of the church promotes politics at the expense of true religion. I’m sure that the Church will weather all this–it’s too important to too many people to “implode”– but it is in need of renewal.

Posted in politics masquerading as religion, religion, The Vatican | 2 Comments »

Just thought s/he’d want to know

Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2012

Billy Graham has always called Mormonism a cult. But he decided, for political reasons, to endorse Romney. So, he had the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association scrubbed of that article. Other articles remained which made it clear that that had been his verdict on the LDS.

Now, dear reader, you probably know that. But there are still millions of Americans who don’t know about this bit of hypocrisy writ large. And they might be voting on the basis that if it came out of Billy Graham’s mouth, it must be ok. They probably want to know about the mouth on the other side of Billy Graham’s face.

So this post is to lend the mighty power of Mercury Rising to telling that little bit of truth.

For what it’s worth, I call Mormonism “post-Christian,” since they say Jesus was the Son of God, but he failed. Is it a cult? A multi-level marketing scheme? Or just another religion? All those are matters of judgment. But the hypocrisy of Billy Graham and so many other fundamentalists and evangelicals in embracing what they have for so many years denounced– that’s just a fact.
Updated here: it seems that in Christianity Today, the major evangelical mag, religious leaders have weighed in, mostly in favor of hypocrisy. Lord, help the Christian Church.

Posted in hypocrites, Mitt Romney, politics masquerading as religion | 2 Comments »

A look inside what it means to be Mormon

Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2012

Via Barry Ritholtz, a fascinating autobiography of the conversion of a family into Mormonism, its backsliding out of the church, and the conflicted feelings of an ex-Mormon. A sample of Walter Kirn, TNR:

I’d never been a good Mormon, as you’ll soon learn (indeed, I’m not a Mormon at all these days), but the talk of religion spurred by Romney’s run had aroused in me feelings of surprising intensity. Attacks on Mormonism by liberal wits and their unlikely partners in ridicule, conservative evangelical Christians, instantly filled me with resentment, particularly when they made mention of “magic underwear” and other supposedly spooky, cultish aspects of Mormon doctrine and theology. On the other hand, legitimate reminders of the Church hierarchy’s decisive support for Proposition 8, the California gay marriage ban, disgusted me. Deeper, trickier emotions surfaced whenever I came across the media’s favorite visual emblem of the faith: a young male missionary in a shirt and tie with a black plastic name-badge pinned to his vest pocket. The image suggested that Mormons were squares and robots, a naïve, brainwashed army of the out-of-touch. That hurt a bit. It also tugged me back to a sad, frightened moment in my youth when these figures of fun were all my family had.

As for Romney himself, the man, the person, I empathized with him and his predicament. He no more stood for Mormonism than I did, but he was often presumed to stand for it by journalists who knew little about his faith, let alone the culture surrounding it, other than that some Americans distrusted it and certain others despised it outright. When a writer for The New York Times, Charles Blow, urged Romney to “stick that in your magic underwear!” I half hoped that Romney would lose his banker’s cool and tell the bigoted anti-Mormon twits to stick something else somewhere else, until it hurt. I further hoped he’d sit his critics down and thoughtfully explain that Mormonism is more than a ceremonial endeavor; it constitutes our country’s longest experiment with communitarian idealism, promoting an ethic of frontier-era burden-sharing that has been lost in contemporary America, with increasingly dire social consequences. Instead, Romney showed restraint, which disappointed me. I no longer practiced Mormonism, true, but it was still a part of me, apparently, and a bigger part than I’d appreciated.

Sometimes a person doesn’t know what he’s made of until strangers try to tear it down. (emphasis added)

Now, I think that Mormonism is a cult, and one based on a transparently phony sacred history. I think that Kirn’s description of the sacramentalization of lying as part of fundamentalist belief is accurate. Once you accept lying as acceptable to God, it’s almost impossible to turn back. But we would do well to understand why this cult is so successful: it gives people a strong community committed to bailing out members in distress.

There are many fascinating points that Kirn makes: that healing by the laying on of hands does not occur instantly, but through the slow process of understanding that one is cared for by one’s community. The comical tale of sex right up to the brink of intercourse that somehow qualifies as chastity. The moving story of how Mormons talked Kirn’s father down from what sounds like a psychotic break and rescued his family.

But this thing about community is what is most fascinating. We see this on the left in movements like Occupy and, indeed, the old trade union movement. America is suffering from shattered relationships, from the nuclear family on up to the polarized national dialogue. The right wants to solve this by totalitarian methods: a one-party state dominated by a few powerful elders, the imposition of religion by the state, and draconian steps to force families to stay together. But what is the vision of the left? The closest thing I hear is the idea of worker-owned enterprises, ala the Mondragon cooperative. But I do not sense a larger vision that encompasses the family and the nation as a whole.

We often learn the most important things by listening to those with whom we disagree the most vehemently. I recommend this article.

Posted in Mitt Romney, politics masquerading as religion, religion | 10 Comments »

Excess deaths of 22,000 in US alone?

Posted by Charles II on June 21, 2012

That’s the claim in this KPFA report(starts about two-thirds in). This claim apparently traces to work by Mangano and Sherman, a study that has been vigorously attacked by the nuclear industry. As I understand it, radiation is particularly dangerous for fetuses and infants because rapid cell division makes the young especially vulnerable.

I’m sure the Catholic hierarchy will be right on this issue. Just as soon as the nuclear industry is taken over by Democrats.

Posted in Japan, nukes, politics masquerading as religion | Comments Off on Excess deaths of 22,000 in US alone?

EWTN becomes an arm of the Republican Party as yet another real scandal brews at the heart of the institutional Church

Posted by Charles II on June 9, 2012

Sorry, this is one of the posts you have to read to get the real impact. But here is the executive summary.
* The National Catholic Register is a subsidiary of Catholic station EWTN
* EWTN is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization
* EWTN does not, as far as I can discover, disclose the names of its board members
* EWTN sued the Administration to block what they called “the contraceptive mandate,” claiming it would force them to allow their employees to use insurance of which they disapprove.
* The Vatican is engulfed in a financial scandal that is getting way too little attention, since it looks to be fueled by warfare between those who hope to control the successor to Pope Benedict

The National Catholic Register has a special message from EWTN (of which it is a subsidiary):

The election that could change everything is only five months away. Are you ready?

Will you speak out and defend your faith? And, will you help the National Catholic Register inform Catholics about the implications of this election on the Church and the world?

Faithful Catholics cannot remain silent. Our religious liberty is at stake, and our identity as Catholics is under siege. Yet, in 2008, the party that pushed for abortion and gay marriage received 52% of the “Catholic” vote.

This administration has demonstrated an escalating disregard for the Catholic Church — and have brashly proclaimed that they understand our faith better than we do!

Click for more
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in corruption, politics masquerading as religion, religion, The Vatican | 2 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: