As the official hippie era was fading into the polyester, puka shells and post-Vietnam America of the 70’s, one bedraggled beatnik bitter-clinger by the name of David Peel was discovered by John and Yoko whilst playing (where else?) in Washington Square Park, and they in turn inflicted him upon the rest of us. I’d like to think that Peel is all Yoko, but it does take two to tango. When released in April of 1972, “The Pope Smokes Dope” was banned in a number of countries, mostly for its obscenities (positively kindergarten by today’s standards) and irreverence. Peel still gigs here and there but is mostly a relic of a bygone era. That said, look who’s running our country.
I bring this up only to illustrate how the culture, politics included, has a way of jumping a few eras and as we are experiencing, turning everything on its head. Pope Francis, nee Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has now served as the leader of the Catholic Church for about 2 1/2 years and in that short time has raised the hackles of many, most noticeably within the Vatican itself.
He is about to set foot in the United States and is already being proclaimed as a rock star by the legacy media and leftists here and abroad. Though seemingly maintaining the churches traditional positions on moral issues, he then raises questions as to his true beliefs with contradictory or confusing remarks on those subjects, most recently on the issue of abortion:
The news came in a letter released Tuesday, in which the pope publicly addressed an archbishop who chairs a committee for what the Catholic Church calls “the new evangelization.” In it, he announced his decision “to concede to all priests … the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it.”
Pope Francis says the issue of gay marriage should be studied and not dismissed out-of-hand, a senior Roman Catholic cardinal has revealed.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the outspoken archbishop of New York, said Pope Francis had told him: “Rather than quickly condemn them, let’s just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people.”
Archbishop Dolan stressed that the Pope had not shifted the Catholic Church’s position on same-sex unions. “It wasn’t as if he came out and approved them,” he told the NBC television network in the US. But the Pope wanted senior Church leaders to “look into” the issue and to scrutinise the reasons why many countries have legalised same-sex marriages.
He has embraced the environmental movement and allowed it to gain influence in Vatican policymaking, despite its not so hidden Marxist-inspired agenda of “degrowth.” Most troubling perhaps are his remarks regarding free market capitalism, referring to it, at least obliquely if not directly, as “the dung of the devil.”
Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realizes what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.
But the Pope claims his remarks were misunderstood.
The pope said he was quoting Basil of Caesarea, a 4th century saint, bishop and theologian who preached at length on the subject of wealth. He has associated himself with Basil’s remarks at least twice before: in a private homily in September 2013 and in a large public audience in February of this year.
I don’t see what’s there to misunderstand. If he quotes at length from these remarks and embraces them, then QED, no? He has also been reluctant to criticize so-called “liberation theology.”
In 1998, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires Monsignor Jorge Mario Bergoglio authored a book titled Dialogues between John Paul II and Fidel Castro. In my reading of the pope’s complex Spanish prose, he favors socialism over capitalism provided it incorporates theism. He offers Fidel Castro’s claim that “Karl Marx’s doctrine is very close to the Sermon on the Mount,” and views the Cuban polity as in harmony with the Church’s social doctrine.
Following Church tradition, he condemns US economic sanctions, but Pope Francis goes much further. He uses Cuba’s inaccurate and politically charged term “blockade” and echoes the Cuban government’s allegations. He then criticizes free markets, noting that “neoliberal capitalism is a model that subordinates human beings and conditions development to pure market forces … thus humanity attends a cruel spectacle that crystallizes the enrichment of the few at the expense of the impoverishment of the many.”
This language is reminiscent of the “liberation theology” movement that developed in Latin America in the 1960s and became very intertwined with Marxist ideology. Liberation theology, fathered by Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutiérrez, provided the intellectual foundations that, with Cuban support, served to orchestrate “wars of national liberation” throughout the continent.
It’s within the church hierarchy that Francis faces opposition, the silence of conservative bishops notwithstanding. There have been voices of protest by some conservatives since Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in 2013, with conservative blog “Rorate Caeli” posting an article about the new pope on the day he was elected called “The Horror!” Concern and even anger at what conservatives in the Church perceive to be growing confusion and lack of clarity in regards to Church doctrine continued to grow, culminating in the near mutiny following the October meeting, known as an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
Hard to believe that someone with the temperament and views of Francis comes so close on the heels of the transformational (in a positive sense) reign of John Paul II. A man who suffered under the jackboots of Hitler and Stalin and helps tear down the iron curtain only to be supplanted 8 short years after his death by a man who at the minimum embraces the heirs of those murderous ideologies is beyond ironic; it’s sickening.