Forum Post: Fascism in the Church: Ex-Priest on "The Pope's War," Clergy Abuse and Quelling Liberation Theology
Posted 5 years ago on March 1, 2013, 8:09 p.m. EST by LeoYo
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Fascism in the Church: Ex-Priest on "The Pope's War," Clergy Abuse and Quelling Liberation Theology
Friday, 01 March 2013 10:50 By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now! | Interview and Video
MATTHEW FOX: Yes. Pope John XXIII called the council in the early ’60s, and it brought together all the bishops of the world and all the theologians, many of whom had been under fire under the previous papacy, Pope Pius XII. And 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 it created base communities, which was a new way of doing church where everyone had a voice, not just the person at the altar.
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, where he kind of creates a hagiography of Reagan and the pope together creating so much good. But Bernstein, I think, was very naive about what was really going on in terms of the church itself, because the reform of the church, part of the council was to declare freedom of conscience, and it said every Christian has a right to freedom of conscience. But all that was destroyed by Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger.
So, the reforms of the Vatican Council were stuffed. And the reason this is a schism, therefore, is that in the Catholic tradition a council trumps a pope. Popes do not trump councils. For the last 42 years, these two papacies have been undoing all the values that the council stood for. And this is what the sisters are now undergoing. Just as they attacked the 105 theologians, now they’re accusing the sisters of, what should I say, not participating in the Inquisition. And God bless these sisters, who—the Nuns on the Bus. And so many of us know them because they have been on the front lines carrying out the values of Vatican II, especially values of justice and peace work and working with the marginalized.