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Posted by wmmbb in Duckspeak, LATIN AMERICA.

Muddling your way through sometimes works well enough. The Roman Catholic Church has a long history, so that it has be become remote from the radical, humble preacher of First Century Palestine, who presumably is the primary role model.

The Founder was a hard task master, so not unsurprisingly mere mortals, often fail to live to the standards, So now the august institution and national state has selected a new religious and political leader – roles that the Nazarene and Francis of Assisi did not have to perform. The choices typically range from Innocent III to Celestine V.

The black smoke rising from the Cistine Chapel earlier today indicated that the power brokers of the Church, the hinges, or Cardinals had selected from among their number a new Bishop of Rome, a humble man whose father was a railway worker. He is an Argentinian, and so the long overdue Latin American pope will be installed. He is neither an Spiritual or Regular Franciscan, but rather a Jesuit, so he comes out of the counter-Reformation church. He has adopted the name, Frank, or more formerly, Francis.

Like all 76 year olds, he carries baggage, in particular his role in the Argentine Dirty Wars on the 1970’s. For example, The Los Angeles Times reported in 2005 (via americablog.com):

A human rights lawyer has filed a criminal complaint against an Argentine cardinal mentioned as a possible contender to become pope, accusing him of involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s spokesman Saturday called the allegation “old slander.”

The complaint filed in a court in the Argentine capital on Friday accused Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, of involvement in the abduction of two Jesuit priests by the military dictatorship, reported the newspaper Clarin. The complaint does not specify the nature of Bergoglio’s alleged involvement.

Under Argentine law, an accusation can be filed with a very low threshold of evidence. A court then decides if there is cause to investigate and file charges.

The accusations against Bergoglio, 68, are detailed in a recent book by Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky.

In May 1976, priests Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics were kidnapped by the navy. They surfaced five months later, drugged and seminude, in a field.

At the time, Bergoglio was the superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina.

The newly named Frank is entitled to the presumption of innocence, and he says the accusations are slander.

Think Progress has more on the alleged links with the murderous Argentinian Junta during the period 1976 – 1983:

During the period of the dictatorship, the Catholic Church failed to confront the regime, even as it was kidnapping and killing thousands. The church eventually issued a blanket apology for its actions in October of 2012, though Bergoglio “invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court” to address two cases in which he was directly involved. When he did testify in 2010, his “answers were evasive,” human rights activists claim.

It has been 1,272 years since a non-European pope led the Church, and is particularly appropriate today, as the number of Catholics have declined in Europe, but grown significantly throughout Latin America. It is now home to 41 percent of Catholics and is “perceived as a Catholic bedrock that needs support to counter the tremendous growth of Protestantism. ”

The comparison of the role of the institutional church sitting on the sidelines, despite the sometimes heroic role of individual priests with the earlier experience of the rule of Fascism in Europe cannot be ignored.

Perhaps the mentality is the same as that advocated by the learned Frisky at Catallaxy:

Those of you who have children will know that the most effective means to get your way with someone is not to reason with them, but to impose a high cost on their behaviour should they act contrary to your wishes. Regardless of whether the other person is able to extract any moral principle from your act of deterrence, the constraints placed on them will establish patterns of behaviour that are not easily broken. This has been applied on a large scale, with a lot of the Latin American Left having been put in their box by the harsh discipline imposed on them in the 1980s, as Chomsky has argued. Danny Ortega looks like a broken man nowadays, and the post-Pinochet Chilean Left have remained within the neo-liberal paradigm.

The New York Times looks more closely at the new Pope:

Nobody would expect Liberation Theology to be restored anytime soon. Frank, we are told is such a humble conservative person. Meanwhile priestly celibacy ferments away in the wine cask in the catacombs of the Vatican.

Matthew Fox, now an Episcopalian and former Roman Catholic theologian is not taken in the PR. He suggests we witness, “the most corrupt Vatican since the Borgias”.  He is interviewed on Real News by Peter Jay:.

I wait with anticipation for revelations of the hand of the CIA in the election of the Pope Frank. All that can be said with certainty is that they have an interest.


Enough of the relentless negativity, and the conspiracy theory, The New York Times should be upbeat, if not partial to Pope Francis (Frank).

Rachel Donadio writes:

Ahead of the conclave, many Vatican experts said the contest was between a pope who would clean up the way the Vatican does business or an insider who would protect the interests of the Curia. Those who favored a housecleaning were said to back Cardinal Angelo Scola, an Italian who they believed had the experience and strength to curtail the privileges and hidebound ways of the bureaucracy.

The traditionalists were thought to favor another South American, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer of Brazil, who they thought would bring the same symbolic change as Francis but who was thought to be close to the Roman hierarchy that controls day-to-day operations at the Vatican.

Where Francis fits on that spectrum is unclear. To some, he was seen as a safe pick: the near winner in the last conclave, a humble and popular prelate who could encourage a grass-roots evangelization of the faith without immediately threatening the Vatican bureaucracy or insisting on changes in response to the scandals both sexual and administrative.

If the excitement that his election generated in Latin America is any indication, he is capable of making immense strides in spreading the faith, compared with Benedict. His brief appearance on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, when he asked his new flock to pray for him, reinforced the point.

No matter what his leaning, Francis faces an immense array of challenges left by his predecessor: a shortage of priests, rising secularism in a West that increasingly sees the church as out of touch, growing competition from evangelical churches in the Southern Hemisphere and the sexual abuse crisis that has undermined the church’s moral authority.

The new pope will also inherit power struggles over the management of the Vatican bank, which must continue a process of meeting international transparency standards or risk being shut out of the mainstream international banking system. In one of his final acts as pope, Benedict appointed a German aristocrat, Ernst von Freyberg, as the bank’s new president.

Not a word of past associations with Operation Condor and related issues – oops.

More relentless negativity: Andrew Self, Francis I’s Murky Past in Argentina (The Conversation)



1. John - March 25, 2013

Some necessary references come to mind re the applied politics of the Vatican cess pool.
Google – the Vatican In World Politics.
One reference which comes up is this:
Also A Criminal History of the Papacy by Tony Bushby
Plus these references

wmmbb - March 25, 2013

Thanks for the links John. Aside from the institutional problems, which are some extent inevitable, there are significant modernization reforms that could be undertaken immediately, namely the ordination of women and marriage for priests and nuns. I am not sure why the institutional church should oppose Liberation Theology, which may arise from the radical tradition of Christianity. The issues related to the Vatican Bank should be subject to standard procedures and oversight combined with openness and accountability.

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