This AWTWNS news packet for the week of 1 February 2016 contains one article. It may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as it is credited.
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Mexico: The pope’s two-faced”new face”
1 February 2016. A World to Win News Service. The following is from Aurora Roja, the website of the Revolutionary Communist Organization (OCR), Mexico (aurora-roja.blogspot.com).
Pope Francis will land in Mexico on 12 February. He will talk with family members of the disappeared, indigenous people and others whose lives have been made hell by the workings of the capitalist-imperialist system ruling the world. He will express his sympathy for the poor, condemn some injustices, criticize “consumerism” and “throw-away society”, and maybe the “lack of political will” of the rulers, but he will not condemn the system that causes all this suffering. He will also speak with [Mexican President ] Enrique Peña Nieto, the Catholic hierarchy and other powerful men. Jorge Bergoglio [the Pope’s real name] realizes that the legitimacy of the Mexican state is in crisis. He knows about the murder and disappearance of the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college students and tens of thousands more, the other massacres committed and covered up by state security forces, the crushing poverty faced by the majority of people, and the state’s shameless corruption and complicity with organized crime and the almost total impunity enjoyed by the criminal police, armed forces and civilian authorities. The Pope will try to channel people’s exasperation and anger into a dead end. He will preach social peace and reconciliation between the oppressors and oppressed. He will condemn the revolutionary struggle that is required to put an end to the present system and all the unnecessary suffering it causes.
Francis has been entrusted with the job of giving the Catholic Church a new face. Why? Because today’s world, with all its intolerable injustices and degradation, its unnecessary poverty and death, is in crisis, and because of the climate crisis endangering the ecosystems that sustain life on earth. Under these conditions the Church needs to adopt a more “compassionate” discourse in addressing the dispossessed, so that it can recover its influence over them. Among the reasons for the Church’s weakened hold on people are the Vatican’s protection of child molester priests, bishops and papal nuncios; the Vatican Bank scandal and the Church’s general siding with the powerful and abandonment of the poor; and the Dark Ages morality it seeks to impose, reducing women to wombs and demonizing any sexuality whose purpose is pleasure, intimacy and love instead of reproduction.
“Forever and ever” the Church and its doctrine have propagated superstition, ignorance, obsequiousness to power; the domination of men over women and whites over the other so-called “races”, and the owning classes over the propertyless. Pope Francis is trying to modernize the Church’s image without changing the essential nature of its ideology and mission.
Let’s look at the two-faced “new face” of the Vatican:
- Blessing the genocide of indigenous peoples: In speaking about the Conquest [the Spanish Conquest of the Americas], Francis said, “There were abundant sins, and for them I ask forgiveness, yet where there was sin there grace abounded all the more.” The conquest and colonialization of the Americas’ first peoples were not “sins against god” but a physical and cultural genocide that eliminated more than 95 percent of the original population to serve the interests of the European powers and incipient capitalism. According to the pope, this genocide was mainly a good thing because “grace abounded” thanks to “the priests and bishops who firmly opposed the logic of the sword with the strength of the cross.” In reality, both the sword and the cross were essential weapons to make the original peoples submit to the rule of the Spanish monarchy and the Pope’s authority. In Michoacan [a state in western Mexico with a large indigenous population], Bergoglio will try to identify himself with “Tata Vasco”, (“Papa” Vasco de Quiroga, the first bishop in Michoacan), and in Chiapas [a state in southern Mexico, also with many indigenous people, as well as descendants of Africans] with Bartolome de las Casas [the state’s first bishop]. Both men criticized the enslavement of the indigenous people (although de las Casas defended slavery for Africans) and ended up finding favour with the Spanish kings when they began to seek less bloody ways to suppress the people, since Spanish massacres were producing much resistance to “evangelization”. When Francis went to the US, he declared Junipero Serra a saint. Serra was a priest who wielded the cross and sword to enslave indigenous people in the mines of South America and the “missions” in the West Coast of what is now the United States. The mission system led to the death of more than 60,000 American Indians from 1769 to 1821. The enormous wealth squeezed out of the blood and bones of millions of indigenous and black people provided a large part of the foundation on which capitalism went on to dominate the world.
- Enslaving women and demonizing lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT): The Catholic Church is a pillar of patriarchy and the domination of men over women. It opposes the right to divorce, contraception and abortion, and preaches that a women’s “vocation” is to be a mother and serve her family. Pope Francis said, “I like to describe the feminine dimension of the Church as a welcoming womb that regenerates life.” He summed up the role of women with four verbs: “Desire, give birth, raise and let go.” For many centuries this doctrine has condemned millions of women to remain in abusive marriages, sometimes until they are killed by the husband to whom the Bible sentences them to obedience. It has condemned millions of women to forced motherhood or death for lack of safe and legal abortion, and to carry a burden of guilt if they work outside the home, want to control their own reproduction, decide not to have children and struggle to be respected as equal human beings and for their full participation in society. Speaking of women, Pope Francis said, “There is only one model for you, Mary. She who was faithful, who did not understand what was happening to her but obeyed.” These words echo misogynist verses from the Bible, such as “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”
During the period of this year, Francis offered “forgiveness” to women who “repent” for the “sin” of abortion. This supposed “mercy” is a way to reassert domination over women who have the audacity to insist that only they, and not the state nor the Church nor anyone else, have the right to decide whether or not they will have a child. In many countries the Church continues to impose laws that criminalize abortion and lead to the death or imprisonment of many women who have abortions (even including miscarriages). This has already been done in 18 states in Mexico. The purpose is not to “protect life” but rather to make women submit to male authority, which is a foundational aspect of every society based on exploitation.
The Pope will also offer his “compassion” to LGBT people, who also have no reason to ask for “forgiveness.” On the contrary, the Catholic Church should renounce its narrow-minded vision that considers that any sexual relationship whose purpose is not to make a woman pregnant is a “sin”. This supposedly compassionate pope claims that the legalization of gay marriage is “the work of the devil”.
- The pope on the “dirty war” in Argentina and the subjugation of the poor: Francis claims that he struggles for “justice” for the poor. His real position regarding the oppressed was revealed in 1983 in Argentina, when fascist generals backed by the United States staged a coup and kidnapped, tortured and “disappeared” as many as 30,000 people. Some Catholic priests and even bishops opposed the fascist regime; which murdered a hundred priests, nuns and other clergy, including a bishop, Enrique Angelelli. Jorge Bergoglio, a cardinal at that time, ordered his priests to stop supporting the antifascist resistance and even stop working in the shanty towns because the men in power then considered such activity “subversive”. Bergoglio was complicit in the arrest, torture and disappearance of dissident clergy and lent the fascist generals legitimacy by appearing in public and celebrating mass with them. The pope limits his “compassion” to those among the poor who accept the system that oppresses them.
- Trying to fool people about global warming: In his encyclical “Laudato Si”, Francis exposes many aspects of the climate crisis. He acknowledges global warming and criticizes the “inaction” of governments and the powerful, but he does not expose the exploitative capitalist system that is destroying the Earth. He only denounces “human activity” in general, humanity’s “sin” and the “excesses and injustices” committed by the system. Furthermore, the pope praises the agreements reached at the international climate conference in Paris (COP21). This despite the fact that all the agreed-upon targets for greenhouse gas reductions were voluntary, and even if they were carried out (which is not likely) these emissions would still lead to a temperature increase of at least 3º C, twice what most scientists consider the upper limit if catastrophe is to be avoided. Along with US President Barack Obama, Mexican President Peña Nieto and other representatives of the capitalist order, the pope’s aim is to make it look like the climate crisis is under control and misdirect people’s growing discontent and consternation about the future of the planets into channels that reinforce the system that caused this problem.
- Continuing to protect clerical child molesters: The pope likes to talk about “zero tolerance” for priests who sexually abuse minors, but in practice he continues covering up these crimes. The case of the pope’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Josef Wesolowski, shines a bright light on this hypocrisy. Wesolowski was accused of pederasty in dozens of cases and was about to be arrested when Francis ordered that he be sneaked out of the country and secretly brought back to the Vatican, where he was protected against extradition. Later, on the eve of his trial by a Church tribunal, he was found dead in his Vatican apartment.
- Contributing to the genocidal AIDS/HIV epidemic: Pope Francis brought his “compassion” to Uganda, where he embraced and kissed HIV-positive children, all the while reaffirming the Church’s prohibition of the use of condoms, which could save hundreds of thousands of human lives. He said that because people die of many causes, it’s pointless to argue about “this strip of plastic”. What can be said about a morality that demands the prohibition of contraceptives instead of saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people?
Let’s struggle for a radically different morality and a much better world
Instead of the ignorant and deadly morality to which humanity is subjected, we need an approach and a morality that corresponds to reality and contributes to the emancipation of humanity. As Bob Avakian pointed out (Basics, 4:17): “The notion of god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by the ruling classes for thousands of years, since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality. Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality.”
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