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Pope Francis and the Battle over Cultural Terrain

by Gary Olson, September 14, 2018, via CounterPunch
“… [W]e should not be fooled: Much of the organized opposition to Francis has nothing to do with how we care for the divorced and remarried. It is this, his trenchant critique of modern capitalism that keeps money flowing to conservative outlets intent on marginalizing what the pope says.’
— Michael Sean Williams, The National Catholic Reporter, 10/29/17.

So far, we have the still unsubstantiated allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that Pope Francis covered up sex abuses by the now disgraced Theodore McCarrick, the Cardinal who oversaw Washington, D.C. churches from 2001-2006.  Vigano named 32 other senior clerics, all allies of Pope Francis and called for the pontiff’s resignation.

Although I remain highly skeptical of Vigano’s charges, I’m reluctant to draw any hard conclusion at this juncture. And being neither a Catholic nor a believer, I don’t have an ecclesiastical dog collar in this fight. However, my sense is that this matter is far more serious than a civil war within the Church — and that larger context warrants our attention.

Pope Francis has provoked powerful opponents who are outright bigots regarding what the pope terms “below-the-belt issues,” issues that he believes receive far too much attention by the Church. However, according to biographer Paul Vallely, it was Francis’s shift in emphasis to issues of economic justice, that was so “deeply disconcerting to those who sat comfortably atop the hierarchy of the distribution of the world’s wealth.” (P.405) In response to my written query, Villanova University Professor Massimo Faggioli, an expert on Vatican and global politics responded “This is a key issue to understanding the present moment.”

Here it’s important to note that the pope’s radical political metamorphosis preceded his ascension to the papacy.  According to Vallely, it was not until Jorge Maria Bergoglio (the future Pope Francis)  was nearing 50 years old that he fully grasped that capitalism was to blame for making and keeping people poor. And it wasn’t a Saul to Paul on the road to Damascus moment.

Bergoglio had been elected Procurate of Argentina’s Jesuits in 1987 but it was a rocky tenure and he later acknowledged making “hundreds of errors,” including a rigid and authoritarian leadership style that was off-putting to his fellow Jesuits. His own journey to a profound personal change began when his superiors in Rome sent him to the Argentine city of Córdoba, a forced exile during which time he was virtually ignored by the Church hierarchy.

During this period of intense soul-searching and close interaction with ordinary people on the street, he gradually underwent an inner transformation and a radically altered political vision. He returned as an auxiliary bishop and in 1998 was named Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bergoglio’s actions soon earned him the informal title “Bishop of the Slums” while his strong social advocacy which employed the language of Liberation Theology, earned him the intense enmity of Argentina’s most influential economic actors.

Bergoglio became Pope Francis in 2013, the first Jesuit and first non-European to be elected in over 1,200 years. From his first day in office, those who believed he’d follow in the conservative tradition of John Paul II and Benedict were quickly disabused of that notion. From washing the feet of a young female Muslim prisoner to his first visit outside Rome to the “boat people” island of Lampedusa where he expressed solidarity with illegal African economic refugees, Francis sided with the wretched of the earth. But it was his excoriating, systematic critique of global capitalism and free market fundamentalists when he linked symptoms and cause, that alarmed global economic elites:

+In his papal exhortation “Joy of the Gospels,” he wrote “We have to say ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.”

+ He wrote that some people defend “trickle down theories which have never been confirmed by facts…and express crude and naive faith in the goodness of those wielding power.” In his home country, Francis had observed the cruel consequences of IMF policies on the most vulnerable.

+ He described an amoral, throwaway culture where the elderly are deemed “no longer useful” and the poor are “leftovers.”

+ Offshore banking, credit default swaps and derivatives were described as “proximate immorality.”

+ His encyclical, Laudatory si’: On Caring for our Common Home,” named capitalism as a primary cause of climate change and in preparing the document Francis consulted with Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, the leading theorist of Liberation Theology.

+ Echoing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the pope proclaimed that “Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labor is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater. It is a commandment.”

+ Francis directly challenged Washington’s rationale for its war on terrorism by saying that because “the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root, violence and conflict are inevitable.” Further, wars in the Middle East are not about Islam but a consequence of political and economic interests where disenfranchised people turn to desperate measures. He concluded that “Capitalism is terror against all humanity.”

Given the intellectual heft of his argument, the fact of some 1.3 billion Catholics and possessing, arguably, the world’s foremost moral credentials, the pope’s political enemies were at a disadvantage in fighting ideological battles on his turf. While biding their time, as John Gehring noted in The American Prospect, major Catholic businesspersons threatened to withhold sizable financial donations to the Church. Influential Catholics and publishing outlets set out to discredit the revolutionary pope. For example, the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, a Catholic, wrote in Forbes Magazine that Francis had “aligned himself with the far left and has embraced a philosophy that would make people poor and less free.”

To obtain a more decisive impact, the pope’s enemies needed to conjure up an issue or wait for one. Vagano’s allegations about a Vatican cover-up either fell or were deposited in their laps. If Francis could be smeared over this matter, his moral authority on matters closer to their hearts would be tarnished. And barring a definitive resolution, doubts could be sown as a default strategy.

Emblematic of these efforts is the friendship between Vagano and OPUS DEI member Timothy Busch, a right-wing, Catholic, California lawyer and businessperson. The August 27, 2018 issue of The New York Times reported that Busch advised Vagano on the letter prior to its publication. Busch also sits on the Board of Governors that own the National Catholic Register, one of the first outlets to publish Vagano’s 8,000 word, 11-page letter, entitled “Testimony.” Conservative Catholic journalists acknowledged helping to prepare, edit and distribute the letter. In the meantime, digital Catholic media hostile to Francis worked overtime to undermine him.

The contrast between Francis and Busch couldn’t be more stark. On the one hand, Francis asserts that the manner in which those who run the financial system are trained, favors the “advancement of business leaders who are capable, but greedy and unscrupulous.” On the other hand, the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington,  D.C, recently renamed its business school the Tim and Steph Busch School of Business after receiving a gift of $15 million from the Busch Family Foundation. Five other donors brought the total to $47 million.  Among them was the Koch Family Foundation which chipped in an additional $10 million even though Koch readily admits he’s not religious, is pro-choice and approves of same sex marriage. Busch also persuaded Art Ciocca, CEO emeritus of The Wine Group to ante up another $10 million.

In announcing his gift, Busch said it was to help “show how capitalism and Catholicism can work hand in hand” and he wrote an complementary op-ed in The Wall Street Journal entitled “Teaching Capitalism to Catholics” in which he claimed that free markets are buttressed by moral principles taught by the Catholic Church. In a speech to CUA students, as reported in the Catholic Standard, Busch noted that as the only pontifical university in the United States, “We’re the pope’s business school” and later added,  “We realized that a professor in a business school can impact 100,000 students in his or his lifetime.”  To the influential, conservative Catholic organization, Legatus: Ambassadors for Christ in the Marketplace, Busch told 160 well-heeled members that the business school’s mission is to “impact how students think.” Note: Lest anyone question his motives, Busch said “The focus of my life is getting myself into heaven and to help others get there.”

Busch, along with Fr. Robert J. Spritzer, S.J., also co-founded the Napa Institute, which promotes a mix of free-market economics and theology. Among its goals is to “continue the work of the Apostles and their successors.”  Napa hosts hundreds of wealthy Catholic philanthropists at its annual gathering where they hear lectures from conservative bishops, philosophers and theologians.  In a September 5, 2018, letter to Napa’s “constituents,” Busch denied any involvemnt in Vagano’s letter but otherwise has not responded to further requests for comment. He also encouraged “constituents” to attend Napa’s upcoming conference on how to exert lay person influence on the Vatican.

In closing, Antonio Gramsci, the twentieth-century Marxist, explained  that culture, class and politics are inextricably intertwined. Powerful groups seek to influence culture with the human mind as the target. From the outset of his papacy, Francis sought to alter this landscape by vocalizing how capitalism is the primary cause of social injustice. In doing so he became a marked man. We’re witnessing one site in the larger struggle for cultural terrain, a battle occurring on many levels, including the Catholic Church.


50 Comments

  1. Antonyl says

    The Roman Catholic church build in problems when the invented celibacy for clergy. Did Jesus Christ ever asked for any of that? The Protestants did better by allowing their staff to marry.

    Now I am waiting with baited breath for an article here about Islam’s build in faults. A start could be one about allowing a man to marry up to 4 women, but not the reverse….

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      And I’m sure you’d just love an article on Talmudic Judaism’s inherent nature, too, now wouldn’t you.

  2. vexarb says

    My favourite quote from Pope Francis (an ex-bouncer) shows his knowledge of human nature. I read it during the massive Rothschild campaign to turn us all into proper Charlies. (Charlie Hebdo was a filthy French weekly supported by La Famille Rothschild through their purchase of La Liberation —- Fake Left paper — which pornographically blasphemed every religion except Judaism; the only editor who ever made a slightly Jewish joke was fired on the spot). When a Charlie staff member was shot, Francis commented,

    “If you go round insulting peoples’ mothers, be prepared for a punch in the face”.

  3. The Priest rings the bell: this is to signify that the little bit of wafer and Ribena he has in the chalice are now the literal body and blood of Christ. He then eats it. This is not symbolic, but actual autophagia: the bread and wine are in reality Christ …there is no metaphorical allusion.

    But it still looks like a wafer and ribena. No, those are the ‘accidents’; the wafer is still a wafer. but the ‘substance’ is now Christ. But it still looks like a wafer to me, “You’re not listening, boy!” The substance is Christ, but the Priest is not a cannibal because he only consumes the accidents, which are still bread and wine. But you said ..Shut up, boy, its is a matter of faith, if you cannot see it your ‘intellectual eye’ is clouded by sin. You must confess, and when you are in a state of grace you will understand what I am telling you …Yes Sir, OK,

    This is a dramatisation of actual conversations I had from age eight. I can personally testify that the imposition of medieaval mumbo jumbo (which is exactly the doctrine of Transubstantiation that Joyce was mocking) on an inquisitive and rational, but impressionable, young mind is anti-intellectual, anti-humanist, and brutalising. There can be no questioning of the dogma; if you do not believe (have faith) then it is your sinful and wicked ways that prevent you understanding. Which essentially means by dogma, that everyone, but the elite, is sinful. How better to destroy ones humanity?

    I was lucky, I was psychologically resistant from the start. Not everyone I knew was quite so lucky, at least one didn’t make it. It’s worse for women, not only their mind, they have to give their bodies away too. (And convert into the faith if they want to marry a Catholic. And guess what faith the children are impositionally required to be baptised into?)

    Now tell me again how mediaeval mumbo jumbo mind control is helping the poor? What is the rate of conversion? Is it altruistic or proselytizing care? Will the Pope, who controls the intellectual autonomy of 1.3bn people with a theological version of MK-ULTRA …sell his property portfolio to help the poor? Just like his mentor whom he eats every Sunday? He could end world poverty today, or does he have a reason to keep the poor poor, and Catholic?

    I take it you weren’t educated in the faith, Bevin?

    Repentance, forgiveness, and human growth are foreign concepts to the elite Catholic mind (all my family are catholic, and all their family before them, they are good people DESPITE their religion. Catholics are not all bad, but the elite doctrine is dogmatic, mediaeval (Aristotlean), and profoundly anti-human mumbo jumbo).

    You repent unto Catholicism.
    You forgive unto Catholicism.

    But you don’t grow, because you have given your autonomy, sovereignty, body and inculcated mediaeval mind away …unto Catholicism.

  4. Of all the nasty traditions of Anglo intellectual life anti-catholicism and its orange siblings are among the very nastiest.
    In the case of Francis there can be no doubt whose side you are on if you are calling for his resignation. I have no religion but I am comforted by the way in which the Catholic Church seems to have moved away from its Cold War role towards support for the poor. The rich can take care of themselves and, no doubt they will use all their power to silence Francis’s voice. There really is no need for socialists to assist them, though it is generous indeed to do so.
    Finally allow me to commend the concept of repentance and human growth to those who have decided that whatever Francis says today cannot be sincere because, during the dirty war against Argentine’s workers he appears not to have offered up his life yo be disappeared and dropped into the south Atlantic. No doubt this was remiss of him and makes a sad contrast with the behaviour we know posters here would have demonstrated, clasping The Grundrisse as they threw themselves into the fire.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The phony accusations of Francis covering up child abuse are akin to the fraudulent accusations of ‘antisemitism’ targeting Corbyn and UK Labour. The scum who rule the world will stoop to anything to preserve their wealth and power. The hypocrisy is stunning, too, as these Rightist capitalist thugs worship Wojtyla, the great protector of priestly paedophiles and Rightwing thug who oversaw, in collaboration with Rightwing regimes and death-squads and the Octopus Dei fascist cult, the extirpation of Liberation Theology in Latin America. Evil, as ever, dominates the planet.

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    • You have no religion, but not much by way of discrimination, either.

      Do you even read what you write after you write it? To think for at least a half of one second about the meaning of your utterances?

      Or is your compulsion always to posture as being more and better than everyone else, to the point of being constrained by your neurotic dedication to your illusion of heretical grandeur to utter the stupidest and most dishonorable things?

      “I am comforted by the way in which the Catholic Church seems to have moved away from its Cold War role towards support for the poor.”

      Support for the poor? One of the wealthiest pro-capitalist, property owning institutions on Earth?

      As for Francis having been the head of one of the most powerful institutions in Argentina during the Dirty War years, who could possibly judge him for not having declared the Church’s allegiance to be on the side of ordinary Argentinians in rebellion, eh?

      And who can not also understand that any man or any woman in his position would not, anymore than he himself did, have had the nerve to volunteer to be disappeared and dropped in the Atlantic? Isn’t it odd, though, that there seems to have been a great many other Argentinians who did? Or was it only Francis who had taken notice of the fact that people were being disappeared? But then it’s not so much that Francis didn’t chance his own skin, as that he offered up the lives of others, whether in his own stead or not.

      And if in your opinion there can be no doubt whose side you are on if you are calling for Francis’ resignation, in my opinion, there can be no doubt about the kind of person a person is who deems it acceptable to betray other’s sacrificing themselves in the cause of social justice to their deaths, in order to save one’s own miserable skin.

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    • Philpot says

      “Orange siblings” – I think you betray your own nastiness with this unrelated, and unnecessary piece of bigotry. Any opportunity…

    • Like all large and complex organisations with very long histories, the Roman Catholic Church does have its factions – some more allied to corporate fascism than to other factions within the Church, and other factions more in sympathy with the needs of the poor than with their fellow factions – and this should not be ignored.

      All too often, acts of charity and compassion associated with the RCC often turn out to be more the initiatives of individual priests, nuns and others in the Church than anything associated with official Church doctrine or policy. These acts may later be claimed by the Church long after the person who initiated the action of change has been forgotten (or even excommunicated). So what looks like a long history of gradual and consistent change may actually not be so.

      It may be true that Pope Francis is trying to make up for mistakes made earlier during the period of military rule in Argentina but we should not read too much into current actions. On some issues such as the paedophilia issue, he may still be dragging his feet and this makes him an easy target for accusers like Viganò. We may be in for great disappointment and disillusion if we assume too much of Pope Francis on the basis of some of his current actions.

  5. Frankly Speaking says

    “my sense is that this matter is far more serious than a civil war within the Church — and that larger context warrants our attention”

    “Francis directly challenged Washington’s rationale for its war on terrorism by saying that because “the socioeconomic system is unjust at its root, violence and conflict are inevitable.” Further, wars in the Middle East are not about Islam but a consequence of political and economic interests where disenfranchised people turn to desperate measures. He concluded that “Capitalism is terror against all humanity.”

    This explains just about everything against Pope Francis. The “Anti-Christs” who organised the crucification of Christ are keeping busy. Enough said.

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  6. Gramsci? Gramsci???

    You know, as Marx wrote: “Religion is the opium of the people”?

    Being a recovering Catholic: I can assure the current author that this is no authentic class struggle. The Pope is the titular owner of the largest capitalist asset portfolio of violently dispossessed wealth in the history of mankind …the spoils of centuries of Catholic Holocausts that span the continents and history. They are also heavily invested in the extractivist and hydrocarbon industrialised rape of the planet. So forgive if I do not take his climate encyclicals and anti-capitalist rhetoric seriously.

    Having been educated in the faith: I feel I can say with reasonable certainty that what the Pope is advocating is the replacement of one cultural hegemony, with another, more traditional, cultural hegemony: the pseudo-authority of the Catholic Church. He is, after all, God’s plenipotentiary, who would gladly swap one dehumanising ersatz-divine capitalo-religious authoritarianism for another. There is a unique exceptionalism to the Catholic psyche (one which takes decades to heal): one which should on no account be confused with a universal humanity ,,,or even an acceptable surrogate for universal humanity …but rather represents the subjugation of that humanity under a divine infantalisning totalitarianism.

    [If anyone thinks that a bit harsh: we can start with the ‘inter caetera’ Papal Bull of 1493, and walk forward through the sponsoring of terrorism, the money laundering for the Mafia, Gladio, collusion with Nazism, the forced Catholicisation regime of Diem and Nhu, …the list is literally endless].

    Gramsci wanted to overturn, or at least demote, the cultural hegemony of the Catholic Church, in favour of a secularised ‘religion’ of Marxism. Which represents to me a communist progression toward a stateless, collectively autonomous, universal humanity. The Pope seeks to influence culture with the human mind as the target: specifically in order to prevent that, and extend his divine exceptionalist authority into another millennia , of subjugation. Therefore, Gramsci and the Pope are antithetically opposed.

    In the struggle for cultural terrain: I’m with Gramsci. The Pope does not speak for me or to me, and hasn’t done for 40 years.

    Anti-capitalist my *&%+!

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    • Peter Bates says

      Nice retort. I agree. But I’m not sure it really matters, this dispute about the pope’s hypocrisy and shifty words regarding capitalism and the church. The man, and the church, believes in demons! And I’m not talking about metaphoric ones. Literal demons. They have exorcists on staff. What a severe rupture with reality, with the knowable world! Knowing this means we can’t trust a single thing they say.

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      • Mulga Mumblebrain says

        Who, looking at the world today, at May, Trump, Clinton, Netanyahoo et al, cannot believe in demons?

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        • vexarb says

          @Mulga. Though myself an agnostic from age 6, nevertheless after seeing those Demon Eyes and the hell which was subsequently unleashed on Iraq by public praying Christians Bush & B.Liar (the latter subsequently received into the Roman Church) I have lately begun to take St.Paul literally when he says, We fight not against flesh and blood but against powers in the heavens.

      • Humans see & hear in an extremely narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum.
        Dogs can hear in a far wider spectrum & some animals eyesight is over 300 times more powerful than ours. To claim therefore that entities cannot exist outside of our puny abilities to see & hear is surely a bit of a stretch?

        May I recommend a book by award-winning journalist?
        Jim Marrs: Our Occulted history, Do The Global Elite Conceal Ancient Aliens?
        occulted is in the sense of deliberately hidden.

        John Doran.

        • Ray Raven says

          Humans do not “see & hear in an extremely narrow band of the electromagnetic spectrum”.
          The human eye detects (ie. ‘sees’) an extremely narrow band of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum, the so-called visible spectrum.
          The human ear on the other hand is not able to detect electromagnetic radiation. The human ear detects atmospheric pressure variations in a narrow band of frequencies. This atmospheric pressure variations is not electromagnetic in its nature.

        • Jim Scott says

          That dogs have different sensory abilities than humans is undeniable but if we mere humans are so limited why has God made himself invisible to us and why does he appear to dogs if it is we humans who are the species whose adoration he craves?

    • Is there a preference for Francis over Busch? or, Francis over Benedict (who gave out none of the ‘Liberation Theology’ messages of Francis, however sincere/insincere)? Are such questions completely irrelevant – because, at root, or on balance, the institution of the Catholic Church is ant-human, anti-life ? Was the work of real followers Liberation Theology (or the many other true humanitarians who have worked within the Church over the centuries) worth a jot ? The message of Christ?

      The obvious distinction between Marxism and Catholicism is that the latter (supposedly) is founded on a belief in the Theosphere – the belief in a non-material God. Can ‘universalism’ procede under a materialist philosophy (without creating a highly distorted society) ? What unites us all? Our genes, or something of the spirit?

      I recommend Greer’s book, ‘After Progress’, which explores theology (from a non-Christian perspective) in the age of industrial decline. I am not a Catholic, or member of any church, but I see meaning in the phenomenon of Francis’ papacy and his pronouncements – in the light of the failing ‘god of progress’. Theistic religion will continue to be resurgent as the belief in progress becomes untenable and people look elsewhere for meaning. Also because it has a framework for understanding demons, literal demons, which more and more people will experience as agents in the world (together with angels and gods) in the years ahead of us.

      So many questions.

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      • I’d look at it this way: what is the Church? A typical Marxist answer would be that it is part of the superstructure, and exploiter of the base economy. It is also an Ideological State Apparatus (ISAs): it used to be THE Ideological State Apparatus ….”the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world”. Now it is an adjunct of the political apparatuses, and the Reppressive State Apparatuses (RSAs).

        Apart from wealth, it exploits our spiritual wealth and potential; and transubstantiates them into an inaccessible ideological Other (a post-life purgatorial experience). Its infantalising spiritual domination keeps us kotowed, compliant, and malleable to being policed by theological consent …His Papal consent (lest we be excommunicated and denied our otherwordly reward). It takes our responsibility, sovereignty, and autonomy away (for instance: by micro-policing womens sexual and birth control rights, and denying them ownership of their own bodies (objectified as a Papally-owned Catholic reproductive system)) …in other words, it is the perfect tool of the Master power principle …with which it colludes.

        We have to ask: rather than the hegemonic battle between an exceptionalist faith-based theocracy, and an exceptionalist economic-based theocracy (the theology of neoliberalism) …could the parallel statist functions of both not be better absorbed into our collective autonomy and singular sovereignty? Into a stateless state of both economic, ecological and spiritual actualisation?

        Indeed they could. We do not need global institutions to dominate our spirituality for another millennia. In fact, they are the authoritarian institutional deniers of our freedoms. We can assume the freedoms and rewards of our own embodied divinity right now: we do not need a statist intercessor. Indeed, there can be no priest-caste state representative intercessor between us and our experiential and enactive freedom in the here and now.

        We do not need a totalising ideological institution that hoards our embodied spirituality for itself …as if to say: you can have your life later if you are a good consenting and contrite citizen of the capitalist state now. We pay for our disembodied transubstantial purgatorial reward with our actualised embodied dehumanisation now.

        Do you really think the Pope is advocating socialism? Or communism!!! Its a cargo-occultism he is offering. What is really scary is the a sixth of the world believe him.

        Ni Dieu, Ni Maitre!

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        • BigB,
          To be clear, none of my questions were meant rhetorically. I regard the churches as temporal organisations which claim to promote a transcendental message. Their temporality makes them essentially political entitites, and therefore subject to the same corruption of human greed and lust for power that any political structure is subject to.
          I would speculate that the same percentage of members of the church are driven by a genuine sense of manumission as would be found in the Communist Party of Soviet Russia, and likewise the same percentage of members would be considered ‘devils’.
          I don’t think that humans (on the whole) can avoid religiosity – whether that manifests in a civil religion or a theistic one. It is just an inevitable consequence of thinking about mortality, which is something that humans do.
          You ask,
          could the parallel statist functions of both not be better absorbed into our collective autonomy and singular sovereignty? Into a stateless state of both economic, ecological and spiritual actualisation?
          I would wish that, but I wonder what is the idea that could bring us all together?

          Pessoa said it best: “all is religion.”

          https://guidopreparata.com/essays/#top

          • Mog

            The short answer to your question is ‘no-idea’. It is ideas that separate us. The current obsession with finding the right idealism or narrative story is misguided. What unites us all is deeper than ideas …it is the unconditioned, nondual, nonconceptual embodied realism of who we are. Or better, to coin Thay’s phrase: who we ‘inter-are’.

            Whatever our idealisms and differance: we share a common fate …though some obviously feel their status and wealth render them immune: they are not. There is no ‘idea’ that can save us, except, perhaps a broader realisation of our common universal humanity. It will take more than an idea to reverse 400 years of capitalist thinking, and it will not be entered into voluntarily by the majority. But it might be entered into out of necessity …of the necessity of species survival.

            I’m not confidant, but I at least see the possibility of a last minute prevalance of sanity. The path we are on is already precipitating our own ecocide …the idea that we inter-are with the biosphere might yet prevail and save us from an unconscionable and ignominious fate?

      • “The obvious distinction between Marxism and Catholicism is that the latter (supposedly) is founded on a belief in the Theosphere – the belief in a non-material God. Can ‘universalism’ procede under a materialist philosophy (without creating a highly distorted society) ? What unites us all? Our genes, or something of the spirit?”

        And that’s it, in terms of their obvious distinction?

        What unites us all? What about the hegemonic “material reality” of capitalism and the “fact” of the world’s overwhelming majority being under its oppressive, murderous, and undemocratic rule?

        And who is this Francis, anyway?

        Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis? Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”

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          • Disclaimer:

            Of course, I’m relying, here, on the testimony of only one “scholar,” and it may very well be that his “info.” is “troubling,” to some, and consequently that his “sources” are of the “wrong kind” and “unreliable,” or that Chossudovsky himself is unreliable, and that, therefore, “[t]here’s no solid data” at hand.

            Caveat emptor!

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      • Jim Scott says

        As an aside regarding Busch and those like him who are helping others so they can go to heaven the great quote by Peter Cooke is appropriate for this occasion.
        “I admire integrity and I am prepared to pay for it.”

    • H. Mafra says

      This expression “the opium of the people” was not created by Marx. It was common currency among the intellectual group he associated with in Berlin, in the early 19th century. But it’s important to know that opium was just beginning to be used in Europe at that time, and it didn’t have the connotations of drug use and abuse. Opium was thought of as something mild and harmless and of some use for the few people who used it.

      Marx also said, “religion is the spirit of a spiritless world, the soul of souless world”.

      Moreover, the brand of atheism Marx subscribed to, and the German intellectuals generally speaking, was a totally different bag of cats from the militant church hating kind of atheism which developed in France’s Enlightenment and culminated in the Revolution. German atheism was based on Ludwig Feuerbach’s influential work The Essence of Christianity, a much more serious, respectful and profound critique of religion than the French counterpart.

      So, Marx was not a rabid atheist as some people who grew up with Richard Dawkins vulgar approach to religion tend to think. In fact, according to liberation theologists, the young Marx’s theory of alienation cannot be understood without reference to a spiritual background. This background was present in Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity.

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      • Wasn’t Charles Kingsley the first to use the expression ‘Opium of the People.’ ?

  7. Q: Who is Mario Bergoglio?
    A: A cover for serial child sex abuse.

    The RC Church mission is, & always has been, to produce a cheap & compliant work force for the current oligarchy.
    Any uppity priests & nuns who actually want to improve the physical conditions of their congregation or secure better wages for them will be given over to the death/torture squads.

    Amen.

    John Doran.

  8. Helmut Taylor says

    I think the above article is very sell researched and come to the absolutely right conclusion – in support of IL Papa’s conversion to humane-ness!
    So be it.
    Helmut in Francoforte.

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    • I think you mean you expected him to destroy his own career and quite possibly get his brains blown out to satisfy your intellectual purity.

      Before doing that, document the times you put your life at risk by standing up to murderous tyrants one hundred times more powerful than you.

      It is not as easy as you think to just be pure and still earn a decent living….

      • I haven’t set myself up as a leader, now THE Leader of an organisation which purports to be based on morality, but which functions, in effect, as a mind-prison & slave factory & monstrous abuser of children.

        You stuff your ridiculous demand right where the Sun don’t shine.
        I didn’t expect him to do anything: I merely reported on what he did, which stands in stark contrast to other more brave & principled leaders of the RC Church.

        John Doran.

      • “He was anti-Establishment too.”

        Good fucking Lord, rtj1211!

        But maybe what you intended to write was: “He was anti-anti-Establishment, too.”

        I know that I’m forever misspeaking and miswriting myself, too, given the fast approach of my doddering years.

        Please tell me you miswrote yourself. If not, see Prof Michel Chossudovsky’s anti-dote for what ails you, a piece to which I link somewhere above.

  9. Q: Who is Mario Bergoglio?
    A: A Totalitarian politician in a skirt who has scaled the greasy pole of ambition to become head of a Fascist organisation.

    He collaborated with the Argentine military death squads who disappeared thousands, including priests & nuns, when he was head of the Jesuit order in Argentina.

    He now espouses the global warming/climate change fraud, which at heart is aiming for a vast depopulation, the destruction of ALL nations toward a One World Totalitarian Govt, deindustrialisation, the complete elimination of the middle class toward a planet of Lords, serfs & the Lords’ faithful servants, the most Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    Climatologist Dr. Tim Ball has seen through the smoke & mirrors: his little book is excellent. He names names & exposes the scandals, the fraudulent institutions, fake scientists & liar politicians.
    “Human Caused Global Warming, The Biggest Deception In History”.

    http://www.drtimball.com

    John Doran.

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    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      There you have it! A hard Right, climate destabilisation denier, attacking Francis. What better testament to Francis’ character and good intentions do you need than the enmity of the hard Right? At this stage, with climate change rapidly accelerating, only the most die-hard, hard Right, enemies of Life on Earth are still capable of uttering the insane and wicked lie that reality is a fraud.

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      • The climate has always changed and always will, Mumblebrain. Whether your political perspective is left or right doesn’t really have a bearing on the issue, though it is true, the mantle of religious adherence to the AGW, not as a scientific hypothesis, but as an incontrovertible “fact,” tends to be worn by the “left,” while the “right,” for equally religious reasons of belief, rejects the possibility out of hand also as an incontrovertability.

        However, the real question is: how much about natural variability do we really understand, scientifically speaking?

        Apparently, not a whole lot. And if we don’t really comprehend it, that is to say, not from a rightwing or leftwing slant, but from a scientific perspective, then how can we stipulate the degree to which our carbon emissions are actually influencing the change that is indeed happening?

        But an excellent observation on your part, in my opinion, about how the issue has indeed and by now been politicized to the degree that it is now a dog-whistle not only sharpening divisions between the ostensible right from the ostensible left, but also dividing people who would otherwise share the same political orientation, whether on the left or the right, for being either ‘denialists’ or ‘affirmationists,’ .

        A case of ‘divide and rule?”

        Or a case of “‘self-divide and thus (self-)conquered?”

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        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Only a moron, and we have thousands of them in power in Austfailia, would spout the imbecile insanity that ‘the climate has always changed’, when it is changing now far more rapidly and destructively than at any stage for hundreds of millions of years (save for the relatively short-lasted impacts of comets and meteors). The rest of your pontifications are equally contemptible. We do know exactly what is causing the current climate destabilisation, and what its outcomes will be, and we can see them with our eyes in reality.

          • Only a moron who is not a climate scientist would pontificate that he knows exactly what is causing the current climate destabilization.

            Have a look here if only for starters, Mr. Mumblebrain: HERE

            Make sure you follow up the links to Henrik Svensmark and Jasper Kirkby.

            Have you ever noticed that the most endearing thing about a real moron is that he doesn’t even know, in fact can’t even suspect, that he is a moron.

      • You deserve your name: Mumblebrain.

        CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is a minute trace gas in our atmosphere: .04% (400 parts per million by volume, ppmv)
        To label this plant food as “Carbon Pollution” is an idiocy of liar politicians & fools on the “catastrophe coming” bandwagon.
        Our oceans absorb & redistribute around the Earth 22 times the heat our atmosphere does. Read Dr. Tim Ball’s great little book if you want the facts on the science, politics & frauds of the warming/climate fraud.
        Equally fact-free is your mischaracterisation of me as hard right: I’m a sort of minimal govt libertarian a la Ron Paul sort.

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        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Utterly imbecile stupidity and scientific ignorance. If there is one hard Right imbecility that is the nadir of their omnicidal stupidity, it is calling CO2 a ‘trace gas’ when it come to trapping heat in the Earth system. And to think that brainwashed fools like this are causing the greatest catastrophe, probably the last, in human history, is beyond enraging.

    • Pope John Paul II was Polish under communism. He was anti-Establishment.

      Pope Francis was an Argentine seeing IMF interventions wreak havoc. He was anti-Establishment too.

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      • H. Mafra says

        In spite of being very right wing within the church and outside of it, Johh Paul left important reflexions about social issues where his right wing political positions are hidden from view. He knew he was talking to posterity and wanted to look nice in the picture.

        And this brings us to another very important point: The Catholic Social Doctrine is one of the most cogent, articulate, coherent body of reflexion about social issues to be found anywhere in the world – and it is highly spiritual, of course, but also HIGHLY PROGRESSIVE, SOCIALLY AND POLITICALLY. The church can easily be accused, and it is, of not practicing it. But the important body of reflexion is there, and it’s the essence of Western Civilisation’s very best contribution to human thinking on social matters. And it moves a lot of people within the church, albeit, granted, a minority. An important minority that keeps that flame alive.

        The Catholic Social Doctrine is very close to Marxism, in so many ways. In fact, it arose (mostly) in reaction to it, in the 19th and 20th century, although it uses sources within Christianity that goes back thousands of years, originating from the Old Testament, and the New, and the 2000 years Christian tradition.

        Pope Francis is absolutely within the very best Catholic theological thinking on social matters when he says present day capitalism is against everything Jesus Christ stood for.

    • H. Mafra says

      Pope John Paul was anti-communist, anti-left to the core, and worked hand in hand with the CIA and Washington to undermine the Polish communist regime. Kept on telling the church to get out of politics, to turn its back on politics, while he did nothing else but right-wing politics within the church and outside of it.

      Due to he’s long reign, he shaped today’s catholic church’s hierarchy to a very large extent. In Brazil (the same was true, to a certain extent, for the rest of Latin America) he removed all the progressive bishops and archbishops to peripheral position, and replaced them with very conservative ones. All the new appointments under his watch were political moves to destroy the progressive bishops influence in the church. He punished Leonard Boff, one of the creators of Theology of Liberation, for being a left wing theologian – and cardinal Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict afterwards, did that job. This theology, still influential in Latin America, proposes a church based on Eclesial Base Communities, that is, organised along the grass roots model. Francis speaks openly against “the clericalist based” church model, that is, a very hierarchical and beaurocratized church model, which, by the way, he blames for the sexual abuse so systemic among catholic clerics.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Wojtyla was a fascist and a dedicated protector of child molesters.

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