Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Different image, same structure": Fr. Nicolás Alessio on Pope Francis

By Nicolás Alessio (English translation by Rebel Girl)
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March 18, 2013

Electing Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as Pope is a masterstroke of Vatican diplomacy. The Catholic Church, about to sink between the financial and sexual scandals, urgently needed another "image" in the face of public opinion in the world and more so in Latin America. The profile of Benedict XVI, a German, hard, rigid, an Inquisitor, failed to float the "barque of Peter". On the contrary.

They needed a man in Latin America, the last bastion of Catholics that must be protected from populist deviations in politics and the heresies of the liberation theologians.

Latin America, the land of the martyrs for justice -- Romero, Angelelli and so many others -- is dangerous soil for religious orthodoxy. The land of 21st century socialism and post-neoliberal governments smells "leftist" and that doesn't please the Vatican.

Especially in Argentina, because it's the first Latin American country that produced deep advances in the rights of sexual minorities, making marriage equality the law of the nation. That was a serious offense against Roman modesty and Catholic moral dogma. A bad example that should be exorcised. In fact, Bergoglio wrote to the Carmelite sisters that "it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a 'move' of the father of lies." For neophytes in religious terms, the "father of lies" is the Devil. It was a "holy" war.

Moreover, Argentina is a pioneer in bringing genocides to trial throughout the country. For a Church that still isn't taking responsibility for its complicity with the criminals against humanity, the "trials for memory and justice" are a bomb about to explode under their noses. In the courts of every episcopal palace. It must be deactivated.

Argentina is a model for the whole continent on these issues and also a model for all people who are victims of different forms of state terrorism and homophobia. Rome cannot forgive this, tolerate it, or let it go on -- it undermines its purported image of heavenly holiness.

Many have been left with the feeling that something is beginning to change and they speak of having "hope". I think it's just that, a feeling. Or a great desire that has become an illusion. Furthermore, it's worth remembering that Christian hope isn't based on the Vatican, much less on the Papacy. It is only based on the Jesus of the Gospels.

That they tell me he's simple, austere, and takes the subway doesn't take away or add anything to him. Primatesta wore a dilapidated cassock, had no car or property, was also sober and frugal.

It's true that a pope from Opus Dei would have been worse -- or, I don't know, because sometimes it's better to be clear about the adversary. A right-wing conservative with a good image is still a problem. It's confusing.

That he calls himself Francis isn't much of an honor to Francis of Assisi; the Franciscans' "Sister Poverty" didn't feel comfortable in the Roman palaces. And even though his name is "Francis", the Pope is a medieval Roman monarch. The image has changed, only the image. The power structure is the same; its interests, the same.

In Argentina and on the continent, the right-wing sectors, both political and religious, will be strengthened. They're already celebrating. A strange religious fervor has seized them.

But as the Holy Spirit surely is not in Rome and is among the excluded ones who cry out for justice, let's sleep peacefully and go on fighting. They didn't silence us before, nor will they be able to do so now.

Fr. Nicolás Alessio is a priest, a theologian, and a member of the Grupo Angelelli. He was suspended a divinis because of his stand on Argentina's marriage equality law.

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