Springtime for Franco and Pope Benedict

Published on People’s World, by Norman Markowitz, December 9 2010.

… Pope Benedict, the former Cardinal Ratzinger, once a conservative theological brain-truster for Pope John Paul in his battles against liberation theology and progressive forces in the Roman Catholic Church, said in a speech that “in Spain, a strong aggressive lay mentality, an anti-clericalism and secularization has been born as we experienced in the 1930s.”

Benedict was condemning the social legislation of the Socialist-led Spanish government, which has permitted abortion, liberalized divorce, and even legalized gay marriage. 

He went on to say that Spain was a major center for a return to faith because Spain had played such a central role in “reviving” Christianity in past centuries. He didn’t say what he meant specifically. Was it the Spanish Inquisition, Spanish colonialism’s destruction of tens of millions of native peoples in the Western Hemisphere, the maintenance of a feudal social order that made Spain by the 19th century a weak backward nation, an example of what no one wanted to be? … //

… If Benedict wanted to deal more seriously with Spanish history, he might take a page from Judaism and find his own Yom Kippur, a day of contemplation and atonement for the sins of his church against the Spanish people, in its hoarding of wealth and support for exploitation and oppression over the centuries.

He might atone for the Spanish Inquisition, the church’s support for Spanish fascism during and after the Spanish Civil War, and perhaps its attempt to use the state to interfere in the lives of women and gays today by its call for state bans on abortion, contraception, divorce and gay marriage.

The Pope’s official statements proclaiming mystical love and faith in Jesus through the Catholic Church as a road to peace and salvation can only be seen as smug and arrogant when they turn a blind eye to the institutional inequality and injustice which creates violence and hate and then feeds on it. Fascism was and is an expression of the violence and hate that lives through and feeds on inequality and injustice.

The Pope’s statements in Spain should be seen as an insult not only to the Spanish people but to secular and religious people everywhere who seek knowledge which will help them fight social injustice rather than use ideology to preserve and protect wealth and power. (full text).

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