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How a Modern Inquisition, With the Help of Pope Francis, Stifled the Movement Protecting the Poor

Pope Francis said that he “would like a church that is poor and is for the poor.” But does this mean giving food to the poor, or does it mean also asking why they are poor?

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But at least Ratzinger has the possible defence that, being cloistered in the Vatican, he had little notion of what he was destroying. During the inquisition in Rome of one of the leading liberationists, Father Leonardo Boff, Ratzinger was invited by the archbishop of São Paulo to see the situation of Brazil’s poor for himself. He refused -then stripped the archbishop of much of his diocese( 6). He was wilfully ignorant. But the current Pope does not possess even this excuse.

Pope Francis knew what poverty and oppression looked like: several times a year he celebrated mass in Buenos Aires’s 21-24 slum( 7). Yet, as leader of the Jesuits in Argentina, he denounced liberation theology, and insisted that the priests seeking to defend and mobilise the poor remove themselves from the slums, shutting down their political activity( 8,9,10,11).

He now maintains that he “would like a church that is poor and is for the poor.”( 12) But does this mean giving food to the poor, or does it mean also asking why they are poor? The dictatorships of Latin America waged a war against the poor, which continued in many places after those governments collapsed. Different factions of the Catholic Church took opposing sides in this war. Whatever the stated intentions of those who attacked and suppressed liberation theology, in practical terms they were the allies of tyrants, land-grabbers, debt slavers and death squads. For all his ostentatious humility, Pope Francis was on the wrong side.

References:

1. George Monbiot, 1989. Poisoned Arrows: an investigative journey through Indonesia. Michael Joseph, London.

2. The story is told in full in George Monbiot, 1991. Amazon Watershed: the new environmental investigation. Michael Joseph, London.

3. http://www.monbiot.com/1996/07/09/hunting-the-beast/

4. Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, 1984. Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation” Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19840806_theology-liberation_en.html

5. Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger, as above.

6. Jan Rocha, August 2004 . Justice vs Vatican. New Internationalist magazine. http://newint.org/features/2004/08/01/social-justice/

7. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/15/pope-francis-joy-humility-unbending

8. http://www.democracynow.org/2013/3/14/a_social_conservative_pope_francis_led

9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/17/pope-francis-first-sunday-prayer

10. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/15/pope-francis-joy-humility-unbending

11. http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/papabile-day-men-who-could-be-pope-13

12. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/16/pope-francis-church-poverty

George Monbiot is the author Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. Read more of his writings at Monbiot.com. This article originally appeared in the Guardian.
 
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