By William Kay
“In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection of his own.”
On May 25, 2015 Pope Francis released his anticipated and timely encyclical: Laudato Si – On Care for Our Common Home. It is not the papacy’s first endorsement of environmentalism. As the document itself stresses, a stream of green papal pronouncements date back to 1971. However, this is the first encyclical entirely devoted to promoting environmentalism and it comes from a pope who adopted the name “Francis” expressly to honour the patron saint of ecologists.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Life and Times of Jorge Bergoglio in Five Brief Threads
While Argentine fascists appropriated ideas from both sides of the Atlantic they were never a franchise operation. >From Uriburu’s dictatorship (1930-1932) onward they served up a unique free-market rhetoric blended with a robust clerico-nationalism.
Understanding Bergoglio’s rise within the Catholic Church requires understanding the polarizing schism Catholics experienced during this period.
During Vatican II a group of Bogota bishops promoted a leftist anti-poverty stance. In 1968 they circulated an open letter to Pope Paul VI, signed by 1,500 priests, condemning upper class violence and empathising with the violence of the poor. Their 1968 Medellin Conference distilled a “preferred option for the poor” doctrine; re-christened “Liberation Theology” after G. Gutierrez published A Theology of Liberation in 1971. They argued priests were honour-bound to defend the poor and to resist inequality.
Liberation Theology priests moved into slums to form parishes combining anti-poverty activism with Christian worship. Their enemies caricatured them as rifle-toting padres. A tenet of the Banzer Plan (named after Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer) was the discrediting of Liberation Theology by planting revolutionary communist literature on left-wing clerics. Ten Latin American governments endorsed the Banzer Plan. In reality, armed struggle was very rarely advocated by Liberation Theologians. Typically, they advanced a program of consumer co-ops, union drives, and land reform.
Latin American elites, and Cold Warriors inside the US government, configured Liberation Theology as a step on the slippery slope to Marxism. The CIA formed units inside the Vatican to counter it. Paul VI cooperated and appointed a Columbian Cardinal, an Opus Dei man, as his Liberation Theology scourge. Opus Dei was one of several organizations (Comunione e Liberazione, La Cite Catholic, etc.) mobilizing on the opposite side of the spectrum to Liberation Theology.
Opus Dei (“Work of God”) is a mainly lay organization with secular priests governed by a “Prelate” selected by Opus Dei gurus and then anointed by the Pope. Opus Dei dates to 1928 when lawyer Father Josemaria Escrivia (with support from the Bishop of Madrid) began extoling the holiness of ordinary people’s work. Pius XII praised Opus Dei in 1947 and sanctified them in 1950. Opus Dei was rebuffed by John XXIII and Paul VI, but this mattered little because the group had attracted Generalissimo Franco’s blessing. The dictator handed to Opus Dei much of Spain’s educational establishment. In Franco’s final years, 10 of 19 cabinet ministers were Opus Dei men. (13)
Opus Dei advocates big families for the married and celibacy for singles. Members pray a dozen times a day; attend five weekly religious functions and one three-week annual retreat. True believers mortify their flesh. All members sanctify ordinary people’s toil. Peasants should see God in their mundane chores. For all their sanctimonious praise of common folk, Opus Dei has bowed and scraped before poor-grinding dictators from Franco to Fujimoro.
Comunione e Liberazione (C&L) is a lay organization but some members are priests. Founded in 1954 in Italy by Father Giussani, a high-school teacher who recruited his students, C&L gained significance after its post-Vatican II transformation into a strident, sometimes violent, anti-Marxist campus-based network championing virginity and obedience. Paul VI liked C&L. John Paul II loved them.
La Cite Catholic is a 1950s spin-off from L’Action Francaise – an organization founded in 1889 by Catholic-Monarchist-cum-fascist Charles Maurras. La Cite recruited French Army officers fighting the Algerian insurgency (1954-1962). They believed subversion was a shape-shifting anti-Christian spirit. They truly believed in torturing the possessed.
In 1958 La Cite established a chapter in Buenos Aires. Funding came from forerunners of OAS (Secret Armed Organization), an incredibly violent neo-fascist militia yearning to re-ignite the Algerian War. Founded in Spain in 1961, OAS carried out up to 100 bombings and assassinations per day across Algeria and France until mid-1962, by which time its leaders were put to the firing squad by De Gaulle.
After failed attempts to assassinate De Gaulle, many OASers trod the beaten path of beaten fascists to Argentina. A principal organizer of the flight of OASers to Argentina via Spain, the soldier-monk Chaplain Grasset, took over La Cite’s Buenos Aires chapter in 1962 and soon after began teaching counter-subversion at the Argentine Navy Mechanics School. The Argentine military translated La Cite’s On Marxism-Leninism into Spanish with a preface by Argentine Cardinal Caggiano imploring readers to gird for a preemptive strike at subversion. (14)
After his ordination in 1969, Father Bergoglio spent 1971-1972 being groomed at Spain’s University of Alcala. He garnered glowing commendations from his mentors who, like all Spanish academics, were Opus Dei supernumeraries and elite Francoistas. These stellar reviews elevated Bergoglio suddenly up to Jesuit Master of Novices immediately upon his return to Argentina.
Also upon his return, Bergoglio became “spiritual leader” for the neo-fascist Argentine Iron Guard. Bergoglio maintained close relations with several Iron Guard leaders including Alvarez, who introduced him to Comunione e Liberazione. (15)
The Church’s schism traced along socio-economic fault-lines. Clergy in poor areas leaned toward Liberation Theology while hierarchs catering to the rich were partial to C&L, Opus Dei, and La Cite. Argentine Jesuits were exceptional because their Provincial Superior, Dick O’Farrell, supported Liberation Theology. Clerico-fascists instigated an unprecedented rebellion against O’Farrell. They successfully lobbied Rome to replace O’Farrell with young Father Jorge Bergoglio on July 31, 1973. Bergoglio had taken his final Jesuit vows only six months earlier. (16)
In a stroke Jorge was a V.I.P. Among the Argentine Jesuits’ many assets are three multi-faculty universities with 8,000 to 20,000 students each. Provincial Superior Bergoglio dashed about Buenos Aires in gold-embroidered velvet vestments, insisting on chauffeured rides for even the shortest of trips. (17)
Bergoglio opposed innovation and rolled back Liberation Theology. He layered Jesuit publications with anti-Liberation Theology articles. Rigid schedules and pre-Vatican II dress codes were imposed. He tolerated Jesuits administering to the poor but only if it was running soup kitchens or similar patronizing deeds. Organizing unions or co-ops, or any type of collective self-empowerment, was out, as was establishing parishes in slums. (18)
In August 1974, with neo-fascist terror reaching a fever pitch, Bergoglio shocked Jesuits by handing the University of Salvador (Buenos Aires) to Iron Guard leaders. An Iron Guard supremo became Rector. The Iron Guard’s Chief of Staff and several other Guardists received executive university postings. (19)
When the head of the British Jesuits visited Argentina in 1977, he found great internal division among his Argentine compatriots and Bergoglio at the fork of the divide. He found Jesuits acquiescing to the criminal dictatorship and Bergoglio defending the repression.
Bergoglio’s orientation did not change after he took over as head of San Miguel University’s Philosophical Faculty in 1979. A pre-Vatican II conservative in style and content, Bergoglio fired progressive teachers and proscribed Liberation Theology. Throughout his 30-year university career he hindered the study of sociology, etc., encouraging only theology and philosophy. Resistance to Vatican II and Liberation Theology within Argentina’s Church’s foremost intellectual order was led by Jorge Bergoglio.
Bergoglio was no isolated renegade. John Paul II never complained about the nearly 2,000 left-leaning priests and nuns killed, imprisoned and/or tortured across Latin America in the two decades following Vatican II. On the contrary, the Holy Father rebuked the “people’s church” as absurd and dangerous.
John Paul II installed a crony, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prelate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition). The Congregation oversees the doctrines and morals of the Catholic world by disciplining priests and theologians. He predictably denounced Liberation Theology. The Congregation’s longest serving Prelate (1981-2005), Ratzinger left his post to become Pope Benedict XVI.
Over the combined reigns of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (1978-2013), 105 Catholic liberals were silenced or expelled. Among the purged were many Vatican II authors. John Paul II’s Secretary of State, Angelo Sadano, a crusader against Liberation Theology, built a commanding network of like-minded Nuncios and Bishops.
An indication of the type of cleric they favoured was provided in 2007 when Benedict XVI honoured Argentine Bishop Baseotto for his correct theological interpretations. Baseotto made headlines two years earlier when he protested the Health Ministry’s distribution of condoms by proposing the Minister “have a millstone hung around his neck and be thrown into the sea.” (20)
Bergoglio was, of course, among the favoured. In 2001 Pope John Paul II made him a Cardinal. In 2005 he became President of the Argentine Bishop’s Conference.
The Cardinals electing Bergoglio as Pope Francis I in 2013 were all John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointees. Bergoglio’s well-known criticism of Liberation Theology, and perhaps the blood stains on his hems, secured his election. He immediately elevated John Paul II to sainthood and picked a Sadano protégé as his Secretary of State.
C&L and Opus Dei rose with the purple tide. While C&Lers are used to being called “neo-fascists,” for a period they wore the label “the Pope’s Rambos.” They fought tirelessly against Liberation Theology and Euro-socialism, and for Berlusconi.
40,000 mourners listened intently in 2005 as Cardinal Ratzinger presided over C&L founder Father Giussani’s funeral. In 2007, at the 25th anniversary celebration of John Paul II’s recognition of C&L, over 100,000 crowded into St Peter’s Square to bask in Benedict XVI’s praise.
C&L membership numbers are unknown. They are at least 100,000 strong in Italy and they have chapters in 60 countries.
Responding to a petition signed by one third of all bishops, John Paul II canonized Opus Dei founder, Father Escrivia, as the “saint of ordinary life.” 300,000 attended the ceremony.
Pope Francis fell to his knees and prayed for 45 minutes in front of Escrivia’s relics. Francis beatified Escrevia’s successor and commenced the beatification process for 522 of Franco’s “martyrs of the faith” killed during the Spanish Civil War. (21)
Opus Dei currently boasts 93,000 members including 2,100 secular priests, supplemented by 2,000 diocesan (real) priests. 20% of members are celibates residing in gender-segregated dormitories. They work outside the organization but hand over their wages to Opus Dei. 80% of active members live in private homes with their families. Outside donors number 165,000.
Opus Dei owns several hundred facilities, businesses, and buildings. Their mothership is the University of Navarra and its affiliated business school. One recent estimate valued Opus Dei assets at $2.8 billion. Opus Dei owns hundreds of newspapers, scores of radio and television stations, and 12 film companies. (22)
Among the eight Cardinals Pope Francis chose for core advisers is Honduran Opus Dei honcho, Oscar Maradiaga. He blessed the 2009 murderous military overthrow of Honduras’s elected government and he dismissed media reports of child-molesting priests as propaganda from an international Jewish conspiracy. (23)
Francis’ Pontifical Commissioner for Latin America, Guzman Lecour, is yet another Opus Dei leader lobbying for Latin America’s latifundia.
The media cocoon being spun around Pope Francis re-casts him as a leftist. In The Great Reformer author Austin Ivereigh remakes Francis into a life-long advocate of Liberation Theology.
National Reorganization Process (The Process) was the official name of the post-1976 junta’s project. Their criminal actions were unofficially dubbed, by the perpetrators, as the “Dirty War” – a phrase uncritically used since.
“Dirty War” is a sinister misnomer. Wars justify killing. Wars offer defences to prosecution. There was no war. During the events in question, the resistance never controlled any national territory, never obtained recognition of belligerency, was never significantly supported by a foreign power, and lacked wide popular support. Between 1976 and 1980 Argentina endured a protracted, premeditated, lawless pogrom directed by state executives, aided by persons in the media, industry, latifundia, and Church.
After the 1976 coup, AAA men received honorary military positions. Many military commanders already had AAA links. AAA and Armed Forces collaboration belies the official myth of the Armed Forces being caught between Left and Right terrorists. Only a fraction of The Process’s victims were the armed commies of authorized lore. Victims were: union leaders, militant workers, clergymen, scientists, doctors, politicians, students, journalists, intellectuals, artists, professors, parliamentarians, lawyers, judges, police chiefs, non-violent leftist activists, human rights advocates; and their family members. Victims were imagined subversives and suspected dissidents. Victims were critics of a junta bent on eviscerating dissent from schools, the arts, and the Church. In the words of Buenos Aires Governor, General St. Jean:
“First we kill all subversives, then we kill all of their collaborators, then all those who sympathize with subversives, then we will kill those who remain indifferent, and finally we will kill the timid.” (24)
In the “struggle for the altars” the junta murdered 2 bishops and 150 priests, nuns, and seminarians. (25) Freethinking clerics were machine gunned on their doorsteps or tortured to death in detention centres.
Official ideology again fused free-market economics with clerico-fascist nationalism. Propaganda came freighted with biblical and apocalyptic references. Pseudo-scientific ideas also abounded. One television ad compared subversives to viruses attacking dairy cows. Ads were replete with pastoral scenes, never the cosmopolitan cities of Argentine reality.
Armed actions of the Monteneros and People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP) provided the pretext for The Process. Between 1969 and 1979 these groups, or their affiliates, committed hundreds of kidnappings and were responsible for a few thousand fatalities (including servicemen killed in action). Originally instruments of Peron in exile, the Monteneros were not Marxists but mostly Catholic students and trade unionists. They represented an electoralist centre-left who, by 1970, had not seen an election for seven years and whose prospects of seeing one soon looked grim. Their embrace of armed struggle was thus as legitimate as the American War of Independence. Montonero violence was mainly retributive; however, they excelled at big ransom kidnapping.
ERP may have been, at least partly, a false-flag operation. Firstly of all, agent provocateur activity was entirely in keeping with Gelli’s Strategy of Tension. The Banzer Plan also involved creating illusions of communist insurgencies. Secondly, ERP’s tactic of bombing theatres and hotels, while rarely deployed by leftists, is signature right-wing terror. Thirdly, suspicion is furthered by the presence of foreign mercenaries inside ERP’s rural operations. Fourthly, shortly after the 1976 coup, security forces rapidly erased the ERP in targeted attacks, again suggesting significant state infiltration. Finally, ERP leader Joe Baxter bears a bizarre bio.
Baxter co-founded the Neo-Nazi terror group Tacuara. His views can be divined from the passionate ode to the Third Reich, “Nuremberg,” he penned in 1962. In that year his Tacuara faction joined the Right-Peronists. In 1964 he was in Peron’s mansion in Madrid. On the first day of their talks Peron unsuccessfully tried to hire Baxter to kill a union leader. (The man was indeed felled by an unknown assailant in 1969.) The second day of their talks began with Baxter noticing a portrait of Mao Tse Tung on Peron’s desk. (26) Baxter then trekked to Vietnam to gain leftist creds by briefly fighting alongside the Viet Cong. Returning to Argentina, he improbably became a leader of the Trotskyist ERP. He then allegedly perished in a peculiar fire on board Varig flight 820 from Rio to Paris on July 11, 1973.
ERP’s true nature is perhaps moot. Their 1974 seizure of parts of the rural province of Tucuman proved a fiasco. Their rural insurgency was effectively routed by Isabel’s troops before she issued her “annihilation decrees.” By this date (February 1975) the genocide was in the works.
In January 1976 a purloined copy of a military document, Battle Order 24 March, leaked to the press. The document detailed an impending coup. On March 24, 1976, true to script, a three-man junta deposed Isabel. They dismissed the National Conference (congress), imposed rigorous censorship and strict curfews, banned trade unions, and placed state and municipal governments under military control. On March 29 General Videla was declared President.
The Process centred on “disappearances.” On March 24 hundreds of squads of military commandos and deputized neo-fascists fanned out across Argentina in civilian clothes and unmarked cars. Quickly, surreptitiously, they abducted suspected dissidents, whisking them to secret detention centres. The junta never acknowledged the abductions. Citizens asking too many questions, disappeared.
Inside the detention centres torture was universally applied. Rape was ubiquitous. Children were tortured in front of parents. 50,000 endured this horror. Most were murdered, their mutilated corpses dumped into the ocean.
Blond Angel of Death, Navy Lieutenant Alfredo Asitz, specialized in infiltrating human rights groups. He remained unapologetic after 86 homicide convictions. Among his victims were two nuns whom he forced to pose for photos draped in Montonero paraphernalia. These photos appeared in the media to prove Liberation Theology’s violent disposition.
As ever, the body-count is a political football with estimates bouncing from under 8,000 to over 30,000. (27) The figure used by most human rights advocates is 30,000. There are reasons for believing this estimate to be sound:
While these tallies overlap, each figure must be treated as a fraction of the nation-wide, 1972-1980 body count.
Jews constituted 1% of Argentina’s population but 12% of Process victims. Jews got tailored tortures such as being forced to kneel and repeat “I love Hitler” thousands of times. Survivors, Jews and non-Jews alike, recall detention centre walls plastered with photos of Hitler and loudspeakers blaring Hitler’s speeches. One Jewish survivor recalls wondering what country he was in. (32)
The Armed Forces declared victory in June 1978, but disappearances continued well into 1980. For example, General Galtieri was later charged with 12 homicides committed in 1980. After 1980 perpetrators made evidence disappear.
In 1981 General Videla was replaced by General Viola who succumbed to General Galtieri who yielded to General Bignone who scheduled elections for 1983. The civilian government of President Alfonsin charged hundreds of officers, but military revolts cowed him into limiting prosecutions. His replacement, President Carlos Menem, decreed blanket amnesties. In 2005 the Argentine Supreme Court declared these amnesties unconstitutional and prosecutions resumed. 2,500 were charged, 600 convicted.
Like Bergoglio, The Process’s mastermind, Admiral Emilio Massera, was born in Argentina to Italian immigrants. Joining the Navy in 1942, he rose to officer status in the Naval Information Service by 1955. Like Bergoglio, he received battlefield promotions in the run-up to The Process. A forced-retirement purge made Massera first an Admiral, then Naval Commander-in-Chief, over a few months in 1974.
Like Bergoglio, Massera enjoyed close relations with the Argentine Iron Guard. In 1977 the Iron Guard clique that Bergoglio placed atop the University of Salvador awarded Massera an honorary professorship. In an acceptance speech riddled with religious references, Massera (just back from an audience with Pope Paul VI) called for banning Marxist, Freudian, and Einsteinian materials from campus. (33) The Iron Guard later supported Massera’s failed presidential bid.
With much of the dirty work done, Massera resigned in late 1978. A court sentenced him to life in jail in 1983 but Menem pardoned him. Rearrested in 1998, his charges were stayed due to his failing health. Ten mourners attended his funeral.
Videla died serving his life sentence. In an interview granted in 2010 he insisted that during The Process he kept the Church fully informed of the disappearances (in his words: “the murders”). The Church helped with public relations. Videla had “excellent, cordial, sincere and open” relations with the Argentine Bishops Conference President, Cardinal Primatesta, and with Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Pio Laghi. (34) A devout Catholic, Videla considered his Dirty War a divine mission.
Low level repressors also saw their actions as a defence of the “Catholic Nation.” Kidnappers scrawled “Long Live Christ the King” on the walls of victims’ homes. Torturers shouted “For God and the Homeland” during interrogations. (35)
The more traditional the Catholicism espoused by the official, the more striking was their homicidal fervor and hostility to democracy. The Army War College’s Director, General Bayon, contended God did not believe in democracy:
“As the Church teaches…political sovereignty comes from God, but does not descend to those who cannot exercise it. Hence, the people, materially considered a mass of individuals, are not, due to their ineptitude, the first nor the second, holder of power.” (36)
More so than in any other Latin American country, Argentina’s Catholic hierarchy buttressed its dictators. Since the 1920s bishops have been Argentina’s main theoretical vector for the “holy ideology” of fascism. In the 1970s bishops piloted Argentina’s moral descent. At a minimum they could have called for a return to the rule of law but they emphatically did not. Bishops complied lists of dissidents and turned these over to the military. Bishops silenced priests and destroyed records.
Expectation of Church support factored centrally in the March 24, 1976 coup plan. In a sermon given weeks before the coup, Archbishop Victorio Bonamin asked a congregation packed with officers:
“Will Christ not want that one day the armed forces will act beyond their function?” (37)
Bonamin, The Process’s spiritual elder, considered the “blood bath” (his words) atonement for Argentine impurity. One General hailed Bonamin as an “authentic soldier of Christ and the Homeland.”
On the coup’s eve, Armed Forces Vicar, Archbishop Adolfo Tortolo, blessed the generals. He also secured an agreement whereby the military would, before abducting a priest or nun, notify that person’s supervising bishop. Tortolo encouraged Argentines to cooperate with the junta and he sanctified torture (except for electric shocks, which he deemed a waste of electricity). (38)
Within bishoprics much is done by the bishop’s personal secretary. Tortolo’s secretary, Father Alberto Ezcurra, was the co-founder of Tacuara; a man who a decade earlier delighted in tattooing swastikas onto the faces of kidnapped Jews. (39)
On the day of the coup, the ruling troika held a lengthy meeting with the Bishops Conference. Throughout the ensuing pogrom, of 84 bishops, only four condemned the repression, and two of them got assassinated. (40) Bishop Angelelli was assassinated while driving home from presiding over the funeral of two assassinated priests. (When Cardinal Bergoglio presided over ceremonies marking the 30th anniversary of Angelelli’s death, he never denounced the assassins.) (41)
Cardinal Caggiano’s secretary, Bishop Grasselli, had files on the disappeared. He gave victims’ families fictionalized accounts of the death camps and he publicly defended the dictatorship. Grasselli let the Navy stash inmates on his private island while their detention centre was inspected by an international human rights group.
During Masses performed at detention centres, the Bishop of Jujuy told inmates their treatment was justified and that they should cooperate with authorities.
The Archbishop of La Plata publicly prayed the military would succeed in their arduous task. In 1983 he led the call for an amnesty, dreading another Nuremburg-style travesty that had victimized “poor Eichmann.” Cardinal Primatesta passed lists of liberal professors to the military. He refused to meet victims’ relatives and he prohibited subordinates from speaking out.
Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Juan Carlos Aramburu, praised the military and denied the disappearances were happening.
The junta handed Buenos Aires University to self-defined Catholic-fascist Alberto Ottalagano. Bellowing “this is the moment to be with Christ or against him” Ottalagano fired 1,350 professors. Ottalagano made Father Manuel Abelenda his Dean of Philosophy. Abelenda (another Meinville disciple) stalked classrooms waving an olive branch to exorcise the spirits of Marx and Freud.
Papal Nuncio Cardinal Pia Laghi was Videla’s good buddy and Massera’s tennis partner. Laghi blessed detention centre officers. In 2015 he admitted the Church possessed a list of 6,000 people who had disappeared. A glimpse into Pio’s mindset:
“The church and the armed forces share responsibility. The former is an integral element in the process. It accompanies the latter, not only in prayer but in its actions.” (42)
Pope Paul VI backed the junta. John Paul II flew to Buenos Aires in 1982 to kiss General Galtieri. He snubbed human rights advocates and victims’ groups.
Detention centres were assigned priests (chaplains) to help torturers and killers overcome pangs of conscience. Chaplains assured the troglodytes that they were doing God’s work. Chaplains blessed comatose bodies marked for execution and used the rite of confession to extract information. (43)
Buenos Aires Provincial Police Chaplain Father Christian von Wernich (another Meinville man) accepted the rank of Inspector before being assigned to Miguel Etchecolatz – an officer guilty of innumerable crimes including the kidnapping, rape, and murder of high school students during the “Night of the Pencils.”
Witnesses place Father von Wernich inside torture chambers, during torture sessions, at three detention centres. He told victims that their lives depended on God and collaboration. By day Father von Wernich comforted families of the abducted. By night he subjected abductees to mock executions. (44) With the blood-letting over, the Church spirited Father von Wernich to Chile where investigators found him in 2003 happily doing his priestly duties in a seaside town. Refusal to testify did not spare him from being convicted of 7 homicides, 42 kidnappings, and 32 instances of torture. He was not defrocked. Circa 2010 he was officiating Mass in prison. (45)
The investigators who tracked down Father von Wernich know of 30 other priests guilty of torture. (46) (Von Wernich is hardly the titleholder of clerical malfeasance. A Chilean priest committed 28 murders in the first month of Pinochet’s dictatorship.)
In the thick of his pack, Provincial Superior Bergoglio stood firmly behind the junta. His chauffeur recalls him gabbing enthusiastically about Admiral Massera’s mission. (47) He stands accused by human rights activists and victims themselves of slandering innocent people to the military. Bergoglio never once denounced the repression.
Argentine Catholic groups have denounced the repression and the Church’s participation in it. Priests have accused bishops of collaboration. One prominent Church critic, former education minister Emilio Mignone, remains a devout Catholic and a director of Catholic Action.
Argentine judges have found the Church complicit in crimes against humanity and they have criticised the Church’s abject failure to help investigators.
Even the Argentine Bishop’s Conference apologized. In 2000 they wept: “We share everyone’s pain.” (48)
In 1976 Fathers Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics served two bosses. As Jesuits they answered to Provincial Superior Jorge Bergoglio. Their Liberation Theology parish in the Buenos Aires slum of Bajo Flores required a ministerial licence from the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Juan Carlos Aramburu.
In February 1976 Bergoglio dissolved their parish and ordered them to leave Bajo Flores in 15 days. They disobeyed.
On March 19 Bergoglio expelled them from the Jesuits without informing them of his decision. Yorio floated plans to leave the Jesuits but received no response from Bergoglio despite several conversations between the two. Until his abduction Yorio thought he was a Jesuit.
On May 14 Marine Commandos abducted seven young associates of Yorio and Jalics; “disappearing” them at the Navy Mechanics School.
On May 16 Archbishop Aramburu withdrew Yorio and Jalics’ licences for no apparent reason. Days later, Yorio and Jalics took refuge in a Jesuit residence. Bergoglio was among the few who knew of their whereabouts.
On May 23 Marine Commandos grabbed Yorio and Jalics and six more lay activists. Yorio and Jalics were taken to the Navy Mechanics School where for five months they were drugged, tortured and interrogated. Following a public outcry, the Navy dumped them, drugged and near-naked, in a field outside Buenos Aires. Bergoglio then lobbied Church hierarchs to shun Yorio and Jalics by circulating allegations of their guerrilla contacts.
Bergoglio opposed Jalics’ (a Hungarian citizen) continued stay in Argentina and asked bishops not to offer him a job. Jalics moved to a German monastery. Jalics sought to renew his Argentine passport but feared the requisite return to Argentina to do so. Bergoglio sent a letter supporting Jalics’ special request to the Ministry, but he then also sent a secret memo recommending rejecting the request because Jalics was a suspected guerilla. (49)
Several things Yorio heard during captivity made it unequivocal to him that the Navy interpreted Aramburu’s withdrawal of their licenses, and Bergoglio’s criticism of them, as the “green light” for their abductions.
Undoubtedly, the Navy discussed their impending abductions with Bergoglio and Aramburu. Bergoglio’s friends recall how unusually well-informed he was about impending military sweeps. (50)
In 1977 Yorio publicly accused Bergoglio of spreading the false rumours that led to his abduction. During a 1985 trial Yorio testified:
“I am sure he himself (Bergoglio) gave over the list with our names to the Navy.” (51)
Yorio went to his grave accusing Bergoglio not of merely leaving him unprotected but of proactively telling Admiral Massera that he (Yorio) was a guerrilla chief. Jalics wrote a book wherein he describes how an unnamed person spread false rumours about Yorio and himself, thereby placing them in danger. No one denies this unnamed person is Bergoglio. Here is a quote:
“The man promised to let the military know we were not terrorists. From later statements by an officer and 30 documents I had access to later, we were able to prove without doubt that the man had not kept his promise but that, on the contrary, he had given false documents to the military.” (52)
(Bergoglio removed Jalics’ books from Jesuit university libraries.)
Jalics detailed these accusations to an investigative journalist in 1990. Members of Jalic’s family claim he, several times, in private conversations said Bergoglio slandered him to the military.
Investigators have indeed unearthed a military memo confirming Jalics’ detention at the Navy Mechanics School and basing his detention on the dissolution of his parish by “Padre Bergoglio” for disobedience and on Bergoglio’s suspicion that Jalics had guerrilla contacts. (53)
In 2005 and 2010 courts summoned Bergoglio as a witness in the trials of military officers. (A criminal complaint filed against Bergoglio in 2005 was dismissed for lack of evidence.) On both occasions he invoked clerical testimonial privilege to avoid appearing in open court. In 2005 he testified in writing. In 2010 he set the venue at his office in the Metropolitan Cathedral beneath a huge, intimidating tapestry of the Virgin Mary.
During the four-hour proceeding Bergoglio answered “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” to most questions. Chief examiner, human rights lawyer Luis Zamora, complained Bergoglio completely failed to explain events. Zamora accused Bergoglio of being evasive and reticent, adding: “When someone is reticent they are lying.” When asked why, in 34 years, he never came forward and told investigators what he knew, Bergoglio refused to answer. Zamora concluded: “Bergoglio was not a collaborator of justice.”
All Bergoglio’s testimony related to verbal communications. He kept no records of his discussions with Cardinals and Admirals – because he was too busy. (There is ample evidence of Church officials busily destroying records.) Regarding the suspension of Yorio and Jalics’ ministerial licenses, Bergoglio stated: “I don’t believe they were suspended” – which isn’t believable.
Regarding Yorio and Jalics personally, Bergoglio stated: “They don’t blame me” – a stunning lie given that both men repeatedly, publicly blamed him.
Bergoglio’s claim that he knew nothing of stolen babies until after 1983 is another demonstrable lie. In the 1970s the father of a woman who was 5 months’ pregnant when abducted asked Bergoglio for assistance. Bergoglio retrieved a note from a bishop assuring the man that his granddaughter was with a good family. Hence, Bergoglio knew about stolen babies pre-1983. (54)
Bergoglio admitted meeting General Videla twice and Admiral Massera twice in 1976. He could not remember who arranged the meetings. His 2005 biography spins a tale wherein Bergoglio got the priest who normally gave mass to Videla to call in sick so Bergoglio could sub in. This might explain one of four meetings, but the evidence indicates he had more regular contact with these two mass murderers than he wishes to admit. The book claims Bergoglio ordered Massera to release Yorio and Jalics – a superhero fantasy. The book also doctors a 1976 memo to conceal Bergoglio’s endorsement of repression.
When Bergoglio became Pope Francis he moved quickly to assuage Jalics. After a brief meeting Jalics reported the two celebrated mass together, embraced, and reconciled. Critics noticed Jalics did not exonerate Francis. Jalics then issued a terse statement absolving Francis from involvement in his abduction, which he suddenly attributed to a parishioner who had joined the guerillas – a fact known to Jalics before he made all his previous allegations. The Vatican broadcast Jalics’ revised account.
Fables about Bergoglio the Great Saviour of persecuted Argentines during the “Dirty War” began circulating in 2010. In Bergoglio’s List (2013) author Nello Scavo claims Pope Francis saved more people than the 1,200 saved by Oskar Schindler. Bergoglio’s List appeared in eight languages. Two movies are in the works.
A lack of secularity permeates the reportage around the Yorio-Jalics affair. We hear lots about the precious men of the cloth but precious little about their lay activists. Yorio and Jalics got off with a trifling few months of humiliating torture. A dozen members of their parish, many of them young women, were raped and tortured to death for engaging in anti-poverty activism and thinking the wrong thoughts. Pope Francis poked his inquisitorial finger at these innocents in full knowledge of what would happen next.
The first encyclical exclusively devoted to environmental issues was written by the first Pope named after the patron saint of ecologists. The text combines apocalyptic environmentalist jeremiads with lunatic-fringe fusions of Christian and ecological jargon. The encyclical is one part marriage proposal from the Church to environmentalists, and one part marching orders to Bishops directing them to convert subordinates into eco-activists.
Encyclicals are written by Popes for Bishops in order to lay down the “party line” regarding specific controversies. They are often entitled after their first words, thus this one is dubbed “Laudato Si” (a medieval Italian greeting meaning “praise be to you”). Laudato Si is a 35,000-word (64-page) document containing 246 numbered paragraphs followed by 9 pages detailing 172 footnotes. (1)
Because an encyclical devoted to ecological issues departs from Catholic tradition, Francis had to show that the ideas expressed in Laudato Si conform to pronouncements of previous popes. Laudato Si is encrusted with 17 quotes from John Paul II, 16 from Benedict XVI, and 2 from Paul VI.
Papal eco-babble dates to 1971 when Paul VI wrote:
“Due to an ill-considered exploitation of nature humanity runs the risk of destroying it and becoming in turn a victim of this degradation.” (4)
He later prophesied an: “ecological catastrophe under the effective explosion of industrial civilization.” (4)
John Paul II’s first encyclical laments how humanity seems: “to see no other meaning in their natural environment than what serves for immediate use and consumption.”(5)
He subsequently called for a “global ecological conversion” while bemoaning the paltry efforts given to safeguarding “authentic human ecology.” (5)
In 2007 Benedict XVI proposed: “correcting models of growth which have proved incapable of ensuring respect for the environment.” (6)
Francis also had to show that his encyclical synchronized with recent pronouncements from Bishop’s Conferences. He dishes 20 eco-quotes from 16 national and international conferences. Most notable are the ones from the 2007 Latin American Bishop’s Conference:
“God has joined us so closely to the world around us that we can feel the desertification of the soil almost as a physical ailment, and the extinction of a species as a painful disfigurement.” (89)
“…economic groups which irrationally demolish sources of life should not prevail in dealing with natural resources.” (54)
Francis summons additional support from Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Church (“with whom we share the hope of full ecclesial communion”). Bartholomew is reassuringly inquisitorial:
“For human beings…to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth by causing changes in the climate, by stripping the earth of its natural forests or destroying its wetlands; for human beings to contaminate the earth’s water, its land, its air, and its life – these are sins.” For “to commit a crime against the natural world is a sin against ourselves and a sin against God.”(8)
Francis praises Eastern Christianity’s realization that encountering God does not require turning away from nature. Not that Catholics are incapable of melding Christianity and ecology. Here’s Francis:
“…all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation...” (235)
“This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she ‘groans in travail’”… (2)
And yet again:
“God created the world, writing into it an order and a dynamism that human beings have no right to ignore.” (221)
Francis assays to refute Christian interpretations that promote Promethean visions of world mastery. Being created in God’s image and being given dominion over earth, do not justify control over all creatures. “Dominion” really means responsible stewardship. The Bible has no place for “tyrannical anthropocentrism.”
Also needing correction are the nature worshippers. To Christians “nature” has a narrower meaning than “creation.” Nature can be understood and controlled, but never creation. Moreover, nature is not divine.
Saint John of the Cross taught that all goodness is present in God, eminently and infinitely, not because worldly things are divine, but because Christian mystics can see the intimate connection between God and all beings. God fills the universe. He is in all creatures. Every creature in the Creator’s creation has value.
Bergoglio took the name “Francis” to honour Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecologists. A curiosity arises here because Friar Francis died in 1226 and was beatified in 1228 while the word “ecology” did not appear until 1866. John Paul II rebranded Francis in 1979 as the patron saint of animals and the environment. Prince Philip subsequently chose Assisi as the venue for the 1986 enviro-religion confab that launched the Alliance of Religion and Conservation. Thereafter “Francis” became synonymous with a militant ecological spirituality.
Laudato Si abounds with militant ecological passages. Peruse a few samples:
“The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (21)
“Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony or disdain. We may well be leaving to coming generations debris, desolation and filth. The pace of consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary lifestyle, unsustainable as it is, can only precipitate catastrophes...” (161)
Elsewhere Francis frets about “cracks in the planet” and humanity’s “spiral of self-destruction.”
His ecology is expansive; it protects endangered species and: cultural treasures, visual landmarks and urban landscapes. His ecology protects the lands and cultures of indigenous peoples because:
“For them (indigenous peoples), land is not a commodity but rather a gift from God and from their ancestors who rest there, a sacred space with which they need to interact if they are to maintain their identity and values…” (146)
Most significantly, his ecology protects the poor.
Laudato Si recites a familiar litany of eco-scares: desertification, deforestation, ocean acidification, diminishing water supplies, depleted fish stocks, mass extinction, etc. There is an obligatory lamentation of urbanization:
“We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal and deprived of physical contact with nature.” (44)
Francis surveys overcrowded mega-cities lined with monotonous rows of drab apartment blocks swarming with uprooted souls. Cities are further blighted by increasing numbers of cars, which require ugly parkades. The popularity of air conditioning is particularly perturbing. (55)
Of course, he decries the original eco-sin of forsaking Eden’s pristine slews and glorious scraggle-bush merely for frivolous farmland.
Except for Climate Change, he nowhere acknowledges the controversies surrounding these eco-scares. He claims humans drive thousands of species to extinction every year but he does not provide examples. He claims birds are disappearing due to synthetic agrotoxins usage; one example would be fantastic.
His sermon on genetically modified organisms (GMO) is stranger. GMO crops somehow force small farmers off “exploited lands” thereby concentrating land into fewer hands and increasing oligopolistic control of cereal production. He also throws into the hopper the old acorns about terminator seeds and GMO-scorched ecosystems.
Climate Change warranted much of a subchapter plus several mentions elsewhere in the text. Many of his recommendations are climate-related. He notes that while Laudato Si was being written, the climate debate was intensifying. (The encyclical was likely timed to influence the December 2015 Paris climate talks.)
Regarding climate skepticism the Holy Father’s position is:
“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system… most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity...” (23)
To fully banish doubters, he brandishes the “Precautionary Principle” which lowers the bar of scientific certainty for eco-catastrophes and loads the burden of disproof onto the skeptics.
On five occasions Francis approvingly quotes from secular eco-manifestos (Earth Charter, Rio Declaration, etc.). Four paragraphs contain fawning tributes to the “worldwide ecological movement” and its “vast array of enviro-organizations” which have so enriched society and made such progress; to wit:
“We cannot fail to praise the commitment of international agencies and civil society organizations which draw public attention to these issues and offer critical cooperation, employing legitimate means of pressure to ensure that each government carries out its proper and inalienable responsibility to preserve its country’s environment and natural resources.” (38)
If environmentalists are angels, then utilitarians (a.k.a. cultural relativists) are devils. The “utilitarian mindset” embraces “individualism, competition, consumerism, unlimited progress and the unregulated market”. (210)
“People lose their ability to escape the utilitarian mindset and end up prey to an unethical consumerism bereft of ecological awareness.” (219)
As for cultural relativism:
“It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage.” (123)
He pillories those who deify the market and he rakes the profit motive over the coals. He deplores those who despoil nature merely for consumer items and quick profits. The document teems with variations on this theme:
“Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation.” (36)
“Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention.” (190)
“Environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.” (190)
More provocatively, Francis reminds us that Christianity never held private property to be inviolable; rather it stressed the social purpose of all forms of property. He draws on John Paul II: “…the Church does indeed defend the legitimate right to private property, but she also teaches no less clearly that there is always a social mortgage on all private property.” (93)
Benedict XVI complained that creation is harmed: “where we ourselves have the final word, where everything is simply our property and we use it for ourselves alone.” (6)
Likewise up for criticism are technological and economic growth – the roots of our crisis. Again and again he condemns the technocratic paradigm. He singles out technology’s displacement of workers for special ridicule.
He soundly slams insatiable, irresponsible, and unruly economic growth. The notion of unlimited growth is based on “the lie” that there exists an infinite supply of earthly goods. This “lie” is squeezing earth beyond its limits. The solution:
“…the time has come to accept decreased growth in some parts of the world, in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth.” (193)
Decreasing the growth rate will, allegedly, facilitate better forms of development.
His break with environmentalism occurs along the ancient fault line of population/birth control. Neo-Malthusian population control activists, embedded within environmentalism, promote: abortion on demand; all manner of contraception; and the gay agenda. Such things are unacceptable to a Church whose survival depends on optimizing the reproductive capacity of its flock.
Thus, according to Francis:
“To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.” (50)
Regarding abortion, he gives old arguments new eco-spins:
“How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome and inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” (120)
He elsewhere suggests an inability to acknowledge the worth of human embryos makes it hard to hear the cry of nature.
In an oblique reference to gender/gay issues he contends that human ecology is based on the belief that humanity too has a nature which cannot be manipulated at will. Therefore it is unhealthy to try to cancel out sexual differences simply because we no longer know how to confront them. (155)
The encyclical’s recommendations relate either to economic policy changes or to cultural changes aimed at enabling said policy changes. Generally, non-governmental organizations must pressure governments into imposing rigorous regulations regarding renewable energy, water management, and environmental impact assessments.
There is an urgent need to drastically reduce CO2 emissions by replacing coal and oil with renewable energy. Rich countries must repay “ecological debts” to poorer countries by both limiting their own coal and oil use and by subsidising poorer countries’ transition to renewable energy. Local renewable energy co-ops are another recommended climate remedy.
Environmental impact assessments must be done before, not after, the drafting of business plans. Consensus must be reached among all stakeholders. Local populations deserve a special voice regarding projects involving natural resources or landscape disfigurement.
Blocking the commodification of water is another urgency. Water commodification threatens water supplies and only benefits diabolic multinational businesses.
Francis consistently defends small producers and disparages big business. His socio-economic ideal is a portrait painted by a romantic throwback. His utopia has:
“…a great variety of small-scale food production systems which feed the greater part of the world’s peoples, using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing.”(129)
Such economic policies presume a “cultural revolution.” The masses must be converted into “ecological citizens” willing to accept strict eco-laws and willing to use less heating, wear warmer clothes, reduce water and raw material consumption, shun plastics, and turn off unnecessary lights. Ecological citizens will boycott businesses that fail to reduce their environmental footprints.
To help achieve this cultural revolution the Church must ramp up its ecological education program. Catholic educational facilities must teach simplistic lifestyles and environmental protection.
The environmentalism in Laudato Si is hardly original. We find the old misanthropic bio-centricity of deep ecology cloaked in green theo-centric robes. As well, merging charity-model anti-poverty activism with the green agenda has been a movement strategy since the launch of “environmental justice” three decades ago. The encyclical’s litany of eco-scares and its menu of recommendations might have been lifted verbatim from any major enviro-NGO webpage. What is new, and ominous, is that this worn-out verbiage fills an entire encyclical, and that this encyclical came from a Pope named Francis.
Words like integral, integrate, and integrity appear 41 times in the 64-page, Laudato Si. Quotes from the following two paragraphs provide sufficient evidence of a forced injection of “integral.”
“The protection of the environment is in fact ‘an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.’ We urgently need a humanism capable of bringing together the different fields of knowledge, including economics, in the service of a more integral and integrating vision.” (1)
“…it is no longer enough to speak only of the integrity of ecosystems. We have to dare to speak of the integrity of human life...” (Emphasis added.) (2)
The phrase “integral ecology” forms the title of the fourth chapter and appears nine more times in the text. “Integral ecology” is never defined. We are told St. Francis was the integral ecologist par excellence. We are told atheists don’t get integral ecology and that it does not jibe with utilitarianism.
Integral ecology pours forth spiritual deepities. Transcending math and biology, it goes to the heart of what it means to be human. Integral ecology requires daily acts of non-violent selflessness and continuous contemplation of our enveloping Creator’s serene harmoniousness.
Integral ecologists acknowledge human and social dimensions. They value labour and the common good. They realize the environment is on loan to each generation which must pass it to the next. Integral ecologists are the true ecologists because they combine justice with environmentalism. They hear: “both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
This collage of Christianised deep ecology, environmental justice, and intergenerational justice clichés would be utterly unoriginal but for the mantra-like repetition of “integral.”
Integralism basically means holism. An integer is a whole number, not a fraction. Integral signifies any vitally important part of an integrated whole. To preserve the integrity of a thing is to preserve the completeness of the thing.
Catholic Integralists seek to preserve the integrity of the whole Catholic tradition. They differ from Protestant Fundamentalists with whom they are often, with some justification, confused. Protestant Fundamentalists seek to maintain the essential doctrines of Christianity, i.e. the Bible. Catholic Integralists, being more concerned with the words and deeds of the saints and popes than with the Bible, seek to maintain their 2,000-year-old tradition in its entirety. A more apt phrase for Integralism might be “radical neo-traditionalism.” (3)
As a religious movement, Integralism, began as a mid-19th century effort to minimize competing ideologies. Pope Pius IX’s “Syllabus of Errors” (1864) condemned a list of political doctrines. His hostility to liberalism and democracy remains central to Integralism.
Pope Pius X (1903-14) publicly attacked “modernists” within the Church and secretly sponsored an Integralist society (named after the Counter-Reformation Inquisitor, Pius V) to write vigorous polemics against unorthodox philosophy and exegesis. After they broadened their attack to include social-Catholics, Christian Democrats, and indeed any Catholic advocating pluralism, they were suppressed by Benedict XV in 1921. The ‘Pius V Society’ shared much common ground with Charles Maurras’ Action Francaise who escaped papal censure until 1926.
Not all Integralists were purged. More accommodating ones continued to serve Catholic authorities, across the reigns of Pius XI and Pius XII (1922-1958), by shielding the faithful from critical-historical interpretations of the Bible and other inimical lines of thought.
Another rupture occurred when John XXIII (1958-63) launched a series of modernizations validated by the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II). There was a sudden openness to dialogue and an ecumenicalism reaching out to non-Catholic Christians and a range of other collectivities. The Church surrendered its monopoly on truth. Rituals also changed. No longer would Mass be a sacred mystery performed by Latin-muttering priests with their backs turned to the congregation. Priests now faced the people and spoke their language.
Many Integralists thought John XXIII (and his successor, Paul VI) had capitulated to liberalism and modernism. The two diabolical movements supposedly slayed by Pius X had stealthily, suspiciously resurfaced in the Vatican.
Several hard-core Integralist groups emerged in opposition to Vatican II. Some consider every Pope from John XXIII onward to be a heretic. Some left the Church and even elected pretender popes.
With the exception of the Priestly Society of St Pius X (PSPX) such breakaway groups remain tiny. PSPX flatly rejects freedom of religion. They are Catholic supremacists. Estrangement from the Vatican does not prevent them from commanding 589 priests. They run 6 seminaries, 4 convents, 7 nursing homes, and 2 university-level institutes. PSPX is strongest in France but operates across Western Europe and North America.
PSPX and other estranged Integralists perform rituals in the manner specified by Pius V in 1570. Perpetuating these “timeless” spiritual rites predicates their claim to be the true Church. In reality, their practices are selective and subjective.
A pattern repeats: Extreme Integralists espousing impractical policies are purged while moderate Integralists remain inside the Church to carry on the struggle against modernizing, liberalizing forces. Pope Francis, with his integral-laden encyclical, is appealing primarily to the in-house Integralists.
What do these Integralists believe?
Integralists share an ultramontanist mindset which accords maximum authority to the Pope.
Integralists believe Catholicism provides the only satisfactory basis for ordering society. If the world is to take shape under the Catholic Church’s guidance, then governments must defend the interests of the Church.
Integralists reject compromise with political or cultural tendencies arising from outside the Church. They attack any ideology threatening the integrity of Catholicism or, more importantly, threatening the worldly powers of the Church.
Integralists see rampant socio-economic change as undermining the privileged position of the Church. This spectre of a dying Church sponsors apocalypticism.
Integralists deny the autonomy of secular society. They believe in ecclesiastical hegemony. Politically, they have demonstrated an affinity for fascism in a dozen countries.
As a political ideology, Integralism is usually credited to French Catholic-Monarchist-cum-fascist Charles Maurras. Here we find the familiar “blood and soil” trope about national traits arising from the habitats in which peoples evolve. Integralists of the Maurras school defended hierarchical social stratification. They favoured the economics of guilds and corporatism; not egalitarian socialism and certainly not the free market. They wanted Catholicism to be France’s sole state-sanctioned religion but stopped short of advocating outright theocracy.
Political Integralism was exported to the Portuguese-speaking world around 1914 where again it led a caravan of traditionalism, economic syndicalism, Catholic Monarchism, and antipathy to democracy, albeit with Portuguese characteristics.
In Portuguese-speaking Brazil “Integralism” became utterly synonymous with “fascism” after artist and writer Plinio Salgado founded Brazilian Integralist Action (AIB) in 1932. AIB emerged from the chaos following the overthrow of the Old Republic. The new junta’s leader, Getulio Vargas, struggled to control a workers’ movement which, due to the Great Depression, was glowing red.
Vargas turned to Salgado’s Integralists to destroy the Left. Between 1934 and 1937 Brazil was wracked by street fighting, much of it instigated by Integralist squads. A replica of the Nazis, Integralist cadre wore monochrome shirts (green as opposed to brown) with armbands bearing sigma symbols (as opposed to swastikas) and gave the straight-arm salute. Hitler and Mussolini funded AIB. Like all 1919-1945 era fascist parties, AIB was a mass mercenary affair, peaking at 1,000,000 members.
Brazilian Integralists opposed socialism and liberalism. Salgado believed an eternal war between materialists and spiritualists animated all human history. Nationalism was a shared spiritual identity. Brazil needed not only an authoritarian nation state but a spiritual revolution whereafter men would not think only of themselves but of their Integralist family.
Integralists were not as racist as were most fascists. This reflected Brazil’s heterogeneity. AIB drew crucial support from Brazil’s substantial Italian and German populations. AIB harboured anti-Semites, but this caused internal friction. Another AIB peculiarity was a commitment to localism, which contrasted with Euro-fascism’s commitment to highly centralized nation-states.
After Vargas safely consolidated power in 1937, he turned against the plebeian AIB. Diehards retaliated with a botched coup in which 20 Integralists perished.
Salgado kept the Integralist torch burning. In 1945 he organized the Party of Popular Representation. Following the 1964 coup he became a prominent figure in the pro-military ARENA party. Many former Integralists played important roles in Brazil’s military dictatorships after 1964.
Argentine fascists deployed integralism in connection with totalitarianism. To all fascists of the 1930s and 1940s era, totalitarianism was not a pejorative concept; rather it signified patriotic unity, mature corporatism, and the integration of classes into the nation. Argentine fascists coveted a totalitarianism based on Catholic Integralism. Totalitarianism would be achieved through the unanimous embrace of Catholic Integralism. (4)
A flock of “integrals” could fly over a gathering of non-Catholic citizens of the English-speaking world without causing anyone to glance skyward. However, to a Catholic intellectual the sighting of one “integral” would be noteworthy. To a Latin American or South European historian it would be an omen. To a 79-year-old right-wing career Catholic ideologue from Argentina “integral” would be a brazen bronze emblem of fascism. Integral Ecology would mean eco-fascism.
Minds trapped in a rigid right-left political binary are missing the game. There are three, not two, primary political orientations, and each one corresponds to one of the three primary factors of production: land, labour, and capital. Most people grasp the connections between labour and socialism and between capital and economic-liberalism. However, most people have a blind-spot when it comes to the connection between land and arch-conservativism/fascism.
With socialism in remission, the main political contest is between those advocating free-enterprise capitalism and those advocating an ultra-regulated neo-corporatist model. If land were fully converted into a capitalist market commodity, especially the undeveloped treasures of the hinterland, then the precious parcels of real estate in the built-up metropolitan regions would be rendered near worthless in a few decades. Landlordism would go the way of serfdom. Capitalism is the spectre haunting Old Europa.
Conversely, the landed interest wants all capitalists’ business plans to be vetted through quasi-government agencies stacked with local landowners and/or their environmentalist envoys. Proposals involving increasing the amount of developed land, or otherwise conflicting with the green agenda, should anticipate hostile receptions. The landed interest favours government energy policies that penalize the industrial extraction of fuels from the hinterland while subsidizing wind, solar, and biofuels – the revenues from which largely accrue to metropolitan area landowners. Recycling regulations keep materials circulating in metropolitan areas, thereby reducing the need for raw materials extracted from the hinterland. Locavorism favours local landowners at the expense of the large-scale food transport industry. In each instance, the more profitable activity is eclipsed by the interests of landed elites.
The environmental NGO Alliance of Religion and Conservation boasts that its member organizations own 7% of Earth’s habitable surface. None own as much as the Catholic Church.
Vatican City became an independent state after the Lateran Treaty was agreed to by Pope Pius XI and the Grand Council of Fascism. The Treaty returned to the Church thousands of square kilometres of Italian real estate (in addition to the land comprising Vatican City). Much of this land is situated in and around urban areas. Across Italy the Catholic Church owns apartment blocks, football stadiums, resorts, and ports currently worth about $100 (US) billion. These landholdings are rivalled by a similar array of Catholic Church-owned properties across Europe, notably in Spain. These landholdings are in turn dwarfed by the Church’s properties in Latin America, about which there is little available information. We are not merely referring to the land upon which actual church buildings sit, but rather to a vast, far-flung collection of commercial, agricultural, and residential rent-generating properties. Thus, it is no surprise that Popes so warmly embrace an environmental movement which, when viewed through the appropriate lens, assumes the shape of an international land cartel. The parson and the landlord, hand in hand, always do they go.
Among the legions Pope Francis can marshal for his great green crusade are 1,358 Catholic institutes of higher education. Granted, many of these are small colleges; many are pontifical universities devoted exclusively to clerical training; and many major “Catholic” universities appear to have been handed over to autonomous, secular governorship. (The operative word being “appear” because among the pointy-headed padres transparency is often preached but seldom practised.) On the other hand, the list of Catholic universities does include scores of large multi-faculty facilities firmly in the grip of the Cardinals. Around the globe there are probably 40,000 professors teaching the full range of disciplines (including the sciences) who are de facto witting employees of the Catholic Church.
In fact, all the major old-line churches (Anglican, Lutheran, and Eastern Orthodox) continue to exert profound influence upon post-secondary education. Each of these churches loudly and proudly pushes environmentalism. To some measure, this helps explain the near unanimous support the sketchy Anthropogenic Catastrophic Global Warming Hypothesis has achieved in academia.
Ironically, one of the few fascist regimes to espouse economic-liberalism ruled Bergoglio’s Argentina during the late-1970s and early-1980s. However, in reality the convoluted propaganda coming out of this regime contained both pro and anti-liberalist rhetoric with clerico-nationalists supplying the latter. Moreover, the Generals’ talk of free enterprise was not borne out in practice. The Generals delivered crony capitalism on steroids, a hypertrophied state sector, and a parade of white elephant mega-projects. Between 1930 and 1983 Argentina was almost continuously governed by fascist regimes. They transformed Argentina from one of the richest, most promising countries in the world into an economic also-ran.
Finally, anyone talking about the Catholic Church losing its “moral compass” should give their own historical compass a rattle. The Catholic Church, more than any extant institution, bears responsibility for the crimes of fascism committed during the 1919-1945 era. In Austria, Spain, Italy, Croatia, France, Portugal, and Slovakia the Catholic Church wasn’t merely complicit, it didn’t merely turn a blind-eye; it was in full partnership with fascism. In Croatia and Spain the bishops cheered and directed the butchering of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Austrian and Slovakian fascist movements were openly theocratic. The Church blessed Mussolini’s Africa campaign and Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa. The Catholic Church temporarily lost its distinctive “moral compass” during Vatican II. Laudato Si proves that they have since retrieved it.
The Life and Times of Jorge Bergoglio in Five Brief Threads
Laudato Si Condensed and Critiqued
Abramovici, Pierre. “Operation Condor”: The Thirty Years Dirty War. Global Research, May 1, 2001 (La Monde Diplomatique).
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