Friday, July 14, 2017

The Vatican and Politics

Over the last two thousand years the Vatican, or the Papal forces wherever they may have been located (like Avignon), have ventured into politics. Each time they do so they seem to strike a multiplicity of hornet nests. Add to this mix the Jesuitical philosophy and sophistic speculations on various individuals and you have a rather messy mix. John Paul II was on the verge of banning the Jesuits with their extreme proponents of Liberation Theology (see Gutierrez, A Theology of Liberation, Orbis, 1996).

Now comes the current Bishop of Rome and his minions declaring that major portions of American Religious groups are Manichean. To be a Manichean one must believe in gods of good and gods of evil and they are at war with one another.

Along comes the Vatican noting as follows:

Religion has had a more incisive role in electoral processes and government decisions over recent decades, especially in some US governments. It offers a moral role for identifying what is good and what is bad. At times this mingling of politics, morals and religion has taken on a Manichaean language that divides reality between absolute Good and absolute Evil. In fact, after President George W. Bush spoke in his day about challenging the “axis of evil” and stated it was the USA’s duty to “free the world from evil” following the events of September 11, 2001.  Today President Trump steers the fight against a wider, generic collective entity of the “bad” or even the “very bad.” Sometimes the tones used by his supporters in some campaigns take on meanings that we could define as “epic.” These stances are based on Christian-Evangelical fundamentalist principles dating from the beginning of the 20th Century that have been gradually radicalized. These have moved on from a rejection of all that is mundane – as politics was considered – to bringing a strong and determined religious-moral influence to bear on democratic processes and their results.

There is no basis for this set of conclusions. Frankly it is sophistic and polemical and lacking of the slightest scholastic insight. Then they state:

A third element, together with Manichaeism and the prosperity gospel, is a particular form of proclamation of the defense of “religious liberty.” The erosion of religious liberty is clearly a grave threat within a spreading secularism. But we must avoid its defense coming in the fundamentalist terms of a “religion in total freedom,” perceived as a direct virtual challenge to the secularity of the state.

 The authors grossly misunderstand the concept of religious freedom in the United States. Unlike France, which proclaims itself to be totally secular, ironically a result of the extensive interference of the Jesuits against the Government and even the people of France, in the US we have an express right of religious freedom devoid of any interference of the state.

Then the authors make the following statement:

There is a shocking rhetoric used, for example, by the writers of Church Militant, a successful US-based digital platform that is openly in favor of a political ultraconservatism and uses Christian symbols to impose itself. This abuse is called “authentic Christianity.” And to show its own preferences, it has created a close analogy between Donald Trump and Emperor Constantine, and between Hilary Clinton and Diocletian. The American elections in this perspective were seen as a “spiritual war."

  Humorous, yes, but reflective of all Americans, hardly! Now they also note:

Pastor Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001) is the father of so-called “Christian reconstructionism” (or “dominionist theology”) that had a great influence on the theopolitical vision of Christian fundamentalism. This is the doctrine that feeds political organizations and networks such as the Council for National Policy and the thoughts of their exponents such as Steve Bannon, currently chief strategist at the White House and supporter of an apocalyptic geopolitics.

  Guilt by association? Possibly. 

One wonders why the Vatican has taken up a battle against the U.S. Not really if one truly understand South American Jesuits!