Wrong Choice, Again?

Mar 13

The conclave to elect the new Pope was an opportunity for the Catholic Church’s all-male college of cardinals to choose someone who would lead the Church into the 21st century.  Again, they flubbed the opportunity, as they did when they elevated Joseph Ratzinger to his role as Pope Benedict XVI eight years ago. The new Pope, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is, many say, an unreconstructed bigot when it comes to homosexuality.  Gay marriage is, he thinks, a work of the devil, and he even opposes adoption of children by gays as against God’s law.  Equally medieval is his opposition to contraception, a position highlighted by his celebrated clash with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner when she distributed free contraceptives to poor communities.  Tough luck for poor Catholic families who want to practice family planning and for the campaign against HIV-AIDS. What about his stand on predatory priests who abuse children?  According to a Washington Post report, the U.S.-based Bishop Accountability group revealed that a convicted pedophile Fr. Julio Cesar Grassi remains free, “thanks partly to a court filing on his behalf by the Argentine church, which was headed by Bergoglio as archbishop of Buenos Aires.” While he was not involved in a cover-up of sex offenders in the clergy, neither did he take the initiative in fighting clerical pedophilia.  Again the Post: “During most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced; nor did he extend apologies to the victims of abusive priests after their misconduct came to light…’ He has been totally silent,’ said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentina’s UN-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case. Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. ‘In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself.’” But perhaps the most glaring evidence that calls into question Bergoglio’s qualifications to be Pope is his record on human rights during the notorious “Dirty War” that the Argentine military junta waged against the political...

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I’ll miss Hugo

Mar 07

I’ll miss Hugo. When I first was introduced to him in Porto Alegre in 2003, he greeted me, “Mi padre,” and said he learned a lot from me. I was dubious about this and thought he was simply buttering me up, like any two-bit politician. Then he started telling me what he learned from Development Debacle, Deglobalization, and Dark Victory.  I was stupefied; the guy actually read my stuff! About two years later, we met again, this time in Caracas.  He told me he was seriously concerned about my safety since he had heard that the Darth Vader Battalion had marked me as a “counterrevolutionary” and targeted me for elimination.  He invited me to cool off in Venezuela, telling me he would take me on a tour of the whole country.  Thank you, I said, but he shouldn’t worry since I was dealing with a bunch of space cadets, though crazy ones.  He asked me through the translator what a “space cadet” was.  I tried my best to explain, then he said, “Ahh, un pendejo,” and roared in laughter. In January 2006, during the World Social Forum in Caracas, he had several of us sit with him on stage and introduced us one by one.  When it came to me, he declared grandiloquently that “in his veins runs the blood of Asian martyrs.”  I didn’t know whether to laugh or crawl under my chair, while he went on to construct an image of me that, wow, I wish were true! The next day, at a forum of representatives of social movements, he asked me what I thought about what was happening in Venezuela. I don’t know what came over me, but I made use of the occasion to criticize his government for going back on its promise not to sign the Declaration of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting in Hong Kong in December 2005, which would have led to the third collapse of a WTO ministerial, one that would have been the last nail in the coffin of that anti-development mafia dominated by the North.   “As a revolutionary, you can’t go back on your word,” I said.  He was silent, but that was the last time I got invited to Caracas. The...

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