The Message of the “People’s Pope”:
Subservience to a System of Genocide and Oppression

September 14, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


On September 22, Pope Francis will visit the U.S. He is being branded the “People’s Pope” for giving up some of the traditional ceremonial trappings of the position. He is acclaimed for expressions of concern over extreme abuses of capitalism, and sympathy for the poor in a world of extreme and savage inequality.

But the essential message of this pope, like every pope before him, is subservience. Subservience to a world order of genocide and oppression of whole peoples. Acceptance of a world built on exploitation enforced with violence. Submission to the most obscene degradation of women as less than human. And the pope condemns and opposes any attempt to seriously stand up against the suffering produced by a global system of oppression.

Blessing Genocide

While in the U.S., the pope will declare Junipero Serra a “saint.” Junipero Serra was a Spanish Catholic priest during the time when colonialism was carrying out the physical and cultural genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas—enslaving them in the mines of South America and the “missions” of the West Coast of what is now the U.S. It was in large part on that basis—extracting incredible wealth from the land, on the bones and blood of millions of indigenous people—that capitalism rose to dominate the world.

Junipero Serra did not oppose that genocide; he was a major figure in carrying it out by establishing the mission system in what is now California.

Speaking of the role of the Catholic Church in what he admits were crimes against the indigenous peoples in the Americas, Pope Francis said, “I also would like us to recognize the priests and bishops who strongly opposed the logic of the sword with the strength of the cross.” In fact, the cross and the sword were both essential to the genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and Serra himself executed both roles—violently enslaving Native Americans, viciously whipping those who tried to escape or rebel, and at the same time proclaiming all this the will of the Christian “God.”

The book A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions, by Elias Castillo, exposes how the mission system led to the deaths of over 60,000 Native Americans from 1769-1821. Serra’s genocidal agenda was expressed in a letter he wrote in 1775 about the deaths of Indian children: “In the midst of all our little troubles, the spiritual side of the missions is developing most happily. In [Mission] San Antonio there are simultaneously two harvests, at one time, one for wheat, and of a plague among the children, who are dying.”

Enslaving Women, Demonizing LGBT People

A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California's Indians by the Spanish MissionsThe book A Cross of Thorns: The Enslavement of California’s Indians by the Spanish Missions, by Elias Castillo, exposes how the mission system enslaved the Native people and led to the deaths of over 60,000 from 1769-1821. Elias Castillo, a three time Pulitzer Prize nominee for journalism, did extensive research into the history of the missions. He will be at Revolution Books in Berkeley at 2444 Durant Ave., September 22, 7 pm. $5-$25, a benefit for the bookstore.

Pope Francis has announced a “one-year special offer” for women to be absolved of the “sin” of abortion by lower-level church functionaries. This is a vicious attack on a woman’s right to decide for herself whether or not to have an abortion by—among other things—demanding women feel guilty if they do not accept the role of forced breeders. All is branded as extending Pope Francis’ “vision of a merciful church to women who have had abortions, easing their path toward forgiveness.” (ABC News)

As for the pope’s declaration that “The Lord” calls for “mercy” towards LGBT people, why should they need “The Lord’s” mercy!? Because, according to the pope, same-sex relationships are demonic—declaring that moves to legalize same-sex marriage are the work of the devil. (“Pope Francis Against Gay Marriage, Gay Adoption,” Huffington Post, March 13, 2013)

And seriously: How can the Catholic Church’s institutionalized enabling of sexual abuse of young boys and girls be divorced from this whole package of virulent patriarchy? The Church hierarchy continues to perpetrate this horrific environment.

It is the pope who should be “repenting” the role of the Catholic Church for thousands of years of preaching the subordination of women, enforcing their oppression in a million ways, and demonizing people who love others of the same gender!

The Pope’s Role in the “Dirty War” in Argentina

Before being selected as pope, Francis was Cardinal Bergoglio, the highest-ranking Catholic Church official in Argentina. Those who put him in his current position were well aware of his history there, and it sheds an ugly light on what was really represented by the elevation of an Argentine cardinal to the position of pope.

Pope Francis’ statements of concern for the conditions of the poor are widely acclaimed, but the cold reality of his stand towards the oppressed was revealed during the "Dirty War" in Argentina—a reign of fascist terror, murder and torture from 1976-1983. The Dirty War was carried out by a junta—a group of U.S.-backed generals who seized power in a coup in 1976. It targeted suspected armed guerrillas and students, intellectuals, trade unionists, and radicals. As many as 30,000 people were abducted, tortured, and "disappeared."

Whatever his own views were of the coup, Pope Francis (then Cardinal Bergoglio) ordered his priests to stop supporting the anti-fascist resistance movements and even to stop working in the urban slums because the powers-that-be considered that activity seditious. Despite his edict, some clergy and even some Catholic Church officials opposed the fascist regime in different ways. A hundred priests, nuns, and other clergy were killed by the regime, including a bishop, Enrique Angelelli, who was about to expose the murder of two priests. But don’t expect a sainthood nomination for any of those Catholics.

The pope did not oppose and instead was complicit in the detention, torture, and exiling of dissident priests. And he legitimized the fascist generals by appearing with them in public and holding Mass with them.

One of the most notorious crimes of the Argentine junta was stealing the babies and young children of the poor, or of political opponents, and giving them to officials of the regime to raise as their own. (La historia oficial/The Official Story is a powerful 1985 film depicting this.) Alicia de la Cuadra, a co-founder of Madres de Plaza de Mayo, whose daughter and newborn grandchild “disappeared,” asked Bergoglio for help. He appointed a priest to look into it. That priest informed her that her grandchild was adopted by a family “too important” to oppose.

An article in Revolution on the pope’s role in this Argentine Dirty War makes an observation that cuts to the bone: “Bergoglio’s role during the Dirty War reveals the truth about his attitude toward the oppressed. As long as they are docile slaves who don’t resist oppression and exploitation, he will be their ‘humble servant.’ But once they rise up in resistance ... [his] true colors come to light.” (“The New Pope: A ‘Humble Man of the People’... or Fascist Collaborator?“ April 18, 2013)

Defending the Greatest Crimes in the Name of “God”

Pope Francis is a spiritual and political defender of the worst crimes in history and worst abuses of humanity in today’s world... under the guise of “forgiveness” and “humility.”

But let’s give credit where credit is due: All of these things the pope defends—violent extermination of conquered peoples; dehumanizing oppression of women; demonization of sexual relations outside the patriarchal norm; subservience to oppressive authority—all of these things are enshrined in the Bible.

And the pope calls on the faithful to accept that all this is “God’s will,” obscuring and ruling out of order any serious and scientific approach to getting to the bottom of the actual forces in the real world that are responsible for exploitation and oppression.

There is a radically different approach and morality expressed in this quote from BAsics, from the talks and writings of Bob Avakian:

The notion of a god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by ruling classes, for thousands of years since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality.

Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality.

—BAsics 4:17

That liberating outlook and morality stands in stark and radical contrast to everything the pope represents, and opens the door to not accepting but ending all oppression and exploitation.



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