Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Pope at Auschwitz, Says Same Horrors Happening Today

Pope Francis pays respect in front of graves during his visit to Birkenau's former Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, July 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

Pope Francis pays respect in front of graves during his visit to Birkenau’s former Nazi death camp in Oswiecim, Poland, July 29, 2016. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

By Philip Pullella 
July 30, 2016

OSWIECIM, Poland (Reuters) – Pope Francis made an emotional and silent visit to the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on Friday and later said many of the horrors committed are happening in places at war today.

Seated on a bench near the gate to the camp site in Poland, Pope Francis prayed in silence in tribute to the 1.5 million people, most of them Jews, killed there by Nazi occupiers during World War Two.

The third pope to visit Auschwitz and the first not to have lived through the war in Europe, he entered the camp by foot, passing through iron gates under the infamous sign reading “Arbeit Macht Frei”, German for “Work Sets You Free”.

Visibly moved by the sight of the wooden guard towers, barbed wire fences and inmate barracks, he sat in silent prayer for about 15 minutes. Francis said before the trip that he had decided to make no statement as silence was the best way to honour the dead.

Reflecting on his visit several hours later, Francis asked young people: “Is it possible that man, created in God’s image and likeness, is capable of doing these things?”

“Cruelty did not end at Auschwitz and Birkenau,” he said. “It is still around today … in many places in the world where there is war, the same things are happening.”

He cited torture, over-crowded prisons and starving children.

The pope spent a few minutes quietly greeting about a dozen Auschwitz survivors, kissing each of them on both cheeks. One man gave the pope a picture of himself surrounded by other emaciated inmates in a bunk, and asked Francis to sign it.

The 79-year-old Argentine-born pontiff then proceeded to walk through the barely lit corridors of the drab, brick building of Auschwitz Block 11, which had housed prisoners selected for special punishment.

With aides using small flashlights to light his way, Francis visited the underground cell where Franciscan monk Maksymilian Kolbe was killed after offering his life to save a Polish man whom had been picked to die of starvation.

Just outside the cell, in Auschwitz’s commemorative book, Francis wrote in Spanish: “Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgiveness for so much cruelty”.

German occupation forces set up the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp during World War Two in Oswiecim, a town about 70 km (43 miles) from Poland’s second city, Krakow.

Between 1940 and 1945, Auschwitz developed into a vast complex of barracks, workshops, gas chambers and crematoriums.

GAVE LIFE FOR ANOTHER

On July 29, 1941, the camp director, in reprisal for the escape of a prisoner, chose 10 others and sentenced them to death by starvation.

When the selection was completed, Kolbe stepped forward and volunteered to die in place of a man with a family, Franciszek Gajowniczek. Kolbe was later killed by lethal injection but the man he saved survived the war. Kolbe was made a saint in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, a Pole.

Later, the pope, who has made many strong condemnations of anti-Semitism, also visited Birkenau, a part of the camp where most of the killings were in gas chambers, and was driven past ruins of crematoriums that the Nazis blew up before the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on Jan. 27, 1945.

He listened silently as Poland’s chief rabbi, Michael Schudrich, sang from Psalm 130 and a priest read the psalm in Polish, just metres (yards) away from the end of the single rail track where cattle cars brought hundreds of thousands of prisoners to the camp.

After greeting some 25 people who have been honoured as “Righteous Among the Nations” for helping save Jews, Francis left as quietly as he had arrived.

Copyright Reuters 2016

(Additional reporting by Wojciech Zurawski, Pawel Florkiewicz and Wiktor Szary; Writing by Justyna Pawlak and Philip Pullella; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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Priest sex abuse: before Boston, there was Newfoundland

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TOM REGAN: SUMMONING ORENDA
November, 2015

It was a bombshell.

A well-known local paper printing a front-page exposé on sexual abuse by Catholic religious figures in an overwhelmingly Catholic region of the country. Not only did the story expose malfeasance on the part of the Roman Catholic Church, but also on the part of many local officials who had not only known about the abuse but had helped covered it up.

No, I’m not talking about the Boston Globe, and its 2002 series on sexual abuse that won a Pulitzer Prize and is also the subject of the much-praised film released November 6, “Spotlight.” That happened almost a decade after the story I’m referring to.

The newspaper I’m talking about is the St. John’s Sunday Express in St. John’s, Newfoundland. And the exposé concerned a group known as the Christian Brothers who ran an orphanage in the province that was so riddled with sexual abuse, as we came to know, that once exposed it staggered the entire province, then the entire country.

Before I tell you the rest of the story, I have two points to make.

Hollywood loves to pump up the achievements of any American, so that it seems like no one else in the rest of the world could have possibly been involved in any similar endeavour. Canadians are already familiar with this strategy, watching the predominantly Canadian role in the rescue of six Iranian hostages from Tehran in 1980 reduced to a bit part supporting the Ben Affleck–hero who pulled the whole thing off.

The second point is more of a personal one. While I am an atheist now, I was raised as a Catholic, and I am from Newfoundland. While I did not spend many years there, I have many relatives from my father’s side of the family still living there. One of my lasting memories from a visit in the early 80’s is of four priests sitting around my Aunt Marge’s dinner table while she waited on them hand and foot. And she felt honoured to do so, so profound was the admiration for the Catholic Church in Newfoundland.

The Irish Christian Brothers weren’t clergy, but a lay order that took vows of celibacy and wore religious habits. They had established the Mount Cashel Orphanage in 1876 and were much respected on the island. But allegations of abuse about the Brothers started to surface in the mid-70s. An investigation by the province’s social service department, that included suggestions that abuse was taking place, was forwarded to the orphanage’s superintendent, and then forgotten about. Further investigations by the police in the following decade were silenced by superiors. The main newspaper in Newfoundland, the Evening Telegram, came close to printing a story in 1976, but it was quashed by its publisher.

Over the following decade, the sexual abuse was almost revealed several times, but was always either pushed under the rug or ignored. But then allegations of abuse against Catholic priests nationally were starting to attract attention. On the evening of February 13, 1989, so the story goes according to an article on the Heritage Newfoundland website, a caller to local radio station VOCM’s popular Open Line program alleged the authorities had covered up the Mount Cashel abuse.

Then on March 19th the Sunday Express printed the story of Shane Earl, a former Mount Cashel resident. And, as they say, all hell broke loose. In September of 1989, an inquiry led by retired Ontario Supreme Court Judge Samuel Hughes was opened.

As Sunday Express editor Michael Harris later wrote in his book on Mount Cashel, “Unholy Orders”: “By the time the Hughes Inquiry had finished its somber deliberations on Mount Cashel, it had laid bare a stunning, collective failure of the judicial, police, religious, media and social service establishments to protect the interests of hopelessly vulnerable and cruelly abused children.”

The Mount Cashel debacle turned out to be the tip of the iceberg for the Catholic Church in Canada. Other Christian Brother institutions across the country, particularly in Saskatchewan and Ontario, faced allegations that ultimately forced the order’s leaders in Rome to transfer its assets out of Canada because it was being forced to pay so many victims. Meanwhile new allegations of abuse against native Canadians by Catholic clergy also began to surface. This time the allegations weren’t against the Catholic Church alone, but also included many mainline Protestant churches.

But, the way the world works, nothing really happens until it happens in the United States.

Allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and lay orders can now be found in countries around the globe. Benedict 16th, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, played a key role in helping to keep the abuse scandal as quiet as possible.

A final word about the Sunday Express. It was a kick-ass paper doomed to failure because it was kick-ass. It exposed many scandals on the part of the Newfoundland government, and the powers-that-be in the province did not take kindly to being held to task, withdrew advertising and the paper was forced to close in 1990.

Because the truth is that government is not interested in freedom of the press. Government is interested in compliant media, which is most of what Canada now has, particularly in print media.

Michael Harris has not stopped ruffling feathers. He continues to be one of Canada’s best journalists. You can read his most recent works at the Canadian online website iPolitics.ca, where he continues to hold politicians feet to the fire.

As for the Catholic Church, be it in Newfoundland, or Boston, or Ireland, or Australia, or Norway or Poland, the revelations of abuse and their aftershocks continue to roil that institution. One hopes that Pope Francis, who seems to offer so much inspiration to so many people on so many fronts, can deal with the issue in a decisive way.

But this is the Catholic Church. Don’t keep your fingers crossed.

Copyright Tom Regan 2015

Contact Tom Regan:  motnager@gmail.com

Links

Catholic Church sexual abuse cases: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases

Mount Cashel Orphanage Abuse Scandal: http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/wells-government-mt-cashel.php

Unholy Orders: tragedy at Mount Cashel: https://books.google.com/books/about/Unholy_orders.html?id=HRYEAQAAIAAJ

Michael Harris columns at iPolitics: http://ipolitics.ca/author/mharris/

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The cast of the film "Spotlight" react after they won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016.    REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The cast of the film “Spotlight” react after they won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

‘Spotlight’ wins top Oscar amid race-related critiques.By Jill Serjeant, Reuters

Catholic Church abuse movie “Spotlight” was named best picture, the top award at Sunday’s Oscar ceremony, after an evening peppered with pointed punchlines from host Chris Rock about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that has dominated the industry.

‘Spotlight’ Gets Investigative Journalism Right. By Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica

“Spotlight,” the film based on the Boston Globe’s investigation of the Catholic Church, is a remarkable achievement. The movie, which has been nominated for six Academy Awards including best picture, vividly captures the mix of frustration, drudgery and excitement that goes into every great investigative story.
Related: The 88th Oscars: Focus on Hollywood, F&O blog, collation of Oscars stories

 

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery in 'Spotlight.' Publicity Photo: Kerry Hayes, © Open Road Films

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery in ‘Spotlight.’ Publicity Photo: Kerry Hayes, © Open Road Films

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Tom Regan Tom Regan has worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and with the National Film Board in Canada, and in the United States for the Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe, and National Public Radio. A former executive director of the Online News Association, he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1991-92.

 

 

 

 

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded only by you, our readers. We are ad-free and spam-free, and do not solicit donations from partisan organizations. To continue we need a minimum payment of .27 for one story, or a sustaining donation. Visit our Subscribe page for details, or donate below. With enough supporters each paying a small amount, we will continue, and increase our original works like this.

F&O’s CONTENTS page is updated each Saturday. Sign up for emailed announcements of new work on our free FRONTLINES blog; find evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value journalism please support F&O, and tell others about us.

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What Tibetan Buddhists, Andean Paqos, teach about climate change

Gaumukh Gangotri glacier in Nepal. Atarax42/Wikipedia, Creative Commons

Gaumukh Gangotri glacier in Nepal. Atarax42/Wikipedia, Creative Commons

By Brian Bienkowski, The Daily Climate
October, 2015

Glaciers have for decades supplied crucial water to mountain communities worldwide—but they also quench spiritual thirst.

The ice serves as cultural and religious touchstone for Tibetan Buddhists at the edge of China’s Mingyong Glacier, Sherpas living high in Nepal, Paqos dispensing wisdom and medicine in the Andes. All share a deep reverence for local glaciers.

For these communities, climate change is cultural change: As glaciers melt, their traditions, values and outlook are changing.

Are the gods mad? Does a dying glacier mean a dying people? Are we giving proper reverence to life-sustaining resources? These are the questions framing changes underway now and experienced by often poor, largely indigenous people worldwide.

Western climate policy rests largely on the physical and economical. Increasingly experts argue that these spiritual beliefs—and people’s relationship with the land—must become part of the conversation.

The most prolific voicing of this occurred in June, when Pope Francis released a 192-page encyclical laying out the argument for religion to join forces with science to combat global climate change.

The pope urged an “ecological conversion” for spiritually minded people worldwide, a message that continued as he visited President Barak Obama at the White House, spoke before a joint session of Congress, and addressed the United Nations General-Assembly.

And others think Pope Francis is on to something.

“We need to open our minds to looking at climate change not only as a biophysical, political, economic problem, but at the ramifications of people’s own reality … and understand humans and other forms of life as beings enmeshed in their ecology, and not standing apart from it,” said Elizabeth Allison, a researcher and professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies’ department of philosophy and religion.

Allison cited the Tibetan Buddhists, the Nepalese Sherpas and Peruvian Quechua in her recent study that examined climate change and the spiritual significance of glaciers.  Such voices must be heard, she said, even if they interpret environmental changes differently than people in developed countries.

Some Nepalese Sherpas cite a link between moral and spiritual decline with that of glaciers. Tibetan Buddhists have suspected a dearth of Buddhist devotion and visitors’ lack of respect for the retreat of the Mingyong Glacier in China’s northwest Yunnan Province, which is one of the fastest melting glaciers in the world.

None fully attribute the local transformation they’re witnessing to industrialized emissions or other climate forcers meticulously catalogued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and western scientists. Instead, they attribute the melt, she said, “to some kind of imbalance or immoral activity.”

Taking spiritual beliefs into account is important, Allison added: People’s ability to adapt to a changing climate depends as much on their mental state as formal policies and treaties.

And the consequences are very real. In the Andes, the local Quechua used to cut down ice chunks from the glacier on Mount Ausangate and drink the restorative liquid with family and friends. Today that religious rite is forbidden.

While the people have adapted, such “spiritual dislocation” can lead to social unrest, Allison writes. And the Quechua agree—as local prophecy “suggests that the world will end when the glacier is gone,” she notes.

Including such views in treaties and global policymaking won’t necessarily move the needle on climate change policy or agreement, said Dan Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School who has studied how people perceive risks, such as climate change.

“If you look at who’s concerned about climate change and who isn’t, the difference isn’t how spiritual people are,” Kahan said.

Kahan’s research has found that people largely perceive risks based on their connection to cultural groups they associate with.

However, Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, a filmmaker and founder of the Global Oneness Project, a series of educational films on environmental and social issues, said that tapping into this religious practice and spirituality can help instigate a sense of environmental urgency in people of faith.

“It could help people form connections, when people see that problems aren’t just an external situation, but an internal situation, there’s more meaning to them,” said Vaughan-Lee, a longtime advocate for the merging of spirituality and environmental awareness.

Another reason important reason is that people in many of these areas are often left out of global policy making, Allison said. Mountain communities and coastal villages are often poor and have the most to lose from climate change impacts such as glacial retreat and sea level rise.

“We have to figure out how to include indigenous thinking into global policy making … especially when those people are the majority,” she said.

Both Vaughan-Lee and Allison said the Pope’s encyclical was a step in the right direction in injecting spirituality and religion into the environmental realm.

“For years environmentalists and social justice workers shied away from spiritual or religious arguments, because maybe they thought it makes them seem less serious in eyes of mainstream public,” Vaughan-Lee said.

“But there’s a need to bring that together and the Pope said it’s OK, we need to do that.”

Creative Commons

This story was originally published by The Daily Climate, an independent, foundation-funded US news service covering energy, the environment and climate change.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from foundations or causes. If you appreciate our work please support us with a contribution, below, of at least .27 per story –or a site pass for $1 per day or $20 per year. And do spread the word.

 

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Facts, and Opinions, this week

Howard Morry, left, brings his sheep in from the community pastures on the islands off Tors Cove, Newfoundland. Like generations of farmers and fisherman have been doing for hundreds of years. Life goes on in rural Newfoundland and the old ways are still practiced despite the loss of its historic economy and 50,000 people. See Greg Locke’s photo essay on his recent travels through Newfoundland and finding what he thought was lost.

F&O starts our week in easternmost Canada, with Greg Locke’s photo-essay about the resilience (and beauty) of rural Newfoundland. We focus onPope Francis’s visit to the Americas; relish the news about Africa’s bright spot of Ivory Coast; puzzle at a seemingly-crazy notion that orange juice could replace petroleum; and heed Tom Regan’s warning about a future of massive migration. Read about Corbynomics by its creator, and discover how in Alabama the womb is increasingly a crime scene. And then, take a leisurely stroll in the Arts, with Brian Brennan’s Brief Encounter on Elizabeth Taylor; the relationship between The Martian movie and Robinson Crusoe; and a tale about the Man Booker awards.

Note to readers: Please excuse some disarray. F&O is almost sorted from our major move; we’ll get the mess cleared away soon. Emailed access codes will be emailed to paid subscribers this weekend. Thank you for your support — and patience.

Dorothy's last meeting with Mother Teresa, in Dorothy's room at Maryhouse in Manhattan. Eileen Egan is on the left. The photo was taken in 1979, the year before Dorothy's death, by Bill Barrett. (Marquette University Archives via Jim Forest, Flickr)

Dorothy Day’s last meeting with Mother Teresa, 1979.

Pope Francis and Dorothy Day Economics. By Chuck Collins

Perhaps the most subversive part of Pope Francis’ speech to the United States Congress was in celebrating a little-known figure and thus reviving interest in what Dorothy Day stood for. And if we truly heed the teachings of Dorothy Day, we would radically transform our society and economy.

Pope to Canonize Friar Serra: a halo stained with blood?

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Watch Pope Francis’s address to the US Congress:

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Africa’s Bright Spot: Ivory Coast is booming. A  photo essay

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When the Womb is a Crime Scene. By Nina Martin

Women in Alabama are running afoul of the state’s “chemical endangerment of a child” statute, the United States’ toughest criminal law on prenatal drug use. Passed in 2006 as methamphetamine ravaged Alabama communities, the law targeted parents who turned their kitchens and garages into home-based drug labs, putting their children at peril. A woman can be charged with chemical endangerment from the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even if her baby is born perfectly healthy, even if her goal was to protect her baby from greater harm.

 

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Can orange peel could replace crude oil in plastics? By Marc Hutchby

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Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party greets supporters after speaking in a pub in London, Britain September 12, 2015. REUTERS/Neil Hall

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Art Following Life: Elizabeth Taylor, a Brief Encounter by Brian Brennan (*subscription)

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The Martian — and Robinson Crusoe, Matt Damon and Viola Davis. By Victoria Anderson

In The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott, Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, an astronaut left stranded on Mars. Alone, presumed dead, he must work out a way to survive. If this storyline sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it is.

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Please support us with a contribution, below, of at least .27 per story, or a site pass for $1 per day or $20 per year. We’d be grateful if you’d help us spread the word.

 

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Pope Francis and Dorothy Day Economics

Why Pope Francis celebrated the life of Dorothy Day in his Capitol Hill address

Dorothy's last meeting with Mother Teresa, in Dorothy's room at Maryhouse in Manhattan. Eileen Egan is on the left. The photo was taken in 1979, the year before Dorothy's death, by Bill Barrett. (Marquette University Archives via Jim Forest, Flickr)

Dorothy’s last meeting with Mother Teresa, in Dorothy’s room at Maryhouse in Manhattan. Eileen Egan is on the left. The photo was taken in 1979, the year before Dorothy’s death, by Bill Barrett. (Marquette University Archives via Jim Forest, Flickr)

By Chuck Collins, Institute for Policy Studies
September, 2015

Dorothy Day in 1968. Photo by the Milwaukee Journal via Flickr, Creative Commons

Dorothy Day in 1968. Photo by the Milwaukee Journal via Flickr, Creative Commons

It was heartening and surprising to hear Pope Francis lift up the legacy of Dorothy Day in his speech before the United States Congress. “Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints,” said Francis before both houses of Congress.

Perhaps this was the most subversive part of his speech — celebrating a little-known figure and thus reviving interest in what Dorothy Day stood for. And if we truly heed the teachings of Dorothy Day, we would radically transform our society and economy.

I first met Dorothy Day in the kitchen of Mary House, the Catholic Worker soup kitchen on New York City’s Bowery district. More important, I worked for decades along side people deeply shaped by Dorothy in the Catholic worker movement.

I first read The Catholic Worker newspaper, founded by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, when I was 16 and working at a summer camp. It had a huge personal impact on me. Within two years, I was living at a Catholic Worker house in Worcester, Massachusetts called the Mustard Seed, serving soup to homeless men.

At the core of Dorothy Day’s life was a commitment to the “works of mercy”: feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless and those in need. But she was also outspoken about the systemic inequalities, the dangers of predatory capitalism, and wealth idolatry.   She drew from Catholic social teachings, including personalism, subsidiarity, and nonviolent economics.

The Catholic Worker movement was forged in the social upheaval of the early 1930s and the Great Depression. Dorothy, a radical journalist, converted to Catholicism to the puzzlement and wonder of her former comrades on the Left. Yet she was frustrated her entire life by the institutional church and its reticence to stand with the poor as Jesus called his followers to do.

She and her cofounder, a French peasant named Peter Maurin, called for a “personalist revolution” — an idea rooted in the Gospel, that people should be responsible for one another. Instead of creating a large beneficent state to feed the hungry, it was everyone’s personal responsibility to help the needy. She believed government had a role as last resort, but at the core, we are all responsible for one another. In this, Dorothy stood by the principle of subsidiarity, that problems should be solved as locally as possible. Only when local communities and systems fail, should we look to higher forms of government.

For Dorothy Day, nonviolence was not simply related to war — about which she was an outspoken opponent — but an entire economic philosophy. She was the first person I heard talk about “nonviolent economics,” the idea that we should look at the violence caused by economic systems and structures. “Our current forms of economic ownership — of land, housing, capital and exploitation of labor — further injustice and violence,” she said. She believed that “there is a social mortgage on capital,” that society has a claim on private wealth, since it comes from the commons.

When asked about her program for change, Dorothy argued we should “build a new society in the shell of the old.” She would resonate today with the work of the local new economy movement, creating worker cooperatives and anchored enterprises inside the shell of the corrupt Wall Street economy.

I saw Dorothy speak near the end of her life. She was in her late 70s, and her face was thin and white. She sat primly in a white rain jacket, a scarf around her hair. She spoke with intense dark eyes, unsmiling, as she responded to the interviewer’s questions with carefully chosen words. It was fresh, radical, ironic and unvarnished.

Dorothy had a deadpan way of speaking about great injustice. She quoted from the lives of saints and radical political theory, yet sprinkled in literary references to James Joyce and Dostoyevsky. Her direct manner of talking about rich and poor — from an intimate knowledge of both — broke the cultural taboo of talking so frankly about class. Robert Ellsberg, a former editor of The Catholic Worker told me, “She always talked like that, whether she was talking to a large group or one-on-one.”

Before the U.S. Congress, Pope Francis spoke of Dorothy Day and celebrated her in his comments about inequality and climate change, calling for an “integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.”

Some suspect that Pope Francis may be laying the groundwork for the canonization of Dorothy Day, but we don’t need saints to combat inequality, eliminate poverty, and address the climate crisis. By lifting up Dorothy Day, Pope Francis is reminding us that each of us have a personal and civic responsibility to reverse extreme inequality and build an ecologically sustainable economic system that serves the common good.

When people said to Dorothy Day that she should be sainted, she had a straightforward answer: “No thanks. I don’t want to be dismissed so quickly.”

I think what she meant was, “I’m human, I’m nothing special. Anyone can do what I’m doing. Why not you?”

Copyright Chuck Collins, 2015

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and directs IPS’s Program on Inequality and the Common Good. He is an expert on U.S. inequality and author of several books, including Economic Apartheid in America: A Primer on Economic Inequality and Insecurity, co-authored with Felice Yeskel. (New Press, 2005).

This story was first published by the Institute for Policy Studies, and is republished by F&O with permission.

Watch Pope Francis’ address to the US Congress:


 

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Facts and Opinions is a boutique journal, of reporting and analysis in words and images, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O is funded by you, our readers. We do not carry advertising or “branded content,” or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Please support us with a contribution, below, of at least .27 per story, or a site pass for $1 per day or $20 per year — and by spreading the word.

 

 

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Faith and tradition in Cuba

By Reuters 
September, 2015

Santeria practitioners undergo a brief fit of spirit-induced convulsions during a ceremony to attract spirits of dead ancestors to ask for guidance in downtown Havana, August 18, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Santeria practitioners undergo a brief fit of spirit-induced convulsions during a ceremony to attract spirits of dead ancestors to ask for guidance in downtown Havana, August 18, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

The air was choked with smoke from incense and cigars while the faithful sipped sugarcane liquor from a gourd at the altar and spat mist over the crowd.

Niurka Mola 50, stood at the altar in the cramped living room of a downtown Havana apartment block, calling on the spirits of ancestors to give guidance. Later, with followers enthralled by the arrival of the spirits, one man fell into a brief fit of convulsions.

Mola is a “godmother” in Cuba’s Santeria tradition, which has its roots in the Yoruba religion brought to Cuba from West Africa by slaves.

Like many Santeria practitioners, Mola is also a Roman Catholic who goes to church twice a month.

She is delighted that Pope Francis will visit the Caribbean island on September 19 to 22. But she would like the pontiff to give formal recognition to the role of Santeria in Cubans’ spiritual lives.

“Catholicism is present in all manifestations of Santeria,” said Mola, a teacher at a daycare centre in Havana. “In the end, they have the same purpose: getting closer to God.”

About 60 percent of Cuba’s 11 million people are baptised Catholic, the Church says, but experts say at least an equal number practice Santeria or another form of Afro-Cuban religion.

Gilian Caballero, 8, holds a pigeon for sale used for Santeria rituals in downtown Havana, August 4, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 4, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini       TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Gilian Caballero, 8, holds a pigeon for sale used for Santeria rituals in downtown Havana, August 4, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 4, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Santeria combines elements of Catholicism with the Yoruba religion and many Cubans identify with both traditions and their ceremonies.

The Church has been tolerant of Santeria but remains wary. The Vatican does not recognise Santeria as a religion and Francis has no events scheduled with practitioners.

“The Catholic Church has no role in Santeria,” said Dionisio Garcia, the archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and president of the Cuban bishops’ conference.

Though monotheistic, the Yoruba religion that bore Santeria shares no common ancestry with Christianity, experts say. Catholic priests worry that some of those who attend Mass in Cuba do not accept Jesus or recognise the Virgin Mary, which are tenets of the Catholic Church.

Santeria practitioner Yuris Landis, a 27-year-old nurse, smokes a cigar during a ceremony of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria to attract spirits of dead ancestors to ask for guidance in downtown Havana, August 18, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Santeria practitioner Yuris Landis, a 27-year-old nurse, smokes a cigar during a ceremony of the Afro-Cuban religion Santeria to attract spirits of dead ancestors to ask for guidance in downtown Havana, August 18, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

“Being Catholic and being a Santero is not a contradiction for them. It is for us,” said Gilbert Walker, a priest from Mississippi who has been working in Cuba for 12 years. “Although the Santeria religion uses Christian symbols, they’re empty of Christian content.”

Walker says up to half of his churchgoers in Old Havana practice Santeria. He says he often finds decapitated pigeons, meringues, coconuts and other ceremonial offerings to Obatala, the name of one “orisha,” a Yoruba sacred being that has a Catholic saint as a counterpart.

“Santeros,” a term often used to refer to all believers but technically reserved for those who have completed a year-long rite of passage, choose how much of each religion to follow.

“We will continue believing in God even if the pope doesn’t recognise us as Santeros,” says Yuris Landis, a 27-year-old nurse.

Dozens of Santeros trickled in for a recent afternoon ceremony in Havana to ask the dead for health and success for a fellow practitioner, 36-year-old Lyan Hernandez, one of many white Cubans who have adopted the Afro-Cuban religion.

Santeria practitioner Lyan Hernandez, 36, (C) undergoes a brief fit of spirit-induced convulsions during a ceremony to attract spirits of dead ancestors to ask for guidance in downtown Havana, August 18, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Santeria practitioner Lyan Hernandez, 36, (C) undergoes a brief fit of spirit-induced convulsions during a ceremony to attract spirits of dead ancestors to ask for guidance in downtown Havana, August 18, 2015. Santeria adherents can only hope the upcoming visit from Pope Francis will somehow nudge the Church toward recognizing the millions of Cubans who identify with both religious traditions. Picture taken on August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

As they arrived, they cleansed themselves of negative energy by splashing their foreheads and arms with perfumed water that stood on a shrine of dolls and figurines, each representing one of Lyan’s ancestors, and a cross to symbolise God’s presence.

Mola recited opening prayers to summon the spirits in Spanish and the Yoruba language, ending with the Lord’s Prayer.

For five hours, a four-piece band pounded out Yoruba rhythms while believers danced African and salsa steps – whatever the spirits inspired them, she said.

Then the ceremony ended as casually as it had begun, without applause or fanfare.

Home ceremonies pick up where church worship leaves off, Mola said. But while Santeria followers easily venerate both the orisha and the saint they see before them, Cuba’s clergy perceive this as a confusion of the two religions.

Against the odds, Santeria devotees hope Pope Francis might change the Church’s outlook, given the changes the first Latin American pontiff has introduced at the Vatican since he assumed the office in 2013.

Copyright Reuters 2015

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Pope to Canonize Friar Serra: a halo stained with blood? 

Decorative crucifixes are displayed at the gift shop at Mission San Diego de Alcala in San Diego, California, September 14, 2015. Pope Francis will declare Friar Junipero Serra a saint at a Mass celebrated at the National Shrine in Washington on September 23 during the pontiff’s first visit to the United States. The Franciscan friar from Spain built a series of missions along the Pacific coast in the 18th century, in what is now California, to spread the faith among Native Americans. His advocates say he supported the Indians, introducing cattle and crops to their land. The Vatican has defended Serra against accusations that, as part of the Spanish colonial system, he suppressed Native Americans. Serra’s resting place is inside the Basilica at the Carmel Mission south of San Francisco. REUTERS/Mike Blake PICTURE 24 OF 35 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "POPE TO CANONISE FRIAR SERRA". SEARCH "SERRA NATIVE" FOR ALL IMAGES

Decorative crucifixes are displayed at the gift shop at Mission San Diego de Alcala in San Diego, California, September 14, 2015. Pope Francis will declare Friar Junipero Serra a saint at a Mass celebrated at the National Shrine in Washington on September 23 during the pontiff’s first visit to the United States. The Franciscan friar from Spain built a series of missions along the Pacific coast in the 18th century, in what is now California, to spread the faith among Native Americans. His advocates say he supported the Indians, introducing cattle and crops to their land. The Vatican has defended Serra against accusations that, as part of the Spanish colonial system, he suppressed Native Americans. Serraâ’s resting place is inside the Basilica at the Carmel Mission south of San Francisco. REUTERS/Mike Blake

By Reuters 
September, 2015

Was he a saint or a sinner, an evangelizer or an enslaver?

During his visit to Washington, Pope Francis will preside over one of the most controversial acts of his papacy. He will confer sainthood on the 18th century Spanish missionary Friar Junipero Serra, and in doing so, dive into a cultural battle in the United States.

Serra founded nine of the 21 missions in California that later were the basis of what is now the modern state. He is a household name in California, where streets and buildings bear his name and children study his legacy in schools.

Critics say that legacy has more darkness than light, that his halo is stained with blood.

Many Native Americans were appalled when the pope announced the canonization in January, calling Serra a great evangelizer. The late Pope John Paul beatified Serra in 1988 and Francis waived Church rules that normally require a second miracle between beatification and sainthood.

Detractors say Serra, who arrived from Mexico in what is now San Diego in 1769, beat and imprisoned Native Americans in the closed communities known as missions. They say he suppressed their cultures and facilitated the spread of diseases that heavily reduced the population.

But last May, the pope praised Serra’s missionary zeal and said he had “defended the indigenous peoples against abuses by the colonizers”.

“He was one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country,” the Argentine-born pope said.

Corine Fairbanks, director of the Southern California chapter of the American Indian Movement, opposes the canonization, which takes place on September 23, the day after the pope arrives in the United States from Cuba.

“The pope stating that this person is someone saintly, or someone to be looked up to, or even revered or prayed to is giving the international message that what happened (to indigenous people), was by divine right,” Fairbanks told Reuters Television.

“Thousands, hundreds of thousands of people were killed all in the name of Catholicism and progress, so to speak.” Corine Fairbanks

In Bolivia last July, the pope said “many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God” and asked forgiveness “not only for the offences of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.”

Vatican sources said Francis may make another apology during the canonisation ceremony outside a Washington church, where some Native Americans say they hope to be able to protest.

Supporters say Serra loved the “Mission Indians”, as they are known, and believed that spreading the gospel to them and ensuring their salvation, was part of that love, even if it meant barring them from leaving the missions.

Olin Tezcatlipoca, director of the Mexia Movement, which promotes indigenous rights, said such assertions appall him.

“Our protest is to tell the Pope that by canonizing Junipero Serra, they want to canonize colonialism, they want to canonize white supremacy and they want to canonize the genocide of our people. And that is an immoral act,” he told Reuters Television in Los Angeles.

Much of the Church’s defence of Serra revolves around the explanation that “he was a man of his times” in a much broader historical context.

Father Vincenzo Criscuolo, a Franciscan at the Vatican department for the causes of saints, said that corporal punishment was commonly used as an educational tool at the time, particularly by Spaniards, but rejected accusations from some Native Americans that in Serra’s case it amounted to genocide.

“It (corporal punishment) can’t be excluded but it certainly was not genocide,” he said.

Guzman Carriquiry, a member of the Vatican’s commission for Latin America and a personal friend of the pope, criticised proposals that a statue of Serra be removed from the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington.

“They want to remove the only Hispanic there, exactly when the first Hispanic pope in history will canonise him. That would not be an extraordinary welcome in a land that puts itself forward as an example of multi-cultural tolerance,” he said.

Monsignor J. Michael McKiernan, rector of Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano, California, acknowledged that Serra had “human flaws and difficulties and struggles” but that overall his legacy was a positive one.

“It’s not all happiness and grace,” he told Reuters Television. “There were some difficult times as well.”

“So some of the things that some of our brothers and sisters and Native Americans are concerned about, are very real and we don’t want to deny those, but also recognising that his legacy also brought beautiful things as we celebrate here every single day.”

Copyright Reuters 2015

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Save our “ruined planet,” urges Pope Francis

 

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi -

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi –

 

Pope Francis, on the eve of the most contested papal writing in half a century, said on Wednesday that all should help to save “our ruined” planet and asked critics to read his encyclical with an open spirit. The document is the Church’s most controversial since Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae enshrined the Church’s ban on contraception. Because he has said he wants to influence a key U.N. climate summit this year, the encyclical further consolidates his role as a global diplomatic player. … Click here to readOn eve of encyclical, Pope Francis appeals for “our ruined” planet, by Philip Pullella

UPDATE June 18: The text of the encyclical, On Care for our Common Home was released Thursday, and can be read here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

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Check our CONTENTS page for new works each week. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES, a blog announcing new works, and the odd small tale. Look for evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. If you value our  journalism help sustain us: tell others about us, subscribe, or donate to help us continue our work:

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On eve of encyclical, pope appeals for “our ruined” planet

By Philip Pullella
June 17, 2015

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi -

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he leaves at the end of his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, on the eve of the most contested papal writing in half a century, said on Wednesday that all should help to save “our ruined” planet and asked critics to read his encyclical with an open spirit.

In the highly personal and eloquently written 192-page “Laudato Si (Be Praised), On the Care of Our Common Home”, Francis dives head on into the climate change controversy, which has won him the wrath of sceptical conservatives, including two Catholic U.S. Republican presidential candidates.

On Tuesday, Jeb Bush, a convert to Roman Catholicism, said: “I don’t get my economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope”.

The document is the Church’s most controversial since Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae enshrined the Church’s ban on contraception.

Liberal Catholics oppose that ban but most have cheered the pope’s climate change stand. Conservative Catholics tend towards the opposite stand on the two issues.

Because he has said he wants to influence a key U.N. climate summit this year, the encyclical further consolidates his role as a global diplomatic player following his mediation bringing Cuba and the United States to the negotiating table last year.

The release is timed to preceded his U.S. trip in September, when he will address the United Nations and the U.S. Congress on sustainable development.

Most encyclicals are addressed to Catholics but Francis repeated on Wednesday that he wants a wider audience.

“This home of ours is being ruined and that damages everyone, especially the poor,” he said at his weekly general audience. “Mine is an appeal for responsibility … I ask everyone to receive this document with an open spirit”.

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

CREATION BE PRAISED

A gust of wind blows the mantle of Pope Francis as he leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi -

A gust of wind blows the mantle of Pope Francis as he leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s square at the Vatican June 17, 2015. REUTERS/Max Rossi

A leaked Italian draft was published on Monday by the weekly L’Espresso. The Vatican has said it was not the final version but any differences are expected to be cosmetic.

The title is taken from “The Canticle of the Creatures”, a hymn by St. Francis of Assisi in praise of creation. The Argentine-born pope took his name from the 13th-century saint.

Francis squarely backs scientists who say global warming is mostly man-made and says developed countries have a particular responsibility to stem a trend that will hurt the poor the most.

In the document, divided into six chapters, the fist pope from Latin American says the world could see the destruction of entire ecosystems this century without urgent action on climate change.

By making environmental protection a moral imperative, Francis could spur the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to lobby policymakers on ecology issues.

Father Thomas Reese, a leading U.S. Catholic commentator, said it will raise the climate conversation to a new level for Catholics. “Suddenly, you’re not just doing it for the polar bears, you’re doing it for God,” he said.

Francis confronts climate change deniers head-on in several passages in the leaked Italian draft.

He says there is a “very consistent scientific consensus that we are experiencing a worrying warming of the climactic system”. While there may be other factors such as volcanic activity and solar cycles, he says, numerous studies have shown that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases “emitted mainly because of human activities”.

The situation will only worsen unless there was a shift away from “a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels, which is at the centre of the world energy system”.

He says so-called carbon credits are not effective and access to drinkable and secure water is an essential human right. He also condemns the disproportionate use of natural resources by some countries.

“Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, particularly by the most powerful and most polluting nations,” he says, according to the leaked text.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

Copyright Reuters 2015

UPDATE June 18The text of the encyclical, On Care for our Common Home was released Thursday, and can be read here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

Further reading on F&O:


Pope Francis throws down the gauntlet, by Peter Burdon
Pope Francis’ Climate Encyclical: Galileo v Copernicus, the rematch
, by Chris Wood (paywall)
My atheist fan letter to Pope Francis, by Tom Regan
 The Pope and capitalism: “Thou Shalt Not Kill,” by Deborah Jones

 

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Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for slow journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Subscribe by email to our free FRONTLINES, a blog announcing new works, and the odd small tale. Look for evidence-based reporting in Reports; commentary, analysis and creative non-fiction in OPINION-FEATURES; and image galleries in PHOTO-ESSAYS. Some of our original works are behind a paywall, available with a $1 site day pass, or with a subscription from $2.95/month – $19.95/year. If you value journalism, please help sustain us.

 

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Pope Francis’ Climate Encyclical: Galileo v Copernicus, the rematch

CHRIS WOOD: NATURAL SECURITY 
May, 2015

Pope Francis. Photo presidencia.gov.ar

Pope Francis. Photo presidencia.gov.ar

It’s hard to know what to make of the news that Pope Francis is planning an encyclical on climate change. On one hand, any intervention that pushes us to save the climate our species grew up with is a good thing. On the other, he stands on so much baggage it’s hard to keep a straight face. 

But let’s not stumble over centuries of graft, complicity in genocides, doctrinal misogyny and overlooked pedophilia. Let’s not even dwell on the fact that one of Francis’ predecessors persecuted Galileo for suggesting the sun didn’t orbit the earth. Instead, let’s think of the coming encyclical as a 21st century version of Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses — in reverse. 

Luther may or may not have nailed them to the door of a church in 1517, but his itemized charges echoed across a continent. They called out the Roman Catholic Church of the day for its many mercenary sins, from loan-sharking, to the sale of indulgences — ‘get out of purgatory free’ cards, popular among well-to-do sinners. Luther’s protest note fired the opening shot in the Protestant Reformation that ultimately split European Christianity in two. 

Pope Francis’ encyclical — whose contents have been widely telegraphed — will do to today’s most rabid Protestants what Luther did to the Catholic Church of old. It will call out its extremists for their greed and selfishness. 

In a contest of cosmologies unseen since the Holy Mother Church stopped (mostly) burning heretics at the stake, the encyclical will oppose two views of humanity’s place in creation as different as Galileo’s and Copernicus’. Only this time, the Pope is on Galileo’s side.

Catholicism has always been a bastard stew deeply infused with pagan roots and spices. Its promiscuous embrace of older mythologies has been the secret of much of its success. Many of the faiths it absorbed were rooted in the divinity of nature. Animism and pantheisms held ‘sacred’ animals and places. Francis’ church retains this DNA; the very word ‘catholic’ means ‘universal’ or ‘all encompassing.’ 

Protestantism, by contrast, was conceived in the rational, humanist values of the Enlightenment. Like Copernicus, its adherents viewed man as the moral centre, sole measure, and highest purpose of existence. Everything else was for us to exercise “dominion” over, and turn to profit. It’s no accident that so many founding thinkers of today’s market liberalism were early Protestants: the Thomases Malthus and Hobbes, John Locke and Adam Smith. 

Paradoxically, the scalpel that irrevocably excised the human animal from nature’s figurative bosom belonged to a French Catholic: René Descartes. The irreconcilable dualism he imagined between the human essence, and everything else, laid the foundation for European and later American alienation of man and his works from the habitat that sustains them.

Martin Luther, 1528. Artist:  von Lucas Cranach der Ältere

Martin Luther, 1528. Artist: von Lucas Cranach der Ältere

Economic liberalism and Protestantism have had an ongoing non-exclusive affair ever since. It is again no accident that both find their most unrestrained positions in America, where the worship of the atomistic individual (on which they agree) has become national faith. Its creed: ‘It’s all about me.” 

Forget for a moment the blood and hypocrisy-stained backdrop of Francis’ encyclical. On the basis of documents released by the Pontifical Academy of Natural Sciences, and statements from Vatican insiders, he will rebuke as greed and selfishness the anthropocentric conceit (in several senses of the word) at the heart of market liberalism. He’s unlikely to say, but won’t be unaware, that the staunchest defenders of “It’s all about me” — and the global citizens most resistant to climate reality — are America’s radical Protestants. 

The Pontifical Academy is down with science. Last month it released a document on Climate Change and the Common Good. “Although we are an inseparable part of the living world, entirely dependent on it for every aspect of our lives,” the Academy warned, “we are destroying it with blinding speed.” This, it added, constitutes human society’s top “moral and ethical issue.”

Not for that portion of American Protestantism variously described as evangelical, fundamentalist, Dominionist, Social Conservative, and simply loopy. Their burning issues are more likely to be gay marriage and abortion. (Well, they share that with the Vatican at least). And getting rich. 

Personal wealth, according to ‘Prosperity theology,’ is the convenient belief that wealth is virtue, so the wealthier you are, the more virtue you possess. This idea has been traced to the pioneering televangelist power couple Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. It is kept alive in the likes of Pastor Creflo Dollar (really), who only recently abandoned a plea to his Atlanta mega-church parishioners to buy him a new private jet (he agreed to suffer with his present older plane). These believers are ideological bed-mates with some of America’s most extreme vendors of neoliberal Kool-Aid. Among the social-conservative Christians who populate middle America’s business class, Ayn Rand is a secular saint. 

The Heartland Institute, funded by the libertarian Koch brothers, is sending a “pre-buttal” (really, that’s what they’re calling it) embassy to the Vatican to talk Pope Francis out of it. One of those who plans to lecture the Pontiff is Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

The Alliance is one of countless micro-faiths left over from Luther’s Big Bang. Like many others, its interest in fact ends on the affirmation that “the Bible … is the sole, absolute, inerrant epistemological basis for mankind for all knowledge of all things, seen and unseen, and that all claims of truth and moral duty that contradict it are false and harmful.” The Prime Minister of Canada adheres to this Alliance.

The Alliance does as much denying as affirming. In its “Biblical Perspective of Environmental Stewardship: Subduing and Ruling the Earth,” it declares:

We deny that an infinitely wise Designer… of the Earth would have made it susceptible to catastrophic degradation from … small causes. [Take that, tiny CO2 molecules.]

We deny that the Garden of Eden represents the whole Earth and that the instruction to “cultivate and guard” [it] ought to … mean that man is to “serve and protect” … or… “worship and protect” the Garden or the Earth. [Up yours, Gaia.]

We deny that man’s accountability to God justifies abolishing private property.. adopting collectivist economic institutions, or delegating to civil governments … ownership or control of land, natural resources, or private property.

That last bit sounds a bit post-Biblical to me, but I’m no scholar. More positively, the Alliance is for “cost/benefit analysis” (Affirmation 22) and DDT (No. 25).

In this ‘theo-con’ Christianity, God wants you to get as much bling as you can. And go ahead and rip up the planet; other critters are only there for us to use. Even possibly “abuse” (yes, the Cornwall group goes there). And don’t worry, God won’t let the planet burn out.

Against that, the Pope is expected to call his faithful to what the Vatican has coined, “integral ecology.”  

Papal trial balloonist Cardinal Peter Turkson tested the phrase in a recent address. It means, he said, “fidelity to the demands of the threefold relationship within which each of us stands and upon which each of us depends for life itself: our relationship with the Creator, with our neighbour, and with the natural environment in which we live. To neglect or violate one of these relationships is an offence, quite literally a sin.”

I’ve heard this before. A Dene administrator explained it to me with the benefit of a whiteboard in a band office near Great Bear Lake, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, once. The creator, other people, and the Earth sat at the corners of a triangle. To be a dene, a proper man, was to be at the centre of the trinity — in balance with all three.

We spin around the universe; the universe does not revolve around us. The Enlightenment’s inbred offspring have devolved into distorted pretenses of men; their faith is sociopathy. Somewhere in the Mother Church (whatever her past and present faults) flows the blood of Gaia and of Pachamama.

 Copyright Chris Wood 2015

References and further reading:

 
 

 

chris1

Chris Wood is a founding writer with Facts and Opinions. He is the author of the Natural Security column and occasional long-form Think magazine pieces, and contributes the odd blog entry.

Wood writes about the issues of human social survival in the 21st century. His 40-year career has spanned award-winning work in radio, newsmagazines, books and the internet. He is the author or co-author of seven books, most recently Down the Drain: How We Are Failing To Protect Our Water Resources, with Ralph Pentland (Greystone, 2013).  After growing up near Hamilton, Ont., and later living for periods of time in rural Ontario, the Maritimes, Toronto, Dallas and Vancouver, his home is now on Vancouver Island with  his writer/marketer wife, Beverley Wood, and their two middle-aged bull terrier dogs. Currently, all are on an extended research and study term in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. 

Read more about Chris’s work, or book him as a speaker, at www.bychriswood.com 

 

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Facts and Opinions is an online journal of select and first-rate reporting and analysis, in words and images: a boutique for select journalism, without borders. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from foundations or causes. Help sustain us with a donation, by clicking below; by telling others about us, or purchasing a $1 day pass or subscription, from $2.95/month to $19.95/year. To receive F&O’s free blog emails fill in the form on the FRONTLINES page. 

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