This post first appeared on 15th July, 2015 under the Title "FALLACY AND FANTASY"

The recently concluded visit by the Holy Father to South America will be remembered for two things at least, neither of them desirable. On his home continent, there is no doubt that the Holy Father was feeling very much "at home" - these are the people and the problems he knows well, and they responded warmly and tumultuosly to their distinguished visitor. The tri-nation tour took the Holy Father to Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. But it was in Bolivia firstly, on the 8th of July and then again on the 9th of July, that events became surprising to say the least.

On the 8th July,the Bolivian President one Evo Morales was received by the Holy Father and in the course of the Audience presented the Holy Father with an object in the shape of the Communist Hammer and Sickle upon which was mounted a Corpus from a crucifix:

               PRESIDENT MORALES MAKES PRESENTATION  TO POPE UNSMILING POPE                                                                                                                                                                       

As expected, Pope Francis held an in-flight press conference on his way back to Rome this Monday. ....... he made use of this opportunity to personally clarify his thoughts about the Hammer and Sickle "crucifix" (and the medallion, the "Order of Fr. Espinal" featuring a smaller version of the same)... presented to him by President Evo Morales of Bolivia. Catholic News Agency has, thankfully, published a translation of the entire press conference (Full text of Pope Francis' in-flight interview from Paraguay to Rome.) The relevant portion is reproduced below :
Aura Vistas Miguel, (Radio Renascenca): Well, there’s no group. It’s just me from Portugal. (laughing) Holiness, what did you think when you saw the hammer and sickle with Christ on it? And where did this object end up? What did you think when you saw the hammer and sickle with the Christ on it, given to you by Evo Morales? And where did this object end up?

Pope Francis: Ah, yes, truly. I heard 'mantello' (editor’s note: mantle, cloak: ‘mantello’ is similar to ‘martello,’ the Italian for hammer, that’s why the Pope needed the question repeated), and I didn't understand. It’s curious, I didn't know this, nor did I know that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and also a poet. I learned this in these days. I saw it and for me it was a surprise. Secondly, you can qualify it in the genre of “protest art” – for example in Buenos Aires, some years ago, there was an exhibit of a good sculptor, creative, Argentine, who is now dead. It was protest art, and I recall one, it was a crucified Christ on a bomber that was falling down, no? It’s Christianity, but a criticism that, let's say, Christianity allied with imperialism, which is the bomber. The genre that first I didn’t know, and secondly, I would qualify it as protest art, which in some cases can be offensive, in some cases. Thirdly, in this concrete case, Fr Espinal was killed in 1980. It was a time when liberation theology had many different branches. One of the branches was with Marxist analysis of reality. Fr Espinal belonged to this, this. Yes, I knew because I was in those years rector of the theology faculty and we talked a lot about it, about the different branches and who were the representatives, no? In the same year, the general of the Society (of Jesus), Fr. Arrupe, wrote a letter to the whole Society on the Marxist analysis of reality in theology. Stopping on this point saying, “it’s no good, these are different things, it’s not right, it’s not correct.” And, four years later in 1984, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the first small volume, the first declaration on liberation theology that criticizes this. Then comes the second, which opens to a more Christian perspective. I’m simplifying, no? Let’s do the hermeneutic of that time: Espinal was an enthusiast of this Marxist analysis of the reality, but also of theology using Marxism. From this, he came up with this work. Also the poetry of Espinal was of this kind of protest. But, it was his life, it was his thought. He was a special man, with so much human geniality, who fought in good faith, no? Making a hermeneutic like this, I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense, but I had to do this hermeneutic, and I say it to you so that there aren't any wrong opinions.

Vistas: Did you leave it there?

Pope Francis: No, it’s traveling with me. Maybe you heard that President Morales wished to give me two honors, the most important of Bolivia (editor’s note: the Condor of Andes) and the other of the Order of Fr. Espinal, a new order (editor’s note: the Senate of Bolivia approved it June 30). If I ... first, I’ve never accepted honors. I don’t do it. But, he did it with so much good will and with so much pleasure to please me. And, I thought that this comes from the people of Bolivia. So I prayed about it, what I should do. (I thought,) If I bring it to the Vatican it'll go to the museum and end up there and no one ... I thought about leaving it with Our Lady of Copacabana, the Mother of Bolivia, which will go to the sanctuary. The two honors will be in the Shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana, the Madonna, while the Christ is coming with me. Thanks. 

In a later comment , the Holy Father went on to explain:

“The President of the Nation, in a gesture of warmth, was so kind as to offer me two decorative honours on behalf of the Bolivian people. I thank the Bolivian people for their affection and the president for this courteous gesture. I would like to offer these two decorations to the patron saint of Bolivia, the Mother of this noble nation, so that she may always remember her people and from Bolivia, from the shrine where I would like them to be, that she may remember the Successor of Peter and the whole Church and care for them from Bolivia”.( These extracts come from the Catholic News Agency via Rorate Caeli Blog.)

It should be noted that the Priest /Marxist/Designer Father Espinal had been assassinated years ago. Further , whilst the pictures above could be used to show the Holy Father's approval or alternatively, his disapproval, his words are unequivocal : he approves of the present and the "Honour".

It is hard to understand how the Holy Father  could so greatly be at variance with the general Catholic population - and even the non-Catholic population in this matter. The object is instinctively recognised as being sacrilegious combining the representation of Our Crucified Lord on the atheistic Communist symbol which is identified with the deaths and torture and persecution of so many faithful millions of Christians, Yet his thinking as he presents it in the aircraft interview is blissfully unaware of this logic, but rather, is pre-occupied in the Marxist thinking of his Jesuit brother Father Espinal. It seems impossible to go further faithfully.

The following day, in the course of an address to The World Meeting of Popular Movements in Santa Cruz (ironically "Holy Cross") the Holy  Father spoke with great vigour and heavy emphasis against Capitalism. Here is what he said :

The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called “the dung of the devil”. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.
(Emphasis added.)

A few very artful defenders of the Holy Father were quick to try to counter the media coverage of the address. The media for once got it right -they reported that the Holy Father had likened Capitalism to the "dung of the Devil". The defenders said "Ah! But he didn't literally say that, he was criticising greed....."  Their effort was in vain  - it is crystal clear that the Holy Father was damning capital (thus capitalism) for almost every woe under the Sun, and thus definitely attaching the " dung of the Devil" to the system : Capitalism.

It is pointless to endeavour to logically deal with this statement, for it is bereft of logic itself. It is in fact a denunciatry harangue made for effect on simple souls pre-disposed by political persuasion to lap it up. It has no need of logic, or rather, logic would obstruct its delivery. 

We have not been accustomed to this type of rabble-rousing from Popes or most Prelates ( the Holy Father's protege Cardinal Maradiaga is an exception).  

Perhaps further reflection might have alerted the Holy Father to the fact that it is Capitalism that employs most of the people in the world, that produces 90% of the wealth in the world that makes possible government processes, economic health, the employment of the "masses" the Marxists like to talk about,aid to the poor and the suffering and the development of new medicines and relief to those in need.  We might think it more appropriate to apply Basil of Caesarea's epithet to the alternative : for it is truly Socialism and Communism that are and have been the "dung of the Devil" truly enslaving, burdening , killing by the millions the "masses" and at the same time attacking God and religion.And all the while Socialism and Communism , so successful in fermenting unjust wars, have failed dismally in economic terms . Indeed the only way Communist China has continued has been through its pragmatic adoption of Capitalism to finance development and growth.

It has not been so long that one would never have found it necessary to write about Papal statements in such a way.We need to pray for the Holy Father.


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