If Pope Francis resigns, the Catholic Church could go into schism – Damian Thompson

Pope Francis

If Archbishop Vigano is shown to be telling the truth, and the Vicar of Christ was in league with a man he had been told was a wicked sex abuser, how can Catholics be expected to go to Mass and pray for “Francis, our Pope”? – Damian Thompson

The allegation by a former senior Vatican diplomat that Pope Francis vigorously covered up sex abuse is looking more credible by the day. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to the United States, says he told Francis in 2013 that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington, was a serial abuser of seminarians. The Pope ignored him, he claims—and lifted sanctions placed by Benedict XVI on McCarrick. Moreover, he fully rehabilitated the old man, who became one of his most trusted advisers. Viganò has called on Francis to resign.

We can now be reasonably certain that Benedict, after a deplorable delay, did punish McCarrick, whom independent sources have confirmed was forced out of the seminary where he lived in retirement and moved to a new home in Washington DC. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, current Archbishop of Washington, says he knew nothing of McCarrick’s crimes or punishment. That claim seems implausible.

Even some of the cardinals most closely allied to Francis, such as Blase Cupich of Chicago, appearing to be tiptoeing away from a profoundly damaged pontiff. Cardinal Cupich has issued a statement calling Viganò’s 11-page testimony “astonishing” and denying its claim that he was given the prime see of Chicago at the behest of McCarrick. But he has not defended the Pope against Viganò’s charge that he culpably protected and promoted a sinister predator; instead he has called for a “thorough vetting” of his testimony.

An article by Michael Brendan Dougherty in National Review sums up the private thinking of many cardinals, bishops, priests and laity, who are joining the dots between the rehabilitation of McCarrick and previous examples of Francis turning a blind eye to the wrongdoing of his allies. “The record of Francis’ pontificate is such that it is easier than it should be to credit the accusation that he would knowingly rehabilitate a progressive but morally dissolute cardinal and grant him greater influence in the Church”, writes Dougherty.

All of which suggests that this pontificate will come to a spectacular and disastrous end, as I wrote when the scandal broke at the weekend. At the time I thought Francis might be forced to resign, though it would require a great deal of force, such is the man’s arrogance and his almost limitless powers as pope.

But not so fast. Canon 332 of the Church’s Code of Canon Law says that “should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required for validity that the resignation be freely made” (my emphasis).

If Francis announces that he is resigning, and it is clear that he is doing so because the allegations against him are true, then can one really say that the resignation was “freely made”?

According to some canon lawyers, any Pope compelled to resign by scandal cannot be said to have made his decision of his own free will—even if he insists that he is doing so. (Note that Benedict XVI, when he astonished the college of cardinals by resigning, stressed that the decision was his alone—and no one of any consequence has disputed this: it was a bolt from the blue.)

It’s likely that, in these circumstances, Francis loyalists would jump on Canon 332 and use it to justify their refusal to recognise any successor as pope.

The result? Schism, surely. One can imagine a situation in which some dioceses or parishes recognise Francis as pope, while others declare their loyalty to the new man. The Church would be plunged back into the medieval turmoil of rival papacies, of popes and antipopes.

This explains why some conservatives would rather see Francis remain as an utterly discredited pope than contemplate a resignation.

And yet … if Viganò is shown to be telling the truth, and the Vicar of Christ was in league with a man he had been told was a wicked sex abuser, how can Catholics be expected to go to Mass and pray for “Francis, our Pope”? Dioceses and parishes will secede from Rome in some way or other, even if they stop short of schism (that is, formally rejecting the authority of the Roman pontiff). Can one blame them?

Medieval analogies notwithstanding, there is no precedent for the escalating chaos in the Catholic Church. And the individual chiefly responsible for that—whatever his degree of culpability in the case of McCarrick, and bearing in mind the failings of previous popes—is Francis.

If Francis announces that he is resigning then can one really say that the resignation was “freely made”? According to some canon lawyers, any Pope compelled to resign by scandal cannot be said to have made his decision of his own free will—even if he insists that he is doing so. – The Spectator, 28 August 2018

Pope Francis


 

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Archbishop demands resignation of Pope for covering up Cardinal’s sexual abuse of seminarians – Jason Horowitz

Irish Catholics protest against Francis (2018)

Jason HorowitzArchbishop Viganò claimed that the Vatican hierarchy was complicit in covering up accusations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians and that Pope Francis knew about the abuses by the … American prelate years before they became public. Yet, … Francis did not punish the cardinal, but instead empowered him to help choose powerful American bishops. – Jason Horowitz

On the final day of Pope Francis’ mission to Ireland, as he issued wrenching apologies for clerical sex abuse scandals, a former top Vatican diplomat claimed in a letter published on Sunday that the pope himself had joined top Vatican officials in covering up the abuses and called for his resignation.

The letter (pdf), a bombshell written by Carlo Maria Viganò, the former top Vatican diplomat in the United States and a staunch critic of the pope’s, seemed timed to do more than simply derail Francis’ uphill efforts to win back the Irish faithful, who have turned away from the church in large numbers.

Its unsubstantiated allegations and personal attacks amounted to an extraordinary public declaration of war against Francis’ papacy at perhaps its most vulnerable moment, intended to unseat a pope whose predecessor, Benedict XVI, was the first pontiff to resign in nearly 600 years.

Archbishop Viganò claimed that the Vatican hierarchy was complicit in covering up accusations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians and that Pope Francis knew about the abuses by the now-disgraced American prelate years before they became public. Yet, the letter contended, Francis did not punish the cardinal, but instead empowered him to help choose powerful American bishops.

In a news conference on the papal plane back to Rome late Sunday evening, Francis was asked whether there was any truth to the claim that Archbishop Viganò had personally informed him in 2013 of Cardinal McCarrick’s history of abuse. He was also asked whether Benedict had sanctioned the American cardinal, as the letter also claimed.

The pope did not deny it, but sidestepped the questions by insisting he would not dignify them with a response.

“I will not say a single word about this,” he said. “I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It’s an act of trust.”

The 7,000-word attack on Francis’ allies in the Vatican, published early Sunday Dublin time by several conservative Catholic outlets antagonistic to the pope, represented a steep escalation in the longstanding, and increasingly caustic, rivalries within the church.

Factions have battled over the direction the church has gone under Francis, with conservatives, especially some American cardinals and bishops, warning that his pastoral and inclusive approach and emphasis on social issues dilute church doctrine and pose a mortal threat to the future of the faith.

Already on Sunday afternoon, the battle was being joined.

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, who is aligned with Francis and was a target of Archbishop Viganò’s letter, said in a phone interview that he suspected English speakers had helped Archbishop Viganò write the letter. He called the pope “a man of integrity.”

“If he makes a mistake, he admits it,” Cardinal Cupich said. “That’s why I’m convinced this is something that he is going to respond to in an appropriate way.”

Cardinal Cupich also said the timing of the letter raised questions.

“I’d have to leave it up to him to ask him why he timed the release of this at this moment, particularly if he considered this information so very critical and important,” the cardinal said.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, a leading conservative voice in the Catholic Church, who according to the letter was disparaged by Francis, vouched for Archbishop Viganò’s integrity in a statement from his spokesman.

The willingness of the pope and his allies to reach out to gay Catholics has infuriated conservatives, many of whom, like Archbishop Viganò, blame homosexuals for the sex abuse crisis. The pope has argued that the abuse is a symptom of a culture of privilege and imperviousness among priests who value the church’s traditions over its parishioners.

Last month, Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal McCarrick, the first such resignation in living memory, after The New York Times and other news outlets published accounts of the alleged abuse and an internal investigation by the American church deemed credible an accusation that he had sexually abused a minor.

Archbishop Viganò said that Benedict had already punished Cardinal McCarrick for his abuse of seminarians and priests. The archbishop writes that Benedict had banned the American cardinal from publicly celebrating Mass, from living in a seminary and from travelling to give lectures.

There is no public record of such a sanction, and the cardinal continued to celebrate Mass. And in 2012, Cardinal McCarrick joined bishops in the Vatican to sing happy birthday to Benedict as they presented him with a fresh strawberry-and-kiwi custard cake.

Cardinal Cupich said he was not aware of any restrictions that Pope Benedict put on Cardinal McCarrick, as Archbishop Viganò asserts.

“How can you have secret restrictions? What does that mean?” Cardinal Cupich said, adding that it would have been Archbishop Viganò’s duty as nuncio to inform the American bishops of the restrictions. “Why didn’t he tell us this?” he asked. “Why didn’t he enforce it?”

Archbishop Viganò accused Francis of failing to apply the sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and instead rehabilitating and entrusting him to help choose powerful American bishops, including Cardinal Cupich.

Archbishop Viganò despises many of those bishops, who now wield influence and promote Francis’ pastoral approach, and he complained in the letter of being deprived of the voice typically given to a papal nuncio in choosing them. He targeted those bishops and cardinals by name, but saved his strongest fire for Francis.

“He knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” Archbishop Viganò wrote.

“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church,” he wrote, “he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”

At a 2013 reception in the library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican shortly after Francis was elected pope, Archbishop Viganò was effusive with praise for him, saying his audience was “extremely nice, extremely warm.”

But in the letter, he said he had received an icy reception from Francis. And he said the pope had told him on June 23, 2013: “The bishops in the United States must not be ideologized, they must not be right wing.” Francis then added, according to Archbishop Viganò, that they must not be left wing, “and when I say left-wing, I mean homosexual.”

It was then, he said, that Francis asked his opinion of Cardinal McCarrick.

“Holy Father,” Archbishop Viganò said he had responded, “I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

Archbishop Viganò, who blames gays for the child abuse crisis that has destroyed the church’s standing in many countries, dedicated entire sections of the letter to outing cardinals who he claims belong to what he characterizes as a pernicious “homosexual current” within the Vatican.

“These homosexual networks,” he wrote, “which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire church.”

Archbishop Viganò is no stranger to stirring trouble in the Vatican.

A cultural conservative born into a wealthy family in Varese, Italy, he received the title of archbishop from Pope John Paul II in 1992. He later joined the church’s diplomatic corps, one of the traditional sources of power in the Vatican, which gave him access to much of the information he alleges in the letter. In 2009, he was installed by Pope Benedict XVI as secretary of the governorate of Vatican City State, a position similar to mayor of Vatican City.

Benedict wanted him to enact government overhauls, but Archbishop Viganò’s efforts in pursuit of that goal earned him powerful enemies.

In early 2011, hostile anonymous articles attacking Archbishop Viganò began appearing in the Italian news media, the bulletin board of Vatican power politics. Archbishop Viganò appealed to Benedict’s second in command, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who instead echoed the articles’ complaints.

Those appeals and protests, later leaked by the pope’s butler, became the heart of the church scandal known as VatiLeaks, which many church observers say contributed to Benedict XVI’s resignation.

Francis removed Archbishop Viganò from his job as nuncio to the United States in 2016, in part for nearly ruining the pope’s trip to the United States by giving papal face time to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Soon after his departure, a criminal investigation into an archbishop in Minneapolis-St. Paul revealed a memo that Archbishop Viganò had written in 2014 in an effort to suppress a church investigation into alleged homosexual activity by the Minnesota prelate, Archbishop John C. Nienstedt.

Since his return to Rome, Archbishop Viganò has associated with traditionalist Catholics deeply critical of Pope Francis.

Archbishop Viganò’s letter, while especially inconvenient for the pope, who spent Sunday morning praying for abuse victims at a shrine in Knock, Ireland, also goes after a broad array of current and past Vatican officials and American prelates. He names all of them.

He said that his predecessors in the Vatican’s embassy in Washington, now all deceased, knew about Cardinal McCarrick’s alleged relationships with seminarians and priests and had reported it to the Vatican, but that successive secretaries of state—Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Bertone and Pietro Parolin—did nothing.

Archbishop Viganò said that he had personally met with Cardinal McCarrick to remind him that he was under sanction during their first meeting after he arrived in the United States.

“The cardinal, muttering in a barely comprehensible way, admitted that he had perhaps made the mistake of sleeping in the same bed with some seminarians at his beach house,” he writes.

After bumping into Cardinal McCarrick at the pope’s residence in the Vatican, and listening to the American boast about his freedom to travel, Archbishop Viganò wrote, he contacted Cardinal Parolin, the secretary of state and top adviser to Francis, in April 2014 inquiring whether the sanctions were still in force.

He said that neither Cardinal Parolin nor a host of other Vatican officials had replied, but that when he had brought up the subject with Cardinal McCarrick’s replacement in Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, “it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it.”

Ed McFadden, a spokesman for Cardinal Wuerl, disputed that account on Sunday. “In spite of what Archbishop Viganò’s memo indicates, Cardinal Wuerl did not receive any documentation or information during his time in Washington regarding any actions taken against Archbishop McCarrick,” Mr. McFadden said.

Boy crucified by cardinalSome survivors of clerical abuse called the allegations a distraction.

“This is infighting between curia factions that are exploiting the abuse crisis and victims of clergy sexual abuse as leverage in the struggle for church power,” said Peter Isely, a survivor. “The sexual abuse crisis is not about whether a bishop is a liberal or a conservative. It is about protecting children.”

The controversy over the allegations is expected to grow in coming days, especially as Francis has declined to deny it.

Instead on Sunday’s flight, he blamed the media for promoting an “atmosphere of guilt” around suspected clerics and shared that until his visit he “had never heard” about Ireland’s notorious mother and baby homes, where children were ripped away from unwed mothers.

He also sought to strike the same conciliatory tone that hundreds of thousands of faithful heard earlier in the day as he began a Mass at Phoenix Park in Dublin by explicitly asking forgiveness for the church’s sins and abuse.

“Some members of the hierarchy didn’t own up to these painful situations,” he said at the Mass. “And kept silent.” – The New York Times, 26 August 2018

» Jason Horowitz is the Rome Bureau Chief of The New York Times. Elizabeth Dias contributed reporting from Washington, and Laurie Goodstein from New York.

Pope Francis with Cardinal McCarrick

 


Pope Francis casts doubt on clergy-abuse victims – Mary Dispenza

Pope Francis

Mary DispenzaIn the midst of Francis’ tears and apologies, the systemic evil of clergy sex abuse remains alive and largely undercover within the ranks of the Catholic Church. – Mary Dispenza

In scripture we find the lines, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Survivors of clerical sex abuse are tired of turning the other cheek—tired of lies and promises, especially by popes, who through the ages have formed commission after commission, held conference after conference, issued report after report, and made promise after promise.

Church leadership has repeatedly sought forgiveness for what Pope Francis recently described as the “irreparable damage” caused by priests. In the midst of Francis’ tears and apologies, the systemic evil of clergy sex abuse remains alive and largely undercover within the ranks of the Catholic Church.

“There is not one single piece of proof against him (Barros). It is all slander. Is that clear?” the Pope said.

The Vatican committee that found Karadima guilty in 2011 of committing sexual abuse against minors relied upon testimony from the same children, now adults, who also implicated Barros.

The act of elevating one priest, credibly accused of covering up for another priest who commits crimes of sexual violence, or colluding with them in any way, is worthy of dismissal—not protection and advancement. Pope Francis has turned a deaf ear to survivors, actions that can send many back into darkness for fear that they too will not be believed and are guilty of slander.

Survivors of sexual violation and trauma rarely, if ever, lie about their abuse. Victims consistently tell the truth. Pope Francis was wrong to challenge the voices raised in protest against the anointing of Barros. The pope was wrong, and he knows better than to effectively tell a survivor he or she is lying and not to be believed. He knows better than to tell a sexual-abuse survivor that he is guilty of calumny.

The greatest sin in this story is disregarding the truth of Father Karadima—that as a pedophile he was passed on from parish to parish just like the priest who raped me when I was 7-years-old.

Pope Francis’ appointment of Barros hearkens me back to my childhood and Catholic school. There I was taught that what really makes a sin, a great big mortal sin, is to know it’s wrong and do it anyway.

In the 2015 film on Boston’s clergy-abuse scandal, Spotlight, actor Mark Ruffalo, who plays Boston Globe journalist Mike Rezendes, put it this way, “It’s time! They knew, and they let it happen! To kids! OK? It could have been you, it could have been me, it could have been any of us. We gotta nail these scumbags! We gotta show people that nobody can get away with this. Not a priest, or a cardinal or a freaking pope!”

It’s time. No, it’s past time. Enough rhetoric. Enough blaming. Enough apologies. None of this posturing keeps children and others from being harmed, and holds abusers accountable. It’s time, Pope Francis, to stand up for survivors, take their stories to heart and take the right action. – The Seattle Times, 25 January 2018

» Mary Dispenza is a former Catholic nun, educator and National Distinguished Principal. She is the Oregon regional director for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

Priests & Alter Boys

Vatican has never apologised for its crimes, and will not apologise for the Goa Inquisition – Aravindan Neelakandan

The Inquisition

Aravindan NeelakandanIn 1999 the VHP raised the issue of apology for Inquisition during the Papal visit to India, Indian Catholic officials crisply declared that “tendering an apology for the so-called inquisition was not on the Pope’s agenda.” And termed such a request by Hindus as “raking up unnecessary issues for cheap publicity.” – Aravindan Neelakandan

When it comes to ‘apologising’ for genocides, which it either directly instigated or facilitated through tactical support, Vatican is a conjurer adept in sleight of words and institutions. You are made to believe that Vatican has changed; that the Vatican has apologised but then you go through what has been actually said officially and by whom, and you realise that nothing has changed.

Take for example the absolutely safe sounding name for one of the oldest congregations in Vatican— ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’. That is the modern name. The original name? ‘Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition’. And what did it do? Banned books and burnt the heretics. And what does it do now? It still bans and restricts books within its sphere of influence like the books of Rev. Anthony de Mello SJ and the fact that it does not burn the heretics no more is more because of the want of power than because of the want of willingness. The spirit behind is the same: ‘Roma locuta; causa finita est‘ – Rome has spoken and the case is closed as every student of theology knows, even if the case closed means the closing of the lives of millions in torture chambers.

So it will be prudent for the followers of Indic faiths to understand how the Church has reacted with response to its role in other genocides. Here we take the example of three cases: Nazi Holocaust, Native American genocides and Rwandan genocide. And in each case we shall see briefly the Indic parallels.

Auschwitz Concentration Camp EntranceNazi Holocaust

When Pope John Paul II expressed his regret for the Holocaust, the same play with words was in display in full plumage. In the much popularised ex cathedra statement issued by Vatican We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah, the Church laid the blame everywhere else except on itself. The Holocaust “was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime” and “its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of Christianity”, the communication stated.

The fact is that paganism as such had no institutionalised anti-Semitism. Most of the virulently anti-Semitic laws had their origin in Christian laws. For example, in 1592 Jesuits introduced the rule forbidding admission of men of Jewish origin calculating their ancestry to the fifth generation. Derived from the Jesuit rule, ‘German blood certificate’ of Nazis introduced in 1935 calculated Jewish ancestry for three to four generations. Similarly blood-libel, a Christian propaganda against the Jews based on which the Church even manufactured martyrs, Passion plays which incited mobs to attack Jews, were all substantial Catholic contributions to Nazi propaganda. Yet, the Church without hesitation could call the Holocaust as the workings of a Neo-Pagan regime whose anti-Semitic roots were outside Christianity.

Then it pointedly called Jews “the elder brothers”, quoting Christian scripture. To the uninitiated in Christian theology it looks very pleasant. But in Christian theology it has a specific meaning. The elder brother is always wrong in Christian discourse. When quoting their scripture to call Jews “the elder brothers”, the theologians who crafted the document were well aware that this phrase actually links in their theology the Jews with Cain. In the grand narrative of Church the verse “…the elder shall serve the younger” in Hebrew Bible (Genesis 25:23) is darkly transformed to mean Jews serving the Christians in servitude. Maximinus to Tertullian, the founding fathers of the Church had allowed the ink to flow in torrents to explain how Jews as elder brothers were cursed like Cain. Historian Leon Poliakov in the third volume of his authoritative book The History of Anti-Semitism points out that one of the “essential points” of the teaching of the Church has been “the fall from grace of the elder brother, since wandering Jew, wandering like Cain was also marked by a similar sign on the temple.”

Interestingly the document contained not a single word of apology and had only a single word expressing “regret” for the six million Jews died in the Holocaust. This is the nature of “regret” showed by Church in the most popular and horrible Holocaust of recent history. One should couple with this two important phenomena. One is the installation of “Auschwitz crosses“. This happened when a Carmelite convent was opened near Auschwitz and a huge cross was erected there. Jews protested this blatant Catholic aggression into one of their most painful recent memories. Yet in 1998 the same year Vatican issued “We remember” document on Holocaust, the Archbishop as well as the Cardinal of Catholic Church opposed the removal of the cross which insulted the memory of the Jewish victims of Auschwitz.

And the Church has not bothered to express even such mild watered down, theologically correct, regrets for Gypsies and other “undesirables” killed by the Nazi regime with which Vatican had signed a concordat.

St Thomas and Hindu assassinPresent parallel in India

If it is blood libel for Jews, it is the manufacture of Christian “saints” martyred at the hands of Hindus in general and Brahmins in particular, in India. Complete pseudo-histories have been fabricated like in the case of “martyr” Devasahayam Pillai, in which the Hindu king of Travancore ordered torturing and killing of him for embracing Christianity. In reality, the kings of Travancore had been pro-Christian. The missionaries writing to British government actually cited the example of the Travancore Hindu princely state which allowed Bible teaching in government schools and where large parcels of lands were freely given to Christian missionaries. Yet the Church has been actively propagating the fabricated martyr story. The very historicity of this ‘martyr’ has been questioned by historians. Yet stage dramas are conducted demonizing Hindus and full efforts are on to canonise him.

In the case of St. Thomas myth in India also, the Hindus are made the treacherous villains who stabbed St. Thomas. In the case of this legend, there is a well manipulated evolution of narrative to suit the local prejudices. So the initial Christian account spoke of “low caste man” having killed Thomas by accident. In these earlier narratives, they attributed elephantiasis as the curse of St. Thomas. As anti-Brahminism became a popular political and evangelical tool, the current stories speak of Brahmins as the schemers and killers of St. Thomas.

In Christian propaganda literature endorsed by top Catholic clergy, fake “secret circulars” of RSS similar to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion used by Nasis to demonise Jews, were published.

Junipero Serra & Native American BoyNative American Genocide

Doctrine of Discovery” forms the theological basis of the Native American genocide. It involves the fifteenth and sixteenth century Papal Bulls which gave the Christian invaders the right to own the “discovered” American lands for their Christian States and allowed them to convert, enslave or in case of refusal for conversion, exterminate the Native Americans.

Often Native Americans were lured with gifts from Spain and then they were trapped through baptism and their old ways destroyed. No wonder the missionaries called these Spanish goods “bait and means of spiritual fishing”. The converted Native Americans were kept within the mission compounds and had to labour. Their women produced food for the mission. The men cultivated land and took care of the cattle—effectively becoming cowboys of the mission. To this day, missionary propaganda murals depict these events as one of peaceful serene coexistence.

However contemporary accounts by neutral observers give a different picture. For example the journals of French man Jean Francois de la Perouse, who was sympathetic to the missionaries called the mission compound resembling a “slave plantation”. Native American men were whipped in public and punished if they disobeyed. Women too were whipped but in secret chambers lest it ignite the men folk to raise a rebellion.

Missionaries coveted the Indian land for three reasons: it made conversions easy; landless natives converted and provided slave labour; and it placed vast lands at the disposal of missionaries. “Civilizing the Indian can only be achieved by denaturalizing them,” said Fermín Lasuén, another prominent missionary at the mission. That Fermín Lasuén belonged to Franciscan order of the Catholic Church is an interesting paradox for Hindus (like this writer) who love to eulogize St. Francis of Assisi as a saint with ecological sensibility. However, the point is that such “denaturalizing” of Native Americans at once provided the mission with slave labour and vast land resources.

Along with such naked aggression, the violent proselytizing was also supported by the myth of St. Thomas. Catholic clergy spread the story among Native Americans that St. Thomas had come long before Spaniards to South America. Famous Virgin Goddess they venerated became the image of Mary which the Apostle had kept as a holy relic. Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent divinity was St. Thomas. The native God Tehuitzahuac was actually Jesus Christ himself. These ideas spread through sermons in the Church thus justified the destruction of native culture which was supplanted by Christianity. St. Thomas myth fitted well with the “doctrine of discovery”.

Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 reiterated this mindset of “doctrine of discovery” when he addressed the Native Americans. He declared that the natives were ”silently longing” for Christianity and ”the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.” The present Pope Francis had simultaneously displayed words seeking forgiveness from Native Americans but the deeds were exactly opposite. He is proceeding with the St. Francis Xavier: The Scourge of the Coromandel Coast!canonizing of Junípero Serra—the founder of Catholic Missions in San Francisco, who ran a mission estate for Native Americans chillingly similar to Auschwitz minus the gas chambers.

Present day parallels in India

In many places across India, Indian Catholics are made to venerate ‘St.’ Xavier the architect of Goan Inquisition. The most prominent Catholic seminary to this day stands on the destroyed Siva temple considered the holiest place in Goa for Hindus.

The St. Thomas myth has been propagated in India also. The Church has been increasingly lending its voice in support of crackpot theories that Hinduism is a derivative of Christianity preached by St. Thomas. In Tamil Nadu, using the Dravidian political movement, sustained efforts have been made to push this crackpot agenda. In the ground level, evangelical guidelines have been issued to missionaries which make use of these crackpot theories to confuse the ordinary Hindus.

Vincent NsengiyumvaRwandan Genocide

Now we come to the “apology” of Vatican for Rwandan Genocide. The fact is that Vatican has not expressed apology and Rwandan government has rightly pointed that out. It was actually an inadequate apology by a Rwandan Catholic bishop. The role of Catholic Church in Rwanda in building the racial tensions is far more sinister and heavy to be washed off in such inadequacies.

The two communities in Rwanda, Tutsi and Hutus, were identified as racial types by the European missionaries, anthropologists and colonial administrators. The Tutsi were invaders and they were “clever”, similar to Europeans to a degree and they appropriated the land through trickery from Hutu who became their slaves. Implanting this myth initially, the colonial administration and its religious arm, the Catholic Church favoured the Tutsis, agreeing with colonial government policy in considering Tutsi and Hutu as distinct races. However, the Church’s support to Tutsis waned dramatically with the Rwandan revolution in 1959.

As some Rwandan patriots of Tutsi origin started questioning the Catholic Church in meddling in politics, the Church joined hands with the Hutus. The Church started filling its local hierarchies with Hutus and the Belgian Catholic clergy even participated in drafting the Bahutu Manifesto in 1957, which paved the way to the genocide later. With colonial and Church support, the Hutu republican party captured power in 1959 and initiated the first Rwandan massacre in which more than 20,000 Tutsis were killed. A report points out:

The demonization of Tutsis preceded the 1994 genocide. Even though this was a clear and grave human rights violation, Bishop Perraudin and his senior aides dismissed these events as a social revolution intended to redress social injustices. For thirty years these views were not questioned.

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 is the result of a long chain of events in which Church was a major player and hence a key facilitator of genocide. Yet, the Vatican has not found it right to express “regret” or apology—what has happened is the statement of a regional official of the Church.

Robert CaldwellIndian Parallel

Church has been at the forefront of spreading the Aryan-Dravidian racial divide theory and has invested much into this conflict creating narrative. Despite the fact that renowned anti-caste fighters like Dr. Ambedkar had denounced racial interpretation of caste conflicts, the Church and its affiliates go on with the propaganda of “Aryan Brahminical religion” oppressing the so-called Dravidians. The Dravidians are traced to Abraham and through him Jesus is made a Dravidian! In Indian North East and in tribal areas of India, many Catholic missionaries take forward the pseudo-scientific race theories claiming that the Hindus and tribals are separate races etc. This sustained campaign on racial lines camouflaged as “social justice” just as in the case of Rwanda, contains in it the grim possibilities of many such massacres in India. Only Indian culture’s innate strength is holding on against such human tragedies happening.

So we come to the crux of the question. Will Vatican apologise for Goan Inquisition? The answer is emphatic “No”. It has never apologised for its crimes against humanity which have been more documented and more publicised. Hindus have never publicised the crimes done against them by the invaders systematically. Hindus seldom have a museum or memorial for those martyred for Dharma by the Catholic Inquisition. There have been no plays, no movies through which the memories the cruelty of Inquisition and more importantly the sacrifices of the Hindus to defend their religion, have been taken forward to their next generation.

So when in 1999 the VHP raised the issue of apology for Inquisition during the Papal visit to India, Indian Catholic officials crisply declared that “tendering an apology for the so-called inquisition was not on the Pope’s agenda”. And termed such a request by Hindus as “raking up unnecessary issues for cheap publicity”. In other words Hindus weigh definitely less than the Jews, Native Americans and Rwandans in the public relations radar of Vatican. The only solace is despite the Church running in India all the tactics it used in Rwanda, pre-holocaust Christendom and against Native Americans, Hindus still survive as a religion, culture and nation. – Swarajya, 4 December 2016

» S. Aravindan Neelakandan is the co-author of a path-breaking book on Dravidian and Dalit faultlines, Breaking India: Western Interventions in Dravidian and Dalit Faultlines.

Hitler's Pope Pius XII

From top-left, going clockwise: Leo XIII with Otto von Bismarck (Germany, 1862-1890), Pius XII with Benito Mussolini (Italy, 1922-1943), Pius XII with Adolf Hitler (Germany, 1933-1945), John Paul II with Augusto Pinochet (Chile, 1973-1990), Benedict XVI with Álvaro Uribe (Colombia, 2002-2010), Francis I [as a priest] with Jorge Videla (Argentina, 1976-1981), Pius XII with Rafael Trujillo (Dominican Republic, 1930-1961), Pius XII with Francisco Franco (Spain, 1936-1975).

Pope Francis the Actor

See also

Francis the Actor: Argentinians dissatisfied with the pope’s response to the ‘dirty war’ – Vinod Sreeharsha

When will the Catholic Church apologise for the Goa Inquisition? – Shefali Vaidya

Pope FrancisShefali Vaidya“Goa is sadly famous for its inquisition, equally contrary to humanity and commerce. The Portuguese monks made us believe that the people worshipped the devil, and it is they who have served him.” – Voltaire

The palace has been razed to the ground. Hordes of chattering tourists walk over the site now, clicking selfies against the massive white-washed facade of Saint Catherine’s Church in Old Goa. Children crowd around an ice-cream cart. Couples canoodle under an ancient banyan tree nearby. No traces remain of the dreaded “Vhodle Ghor” or the “Big House” as it was referred to in hushed tones by the terrified people of Goa, except a few moss-covered blocks of laterite stones that lie scattered in the grass. Those stones are the only surviving witnesses of the bloodiest chapter in Goan history—that of the Goa Inquisition.

Return to the ruins of the Palace of the Inquisition in the evening, after the last busload of tourists has departed. Sit a while on a laterite block as the sun goes down. If you are sensitive enough, you can still hear the terrified screams of hapless victims being tortured inside the “Vhodle Ghor” by the Inquisitor’s court. In 1560, the erstwhile palace of Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, in Old Goa was turned into a terrible torture chamber with the addition of a chapel, the residence of the Inquisitor, more than 200 windowless prison cells and many torture chambers.

Burning at the stake by the InquisitionNot many people outside Goa know about the terrible Goa Inquisition. The Inquisition was introduced in Goa in 1560 by the then Portuguese king Joao III at the behest of Francis Xavier, the Jesuit monk whose mummified remains lie in a church just across the road from the site of the Palace of Inquisitions. Inquisition lasted in Goa till 1812—a period of more than 250 years! It was temporarily abolished in 1774 by the relatively moderate Marquis De Pombal, but was reinstated promptly in 1778 after his fall from grace. Under the Inquisition, thousands of people, both men and women, were arrested on charges of heresy and subjected to inhuman torture. Many were burnt alive at ritualistic public spectacles known as autos-da-fe.

The Court of Inquisition was set up as a royal tribunal, headed by a judge answerable only to the king based in Lisbon. One of the first acts of the Inquisitor’s office in Goa was to forbid public practice of the Hindu faith. Hindus were forbidden to worship their Gods and Goddesses in public. In 1566, a vice-regal order prohibited Hindus from constructing temples or repairing old temples. In 1567 the Portuguese started destroying Hindu temples. In Bardez district alone, more than 300 temples were razed to the ground and churches built in their place.

All Hindu rituals including marriages, thread ceremonies and cremations were banned by law. All people above 15 years of age were forced to attend Christian preachings. The Palace of Inquisition became a torture chamber for Hindus, Jews, Muslims and even for converted Christians who clung to their Hindu customs and traditions. More than 42 Hindu customs were considered heretical, including wearing the sacred thread, wearing a tilak on the forehead, greeting people with a namaste and removing of slippers outside a place of worship.

Historian Alfredo de Mello describes the Goa Inquisition as a collection of “nefarious, fiendish, lustful, corrupt religious orders which pounced on Goa”. According to François Pyrard de Laval, a Frenchman who lived in Goa between 1608-1610, the Goa Inquisition was more severe than the one practised in Portugal. The most authentic account of the tortures of the Goa Inquisition comes from another Frenchman, a doctor named Dellon, who was imprisoned at the palace of the Inquisition. He describes his experiences in his book De Relation L’Inquisition De Goa [English-language edition]. The translation of this book is a part of the famous Goa historian A. K. Priolkar‘s seminal work on the subject.

For me, the Goa Inquisition was not just a sterilised remote term to be read in history textbooks. My own family had borne the brunt of the Inquisition. My ancestors had to leave behind their village, their land and all their wealth to save their faith. As their original village Nagoa was destroyed by the Portuguese under the religious command of the fanatical Jesuit priests, my family moved to Cuncolim and started a new life. They made a choice to not surrender their faith. Some others chose otherwise. Converting to Christianity meant official patronage and a good life. The Court of Inquisition guaranteed “protection” to Hindus who converted to Christianity and gave them rights over the lands of people who had chosen to leave their homes rather than convert to Christianity.

Jesuit priests killed at CuncolimIn 1583, all temples in my own village of Cuncolim were destroyed by the Portuguese army under direct orders from the court of Inquisition. The proud warriors of my village were not ones to suffer in silence. They led an armed rebellion on 25 July 1583 against the Portuguese. Five Jesuit priests and 14 local converts were killed in the attack. Enraged by this, the Portuguese sent a massive army that burnt and pillaged the village and unleashed unspeakable atrocities on the people. The local warriors still did not give up. They merely hid in the surrounding forests and attacked the Portuguese forces using guerrilla tactics. The Portuguese then tried to be cunning. They invited the leaders of the revolution for talks at a nearby fort and in a stunning act of treachery, sixteen unarmed chieftains were brutally massacred by the Portuguese. Only one escaped by jumping into the river. The sacrifice of the chieftains of Cuncolim is still remembered in Goa as its first ever freedom struggle.

The effects of the Goa Inquisition are felt in Goa till today. There are families torn forever into two, one branch still carries the ancestral Hindu name while the other bears a Christian name. Churches exist where temples once stood.

A few days ago, the Catholic Church apologised for its role in the horrific 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A Church statement officially accepted that its members planned, aided and executed the genocide, in which more than 800,000 [actual count is 1,074,017] people were brutally massacred. In 2015, Pope Francis had apologised for the “many grave sins” committed by the Church against the indigenous people of South America while speaking in Bolivia. Before that, his predecessor, Pope John Paul II had apologised to the Muslims for the crusades and to the Jewish people for the anti-semitism of the Catholics that had aided the holocaust and for the involvement of the Church in African slave trade.

When will the Catholic Church apologise for the terrors of the Inquisition it inflicted upon the people of Goa? – Swarajya, 26 November 2016

» Shefali Vaidya is a freelance writer and newspaper columnist based in Pune.

Inquisition Victims

OLD GOA: Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian victims of the Inquisition, their hands nailed to posts, listen to a Catholic padre read out charges against them. They will be burned at the stake in an auto-da-fé. A Portuguese nobleman waits and watches on a horse. He and the Church will share between themselves the confiscated properties.

Pope wants to visit India next year – PTI

Pope Francic

Joseph Kalathiparambil“What I understood is that the Pope wishes to visit India next year. An indication in this regard was given to me when I visited him at his residence at Santa Marta in Vatican,”  – Archbishop-designate Joseph Kalathiparambil

Pope Francis, Head of the Roman Catholic Church, is likely to visit India next year, a senior Catholic priest here said today.

Archbishop-designate Joseph Kalathiparambil, who returned from Vatican today, said an indication in this regard was conveyed to him when he visited the Pope at his residence.

“What I understood is that the Pope wishes to visit India next year. An indication in this regard was given to me when I visited him at his residence at Santa Marta in Vatican,” he said.

Kalathiparambil is set to take over as the Archbishop of Latin Archdiocese of Verapoly in Kerala on December 18.

Earlier, there were reports that Pope Francis would “almost certainly” visit India but no dates were specified.

Kalathiparambil said he requested the Pope to visit Kerala and Verapoly Archdiocese, and his response was positive.

Pope John Paul II is the only Pope to have visited Kerala, where the Catholic community has a strong presence. He had visited India for the first time for 10 days in 1986, and again in November 1999, his 89th Apostolic visit outside Italy, for the occasion of solemnly promulgating in the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, in New Delhi.

During his India visit in 1986, Pope John Paul II had visited the state to beatify Sister Alphonsa and Kuriakose Elias Chavara popularly known as Chavara Achen.

Prior to appointment as the archbishop, Kalathiparambil was serving as the Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People after being called for the assignment by Pope Benedict XVI in February 2011.

The 64-year-old bishop replaces Archbishop Francis Kallarakal, who has retired. – Business Standard, 24 November 2016

How Mother Teresa became a saint – Christopher Hitchens

Narendra Modi

Christopher Hitchens“Mother Teresa was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women. … She was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go?” – Christopher Hitchens

Mother Teresa of CalcuttaI think it was Macaulay who said that the Roman Catholic Church deserved great credit for, and owed its longevity to, its ability to handle and contain fanaticism. This rather oblique compliment belongs to a more serious age. What is so striking about the “beatification” of the woman who styled herself “Mother” Teresa is the abject surrender, on the part of the Church [and Govt of India–Ed], to the forces of showbiz, superstition, and populism.

It’s the sheer tawdriness that strikes the eye first of all. It used to be that a person could not even be nominated for “beatification,” the first step to “sainthood,” until five years after his or her death. This was to guard against local or popular enthusiasm in the promotion of dubious characters. The pope nominated MT a year after her death in 1997. It also used to be that an apparatus of inquiry was set in train, including the scrutiny of an advocatus diaboli or “devil’s advocate,” to test any extraordinary claims. The pope has abolished this office and has created more instant saints than all his predecessors combined as far back as the 16th century.

As for the “miracle” that had to be attested, what can one say? Surely any respectable Catholic cringes with shame at the obviousness of the fakery. A Bengali woman named Monica Besra claims that a beam of light emerged from a picture of MT, which she happened to have in her home, and relieved her of a cancerous tumor. Her physician, Dr. Ranjan Mustafi, says that she didn’t have a cancerous tumor in the first place and that the tubercular cyst she did have was cured by a course of prescription medicine. Was he interviewed by the Vatican’s investigators? No. (As it happens, I myself was interviewed by them but only in the most perfunctory way. The procedure still does demand a show of consultation with doubters, and a show of consultation was what, in this case, it got.)

According to an uncontradicted report in the Italian paper L’Eco di Bergamo, the Vatican’s secretary of state sent a letter to senior cardinals in June, asking on behalf of the pope whether they favoured making MT a saint right away. The pope’s clear intention has been to speed the process up in order to perform the ceremony in his own lifetime. The response was in the negative, according to Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, the Canadian priest who has acted as postulator or advocate for the “canonization.” But the damage, to such integrity as the process possesses, has already been done.

Mother Teresa & Pope John Paul IIDuring the deliberations over the Second Vatican Council, under the stewardship of Pope John XXIII, MT was to the fore in opposing all suggestions of reform. What was needed, she maintained, was more work and more faith, not doctrinal revision. Her position was ultra-reactionary and fundamentalist even in orthodox Catholic terms. Believers are indeed enjoined to abhor and eschew abortion, but they are not required to affirm that abortion is “the greatest destroyer of peace,” as MT fantastically asserted to a dumbfounded audience when receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Believers are likewise enjoined to abhor and eschew divorce, but they are not required to insist that a ban on divorce and remarriage be a part of the state constitution, as MT demanded in a referendum in Ireland (which her side narrowly lost) in 1996. Later in that same year, she told Ladies Home Journal that she was pleased by the divorce of her friend Princess Diana, because the marriage had so obviously been an unhappy one …

This returns us to the medieval corruption of the Church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

George OrwellThe rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for “the poorest of the poor.” People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the “Missionaries of Charity,” but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell’s admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.

One of the curses of India, as of other poor countries, is the quack medicine man, who fleeces the sufferer by promises of miraculous healing. Sunday was a great day for these parasites, who saw their crummy methods endorsed by his holiness and given a more or less free ride in the international press. Forgotten were the elementary rules of logic, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and that what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. More than that, we witnessed the elevation and consecration of extreme dogmatism, blinkered faith, and the cult of a mediocre human personality. Many more people are poor and sick because of the life of MT: Even more will be poor and sick if her example is followed. She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud, and a Church that officially protects those who violate the innocent has given us another clear sign of where it truly stands on moral and ethical questions. – Slate, 20 October 2003

» Christopher Hitchens, now deceased, was a columnist for Vanity Fair and author of the book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice.

Christopher Hitchens