NEWS:  September 30, 2001

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

IS THE VATICAN BECOMING A MENTOR FOR A NEW LIBERATION THEOLOGY? – The Vatican warned that globalization and technological advances are threatening to generate new forms of racism against society’s weakest members, including immigrant populations, the poor, and the unborn. It called on governments to be vigilant against the creation of a “sub-category of human beings,” which it said would represent a “new and terrible form of slavery.” These statements were in the document, The Church and Racism, by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. It was released in anticipation of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which took place August 31 - September 7 in Durban, South Africa.

The document’s introduction clearly signaled the Vatican’s determination to make migration, poverty, and pro-life issues a key part of its agenda at the conference. It also called for a major educational effort against racism and intolerance. The document described an array of practices that have emerged in various parts of the world, including ethnic or nationalist wars, “zero immigration” laws, new forms of exploitation against immigrants or children, and racist attitudes.

The Vatican document indirectly touched upon another controversial topic of the racism conference, the question of financial compensation to descendents of slaves (America, September 10, 2001).

In a certain way this document could be said to represent a declaration of the principles of the Durban Conference. The ferocious demonstrations that took place at this conference on anti-racism could in part be attributed to the stimulus of the Vatican’s official document.

It could be asked whether it was opportune to address all these topics together. It is impossible to disagree with many of them. For example, who of us is opposed to the rights of the unborn or would not like to alleviate the hunger of the poor? These aims are, of course, good. It is not my goal to analyze here all the points of the document. However, most of the themes – racism, immigration, ethnic confrontations, social and economic differences, abolition of the debt of Third World countries, financial recompense to descendents of slaves, etc – seems to indicate that the Vatican is taking the position of an intellectual mentor to the new revolutionary social agenda. Some of these points, like racism, are difficult for many governments to deal with, and the Vatican’s interference does not make the solution easier. Far from that, the document seems to stimulate class struggle. Instead of looking for a viable and charitable solution, it seems to be putting vinegar in the wounds.

The Vatican’s aim of creating tension, rather than concord, seemed especially clear with regard to the demagogical question of financial compensation to descendants of slaves. What is the Vatican’s purpose in bringing up this question? I saw the same question raised in South America and Brazil as the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of both the continent and the country approached (1992 and 2000 respectively). Many ecclesiastics linked to Liberation Theology were asking for similar financial reparation for the descendents of murdered Indians and Black slaves. It is common knowledge there that this was a tactic employed by the followers of that Marxist “theology,” whose primary aim is to stimulate class struggle and contest the Western social-economic status quo. How could it be possible to seriously determine who is a descendent of whom among Native South Americans and African South Americans?

Now we see the Vatican adopting an analogous stance regarding the descendants of slaves everywhere. It appears that we are beginning to witness a new stage in the long-standing fight of the Vatican against Capitalism: it seems to have become the mentor of a new kind of Liberation Theology.

AMBIGUITIES - Fr. Manfred Hauke, a professor of Dogmatic Theology at the University of Augsburg, Germany, said ambiguous phrases in the documents of the Second Vatican Council have contributed to the push for deaconesses in recent years, and ought to be clarified in a forthcoming Vatican document. The theologian wrote a lengthy article on deaconesses, which was published late July in the bulletin of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments (Tidings, August 3, 2001). In my book In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, I sustain that the Council was ambiguous and opened doors for the most progressivist interpretations. For this, I have frequently been the target of criticism from pseudo-conservatives who accuse me of misleading my readers. According to these blind-conservatives, Vatican II was not at all ambiguous, but a faithful repetition of the past Magisterium. I would like to know how they would respond to Fr. Manfred Hauke on the particular point of deaconesses.

STEPS FOR THE UNIVERSAL REPUBLIC – Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras granted an interview to Our Sunday Visitor (September 9, 2001). Among other affirmations, the following is worthy of attention: “I hope to promote the idea of the union of the Central American republics. Within the context of globalization, we have to recognize the importance of integration. We are such small countries, but united we will be able to do much more. Integration is a necessity for our future. We need to consolidate to be able to compete in the modern world.” It is interesting to know the thinking on this subject of Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga, who is considered by some religious analysts as one of the most probable men to occupy the See of Peter in the future. He supports globalization, which in many ways is synonymous with the establishment of a Universal Republic.

“AFTER VATICAN II: A REVOLUTION” – Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Brussels, in an interview to America magazine (August 6, 2001), made this grave affirmation: “Before Vatican II, in theology, as in other areas, the discipline was fixed. After the Council there has been a revolution – a chaotic revolution – with free discussion on everything. There is now no common theology or philosophy as there was before. It was a period – and it still is going on – of trying new ideas. Our theology is still in a time of crisis, and I think this will last for some years more.”

I agree with Cardinal Danneels. The question that he did not answer is: Who is responsible for this revolution? I state: the conciliar Popes, principally Paul VI and John Paul II, because the power to stop it lay with them, and they did not do so. I won’t say more in this column, since I am running out of space. However, should someone like to take issue with my statement, I invite him to ask publicly for further evidence, and I will gladly prove my statement with documents.


Blason de Charlemagne
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