2 April 2012. A World to Win News Service. It's impossible to imagine the liberation of the Mexican people without their emancipation from the yoke of the Catholic Church in both the ideological and political spheres. The Church and struggles against it have played a defining role in Mexican history.
Catholicism provided the banners and justification for the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the crushing of its indigenous people. It was at the core of three centuries of Spanish colonial rule, and played a key role in the later attempt to turn Mexico into a French-controlled monarchy. As a pillar of feudalism, the Church was a major target of the revolution of 1910-1920, which confiscated its lands and crimped its political power and some of its influence. In the 1920s the Church launched three years of religious civil war aiming to overthrow the secular government.
Yet despite the institutionalization of secular education and other measures restricting the Church's activities to the domain of worship alone, the Church continues to enjoy immense power as well as influence in Mexico. It acquired a part of its present political strength through private Catholic organizations, open and secret, backed by some people in the country's ruling classes.
In the last few years much has become known about the head of one of the most powerful publicly operating groups, the Legion of Christ and the priest Marcial Maciel Degollado. A descendent of a Mexican saint, Maciel had been known to the Church hierarchy as a sexual predator of children, seminarians and women for over six decades. Yet Pope John Paul II considered him a favourite and held up Maciel as a role model during his three visits to Mexico.
As a cardinal under John Paul II when the scandal began to break out, today's Pope Benedict XVI was in charge of the organization that protected Maciel from repeated accusations of paedophilia. A book debuted in Mexico during Benedict's 24-27 March visit presents arguments that Benedict knew about Maciel's crimes and personally suppressed the growing evidence for at least eight years, until finally, in 2006, shortly after Cardinal Ratzinger became pope and before Maciel died at age 87, when Benedict relieved the priest of his official duties and invited him to perform "prayer and penitence". Benedict has never given any public explanation for this move.
That organization Cardinal Ratzinger headed was formerly called the Holy Inquisition, the Church organization that burned "heretics" – scientists, unsubmissive women, Jews and other real and suspected opponents of Catholicism – at the stake for more than two centuries. In the twentieth century it shielded Father Maciel and other top Church leaders, from many countries, who have been called out, often by Catholics, for monstrous crimes against the faithful and other people. Yet illegal acts such as the sexual abuse of children have been just a small, if symptomatic part of the Church's whole spirit-crushing and largely legal machinery meant to enforce a profound hatred of women, exploitative and oppressive property and social relations, the most vile political institutions, and the most backward and enslaving traditions, customs and thinking.
Benedict did not express remorse for his own and his Church's role in the Maciel affair during his visit. He refused a request to meet with the priest's victims. Instead, he issued a grave insult to the Mexican people, rubbing salt in an unbearably painful open wound. In his central speech he declared that the tens of thousands of innocent people turned into mutilated corpses in the country's ongoing drug wars have been victims, not of the intertwining of legal and illegal capitalists and the state, and the country's economic and political domination and humiliation by the US, but of Mexicans' "selfishness". He implicitly equated these murders with birth control, abortion and other so-called "abominations" committed by women.
Many commentators remarked that the timing of the Pope's visit was related to Mexico's upcoming presidential elections and the Church's support for the current governing party, the PAN. His visit was undoubtedly intended to provide some reactionary balm for a society where the cynicism and corruption of the major political forces and their moral bankruptcy has caused widespread and deep disgust.
Under these circumstance, the Pope's visit was met with some revulsion as well. There was a protest against it in Mexico City. Following is a statement entitled "Reject the visit of the criminal pope! Let's not praise criminals – away with all gods!" put out by Aurora Roja, the voice of the Revolutionary Communist Organization of Mexico (OCRM). We have omitted the extensive footnotes, which are available for the Spanish version at http://aurora-roja.blogspot.fr
The Catholic Church is still a horror. It stands for: No to divorce (leaving your spouse is a sin), no to homosexuality (loving someone of the same sex is a sin), no to birth control (preventing pregnancy during sex is a sin), no to abortion (ending an undesired pregnancy is a sin). Let's make the dark ages a thing of the past. We need morality, but not traditional "morality".
There's nothing "holy" about Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI; he's a repulsive criminal responsible for covering up the rape and sexual abuse of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of boys and girls around the world, including cases in Mexico like Marcial Maciel and Nicolás Aguilar [a still-practising priest convicted of sex crimes against children], both guilty of abusing at least dozens of children. It has been fully documented that Ratzinger covered up for them and protected them, along with his predecessor John Paul II and Norberto Rivera and other members of the Mexican Church hierarchy.
In other cases, for example in Ireland, the Murphy Commission documented the cases of 14,500 children who were sexually abused by clerics in the Dublin archdioceses alone. As Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to 2005, the then Cardinal Ratzinger knew about these crimes and was responsible for protecting those who committed them (which allowed them to continue their abuse for decades), and for threatening and silencing the victims.
In 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger sent an order to all Catholic Church bishops in which he declared that cases of sexual abuse of minor children by clergy, along with other "grave crimes", "are reserved for the Apostolic Tribune for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith" and "covered by pontifical secrecy." Cardinal Tarciso Bertone, today the Vatican"s Secretary of State, even tried to justify this illegal and immoral procedure, saying, "In my opinion, there is no basis for requiring a bishop to call the police and turn a priest who has admitted to the crime of paedophilia. Of course civil society is obliged to defend its citizens. But the 'professional secrets' of priests should also be respected... If a priest cannot confide in his own bishop for fear of being reported, that would mean an end to freedom of conscience." This is the Catholic hierarchy's conception of "freedom" – the freedom to guarantee the impunity of thousands of criminal clerics.
Ratzinger and the Vatican have helped bring about the unnecessary death of millions due to AIDS because of their stubborn opposition to the use of condoms. Ratzinger went to Africa in 2009 to preaches lies such as "This scourge cannot be solved by the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, that might aggravate the problem." In fact, it has been estimated that 30 million people in Africa have already died due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, 22 million are infected now and each year half a million more are infected. Cardinal López Trujillo, speaking as Chairman of the Pontifical "Council for the Family", asserted that "The Church has always taught the intrinsic wickedness of contraception, that is, any conjugal act intentionally rendered infertile. This teaching should be maintained as a definitive and unchangeable doctrine."
In other words, at the same time that they protect baby rapers, they teach the absurd and reactionary doctrine that any sexual act whose purpose is not to procreate children is an act of "wickedness", and that it is much better that millions of people continue dying and that babies be born with AIDS than that condoms be distributed as a simple way of protecting against that disease.
Ratzinger and the religious hierarchy promote hate and discrimination against male homosexuals and lesbians. Ratzinger, the Vatican's principle inquisitor for 25 years before being named pope, wrote several position papers against homosexuality. In 2003 he attacked civil unions for homosexuals as a "distortion of marriage": "Homosexual unions lack the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and the family, which should be the basis for the legal recognition of such unions."
These medieval positions that demonize homosexuals, lesbians and transsexuals and deny them the right to freely choose their sexual orientation and marriage and the adoption of children are based on the perverse doctrine of the Bible, a product of ancient slave-holding society, which prescribes murder for homosexuals: Leviticus 20:13 "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them."
The hierarchy headed by Ratzinger preaches and enforces patriarchy, the oppression of and contempt for women as inferior beings. It denies them the right to control their own bodies and imposes forced motherhood, while preaching that women should sacrifice themselves for men and accept their domination.
If women have no right to terminate unwanted pregnancies or try and prevent them through the use of birth control, this means forced motherhood and reduces women to incubators. It is a scientific fact that foetuses are not babies and that abortion is not infanticide. Nevertheless, hundreds of women in Mexico (as well as Nicaragua, El Salvador and other countries) are imprisoned for "murder in their capacity as parents" for having an abortion (whether spontaneous or induced). Because of the outlawing of abortion, every year an estimated 1,500 women in Mexico and between 65-70,000 women around the world die from unsafe procedures.
When abortion was decriminalized in the Federal District [around Mexico City] in 2007, Pope Benedict declared that abortion is "a grave moral disorder" and the Vatican sent Cardinal López Trujillo to spearhead a campaign against it, while the Mexican Church hierarchy threatened to excommunicate the members of parliament who approved the reform. The Vatican and the Catholic Church in Mexico launched a campaign for anti-abortion constitutional changes that have already been adopted in 18 states in Mexico and many other countries. In a recent statement, the Pope called on women to "protect their irreplaceable mission as mothers and primary educators of their children."
The Church's antiquated doctrine even forbids divorce and leads to the excommunication of people who divorce, leaving millions of women trapped in abusive marriages. In 2007, "the Vatican claimed that abortion, euthanasia, the 'morning after' pill, laboratories where embryos are used and parliaments that approve laws that go against 'human beings' (in other words, the teachings of the Church) are 'terrorists'".
These outmoded ideas have nothing to do with the hypocritical claim of being "pro-life." On the contrary, the aim is to reinforce the oppression of women, in line with the ignorant and oppressive doctrine of the 2,000-year old Bible which, in both the Old and New testament, teaches that women should be submissive. For instance, take Genesis 3:16, or Timothy 2:11-15 “Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve, and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."
The Christian religion and its Catholic version embraces, prettifies and justifies all the above-mentioned horrors. It is a belief system based on ignorance and superstition, which is true of all religions. Human beings invented it in the slave-holding societies before the Dark Ages. The Roman Empire adopted it a few centuries after Christ, and various ruling classes have perpetuated it ever since. It is a very heavy chain on the people's thinking.
Bob Avakian tells the truth: " The notion of a god, or gods, was created by humanity, in its infancy, out of ignorance. This has been perpetuated by ruling classes, for thousands of years since then, to serve their interests in exploiting and dominating the majority of people and keeping them enslaved to ignorance and irrationality. Bringing about a new, and far better, world and future for humanity means overthrowing such exploiting classes and breaking free of and leaving behind forever such enslaving ignorance and irrationality." (From Away with All Gods)
"There is no God," declared a 19-year-old Ignacio Ramírez (The Necromancer) 176 years ago in the title of the speech accompanying his application for admission to the Mexico City Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1836. The College Rector replied, with the typical intolerance promoted by the Church, "I cannot allow this speech to be read here, this is an educational establishment." In the middle of the twentieth century, Diego Rivera painted the words "God Does Not Exist" on a poster held up by the figure of Ignacio Ramírez in Rivera's mural Sunday Afternoon Dream in Alameda Park. Catholic fanatics attacked this mural in an attempt to censor these historic facts by disfiguring an artwork.
Now Ratzinger is coming to demand, under the misleading banner of "freedom of religion", the restoration of the tremendous temporal power enjoyed by the Catholic Church in times past, when it justified and blessed the genocide of the Indians and fattened on the robbery of their land, when it murdered people during the Inquisition for professing Native religions, being homosexual and other so-called "abominations", when it excommunicated Hidalgo [a Mexican priest who led the war for independence from Spain], supported Maximiliano and the French invasion [that installed him as emperor of Mexico in 1864] and encouraged the reactionary rebellion against the secular state known as the "Cristiada" [a three-year war waged by the "Cristeros", "the warriors of Christ", a rebellion seeking to bring the Mexican state, newly emerged from the 1910-1920 revolution, back under the control the the Church]. In fact, el Cerro del Cubilete, the centerpiece of this papel visit, is emblematic of the Cristero wars and Catholic fanaticism, a heritage that major sections of Mexico's ruling classes want to revive in order to mobilize a reactionary, fascist social base to bolster today's oppressive order.
In addition to the "war" that these forces are waging against women and homosexuals to reinforce patriarchal authority, they seek to go backwards from the secular state, teach Catholicism in the public schools, start Catholic radio and TV stations and end any limitation of worship in public life. Powerful forces among the ruling classes want to establish all this for the Catholic hierarchy in order to reinforce the present reactionary state and system. Strong ruling class forces such as el Yunque want to impose a thoroughly theocratic and fascist state. [El Yunque, the Anvil, is a reported secret society founded by wealthy businessmen close to the ruling party, the PAN. Its aim is said to be the violent establishment of "the kingdom of God" in Mexico.]
Pope Benedict is coming to preach oppressive values that break the spirit and interfere with and destroy uncountable human lives. He is coming to inculcate a slave mentality, that we are born sinners and suffer because of our sins, and that the only salvation lies in submitting ourselves to "god", resigning ourselves to the horrors of this world so that we may be redeemed and given a new, happy and eternal live in Heaven.
To all this, we say "No!" This is a big lie we must unmask in the course of struggling for a radically different and liberating world right here on earth. We can put an end to the suffering the great majority of people now experience. We can uproot the economic, political and social relations that tie us down. We can transform society and ourselves by means of a revolution whose goal is the emancipation of humanity. The technology and knowledge necessary to attain this great leap and begin a new era in human history already exist; let us not kneel before non-existent gods. Let us rise to the occasion, to what is needed and what human beings are capable of.
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