Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Pope and world leaders refuse to point to source of refugee crisis

Refugees land in Italy
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The pope’s gesture to take in two families of refugees who are “fleeing death” from war or hunger reminds me of the Archbishop of Canterbury appealing to British people to take in and accept the Asians that the Ugandan dictator and former British army man Idi Amin kicked out.

I was only young then but I have this vision of him on TV with his arm around this Indian doctor lecturing the masses about brotherly love.  My mother was not too accepting buying in to the same old argument the xenophobes propagate, that we were “bursting at the seams” that we “are a small island” or we'll lose our culture etc.  But my mum was either working cleaning offices or at some other menial task at that time and I recall having a discussion with her at a later date where it was obvious that her fear was the competition for work, this was another anti-immigrant propaganda point.  She was not a racist or xenophobe and once I explained the role of British Colonialism in Uganda and Africa in general she understood it more clearly from a class rather than a nationalist point of view. My mother left school at fourteen.

The Archbishop of Canterbury of course had no fear of losing his job to an Indian Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. Even if the guy he had his arm around was a Christian there was no chance at that time of an Indian Christian becoming the head of the Church of England, a position that dates back to the 6th century.  As with the Archbishop, I am sure that the family the pope has taken in to his country, the Vatican, were or will be, carefully selected.

The pope has called on all the Catholic institutions and leaders in Europe to become a sanctuary, "May every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary in Europe host a family, starting with my diocese of Rome," the pope announced from the Vatican.

The refugee crisis has placed significant strain on Italy with some 120,000 landing on its shores.  At the southern tip of Europe it is a boat ride away from the African coast so not only Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees have arrived there but also those fleeing poverty and strife on the African continent. We should remember that prior to this there were also Romany refugee camps that were in the news, some of them being attacked by right wing groups and fascists.

The European Bishops will be taking up the pope’s call, "We will talk about it next week, when the heads of European bishops conferences meet in Jerusalem"  Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco tells the media.  It is not likely the Bishopships will be visiting the remnants of raised Palestinian homes or the Palestinians languishing in Israeli prisons.

The Catholic Church is losing members to the Evangelicals particularly in Latin America. It has also taken some serious financial hits not to mention stains on what is already a historically brutal and violent reputation with all the sexual abuse by pedophiles in its ranks and even more important, the cover up of these crimes that forced the last pope to resign.

This is one of the reasons as well as the bad press and a more secular population especially in Europe and the US, that the pope is running around washing and kissing people’s feet and making statements about greed and the poverty of the present economic system.  He was in Latin America recently where he made a half assed apology for the role his organization played in the genocidal attack on the people of that continent and the theft of their wealth and natural resources. The gold and opulence of the Vatican didn’t fall out of the sky. The pope stopped short of offering to return the wealth his organization has stolen over the centuries. And when one thinks about it, his recent chatter about forgiving women who have had abortions and genuinely want repentance is incredibly arrogant. They have done nothing wrong and don’t need his or his organization's forgiveness as there is no such thing as sin. How come he doesn’t make such a proclamation forgiving those heads of state like Obama and some of the Catholic ones whose polices are the cause of this refugee crisis?  

As one of the world’s primary misogynistic organizations, talk of women’s rights doesn’t hold much water from this crowd.  Raising living standards and fighting for women’s rights, particularly financial independence and health care would begin to undermine the causes of many unwanted pregnancies.  In Ireland last year, a women died because a Catholic hospital reused to terminate her pregnancy as she was having a miscarriage.
Mexico: The Catholic Church has a long nasty history

The Catholic Church is the only religion with its own state. Consequently it has diplomatic relations with governments in those countries where it has a presence. This organization is the main religion of global capitalism and wherever imperialist or colonial armies went, representatives of the Catholic Church followed. There’s that great mural by Diego Rivera that shows the Conquistador, sword in hand raised above the head of an Aztec and behind him is the priest with the crucifix.  The Catholic Church has supported the most ruthless regimes and is complicit in the murder of El Salvador’s Archbishop Romero and the smashing of the Liberation Theology movement in its ranks.

As I pointed out in an earlier commentary, none of those speaking about the refugee crisis including those offering help like Merkel, point to the cause of this most recent development and that is the role of US imperialism in the Middle East. It’s shameful when one thinks about it. These people are fleeing conditions created by decisions made in the US Congress and at the Pentagon. I was in Syria briefly, or passed through in 1971. I was in Iraq that same year.  People had basic necessities. The US has been bombing the area for 20 years and in the course of its interventions has supported right wing fascistic elements like al Qaeda and ISIS.  The same with Africa.  Ever since I can remember African poverty has been an issue, but African poverty is a result of imperialist intervention. The British Empire never grew to the level that it did because they made a nice cuppa tea and it’s representatives spoke with good grammar. One example, The Congo.  The Congo is a wealthy country with vital valuable raw materials. It will always be poor until capitalism is overthrown.

There is a very good piece on Nigeria on this blog that explains the history that has led to the rise of Islamic fanatics and war in the northern part of that country.  Check it out here.

As far as the pope’s foot kissing and haughty proclamations---don’t be fooled.

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