Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis is no Liberal.

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The chameleon-like pope Francis has gone.  In what was almost a state of mass hysteria thousands upon thousands of people turned out to be in his presence. It’s funny; when people turn out for Fidel Castro like that they’re all being manipulated according to the US mass media. And people turning out for the pope are not?  Do they really believe a supernatural being impregnated an Earth women and she gave birth to its son that was killed 33 years later, came back to life and went up to his father in the cosmos?

One thing is for sure, the pope’s (I was taught he was incapable of sin. Does that still stand I wonder?) liberal veneer, the hundreds of photo ops with poor people and little babies and calls for restraining capitalism’s excesses, is overwhelmingly a response to the more affluent and liberal minded Catholic fold in the US and the need to repair some of the damage the mountain of abuse its army of pedophiles handed out across the globe.  It has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties for allowing this crime to continue, not for decades, but centuries.  Vatican Inc. needs money, as do all of them, and it has also been losing potential clients and former ones to the Mormons and the Evangelicals.

As the leading theological representative of the capitalist class, Francis is concerned that capitalism’s excesses could usher in real dangers. The system is becoming so unstable and the wealthy accumulating untold riches as the poor, and most importantly, workers and the middle classes find themselves priced out of existence that millions may lose faith in the system entirely and seek an alternative; collective consciousness may step to the fore.  Following the lead of his secular brethren, from Piketty to Reich, Sanders to Warren, and others, the pope is assailing inequality. Inequality, the wealth gap, is the problem, not the system. It is the cardinal sin of greed that must stand front and center.  You see, we are all sinners; we are born sinners and only Jesus and the  pope, as god’s vicar can redeem us.

Carl Icahn, another social parasite worth $21 billion is very concerned his ill-gotten gains might be at risk if this situation continues and he has added his voice to the billionaires and their politicians speaking out on behalf of the working poor. In a recent paper he writes:

“The average worker makes approximately $50,000 per year. The average annual compensation of the thirty highest paid CEOs is approximately $47 million per year. (I don’t believe this disparity was ever this great even in most dictatorships!) You will hear many politicians argue that government should not interfere with the ‘business judgment’, of our companies and, therefore they cannot pass laws to encourage ‘income equality.’ This is completely untrue – the sad fact is that the government has actually passed many laws that have brought about ‘income inequality.’”

Icahn of course has done his fair share of union busting but is calling now for a healthy dose of Keynsianism (government spending) or legislation at least that distributes a little more of the national wealth to the rest of us. Icahn adds:

“…the American worker is also getting 'screwed' …boards and CEOS have allowed property, plants and equipment of our companies to become the oldest on record and, as a result, the growth rate in productivity per hour of our workers has also become the worst on record and has actually decreased compared to last year. The average age of corporate property, plants and equipment is an astounding 22.3 years, the oldest it has reached since 1941. But I do not believe that most boards and CEOs really give a damn. With many exceptions, CEOs only care about short term results. Perhaps you can’t really blame them because unfortunately, Wall Street judges them based on quarter to quarter results and CEOs receive their egregious compensation based on those short-term results.”

One would think that now we have Icahn and the pope on our side surely all will be well.

But the pope’s liberal veneer is quite thin. The chameleon changes color without reservation depending on the color of its surroundings.  It’s incredible that of all the controversial individual figures the pope could have stopped in to see, he had a private audience with the homophobic and anti-gay marriage religious zealot, Kim Davis.  The pope urged her to stay strong. He stated that it is her human right as a public official to refuse to issue same sex marriage licenses. He referred to this as conscientious objection.

This is an insult to those conscientious objectors who have refused to kill in wars. Most of them wars of conquest, predatory wars.  How come he didn’t go see Chelsea Manning? Talk about heroism and bravery.  Manning revealed to the world the mass violence and murder committed against the Iraqi people, women and young children, in our name as is languishing in prison for it. What about Leonard Peltier or  Mumia Abu Jamal?

He issued a pathetic statement about Junipero Serra the priest he made a saint (a ridiculous notion really) over the objections of numerous indigenous leaders and tribal representatives.  Did he meet with any of them? What the pope has ensured by his anti gay marriage and anti LGBT stand and his objection to the right of women to control their own bodies is a victory for zealots like Davis. The pope's concession to women, perhaps without realizing what an insult it is, urged priests, (men who have no relationships with women and no family in that sense) to absolve women who confess and seek forgiveness for  "the sin of abortion" in the upcoming "Year of Mercy,".  What arrogance, it's an attack made to appear as friendship. Women have committed no wrong they need to apologize to a priest or the pope for?  As Jill Filipovic comments in the NYT,:

"But mercy may actually be worse. While the pope’s announcement has been hailed as evidence of the church’s new, softer approach, it’s actually the latest example of the modern anti-abortion strategy: Portray women as victims who need to be protected from themselves with laws that restrict abortion rights."

Filipovic adds: "Despite the concern for what the pope calls an “agonizing and painful decision,” research shows that a vast majority of women who terminate pregnancies in the United States don’t actually feel bad about it." 

The offensive on a woman's right to choose is more subtle in the face of women fighting for control of their own reproductive rights as they are in Ireland where the anti-abortion section of the constitution is likely to be discarded.  The Catholic Church has lost its power in Ireland, brutal as it was and most of the abuse took place there. It's a very malicious and insidious approach they're taking now.

As for Davis, she  was not denied the right to not issue wedding licenses to gays.  She could have quit her job.  She refused to do her job that’s what she did. What happens to soldiers that refuse to carry out their duties?  As Trevor Martin of the Guardian commented:

“Davis, with whom (the pope) he met and apparently offered moral support to, was quite free to conscientiously object to same-sex marriage. She even had the opportunity to resign or allow her deputies to issue the licenses without her, but she refused to do either – and went so far as to reportedly altering the license forms in a manner that may invalidate people’s marriages. She apparently thought she could “conscientiously object” and keep the perks of the job she conscientiously objects to performing at the same time.”

Freedom means different things to different people. Freedom to Carl Icahn means the right for him to do what he wants with the capital he owns although he did not create that wealth. In the capitalist mode of production that is legal. To some religious leaders religious freedom means the right to remove a male child’s body part before an age of consent.

Faith is a personal matter, it is between the believer and their gods whatever form that takes.  The Vatican is not only a state, it is a business and the pope is the CEO.  And like all CEO’s and heads of state, their job is to ensure things stay under their control.

No comments: