Richard Rohr ofm makes a great point about prophetic religion.
In clear and unmistakable language the prophets, Mohammed and Jesus were talking about people changing. Yet how is it that the groups formed in their names frequently became bulwarks against change? So often we have been protectors of the past, lovers of empire, power, business as usual-especially when the present arrangement was to our advantage. In fact if you ask most people how they view religion, they’ll answer that it is supposed to be a protector of the tradition. This is why for so much of our history we have made good bedfellows with kings, queens, dictators and repressive regimes.
This came to mind when Julian Assange the brilliant muckraker of Wikileaks fame awhile back released over 1 million new cables he called “the Kissinger cables.”
These damning leaks of this notorious war criminal covered the years 1973-1976.
To Richard Rohr’s point about imperial religion many of these cables exposed the ugly relationships between the Vatican and dictatorial regimes.
And since this is the 40th anniversary of the Pinochet coup in Chile, the subverting of Chilean democracy by Richard Nixon and Kissinger it s interesting to peruse these cables.
History of course has not been kind to Nixon and General Pinochet, least of all to the mad bomber of Vietnam and Nobel winner Henry Kissinger. One is almost stunned into incomprehension when one counts up the murder of so many innocents—literally in the millions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia—not to mention his dirty work in Chile. Socialism could not be allowed to succeed in Chile.It stood in the way of untrammeled capital. One Cuba was enough in the American lake as spelled out in the Monroe Doctrine. That the man is not in jail is amazing. Yet he does fear international travel as did his friend Pinochet before he died.
To the Vatican.
In a cable dated October 18, 1973, Archbishop Giovanni Benelli, Vatican Deputy Secretary of State, denied the crimes committed by Pinochet’s junta, expressing “his and Pope’s grave concern over successful international leftist campaign to misconstrue completely realities of Chilean situation.” Did Pope Paul, a wonderfully sophisticated man really believe this?
Benelli went on describing : ” the exaggerated coverage of events as possibly greatest success of communist propaganda, and highlighted fact that even moderate and conservative circles seem quite disposed to believe grossest lies about Chilean junta’s excesses.” Wow. Where were they getting this information?
Here is where this gets intreresting.
Benelli says Cardinal Silva and Chilean Episcopate in general have assured Pope Paul that junta making every effort to return to normal and that stories alleging brutal reprisals in international media secret are unfounded.”
Could this be the same Raul Silva whose vicariate later stood tall against the dictatorship by documenting the horriofic abuses? Did Silva see through the smog and change? Quite possibly.
Benelli states that “validity and sincerity of Cardinal Silva cannot be challenged since Silva is known internationally as one of Church’s leading progressives who, moreover, gave tacit support to President Allende.”
These events show the Catholic Church in turmoil. Between 1968 and 1978, two important moments in Latin American church history took place, Medellin and Puebla. To simplify the Church was moving away from Rohr’s imperial church location to the side of the poor.This was the critical phase of a liberationist perspective, led often by Jesuits and summed up by the life, death and resurrection of the voice of the poor in the ministry of Bishop Oscar Romero. We must appreciate that Romero was virtually a lone episcopal voice in El Salvador before he was martyred. The other bishops were stuck in the old paradigm—on the side of wealth, privilege and power.
The wikileaks cables shows the Church not yet converted to the cause of Jesus in the poor.