NEWS: June 26, 2002
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
MAHONY'S TOMB – Cardinal Roger Mahony seems to have lost his good luck. Just several months ago he pompously claimed to know the necessary secrets to influence and control the media. In these last few days, however, the situation turned strongly against him. In fact, on June 26, 2002 NPR (National Public Radio) reported a “nine worst Bishops” list compiled by a known Internet site (beliefnet). These were the nine Bishops who were judged to have made the worst decisions about abusive priests in the U.S. The list was drawn up from public documents, newspaper reports and interviews with victim’s groups, lawyers, and leading Catholic thinkers. Mahony was chosen the seventh worst Prelate, from among more than 300 American Bishops. He and Bernard Law were the only two Cardinals to be included in this shameful inventory.
On the very same day the Los Angeles Times (June 26, 2002, pp. E1, E4) ran a long article entitled “Star-Crossed Cathedral,” which for the first time to my knowledge it criticized Mahony’s extravagant and expensive building. Given its symbolism, one particular point in the critique is worthy of attention. The old Los Angeles Cathedral, dedicated to St. Vibiana, was loved by all Californian Catholics. It was damaged by the Northridge earthquake. The normal thing would have been to repair the historic colonial edifice. Instead Mahony came out with his new project. One of the pretexts for raising a new building was that it would be earthquake-proof. Now the irony: The present day pedophilia crisis – observed Fr. Virgilio Elizondo, former director of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas – can be compared to a earthquake that is destroying the new cathedral at its very beginning. I agree with Fr. Elizondo. To this, my only comment is: Deus irridebit eum…(Ps 36:13) [God laughed at them].
“It is a compromised building as a consequence of the [pedophilia] crisis in the Church,” corroborated author D. J. Waldie, whose book, Holy Land: A Suburban Memoir, describes life in Southern California. The new cathedral is planned to open next September among festivities, but many are opposing its opening. “ You wouldn’t think you would want to plan the opening at this time…” remarked Fr. Clint Albertson, a professor at Loyola Marymount University. Mark Silk, director of the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., made this reasonable prediction: Between now and September a great deal will depend on the Cardinal himself as to whether Our Lady of the Angels ultimately will be viewed as “Mahony’s tomb or a statement of greater glory to come.”
Unconsciously making a similar critique, the "little people" in Los Angeles have nicknamed the new building “Taj Mahony,” approximating it to the Taj Mahal, the famous Indian tomb.
HIGH SPEED – Regarding canonizations and beatifications, John Paul II is going faster and faster. Production remains up at his “saint factory,” to use the expression of late Cardinal Silvio Oddi. I am always late with these statistics, but let me catch the reader up on the last ones I read. During his pontificate John Paul II has beatified 1,282 persons versus 1,201 in the entire History of the Church before him. He has canonized 456 versus 302 before (Actualité des Religions, April 2002, p. 41). Warning: these numbers do not include the new nine blessed and saints of this season's crop.
LIBERATION ECOLOGY – Leonardo Boff, the Brazilian guru of “liberation theology,” has changed hats. Yesterday he was a known admirer of Marxism and a leader of the revolutionary social struggle. Now he is trying to appear as a thinker for the ecologist movement. The Italian bulletin Adista (March 25, 2002, pp. 5-7) published an article by him that I will summarize, and comment on its main points.
According to Boff, globalization has two fundamental aspects: one bad and one good. The bad is called “global-colonialism,” and it consists of having transformed the whole Earth (upper case, please) into a huge corporate bank in which everything is viewed as an object of profit. Gaia (a name of the divine “Mother Earth”) has “to be respected in its own autonomy and subjectivity,” said Boff. This bad globalization does not take in count “our telluric roots and origins, since as human beings we came from the Earth.”
This kind of globalization is exclusivist. It tends to form two groups of nations. On one hand, a very small group lives in material opulence, but in an astonishing spiritual poverty. On the other, a great multitude of nations remains with its people in barbarism, abandoned, destined to die before their time, victims of the plagues and degradations of the Earth.
In short, Boff adopts the same deleterious and romantic view of Communism. Until now, the anti-capitalist dish that Boff is serving is basically the same one he used to offer a few years ago. The only notable difference is an Indian spice, a pantheistic curry powder – the divinity of the Earth, our “telluric roots” – that has been sprinkled over the food.
But there is something new. Boff admits that the ecological revolution takes advantage of some technological improvements made under Capitalism. He claims that this bad globalization nonetheless created conditions for the good globalization by establishing a great means of global communications and an immense commercial and financial network. Doing this, it stimulated relations among all the peoples, continents, and nations. It created the pre-conditions for the good globalization.
Here, Boff adopts McLuhan’s theory of the “global tribe” or “global village” to which the cybernetic revolution would be heading. Boff’s new approach does not signify a change of direction on the road of Marxism. Rather, it is a milestone advance in the same route. Before, he was preaching the dictatorship of the proletariat. Now, he is preaching the next step dreamed of by Marx, the final “synthesis” that would be established in next stage of the Communism's development. The good globalization, he continues, would offer not only material advantages, but it would also be a human globalization, that is to say, the era of integral ecology. Such an age would be characterized by mankind's awareness of belonging to a universal evolutionary process. A perfect harmony would be reached when humankind would have achieved a complete reciprocity among its members, when the capacity for love and spiritualization would have penetrated collective decisions. The main characteristic of the good globalization will be mankind's awareness of essential belonging to the Earth and the Universe. When this consciousness has become a permanent state, we will have entered the era of integral ecology.
“The realization of human globalization,” exclaims Boff, “will represent the end of the exile. From then on, all the tribes of Earth will gather together in the bosom of the great and generous Mother Earth.” In other words, everything will have returned to the original pan, or, if you want to adopt the language of Teilhard de Chardin, everything will be “Christified.”
Therefore, the new recipe of Leonardo Boff is easy to follow: Take pieces of the Marxist class struggle and chop them into small pieces. Add the ribs of McLuhan’s “global village" theory. Cover it all with the juice of Teilhard de Chardin’s evolutionist concept. Spice it with the curry powder of Indian pantheistim according to taste, and let the ensemble cook slowly. If you want to serve it hot, add salt, cayenne pepper, and vinegar: you will have the boiling, red, and violent ecology that we saw in Seattle, Genoa, and Durban. If you want to serve it cold, add spinach and sugar: you will have the chilled, sweet, green ecology that could be symbolized by the occultist smile of Dalai Lama.
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