to acknowledge God,” John Paul II has warned. Even in Kenya, where population soared from six million in 1968 to 20 million in 1985, John Paul II preached the Vatican’s ban on birth control. Lader sees the Church resigned to a diminishing congregation in the industrial West, where populations are stabilized, pinning its hopes for growth on the burgeoning population of the Third World. This, he holds, even explains the Vatican’s more aggressive investment schemes, calculated to make up for smaller contributions coming from Third World congregants. But it is in the Third World that the Church has encountered what might prove to be its greatest challenge, Liberation Theology, whose very structure theological discourse and decision making by the masses threatens the autocratic rule of the Vatican. There is, in Liberation Theology’s recognition of the dignity and the theological independence of every man and woman, a historical antecedent in a German cleric who in 1517 declared that the Roman clergy is “treating us like Teutonic swine.” Politics, economics and demographics, it should be remembered, were as much a part of the early thinking of Martin Luther as was sacred doctrine. And Liberation Theology has spawned more than 100,000 communidades de base in Latin America, base communities that often operate independently of the hierarchy. Not only does this new movement pose a threat of schismatic development in Latin America, where its powerful message of social justice and a preferential option for the poor encourages “revolution rooted in the classic conception of Christianity,” it has now spread into North America where it is embraced by activist nuns and priests. In Latin America, the Church has met Liberation Theology head-on through acts such as the Congregation for Sacred Doctrine’s \(a Vatican office that conducted the Leonardo Boff and the Pope’s public statements attacking nuns and priests involved in political struggles. John Paul II, while publicly reprimanding Nicaraguan Jesuit and Minister of Education Ernesto Cardenal, has conceded a personal prelature to Opus Dei, a fanatic right-wing church ancillary founded in 1928 to support Franco and fascism in Spain. Opus Dei, whose founder John Paul II has advanced toward canonization, is also deeply involved in the Chilean government of General Agusto Pinochet. IN NORTH AMERICA, Liberation Theology has manifested itself through a sanctuary movement that challenges the Vatican by shifting responsibility from the hierarchy to individual conscience. It is another confrontation that places the church in an adversarial role with women congregants. Many involved in the movement to assist refugees are nuns; of the 16 sanctuary workers indicted by the federal government in Arizona, eleven were women. Sister Darlene Nicgorski, an American Catholic nun indicted and tried for her participation in the sanctuary movement in Arizona, accuses American bishops of taking “the legal opinion of corporate lawyers instead of following the spirit.” On September 13, in San Antonio, John Paul II came dangerously close to endorsing the sanctuary movement, only to have his message retracted by an aide two days and two states later. For a congregation beset by internal strife, the Catholic Church in Ronald Reagan’s America enjoys unprecedented participation in the shaping of public policy. This has been realized by the Church’s collusion with the religious right and its symbiotic relationship with the Reagan administration. The Catholic hierarchy has used its considerable skill and effort to help defeat the ERA, progressive medical and child-adoption legislation and efforts to hold the line on erosion of First Amendment rights in public schools. Catholic extremists like Harry John, heir to the Miller brewing corporation and director of the reactionary Catholic DeRance Foundation, contribute large sums to conservative groups like Morality in Media and to Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network. John, according to Lader, also gave more than one million dollars to the International Institute of the Heart of Jesus, an organization that works in opposition to Liberation Theology in Latin America. And John, who also owns television stations in Texas and California, began in 1983 to build a Catholic TV network based in Los Angeles, California. Right-wing activist Phyllis Schlafly who has also worked closely with the Catholic Church was granted an audience with John Paul II after her successful campaign against the ERA. “I give my cordial blessings on your movement,” the Pontiff told her. In 1984, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston declared abortion “the critical issue of this campaign,” and New York Archbishop John O’Connor stalked Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, declaring that no Catholic “in good conscience” could vote for abortion rights. In return for fealty to the Administration a position that generally advances their interest the Catholic high clergy got help on education issues such as tax incentives and parochiaid, an item that the Administration has been unable to sell to Congress. The Church is also assured of only token enforcement of the section of U.S. Tax Code that precludes non-profit and religious organizations from acting to directly influence outcomes of elections. Together with Fundamentalists, and the Reagan Administration, Catholic clergy has worked to introduce prayer into the nation’s public schools. And it was Ronald Reagan who succeeded in establishing formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican an idea that was antithetical to the nation’s only Catholic president. Reagan, Coleman McCarthy of the Washington Post wrote, “turned God into a special interest with himself being its chief Washington lobbyist.” It is this political collaboration that most disturbs the author of Power, Politics and The Church. While he accepts the Church’s right to forge a national consensus through education and lobbying, he questions its heavyhanded manipulation of public policy that often places it in violation of the very tax code that protects it from taxation. Lader questions Boston Cardinal Humberto Medieros’s 1980 campaign against two congressional candidates who endorsed women’s right to abortion. And New York Cardinal John O’Connor’s 1984 edict that no Catholic could vote “in good conscience” for a candidate favoring abortion rights. Lader, quoting Supreme Justice William Brennan, suggests a division of the theological and political: “As a Roman Catholic, I might do as a private citizen what a Roman Catholic does, and that is one thing, but to the extent that conflicts with what I think the Constitution requires, then my religious beliefs have to give way.” Or as New York Governor Mario Cuomo said, in the response to an attack from his state’s Catholic clergy, his first responsibility is to the Constitution, which in guaranteeing freedom for all guarantees “our rights to be Catholics.” And it has been, according to Lader, Catholic office holders who are often most harshly attacked by their church: Assemblyman John C. Dearie of the Bronx, who had worshiped at his parish church for forty-six years, attended its parish school and the University of Notre Dame, and had his children baptized at the same church, complained that his priest had been ordered to ban him from speaking at parish events because Dearie had voted for Medicaid abortion for the poor. Was O’Connor trying to influence THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21
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