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Date: Tue, 19 Sep 1995 00:57:18 -0400
Sender: Progressive News & Views List <PNEWS-L@SJUVM.stjohns.edu>
Subject: Re: WOMEN-RELIGION: And Now, Catholic Fundamentalism
To: Multiple recipients of list PNEWS-L <PNEWS-L@SJUVM.stjohns.edu>

Catholic Fundamentalism in Latin America

Viewpoint by Gary Weston <viejo@crl.com>, 19 September 1995

With regard to Opus Dei and it's influence in Latin America, it occurs to me that we should occasionally remind ourselves that the role of organized religion has always been the same as that of the police and the military, that is, to maintain the status quo. It should not surprise anyone that Opus Dei, to which most of the Latin American Catholic hierarchy belong, would be used by the governments to try to subvert the aims of women's groups or any other groups that advocate social change.

On the other hand, it also points out that there are two distinct Catholic churches in Latin America. One, which is dominated by Opus Dei and is entirely supportive of a Vatican mired in the 14th century, represents the interests of the rich and powerful, as it always has. But the other, which is personified by the vast majority of the low level religious on the ground, works with the poor and is more concerned with doing what they see as the work of Christ than in sucking up to the Vatican and the owners of those countries.

Whether the two churches will ever be reconciled is problematical, but even an apostate Catholic like me can see that many religious in Latin America are working very hard to try to help the poor and to try to achieve social and economic justice for them.

While I sit here and try to figure out how to finish this, it occurs to me that what I'm trying to say is that even if organized religions are, by and large, the tools of the autocracy, many low level members and religious are not, and should be respected for the compassionate work they do.

Of course I'm still in agreement with Lenny Bruce who said, in effect, that anyone who called himself a man of god who had material goods in abundance while others had none was a hustler. That makes both Billy Graham and John Paul II, as well as the Falwells and Robertsons hustlers, at best, and more likely preachy and cynical frauds.