Pope Francis & Beijing: The Geopolitics of the Vatican

Hits: 122

The Roman Catholic Church and the Peoples Republic of China are set to sign an agreement, which would formally end the hostilities between these two entities. The Chinese government will formally acknowledge the Pope as the leader of the Catholic Church in China. In exchange, the Pope will reinstate ex-communicated Bishops selected by the Communist Party to lead Catholics on the Chinese mainland. In this context, it is worth reviewing the shifts and evolutions of Catholicism in global politics.

Opposing Capitalism and Marxism

Surprising as it may be to many Republicans in the United States, the Roman Catholic Church officially opposes capitalism. In fact, clerical anti-capitalism predates Marxism by centuries. As the merchant class was emerging in Europe, Catholic theology tended to uphold the “natural order” represented in the feudal hierarchy. The church saw the marketplace as a sinful mess of greed and anarchy.  Gutenberg’s printing press, which led to the translation and widespread publication of the Bible, and eventually the Protestant Reformation, is seen as the opening shot act in the struggle resulting in the eventual rise of liberal democratic nation-states and the market. Papal proclamations that shifted regulations on money-lending laid the foundations for modern finance. For example, the roots of the titanic institution known as Bank of America can be traced back to early Italian bankers, who emerged as the church loosened its restrictions on Usury.

While Catholic anti-capitalism, which emphasizes morality and obedience over “economic freedom,” has been longstanding, the ideology of Marxism is something Rome has always opposed. Catholicism views Marxism as godlessly fomenting revolts against legitimate “God given” authority. Furthermore, Marxist economic determinism is perceived as undermining the moral responsibility of individuals for their actions.

As Marxism proliferated throughout Europe, most especially after the Russian Revolution, it was not uncommon for Roman Catholic Anti-Communists to invoke a supposed “Jewish origin” of Marxism while condemning it. Many Catholics also espoused the belief that Marxism was linked to the Bavarian illuminati, which the Church had suppressed in the 1780s. Rome never formally endorsed any conspiracy theory about the origins of Marxism, but among politicized Catholics, such beliefs were certainly widespread.

In the 1920s and 30s as the political current known as Fascism emerged, the Roman Catholic community was a primary recruiting ground. The Vatican’s status as an independent state was arranged by the originator of the word “fascism” himself, Benito Mussolini. Prior to the Second World War, the Soviet Union was condemned by the Catholic Church as an atheistic autocracy, and the duty of all Roman Catholics was to work against the global communist movement. Catholics were rallied to support General Francisco Franco in his Civil War against the Spanish Republic.

“Kill A Commie for Christ”

In the United States, rural and southern communities were the primary base of rightwing politics, and bigotry against Catholics was prevalent among conservatives. The Ku Klux Klan hated Roman Catholics, going as far as to stage a national rally in opposition to “Columbus Day.” Prohibition on alcohol was passed as conservative protestants perceived the Catholic tolerance for social drinking as a threat to American values. Hostility from conservatives resulted in most Catholics, many of whom were recent immigrants living in urban centers, occupying the liberal end of the political spectrum. Anti-Catholic sentiments against Democrat Al Smith were key in securing the victory Herbert Hoover’s in the 1928 Presidential election.

However, a Catholic oriented brand of far-right politics in the United States eventually emerged in the 1930s. Father Charles Coughlin of Michigan, the infamous “Radio Priest” known for his Pro-Hitler and Anti-Semitic Sermons became a national political figure. Unlike the Ku Klux Klan and other far-rightists of the time, Coughlin’s fascist rhetoric spoke against “international bankers” and condemned capitalism, while at the same time opposing the labor movement and the Roosevelt administration as an example of “Godless Communism.” When the Second World War broke out in 1939, the Vatican ordered Coughlin to cease his radio broadcasts.

As the Cold War began, the Soviet Union considered the Roman Catholic Church to be one of its primary enemies and vice-versa. Communist publications frequently referred to the Catholic Church as “fascist” and accused it of complicity in the Holocaust. Urban Catholic Democrats such as the Kennedy family were supporters of the House Un-American Activities Committee as McCarthyism set in. The Catholic Trade Union associations worked to ban Communists from working in Auto-plants and Steel mills. Catholic high school students, bearing placards that said “Kill a Commie for Christ” were mobilized to violently attack the May 1st parade in New York City in 1948.

As the USA and Europe marched in lockstep against the Soviet Union during the 1950s, the Catholic Church was in an anti-communist frenzy. Across post-war Europe, Church attendance significantly declined, but those who remained practicing Catholics were not only opposed to Communists, but also to Social-Democracy. The Vatican’s flock generally embraced “Christian Democratic” political parties, perceiving even the anti-Soviet Social-Democratic parties as being tainted by Marxist materialism.

Vietnam, Central America & Nuclear Weapons

The geopolitics of Catholicism began to shift in the 1960s. The Second Vatican Pastoral Council convened in October of 1962. The event is seen as pivotal in the modern history of the Catholic Church. The council published a document proclaiming “any act of war aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities… is a crime against God and man himself. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.” This was widely interpreted as a condemnation of the bombing campaigns conducted by the US military during the Second World War and the Korean War.

A minority of Catholic clergy in the United States protested the Vietnam War from the beginning. Father Daniel Berrigan, a Catholic Priest, was even briefly placed on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in destroying draft records as an act of protest. By the early 1970s, it seemed that the Church was no longer espousing the fanatical anti-Sovietism that had previously defined it and many Catholics were vocally opposing the Vietnam War. As Evangelical Christians emerged as a significant axis within US politics following the upheavals of the Vietnam-era, the Catholic Church did not echo their hysterical fears of the Soviet Union.

In the 1980s, divisions between the Vatican and Washington seemed the most stark in Central America. The Sandinista government that took power in 1979 in Nicaragua embraced the Catholic Church, and priests openly held governmental offices. “Liberation Theology” that put forward a socialist interpretation of the Bible became very popular in Central and South America, and many Catholic clergy openly declared support for it.

As Guatemala, El Salvador, and other countries were swept up in Civil War, the United States aligned itself with armed anti-communist fanatics dubbed “Contras.” The Contras and the right-wing of Latin America embraced evangelical protestant teachings from the United States, and saw free market capitalism as biblically mandated. Reverend Jerry Falwell, a key political figure in the United States who formed the “Moral Majority,” spent a large amount of time south of the US border, rallying Spanish speaking crowds against Marxism. As Civil Wars raged across Central and South America in the 1980s, Catholic clergy were slaughtered in a number of different massacres and assassinations.

During the 1980s, West Germany, Italy, and France were becoming more friendly to the Soviet Union, and distancing themselves from Ronald Reagan and his escalation of the arm’s race. The Catholic Church was well represented among the crowds that condemned both nuclear weapons and nuclear power in a widespread protest movement across the western world. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland led anti-Nuclear protests in Ohio, citing his Catholic faith as motivation, and was eventually elected to the US Congress.While opposing the arms race and being critical of US foreign policy, Pope John Paul II generally embraced anti-Soviet protests and “color revolutions” across eastern Europe. The most famous example was the “Solidarity” movement of Catholic dock workers in Poland. As the Eastern bloc and eventually the Soviet Union itself fell, the Catholic Church was very vocally aligned with the overthrow of Marxist-Leninist governments, which resulted in economic catastrophe as the state run economies were dismantled.In 1998, Pope John Paul II visited Cuba. Anti-Communists and right-wingers in the United States were furious, accusing the Vatican of granting legitimacy to Fidel Castro. However, the move was widely praised in Europe, where the US economic blockade of Cuba was perceived as irrational.

The Left Turn of Pope Francis

In 2016, Pope Francis made headlines around the world when he began emphasizing opposition to capitalism. Pope Francis was clear that he did not support Marxism, or any Marxist interpretation of Liberation Theology, but he continued to emphasize opposition to income inequality with rhetoric similar to US Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. Pope Francis has maintained the Catholic opposition to abortion and gay marriage, but has gone as far as meeting with groups of gay activists and repeatedly declaring that homosexuals are welcome in the Church.

This apparent left turn from Pope Francis paralleled a similar shift among anti-Communists in Latin America. While those who opposed the governments of Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, Evo Morales, and other Marxists in Latin America had generally defended capitalism and free markets, the right wing of South and Central America shifted its rhetoric at approximately the same time. Henrique Caprilles of Venezuela and other anti-Communists began saying they were also advocates of “socialism” but favored friendly relations with the United States, and opposed the “extremism” of the Bolivarian governments. While Pope Francis puts forward criticism of capitalism, he has loudly condemned the government of Venezuela.

Pope Francis has also made harsh criticisms of the “new right” in Europe and Trump administration in the United States. The Vatican officially condemned the US policy of separating of immigrant families and calls for refugees to be welcomed in Europe.

The new friendliness between the Vatican and Beijing, and Pope Francis’ criticism of Trump, fits in with increasing division between the USA and Western Europe. The Obama administration seemed to work hard for unity within NATO. The Trump administration seems to be far less accommodating to the western European countries. As Trump puts tariffs on China, countries throughout western Europe seem to be embracing the Belt and Road Initiative and having increasingly friendly ties to Beijing. Following a pattern of contemporary Catholicism, the Vatican seems to follow Western Europe in embracing or opposing US foreign policy.

The NATO countries in Europe seem to focus on opposing Russia, while continuing to do business with China. This seems to be the opposite of Trump’s policy of escalating a trade war with China while deflecting accusations that he “colluded” with Russia in the 2016 elections. As distance between the United States and Europe expands, it can be expected that the Vatican will be more critical of US foreign policy. However, as Britain exits the European Union, and Germany and other EU countries assert their right to import Russian natural gas, new shifts are certainly possible.

It is worth noting that while the Vatican appears to be on the verge of pivotal agreement with the Chinese Communist-led government, the Church in Vietnam continues to be viewed as a source of opposition. As Vietnam continues to be critical of China, it has been positioning itself closer to the United States, even hosting US naval vessels. Meanwhile, the Vatican continues to condemn Vietnam and accuse the Communist Party of repressing the Catholic minority, which represents only 7% of the population.

What is clear is that the geopolitical positions of the Vatican are not stagnant, and tend to evolve and shift based on circumstances. At the same time, the role of the Catholic Church in societies around the world seems to also be shifting, creating room for even more dramatic adjustments and surprises. Yet, sexual abuse scandals continue to plague the Vatican, regardless of its geopolitical turns.


Originally published on 2018-09-18

About the author: Caleb Maupin is a political analyst and activist based in New York. He studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College and was inspired and involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Source: New Eastern Outlook

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

READ MORE!
The US Military Project for the World
In May 2017, Thierry Meyssan appeared on Russia Today and explained where the South American elites were going wrong in their fight against US imperialism. He insisted that there has been a sea-change in the way the US now wages armed conflicts and we now need to radically rethink how we should defend our homeland. The operation to destabilize Venezuela continues. The first phase: violent gangs demonstrating against the government killed passers by, as if citizenship created no bonds between them. The second phase: the major food suppliers organized food shortages in the supermarkets. Then some members of the forces ...
READ MORE
US has Killed More than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” since World War II
After the catastrophic attacks of September 11 2001 monumental sorrow and a feeling of desperate and understandable anger began to permeate the American psyche. A few people at that time attempted to promote a balanced perspective by pointing out that the United States had also been responsible for causing those same feelings in people in other nations, but they produced hardly a ripple. Although Americans understand in the abstract the wisdom of people around the world empathizing with the suffering of one another, such a reminder of wrongs committed by our nation got little hearing and was soon overshadowed by ...
READ MORE
The Great Powers and Global Politics
TerminologyA meaning of the term Great Power(s) (GP) in global politics from the beginning of the 16th century onward refers to the most power and therefore top influential states within the system of the international relations (IR). In other words, the GP are those and only those states who are modelling global politics like Portugal, Spain, Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, united Germany, the USA, the USSR, Russia or China. During the time of the Cold War (1949−1989) there were superpowers[1] as the American and the Soviet administrations refered to their own countries and even a hyperpower state – the ...
READ MORE
‘Barbarism by an Educated and Cultured People’ — Dawayima Massacre was Worse than Deir Yassin
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full. On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The ...
READ MORE
How Kosovo’s Albanians Destroyed ex-Yugoslavia
Autism as the political driving forceAs a matter of very historical fact, Kosovo-Metochia’s ethnic Albanians never accepted the state of Yugoslavia as their own state, nor did they ever recognize the country of Serbia as their homeland. Nevertheless, two important points have to be noticed in regard to this phenomenon. As it is quite known, it is the common feature of the highlanders in general. The Yugoslav and Albanian Dinaric highlanders, in fact, never historically accepted fully any kind of state as their own, for which they would feel any sincere responsibility. It concerns, for instance, the Montenegrins regarding the ...
READ MORE
Christianity in Europe During the WWII
Introduction The propaganda by the Christian churches in regard to their role during WWII in Fascist Italy, Yugoslavia, and Nazi Germany has so conditioned their believers that most of them believe that Christianity played an honorable role at best, and only a silent role at worst. Yet there seems little recognition that the very framework of the beliefs owned by the Fascists and Nazis came from their Christian upbringing from church, school, and Christian traditions. The entire anti-Jewish and racial sentiments came not from some new philosophy or unique ideology, but rather from centuries of Christian preaching against the Jews, gypsies, ...
READ MORE
Israel: The Nuclear Hegemon That Poses a Potential Threat to Europe
It is calculated that in addition to the secret arsenal of up to 400 nuclear warheads, according to American Scientists, the Israeli state also reportedly possesses chemical and/or biological WMD, making it a dangerous nuclear hegemon that poses a potential threat not only to the Middle East but also to Europe.  Neither France nor Britain nor Germany can equal Israeli state nuclear weaponisation on both land and sea. This calculation is based on the fact that the state of Israel is the only WMD state to refuse to be a party to either the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) or the Biological ...
READ MORE
The Middle East on the Waves of Chaos
For some time the criminal activities of the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (ISIS) seemed to have faded into the shadows. It seemed that this organization in the near future will be broken tie with due to the “heroic” American bombing. However, the ISIS like a fabulous hydra, who immediately has a new head grown in place of a severed one, revived and made further impressive gains. The capture of ancient Palmyra in Syria and the important city Ramadi, the main city of the Sunni province Anbar, located by the way just 100 kilometres far from Baghdad, made the world’s media and ...
READ MORE
A Tale of Two Nations: Russia vs USA Economic Prospects
Taking the extraordinary USA and EU economic sanctions against Russia and low oil prices since 2014 into account, Russia’s economic outlook looks excellent going forward while that of Trump’s America looks bleak, to put it mildly. Paraphrasing the memorable 1992 Presidential candidates debate between a then-young William Jefferson Clinton and George H.W. Bush, “It’s the debt, stupid.” In the past few years too many US economists and analysts such as Moody’s Credit Rating have tried to dismiss the economy of the Russian Federation as a near-bankrupt Soviet-era oil and gas-dependent economy, devastated by the 2014 collapse in oil price. This is ...
READ MORE
The U.S. is not a Democracy, It Never was
One of the most steadfast beliefs regarding the United States is that it is a democracy. Whenever this conviction waivers slightly, it is almost always to point out detrimental exceptions to core American values or foundational principles. For instance, aspiring critics frequently bemoan a “loss of democracy” due to the election of clownish autocrats, draconian measures on the part of the state, the revelation of extraordinary malfeasance or corruption, deadly foreign interventions, or other such activities that are considered undemocratic exceptions. The same is true for those whose critical framework consists in always juxtaposing the actions of the U.S. government ...
READ MORE
Making Israel Greater Again
"You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women. I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything." – Donald Trump Donald Trump is an American capitalist. He is a real estate mogul who owns buildings, casinos and golf courses. He has bought a football team, founded a modeling agency and established a university. Trump’s precise net worth is unknown, yet is estimated in the billions. Donald Trump is a celebrity. He appeared in ...
READ MORE
A Book Review: “The Biggest Prison on Earth – A History of the Occupied Territories”
The history of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is continued with Ilan Pappe’s recent work, The Biggest Prison on Earth. For those who have read Pappe’s earlier histories, it is clear the original Zionists recognized the existence of the Palestinian population and the resistance most likely to rise from it. Also recognized are the actions taken throughout the occupation and settlement that the Jewish settlers were intent on marginalizing, displacing, and cleansing as much of Palestine as they could of its residents. The revelation in this continuation of the history is the high degree to which these policies were officially planned ...
READ MORE
The Tragic Declaration: Colonial Legacies, Balfour and Israel
So much after the fact; so much in terms of opportunism gone to seed and destruction. But planned historical calamities tend to be rare. There are only absurd moments, dastardly opportunities, and tragic convergences. History is less the outcome of wise deliberation than folly dressed up as reason, occasionally tinged by a touch of malice.On November 2, 1917, the British government published the Balfour Declaration (one of “sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations”) by means of a letter written by Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild. It suggested forthcoming British assistance for the establishment of a Jewish ...
READ MORE
The Pope Оpenly Еmbraced Kosovo Secession in 1993
I. Comment by Jared Israel The two media reports from 1993, posted below, refer to Ibrahim Rugova as “President of the Republic of Kosovo,” when in fact: a) no such republic existed; b) Kosovo was a province of the Republic of Serbia and c) Rugova was not any kind of government official, let alone a president. Rather, he was the leader of a faction, supported and sponsored by outside powers, which faction had already played a key role in launching the attack on Yugoslavia, and which was now boycotting all official Kosovo institutions as part of a strategy of creating a ...
READ MORE
George H. W. Bush: The Man Who Embodied What Putin’s Accused of Being
The passing of former President George H. W. Bush over the weekend prompted a lot of reflection about the influence that he had on America’s role in the immediate post-Cold War era. Notorious for literally proclaiming the “New World Order”, Bush Sr. also has the ignoble distinction of being one of the US’ few one-term presidents, dramatically losing then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. More interestingly for most foreign observers, however, is that Bush Sr. literally embodied much of what Russian President Vladimir Putin is accused of being, even if the Western Mainstream Media will never recognize this ...
READ MORE
Facts of the Korean War: UN Security Council, Instrument of US led Wars, Blatantly Biased Against North Korea
Recapitulation of the Facts of the Korean WarNovember 7, 1950:  “Just when there was a lull in the fighting and it looked as if peace were possible, MacArthur staged a gigantic and murderous raid directly across from the Chinese frontier, destroying most of a city in an area where bombings had been forbidden to prevent border violations.” “There were reports,” The New York Times said October 15, that General MacArthur had ordered the first bombings of North Korean cities without authorization from Washington.” “General Stratemeyer, commander of the Far East Air Forces described the attack:  ‘when fighter planes swept the ...
READ MORE
Terrorist al-Nusra Front is blamed for massacre and abduction of Syrian civilians.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford “For Russia, the war in Afghanistan is a domestic issue, with a direct impact on the drug trade and terrorist attacks on Russian cities”. If the United States were not a superpower, it would be the joke of the planet, a nation whose government tells the most outrageous and ridiculous lies -- and may actually believe them -- and whose corporate media report those lies as gospel truth. The latest whopper comes from the mouth of James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the U.S. Secretary of Defense, who claims the Russians are providing weapons ...
READ MORE
The Obama Legacy: Genocide, Destruction, Chaos, Color Revolutions and Subservience to World Zionism
As of this moment, from the gentrified hipster hellholes in Brooklyn to the pedophile-infested devil-den of Hollywood to Satan-occupied Washington DC, liberals nationwide are wailing, howling, shrieking and blubbering over Barack Obama getting out of the White House. Their tears are gushing like rushing rivers breaking through weak dams in pusillanimous sadness, their little Judaized hearts are breaking into pieces of Gefilte fish because an end has come to the presidency of this man they repetitiously and affectionately refer to as “American’s First ‘Black’ President” who brought “hope and change” not only to the USA but the world at large. ...
READ MORE
Behind the Balfour Declaration
Acknowledgements To Benjamin H. Freedman, who committed himself to finding and telling the facts about Zionism and Communism. and encouraged others to do the same. The son of one of the founders of the American Jewish Committee, which for many years was anti-Zionist, Ben Freedman founded the League for Peace with Justice in Palestine in 1946. He gave me copies of materials on the Balfour Declaration which I might never have found on my own and encouraged my own research. (He died in April 1984.) The Institute for Historical Review is providing means for the better understanding of the events of our ...
READ MORE
Mother Teresa India Charity ‘Sold Babies’
A woman working at Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand has been arrested for allegedly selling a 14-day-old baby. Two other women employees from the centre have been detained and are being questioned about other possible cases. Police took action after the state’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC) registered a complaint. The charity has not responded to BBC requests for comment. “We have found out that some other babies have also been illegally sold from the centre,” a police official told BBC Hindi’s Niraj Sinha. “We have obtained the names of the mothers of these babies and are further ...
READ MORE
The US Military Project for the World
US has Killed More than 20 Million People in 37 “Victim Nations” since World War II
The Great Powers and Global Politics
‘Barbarism by an Educated and Cultured People’ — Dawayima Massacre was Worse than Deir Yassin
How Kosovo’s Albanians Destroyed ex-Yugoslavia
Christianity in Europe During the WWII
Israel: The Nuclear Hegemon That Poses a Potential Threat to Europe
The Middle East on the Waves of Chaos
A Tale of Two Nations: Russia vs USA Economic Prospects
The U.S. is not a Democracy, It Never was
Making Israel Greater Again
A Book Review: “The Biggest Prison on Earth – A History of the Occupied Territories”
The Tragic Declaration: Colonial Legacies, Balfour and Israel
The Pope Оpenly Еmbraced Kosovo Secession in 1993
George H. W. Bush: The Man Who Embodied What Putin’s Accused of Being
Facts of the Korean War: UN Security Council, Instrument of US led Wars, Blatantly Biased Against North Korea
The U.S., Not Russia, Arms Jihadists Worldwide
The Obama Legacy: Genocide, Destruction, Chaos, Color Revolutions and Subservience to World Zionism
Behind the Balfour Declaration
Mother Teresa India Charity ‘Sold Babies’
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu