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.
Just three years after a citizens’ referendum returned Crimea to Russia, from which it had been separated for sixty years, the people of Catalonia, Spain’s largest province, will vote to leave that country.And just as the international community has decreed that the Crimean referendum was a fake, Spain’s Prime Minister felt compelled to declare that the vote could’t possibly take place, that it would be illegal, that independence, in his words, could only be ‘a pipe dream’ for the country’s richest province.Clearly, national governments don’t like losing land and people, however when it suits the international community, some communities are ...
Here are before-and-after pictures, at https://twitter.com/MAL0mt/status/701077438525263873/photo/1, of what the U.S. government has achieved, in the Middle East:
What’s especially interesting there, is that in all of these missions, except for Iraq, the U.S. was doing it with the key participation of the Saud family, the royals who own Saudi Arabia, and who are the world’s largest buyers of American weaponry. Since Barack Obama came into the White House, the operations — Libya, Yemen, and Syria — have been, to a large extent, joint operations with the Sauds. ‘We’ are now working more closely with ‘our’ ‘friends’, even than ‘we’ were under George W. Bush.
As President Obama instructed his military, ...
Vladimir Putin has harmed no American. Russia has not stood in the way of any American’s dream. As for the billionaires though, those American and British money bags, the Russians are posing an insurmountable hurdle for their investments. And we all know nothing can stand in the way of their progress. Unfortunately for the human race, mediocrity cannot rule either. Here is a prophesy as real as any newsreel you will view today, the “end all” conclusion for American “exceptionalism”.Do you know where Crimea is? Seriously now, a gaff by presidential hopeful Gary Johnson the other day proved once and ...
It's no secret that President Trump believes NATO is an anachronism. It's also no secret that French President Emmanuel Macron wants a Grand Army of the EU and a single EU Finance Minister to further integration of the EU into the United States of Europe.
He and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have been championing these two things since the day after Macron took office. They are both pushing hard for the EU to conduct independent foreign policy, framing Trump's belligerence as the catalyst for its need now.
So, I’m not surprised in the wake of Merkel’s garden summit with Russian President Vladimir ...
Israel has played an increasingly provocative role in the destructive conflict unfolding within and along Syria’s borders since 2011. To many observers, it appears Israeli policy borders between opportunistic and unilateral aggression. In reality, Israel’s role in the Syrian conflict fits a much larger and long-term pattern with Anglo-American plans not only for Syria but for the entire region.
A more recent row between Israel and Syria was the reported incursion of Israeli warplanes into Syrian airspace, including attacks near the eastern Syrian city of Palmyra. Palmyra hosts an ongoing battle between Syrian forces and the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS) terrorist ...
GR Editor’s Note: This incisive article was written on April 30, 2003, by historian and political scientist Jacques Pauwels. A timely question: Why Does Hillary Want War… ? And why do people support her?
* * *
Wars are a terrible waste of lives and resources, and for that reason most people are in principle opposed to wars. The American President, on the other hand, seems to love war. Why? Many commentators have sought the answer in psychological factors. Some opined that George W. Bush considered it his duty to finish the job started, but for some obscure reason ...
During the early 1960s, apartheid South African diplomats were increasingly concerned their country’s plummeting reputation would affect relations with America. In one notorious incident, of March 1960, South African police shot dead 69 black protesters in Sharpeville, a township about 40 miles from Johannesburg.
Such atrocities sparked protests against the racist regime on the streets of England, America’s great ally, which surely did not go unnoticed in Washington. Aware of the changing climate, South Africa’s dignitaries pleaded with their American counterparts for continued assistance. They need not have worried that the earth’s dominant power would desert them.
As long as the United ...
Unless Syria will simply hand its most heavily pro-jihadist province, Idlib, to adjoining Turkey, which claims to have 30,000 troops there and is planning to add 20,000 more, World War III will probably happen soon, and here is why:
Russia’s troops are in Syria at the invitation of Syria’s Government and they have provided crucial assistance to restore the Government’s control over areas that the jihadists (sometimes called “Radical Islamic Terrorists” or otherwise) had seized. Consequently, unlike the Turks and the Americans, who are invaders of Syria, Russia is instead a defender of Syria, and is committed to doing there only ...
Last week’s announcement of a record-breaking US aid package for Israel underscores how dangerously foolish and out-of-touch is our interventionist foreign policy. Over the next ten years, the US taxpayer will be forced to give Israel some $38 billion dollars in military aid. It is money we cannot afford going to a country that needs no assistance to maintain its status as the most powerful military in the Middle East.All US foreign aid is immoral and counterproductive. As I have often said, it is money taken from poor people in the US and sent to rich people overseas. That is ...
I am an Israeli-American. I was raised in a middle-class academic ‘Liberal Zionist’ household (aligned with the Israeli Labor Party and Meretz), which is an inherent contradiction. Liberal Zionism maintains a belief in universal human rights yet it supports a Zionist ideology that endorses and promotes Israel as a Jewish state – one that has been systematically carrying out a project of apartheid and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people.
Since I can remember, my birth town of Jerusalem has been highly segregated. Growing up, I never interacted with Palestinians other than Abed the soft-spoken gardener from Hebron (aka El ...
After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers. No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s ...
History is in many ways a myth we create for ourselves. History is constantly falsified to justify wars and territorial claims. Albanian apologists have falsified the role Albania played in the Holocaust to justify an illegal US/NATO war against Serbia and to allow for the creation of a Greater Albania that would include the Serbian province of Kosovo-Metohija.The Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Albania are estimated at 591 from 1941 to 1944, when a Greater Albania was sponsored by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. There were 33 known families of Albanian Jews living in pre-war Albania. The largest Jewish ...
“The United States has been sending a message that the settlements must stop privately and publicly for nearly five decades.”
Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN
Christians following the Gregorian calendar are getting busy to celebrate Christmas, but the business of diplomacy continued in the United Nations. In the Security Council, anticipation about a particular resolution was greater than usual.
On Friday, interest was piqued by what the Obama administration’s representative, Samantha Power, would do about a particular resolution that had riled Israeli politicians, US president-elect Donald Trump, and various members of the US Congress.
Resolution 2334, as worded, demanded that Israel “immediately ...
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its successful effort to establish a global treaty that bans nuclear weapons. Peace, disarmament, and civil society groups around the world celebrated the announcement and congratulated ICAN for its landmark treaty accomplishment.In a statement, ICAN called the prize “a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face ...
Despite having the biggest military budget in the world, five times larger than the next six countries, the largest number of military bases – over 180 – in the world and the most expensive military industrial complex, the US has failed to win a single war in the 21st century.
In this paper we will enumerate the wars and proceed to analyze why, despite the powerful material basis for wars, it has led to failures.
The Lost Wars
The US has been engaged in multiple wars and coups since the beginning of the 21st century. These include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Venezuela and ...
Albin Kurti is on the verge of becoming the next Prime Minister of Kosovo after he and opposition chairman Isa Mustafa confirmed last week that the two rival political parties had made progress to create a coalition government. Mustafa said that Kurti can rightfully become the next Prime Minister if he can convince the three remaining parliamentarians, representing the Bosniak, Turkish and Roma minorities to enter a coalition – and it appears they will.What does the accession of Albin Kurti mean for the future of Kosovo?Kurti does not recognize the flag and anthem of Kosovo, as well as the Kosovar ...
An earlier abridged version of this post was published by Middle East Eye under a different title on June 5, 2016. The focus is upon the misuse of anti-Semitism by those defending Israel to deflect a rising tide of civil society activism and public criticism of Israeli policies and practices.
Zionism as Racism? Zionism and the State of Israel
8 Jun 2016 – More than 40 years ago the UN General Assembly adopted controversial resolution 3379 by a vote of 72-35 (with 32 abstentions), determining “that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” This resolution was bitterly opposed by Israel and its ...
After 267 days, the end of the battle of Mosul was announced on July 10th. “Liberation” is a misleading notion, because the hostilities have not stopped, the human suffering has not stopped.There are still victims in the city every day on both sides.Many refugees have no home to go back to and are suffering from severe mental health problems, especially the children.No reason to celebrateWere inter alia destroyed: 9 of the 10 major hospitals. 76 of the 98 medical centres. 6 big bridges across the Tigris. three-quarters of Mosul’s roads, 400 educational institutions, including schools, universities and education centres. 11,000 ...
The overthrow of the democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014 was one of the most important geostrategic occurrences during the past century, because it led to the breakaway from Ukraine of the two regions — Crimea and Donbass — that had been the most opposed to the overthrow, and that had voted over 75% for the President who had been overthrown. And those two breakaways from Ukraine were then presented in the U.S.-allied “The West” as having resulted from ‘Russian aggression’, which then became punished, first by economic sanctions against Russia, and then by massive NATO military buildups ...
NATO has expanded dramatically after the collapse of its primary rivals, the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, Canadian Professor Michael Jabara Carley notes, posing the question whether NATO was founded as a defensive or an offensive alliance.The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance aimed against the Soviet Union, was established on April 4, 1949; and only seven years after the formation of NATO the Warsaw Treaty Organization was established bringing together eight nations (versus 15 NATO member-states).So, who was the real “aggressor”? What alliance was an offensive one?“There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was ...
Crimea, Kosovo, Catalonia, Corsica and Kurdistan
America’s Recent Achievements in the Middle East
The Empire of Mediocrity and the End of the World
Paving the Road to the End of NATO
Israel: America’s “Mad Dog” in Syria
Israel is Militarily, Geostrategically and Culturally Tied to the US
Why are We Sending $38 Billion to Rich and Powerful Israel?
Independence on Nakba Day – Accountability and Healing as an Israeli Aggressor
Afghanistan: The War That Shames America
Falsifying History: The Holocaust and Greater Albania
Drama at the UN Security Council: Israel’s Illegal Settlements
Nobel Peace Prize goes to Abolitionists while US Conducts Nuclear War Games
The US: The Century of Lost Wars
Kurti’s Election Means a Stronger Push for “Greater Albania” and Protection for Terrorists in Kosovo
Zionism, Anti-Semitism, BDS, and the United Nations
The Destruction of Mosul: U.S. Crimes against Humanity in the Name of “Counterterrorism”
Kiev Euromaidan: Participants in 2014 Ukrainian Coup Confess
Why didn’t Washington Dissolve NATO after Collapse of USSR?