Chavez' Religion

Chris Brady cdbrady at
Tue Jan 7 09:41:36 MST 2003

The reactionary history of the right hierarchy in the RC Church in
Ireland was also quite apparent during the Spanish Civil War. Father
Coughlin in the United States, and his Silvershirts of that time, were
proud fascists and Franco fanatics. They made much of the
anarchists' violence against the Church in Valencia, but natutrally
overlooked how the hierarchy buttressed the old order of violent
and oppression.  On the other hand, the rank and file of nuns, brothers
and ordinary priests contained a fair share of Loyalist Republicans.
(There's a fine portrait of a Basque priest giving absolution to a
Republican soldier before he goes off to battle Mussolini's minions near
Madrid.) And they suffered for it, too.
Nuns who refused to buckle under and insisted on relating what their
eyes had seen --fascists bombs exploding among civilians, summary
executions, etc., were simply imprisoned and held incommunicado.

We see the same pattern of reaction in the RC hierarchy in Latin
America.  Chile is an excellent example.  The Church excoriated Allende
from its pulpits and press, and gave Pinochet a celebratory mass when he
took over in his murderous coup.  And Father Harbun still spews across
the airwaves from the radio station in the Universidad Catolica in
Santiago de Chile.  The princelings of the Church chastised Chavez,
too.  Plus ca change, mes amis.

You know I am not a "believer", but I do recognize we have brothers
and sisters in the struggle around the world who do "good works" for the

I remember reading several years ago, in connection with Rios Monte in
Guatemala, that the incursion of Protestant evangelicals into Latin
America was a strategy countenanced by CIA types as a counter against
Liberation tendencies in the RC rank-and-file ("base communities",
etc.). And the Mormon Church (LDS) is the fastest growing corporate
religious entity in South America.  We know their associations with the
right.  Strangely enough, though, I met a young man who told me how he
had been to El Salvador as a missionary for the Mormons. The strange
part was that he became a highly charged opponent of the social order
there, and expressed great and sincere anger at the US government for
supporting it.  Again what we see is a disconnect between some in the
masses of these mass religious organizations, and their bureaucratic
elites. In our politics we must find ways to exploit this dissonance and
parlay its energy into our movement for liberation. And above all, not
turn them back into the fold.

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