“Popertunist:” The Triangulations of Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Photo by Catholic Church England & Whales (Flickr)

So Pope Francis commissioned a global survey to learn of the attitudes of lay Catholics on social issues? He wants the shepherds to be more in touch with their “flock?” Atheists can also go to heaven? Is the Catholic Church just months away from dropping its inhumane objections to contraception, abortion and homosexuality? Is this the greatest Pope ever, or what?! Rush Limbaugh just called him a “Marxist,” so there must be something good about him! Let's make him 'Man of the Year,' why don't we?!

Well. no. It is a strategy called “Triangulation,” a special kind of political opportunism at which Jorge Mario Bergoglio and his confederates are evidently experts. So was Dick Morris, the Republican strategist who oversaw the rise of Bill Clinton. As Morris made Clinton's presidency, so will Bergoglio the “Popertunist” craft the Francis papacy.

A Coup in the Vatican?

Only future Vatican historians can confirm or reject what impressed me as a perfect setting for a palace coup – the “retirement” of Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict. If one thinks about it, it would be a “textbook” case, wouldn't it? He was the most controversial and despised pope in recent history. He had none of the charisma of his predecessor to help him cloak his fanaticism. He is widely condemned for shielding Catholic clergymen accused of raping children. By the end, Ratzinger was a reason enough by himself for people leaving the Catholic Church worldwide. Amidst growing reports of the shrinkage of the Catholic Church in every corner of the world save, perhaps Africa, it may very well have been “advised” of Ratzinger to quit before it was too late for everyone.

A little of British and American political history will come handy to elucidate my observation. After three successive election trouncings all throughout the 1980s, the very-left American Democratic and British Labour parties nominated “centrists” Bill Clinton (1992) and Tony Blair (1994). Young and charismatic, they were also a bit heretical. Blair refused to undo a lot of the right-wing policies of his Conservative predecessors, Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and embraced free-market policies while pushing the ailing trade unions out of the limelight. Clinton championed the death penalty, supported NAFTA, welfare reform and official discrimination against gay Americans. There was more, but the outcome of both transformations were major national election triumphs. This method, termed “Triangulation” and described by the late Christopher Hitchens in particular relation to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, is in fact a common political strategy. Adopt as much as possible of your opponent's agenda to snare middle-ground voters and some disenchanted opponents as well; your base will vote for you anyway. Principles are sacrificed, to ensure survival and power, by victory. Very effective, which is why the Vatican is doing it.

The “Poverty” Pope, eh?

Bergoglio was known to be a bit of a rebel, and his being from outside Europe was very important in revamping the image of a grumpy, old European Catholic establishment. One of his first messages is a warning to the rich of the industrialized world in sympathy with the masses struggling with the consequences of the outrageous and scandalous financial crisis. The “Poverty” Pope then abandoned the throne of gold. More recently, he disciplined a German bishop who was livin' it large in a designer mansion. (Surely the papal admonishment went “Bruder, why didn't you ask for an appointment in the Vatican? Its a city of palaces!”)

Some folk need reminding that Imam Ruhollah Khomeini sat on the floor – and reportedly subsisted for long periods on a diet of garlic and yogurt. Others do not need reminding of how Khomeini sent millions to their deaths in disastrous counter-invasions of Iraq, and to jail for torture and execution for either having supported the Shah or criticized him. Saint Teresa of Calcutta (now Kolkata) is supposed to have lived a life of simplicity and poverty – the exceptions being the frequent use of private jets loaned by tyrants and frauds. She preached that abortion is the gravest danger to world peace – in her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Let us just say that “simplicity” does not always bode well.

The moment was ripe for Bergoglio to criticize the rich and the governments of Europe and America. “Austerity” economics is seriously unpopular, and it gave the new man an opportunity to counterattack. It is easy enough for someone in his position looking to regain favor for his organization amongst the angry masses, to side with them on issues where there will be no skin off his nose. How can it ever harm to have say “I am your side” and “I feel your pain” to the struggling and the disillusioned. If faced with a hypothetical revolution in Europe, the revolutionaries will have to contend that Bergoglio is maybe on their side, and the elites will rush for his protection. The Vatican hedged its bets through many a crisis, including with Mussolini and Hitler – and lived to preach another day.

He is on nobody's side but his own, is he? The pope will continue to run a multi-billion dollar empire based on the donations from the poor and rich alike, without paying taxes. What is the pope's right to preach to those classes of businessmen who worked for generations to forge strong business models for their empires, and created millions of jobs while building their own wealth? The Holy Father who will not fire Cardinal Bernard Law for heinous crimes, what does he know about what it takes to hold a job? The politicians forcing austerity measures on the angry public answer at the poll booth – no Vatican official ever will “answer” to the people. The pope does not “work” for a living, does not “create jobs” and peddles several millenia worth of lies to keep even his wooden throne in a golden city of palaces. He collects money from millions in promise of a “greater reward,” which he says becomes payable when you die. He is no Bernie Madoff – Madoff was caught.

Meet Erin Saiz Hanna, Executive Director of the Womens' Ordination Conference, who identifies how Bergoglio employs “selective use of evidence” to justify his, say, opposition to the ordination of female priests:

“Pope Francis' cop-out rationale illustrates a very selective theology: to blame a previous pope for his stance on women priests, and then in the very same interview contradict his predecessors by acknowledging an open understanding for gay priests.. He could have quoted the Vatican's own the [sic] Pontifical Biblical Commission that concluded in 1976 that there is no valid scriptural or theological reason for denying ordination to women.”

In response to the charge of “Marxism” by Rush Limbaugh, Bergoglio cleverly responded: “Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended .. there is nothing in the exhortation that cannot be found in the social doctrine of the church.” Why is this “clever?” Expropriating the rhetoric of “social justice” to enhance one's “holier than thou” image, while rejecting the source and the responsibility that comes for its past. This is “Triangulation 101.” Then that great moment when it seemed he was saying that even atheists could go to Catholic heaven if they were people who did good. It was not for him to judge people, or so he implied. A lot of people saw that headline, and fewer people saw it being rescinded a day after to keep the message true to the teachings of the Church. Conservatives were mollified that this pope was not actually condoning heresy, and liberals who bothered to notice the recanting considered that this Pope is a good guy and worth listening to, even if the lesser minions thwart his more noble intentions.

Mission Accomplished.

An Opportunity To Be Missed

Of course, “triangulation” was not really a bad thing when it came to the consequences for the people of the countries in question. Both Britain and America have benefited from the politics of compromise. It wasn't just a “left-wing” thing, either. In 2003, President George W. Bush oversaw the expansion of Medicare to provide prescription drug coverage – an important reform, yet heresy to many conservatives. The Vatican has also precedents in popes who adjusted the institution to political realities – after the startling realization that Jews were not guilty of “deicide” after all, the “moral authority” of the Vatican was rebuilt by actively partaking in the war against Communism in Europe.

By nature, the Vatican will be always be among the very last to accept change. If it decides to ordain women, what is great about that? The Bible's teachings, which will never be amended, consistently belittle and condemn women. Bergoglio is the same man who has believed for through his adult life that women have no place in politics. Now he is simply recruiting them for the work of spreading archaic teachings based on lies and myths. Perhaps a woman bishop can then come onto a talk show to explain why Cardinal Law has not been handed over to the police of America. If it changes its views on condoms and contraception, it will have come too late for several million victims of sexually transmitted diseases. Defenders of the Church can always say “better late than never” and act like it has all been worth it.

No, it has not and will not. The realists amongst us have held the Church to account from the days when it so insidiously proclaimed that unbaptized children are souls lost in “limbo” and sent millions to die to “uphold the faith,” and then so easily “apologized” for doing both and pretended it did not matter. Remember, the Vatican claims infallibility for the Pope and its official teachings – they are not supposed to be wrong even once. Amongst the many “reforms,” Bergoglio has also officially criticized the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious for allegedly working for “too much on ending social and economic injustice” and not enough on ending abortion, reaffirming the accusations leveled by his predecessor. A refusal to cooperate with international authorities investigating sex scandals is coupled by the creation of an internal Vatican investigation (designed to “forgive”). A statement is also issued demanding that local police be approached for information and progress on rape cases, even as an American bishop will live his days out in asylum in Rome. In September, 2013 Australian priest Greg Reynolds was excommunicated for supporting the ordination of women and same-sex marriage.

With Ratzinger, the rational world had a true representative of the perverted dogma that defines Catholic Christianity, and his ceremonial departure to make way for a PR-savvy fanatic is nothing short of a swerve to throw the world off its guard. All this is in aid of missing the grand opportunity to hold the Catholic Church finally accountable for its legacy of injustice, fraud and emotional torture that we thought we had with Ratzinger. These “opportunities” are designed to be missed, as the “mainstream” (media, politicians, masses, whoever) is having difficulty imagining a world without the “constancy” of having a church in the Vatican. This “Enron” will not be allowed to go out of business, and nobody will object to this eternal “bailout” of a Ponzi church. That was the only way we could have avoided losing money to Madoff – if we had never asked for it.

What Should The World Have Demanded?

If he was at all genuine and worthy of “respect,” Bergoglio would have:

  1. Ordered a “Truth and Reconciliation” Commission that would compel Catholic clergymen worldwide to fully cooperate with law enforcement agencies to investigate the cases of child rape and financial fraud. Men like Bernard Law and Joseph Ratzinger would be surrendered to the appropriate authorities, all requested information would be shared and “diplomatic immunity” of all Vatican officials waived.
  2. Ordered that details of all prior legal settlements be shared – for a religion supposedly about “conscience,” the world needs to know what the Catholic Church admits to.
  3. Ended the practice of official retribution, such as withholding “communion” for Catholics who make up their own mind about social issues.
  4. Citing the superiority of medical science (not opinion surveys of the faithful), which popes themselves rely upon to stay alive, withdrawn the teachings that are actively impeding the fight against AIDS and other diseases, and for the health of women. You do not have to promote contraception and abortion; just make amply clear that there will be no allegation of “sin” nor “forgiveness” necessary if you make your own decision about your life and health.
  5. Ordered that taxes be paid to every nation to help their masses “fight poverty” by funding government social services.
  6. Put an end to the teachings of compulsory celibacy and the sinfulness of homosexuality and thus relieve future generations from the ever-present danger of rape by clergymen.
  7. Forbade any act of discrimination against women and gay Catholics, and created a “Catholic Bill of Rights” that lay Catholics can use to take action against Church authorities.

This list will only grow, and justifiably so, but something like this could have been an honorable beginning. Proactive policy measures are better than apologies and claiming forgiveness. I admit I do not know what he can do with the “Vatican Bank” - ideally, it should be dissolved, for how could the “golden cow” idol that is money be any good for priests to handle? He could put it under management of its shareholders under jurisdiction of a law of a democratic government, like Italy. However, all that has instead transpired, is the creation of illusions.

Redemption Will Be Kept Coming.

Gay Catholics – do not worry! It may take another century, but surely a Pope Francis v 3.0 will come who will do a global survey and finally decide that yes, it seems homosexuality may not be a “sin” after all. There may be true love and human affection involved there somewhere. It is likely that a Francis v 2.0 will have made contraception and condoms “permissible” by 2050, when Rome finally realizes there will not be enough people left alive in Africa to rope into their cult, given the severity of the AIDS epidemic. One or the other will make a Clintonesque acknowledgment of guilt and apologize for the rape of children after all the victims and criminals are dead and there is no one left to prosecute. And “We” will forgive, like it was done for limbo.

In both those instances, the world will hail the “compassion” of the Popes Francis 2.0 and 3.0, forget the Benedicts and Bernard Laws that immediately preceded them and carry on, “comforted” with the continued presence of the one, “unfailing” grand Ponzi scheme. The final twist of “Triangulation” is to drop the affair in your lap. When Bill Clinton reneged on his promise not to make “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” into policy, he did so knowing most gay Americans did not have the option of voting Republican, and Clinton knew it. On the other hand, lay Catholics do have a chance to hold Bergoglio accountable in a way that did not exist in American politics. They can leave the church, and realize that all churches are “Ponzi” schemes and that they do not need permission or “blessing” from anyone to live their lives as free people.

But one has a “need” for “eternal life.” This Ponzi has always told investors the returns become payable only on death.

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