Canonizing a Charlatan Was Just the Start of the Pope’s Brazilian Mission

Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by Brazilian faithful in GuaratinguetáA reader tells me that he doesn’t understand "this persecution of yours of Catholic ideas." This is a very roguish way to disqualify what I write. I do not persecute Catholic ideas. I offer criticism to Catholic ideas, that’s what I do. The same way that I have provided criticism of Jews, Muslims and Marxists. All of these gentlemen stand for totalitarian thinking and all of them wish to subject individuals and nations to their "truths".

I had a Catholic education in my youth and I know very well what I’m talking about when I speak on religious oppression. Fortunately I freed myself very early from the Church’s shackles. When I was about 16 or 17 I shook off faith from my loin like a dog shakes water from its back. From this experience I kept the repudiation of all and every attempt of mind control through faith.

If Benedict XVI had come on a pastoral visit, to check the health of his herd, comfort his sheep and bring them spiritual cure, I would not feel motivated to write a single line about his trip. But what we are seeing is something very different. The man who visited us is an arrogant European, who feels at ease to threaten to excommunicate congressmen in case they vote in favor of measures that go against the Church’s teachings.

Chief of state – from a make-believe state of course – His Holiness gets involved in matters of other states with the nonchalance of a despot. He seems to see in the Legislative a kind of bordello you can just threaten to make them obey the Vatican imperial will. It’s true that it is a bordello but for other reasons than those the pope supposes.

If it weren’t enough this spurious pressure over the Legislative, Ratzinger wants to impose upon the Brazilian government a concordat as much or more obscene than the 1929 Lateran Treaty by which Italy recognized the Holy See’s sovereignty over the Vatican territory. Few people remember today that the Vatican is a grant from Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Had Mussolini won the war, this might be part of the Church’s hagiography. He lost? Forgotten be.

Ratzinger didn’t come to Brazil merely to announce the canonization of a charlatan, the friar of the miraculous little paper pills. This always is useful to increase the customer basis. Saints are an attempt to lighten the Church’s rigid monotheism and to multiply by the thousands the Christian subgods, to satisfy the masses’ ancestral pagan instinct. But His Holiness’s ambitions don’t stop there.

The Holy See wants Brazil to make religion classes mandatory in the public elementary schools. It also wishes to create constitutional mechanisms that would make it hard to expand the cases where abortion is legal. The Church would also like to find ways to avoid lawsuits especially labor ones. There are many priests suing their parishes for labor matters and the Vatican, eternally concerned about the eternal, abhors these material chicken feeds.

These negotiations, confirmed by cardinal Tarcísio Bertone, the second highest man in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, were being conducted secretly. If we heard about them it was thanks to the press. With Europe’s progressive rebuff to the Vatican theocracy, Ratzinger has been retreating strategically to the Third World, where the Church still finds room to survive, thanks to poverty and ignorance of the Latin-American continent population. Ignorance and poverty constitute excellent manure for any religion.

For that, however, you need to start your work in early childhood.  Imagine if the Kremlin had a proposal to make mandatory the teaching of Marxism in the country’s public school. Everyone, especially the Catholics would be screaming against it. It’s true, however, that the Marxist truths are already kind of mandatory in Brazilian public schools.

But at least no apparatchik had the nerve to propose a concordat. Further more, the Vatican wants privileged forum. It feels entitled to stick it to those who work for the Church without giving the victim the right to complain. Odd philosophy of a religion that claims to be the defender of the poor.

Worse than everything is Ratzinger’s contempt for the national intelligence. From his statements we can deduce that he considers us all illiterate. On the liberation theology, the pope says: "Now it is evident that these easy Millenarianism, which promise revolutions and also a fast track to get a just life, were also wrong". His Holiness seems to believe that no journalist knows what Millenarianism is. And he might be right. But Brazil is not just journalists.

Chiliasm – another word for Millenarianism – before being a Hitlerist project – see the Thousand-Year Reich – is a biblical idea. It is in St John’s Apocalypse. With Christ’s second coming, the Dragon will be captured and chained in Armageddon’s battle. That’s when Chialism, a messianic kingdom of a thousand years of peace and justice, will start. Passed these one thousand years, Satan will be released and again defeated. Christ will have a second resurrection and the old world will be extinct, and in its place there will be a new Sky and a new Land.

Far from me defending Liberation Theology. But these Marxist theologians are men who grew tired of waiting for the one thousand years who wish the new Sky and the new Land tomorrow, preferably tomorrow before dawn. Ratzinger, in defining Liberation Theology as an easy Millerianism,  shows that he hasn’t understood well neither the Bible (something I suspected for some time) nor the Liberation Theology. And he trusts Brazil’s national inculture to sell his fish.

As if weren’t enough his biblical inculture, Benedict XVI, in his encounter with Catholic youngsters in Pacaembu’s stadium, in São Paulo, exhorted them to not waste their youth and to follow the Church’s commandments, especially the one about marriage. He asked them to keep their chastity within and outside marriage.

"Respect it, venerate it. At the same time, God calls you to also respect yourselves during courtship and when engaged, because married life, which, by divine disposition, is reserved to married couples will only be a source of happiness and peace when you learn how to make of chastity, within and outside marriage, a bastion of future expectations".

Like John the Baptist, he is preaching in the desert. The contemporary youth can even say they are Catholic, thanks to their herd spirit. But they won’t renounce to sex. In Brazil there are millions of pregnant teenagers. As nobody gets pregnant on its own, these millions of young people with active sexual life should be multiplied by two. This without mentioning those who take precautions and whose number should be much bigger.

Deep down, the pope is stating that if a man or a woman opt for celibacy, or if they don’t find a mate, both are condemned to deprive themselves from sex.  He still talks about chastity within marriage. It would be better to explain what he means by that. Is His Holiness saying like the Saint Inquisition theologians, that some sexual practices are forbidden between two married people?

From the available evidence, the pope got excited with George Bush’s puritan policy  and wants to spread it to the four corners of the world. Bush wants to turn the United States in a nation of masturbators. Ratzinger is even more ambitious, he wants to turn this Earth into a planet of masturbators. With a difference in favor of Bush. While the American president preaches chastity to his own countrymen Ratzinger comes to preach it in a foreign nation.

I have nothing against if the Vatican’s misogynist old fogies insist on cultivating chastity. That they come to condemn pleasure in a country in the tropics is a revolting insolence.

Janer Cristaldo – he holds a Ph.D. from University of Paris, Sorbonne – is an author, translator, lawyer, philosopher and journalist and lives in São Paulo. His e-mail address is

Translated from the Portuguese by Arlindo Silva.


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