Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Francis Effect: The Twerking Bishops of Indonesia

I still say that Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, could beat them in any twerk off, though the fat bishop @ .58 would be a formidable opponent.
H/T: Francis the Destroyer Blog

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Is a Biopic of "María Martí" in the Works at 20th Century Fox?

On November 13, 2015 at 5:35pm the José Martí Blog hosted a visit from Twentieth Century Fox (I.P. Address 216.205.224). It landed here through a search on Bing for "josé martí maría mantilla," which directed them to The Myth of José Martí's Natural Daughter.

What could this possibly mean? One thing only comes to mind: someone there is researching a screenplay based on Martí's alleged paternity of María Mantilla.

There is no evidence to support such a conjecture and much evidence to refute it (including Martí's own written denial). But, of course, Hollywood is a distorter, not a purveyor, of historical facts. Perhaps the movie studio has purchased the rights to Francisco Goldman's novel The Divine Husband, or, less likely, the truculent Romero sisters — María Mantilla's grand-daughters  — have found some nonagenarian hack who knew their uncle César and was willing to put forward their suggestion for a "María Martí" biopic. Perhaps they have even prepared their own treatment (which should doom the project from the start).

We hope that whoever visited this blog on Nov. 13 from Twentieth Century Fox got a good splash of cold water and put that project forever to rest.

See also:

An E-Mail from María Mantilla's Grand-Daughters
More Observations on the Romero E-mail

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Book Review: "José Martí y la cuestión indígena" by Jorge Camacho

The greatest reverence that can be shown to any historical figure is to desire to know everything about him. The most faithful biographer is the one who provides the most complete picture of his subject, not the myth-maker or repeater of the accepted pieties who wishes us to know only what he believes will elevate our opinion of his hero. These hagiographic histories can be sincere and well-intended, and those who are satisfied by them would no doubt reject less orthodox treatments as sacrilegious or at least mischievous. So it is that the true historian, who hides nothing and puts the truth before his own interests, is often ostracized by those that hold that the truth must always be subordinate to the greater good (as they perceive it) and that to smash an idol is worse than to worship one.

No figure in Cuban history, and, indeed, few figures in world history, have been more victimized by their self-appointed "champions" than has José Martí. Indeed, it can be argued that it was not until the advent of the late Carlos Ripoll that the many coats of varnish that had been slapped on Martí's portrait were finally stripped away and the original exposed to the light much to its advantage. That work of restoration is an ongoing one, in exile, at least, if not in Cuba, where the opposite process has been underway for 56 years, resulting in a mutilated and falsified depiction of Martí which serves the purposes of the island's ruling elite, whatever those purposes happen to be at any given time: whether Martí as the "Intellectual Author of the Revolution," the somewhat slow disciple of Marx, or the nationalist cum socialist (precursor of Hitler?).

Following in the tradition of Ripoll, but now far ahead of him in the extent to which he is willing to challenge, and, indeed, decimate popular misconceptions about Martí, Jorge Camacho has authored a landmark study about José Martí y la cuestión indígena (Chapel Hill: North Carolina University Press, 2013). This until now marginal but essential subject will change forever not only our interpretation of Martí's famous essay but even Martí's relation to "Nuestra América." Camacho has demonstrated that practically everything that is standard received knowledge on this subject was not only wrong, but wrong in the worst possible way, that is, the truth was the opposite of the popular belief supported by popular scholarship. Martí was not a latter-day Bartolomé de las Casas, the "Protector of the Indians" (in truth, even las Casas is not really the canonical las Casas admired by Martí, since he saved the Indians from extinction at the price of African slavery).

Martí romanticized the indigenous peoples of the Americas and strongly castigated the Spanish for their depredations on them, especially the systematic destruction of their culture and its literary monuments. He said that the Spaniards had torn a leaf from the Book of Nature. Their descendants, however, he saw as a retrograde people that would become extinct if they did not assimilate to the dominant culture and join the concert of civilization. Assimilation was no longer a choice, but an imperative since "America will not move until the Indian moves." Getting the Indian "to move" is no easy thing and a lot harder if you are trying to make him move where he doesn't want to go. At the time that Martí was writing his crónicas for La Nación, Argentina was engaged in the systematic extermination of its indigenous population. The Argentines did not even try assimilation. As Camacho shows, Martí did not reproach his Argentine friends (all of whom were connected to the government) for their conduct, but supported their course of action both publicly and privately, even going so far as supervising the committee that translated into English for international arbitration the documents supporting Argentina's claims to the Indians' lands, which were disputed by Brazil. Martí's enthusiastic support for Indian assimilation in the United States after all the tribes had been subjugated and confined to reservations by the federal government proved in the long run almost as catastrophic as genocide: the Indians were allowed to live but "educated" out of their languages and cultures at Indian schools (such as Carlisle, which Martí praised in the highest terms). Shorn of their identity, these assimilated Indians were still racially unacceptable to whites and rejected as renegades by other Indians.

Although Martí always advocated that Latin Americans embrace their indigenous roots and not copy European models blindly and to the detriment of what was "ours," it is undeniable that he was Eurocentric to the core of his being (and what else could he be given his origins and education?). Camacho also identifies and presents credible evidence for charging Martí with cultural racism, ethnocentrism, and even racial biases. These prejudices, of course, are not the sole province of those who denigrate the Indian. His champions, too, like Martí, tend to objectify and judge him according to their own idealized conception of the noble savage and are often disappointed that the less savage the Indian becomes, the less apparent his nobility appears. And when the Indian is finally civilized — that is, no longer an Indian except in external appearances — they will mourn the loss of everything which they once desired the Indian to lose.

I am not as bold or as forthright as Jorge Camacho — not by half, which is not to say that I would have withheld the facts which he discloses; but, rather, that I would have presented them in such a way as to mitigate Martí's blame whenever possible by contrasting his attitudes to the really genocidal ones of his contemporaries (like Sarmiento's and Mitre's). In the context of his time, if not ours, Martí is among the least culpable (which is not the same as saying blameless). My approach, I suppose, shows that I am still not an impartial commentator on these matters and perhaps I never will be; but I admire Jorge Camacho for telling the truth without qualifiers or palliatives because I recognize that this is what we need. Indeed, what Martí needs and would want.

Originally published in Linden Lane Magazine, October 2015

The Devil's Advocate: Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

"Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See's secretary of state under former Pope Benedict XVI, took a 23,000-euro helicopter ride to southern Italy paid for by funds for sick children from a Catholic Hospital, apparently to do 'marketing' for the hospital. The same hospital, Bambin Gesu, paid 200,000 euros for enlarging Cardinal Bertone's apartment at the Vatican, an allegation which the hospital confirmed, according to the author [Gianluigi Nuzzi] of the book [Merchants in the Temple], claiming they were also hoping to use the apartment for 'institutional' purposes." — Delia Gallagher and Daniel Burke, CNN, "New Books Allege Financial Scandals at the Vatican," November 5, 2015

The unsung "hero" of the normalization juggernaut was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who did the legwork while Pope Francis took the credit. In a recent interview with the Huffington Post, Bertone admitted that he "made five trips to Cuba and made my own contribution to Cuba-U.S. relations," explaining that "it was not something that just fell from heaven; there was a lot of work behind it." Indeed, nothing of the kind "fell from heaven,"  though it well may have bubbled up from hell, with Bertone as its conjurer.

Bertone has always been willing to work on behalf of the Castro dynasty and its interests. Communist Cuba has no need to pay for agents of influence in the Vatican when it has Cardinal Jaime Ortega as its official lobbyist there. Bertone's special relationship with the Cuban kleptocracy is born of their mutual venality and sustained, perhaps, as it certainly is in Ortega's case, by home movies stored in the vaults of State Security.

In 2005, Cardinal Bertone called the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba "unjust and ethically unacceptable" (it would take years for the Vatican to denounce as such the clerical molestation of children); and in 2008, Bertone declared, in Havana, that "the embargo constitutes an act of oppression against the Cuban people and a violation of Cuba's independence." He did not, however, condemn the oppression of the Cuban people by the Castro regime, nor explain why the refusal of the U.S. to trade with Communist Cuba oppresses its people or violates its independence while the denial of human and civil rights to its citizenry by its unelected rulers does not.

Moreover, how can a country be "independent" which blames all its domestic troubles on its inability to trade with another country (and "trade" as defined by Castro always means being subsidized by a third country in exchange for surrendering Cuba's independence to it)? The most notorious example in modern times of a servile state is surely Communist Cuba's 30-year vassalage to the Soviet Union which ended only when the Soviet empire itself ended. Yet never did the Vatican protest the fact that Cuba's main export to the Soviet Union was cannon fodder. One would suppose that such trade would be more objectionable to the Vatican than the absence of such trade. But such contradictions are the stock in trade of Vatican diplomacy, which supported sanctions on South Africa's apartheid regime but not on Cuba's apartheid regime.

Of course, Cardinal Bertone, as an exploiter and despoiler himself, sees nothing wrong with using humans as chattel or profiting from their misery. It is no surprise that a man who hails Fidel Castro as a "humanitarian" would believe that he, too, can commit any vile act and still be considered a "humanitarian," The fact that his carrion prey are children and sick children at that explains the great affinity between Castro and Bertone, for Castro has never had any mental reservations about stealing the kids milk money, much less their future.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Italian Newspaper Reports that Pope Francis Has a Brain Tumor

The Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale reports that Pope Francis has a brain tumor, which was diagnosed recently.

Well, that would explain a lot of things.

The Vatican promptly dismissed the report, characterizing it as "gravely irresponsible and unworthy of attention," which does not mean untrue. The only rebuttal it could offer was to point out that "the Pope is carrying out his very intense activity in a totally normal way."

The denial may be the confirmation.

In ancient times (and perhaps even today since everything that happens in a conclave must be kept secret under threat of excommunication), a pope had to submit to a digital examination of his testicles before his election was declared valid because eunuchs were excluded from the clergy. [Deut 23: "He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD."]  This ceremony also insured that no female (or no female after "Pope Joan") would ever be elected pope (again).

Since it is obviously more important that a pope should have a fully working brain than the right reproductive organs in good order, perhaps all future candidates should be required to undergo a brain scan before assuming office.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Francis: The Totalitarian Pope

It hadn't occurred to me before, but now I believe that I have discerned the real reason for Pope Francis' trip to Cuba. He went there, like every left-wing Latin American politico, to consult with Fidel Castro about how best to consolidate his power and eliminate all vestiges of democratic discourse within the Church. Or, to put it simply, Francis wanted to learn how to be like Fidel, and how better than at the feet of the master?

Here's the proof:

Pope Francis is now effectively at war with the Vatican. If he wins, the Catholic Church could fall apart

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pope Francis Is Sorry, But Not for Forsaking Cubans

Pope Francis has issued a public apology for everything and anything that he has done wrong during his disastrous two-year pontificate. He has not shown contrition, however, for his fawning embrace of the Castro brothers, his refusal to meet with Cuba's political prisoners and human rights activists, or his role in initiating a dialogue between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro which led to the "normalization" of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Communist Cuba as well as the pogrom unleashed in its wake against Cuba's dissidents, which the pope witnessed himself with absolute indifference and subsequent denial during his recent trip to the island. Francis' ultimate goal and greatest sin in the offing — the lifting of the trade embargo — will insure the survival of the Castro dynasty in perpetuity with the U.S. as its co-signer and accomplice. In reconciling good and evil, Francis has done more than Christ himself wanted or presumed to do. So much for his vaunted "humility,"  not to mention his doctrinal purity.

Barack Obama is infamous for apologizing in the name of the U.S. for "historical wrongs" which other presidents allegedly committed, which is just another way of cutting them down a few pegs and bringing them closer to his level. The last three popes, and John Paul II in particular, have also skewered their predecessors for not being 21st century men in the 16th century. Francis stands alone, however, in his eagerness to prove  his "humility" by acknowledging just what a mess he has made of everything, except as a pimp for the world's oldest dictatorship.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Pope Francis Greets Yayo and Iwan (But No Cubans Besides the Castros)

Before meeting with Kim Davis, the four times married and three times divorced champion of traditional marriage, the pope granted a private audience — a "real audience" as the papal spokesman called it — to former student Obdulio "Yayo" Grassi and his Indonesian boyfriend Iwan Bagus, who have been together for 19 years, since Mr. Grassi, now 67, was 48; and Mr. Bagus, now 33, was ... you do the math. The media, of course, did not do the math. This was not just a same-sex couple but something which most people would find far more sinister and which the pope himself condemned at another venue in the harshest words he used during his trip to the U.S.

What could be more Borgian, and, at the same time, worthier of this pope, who blesses with the left hand what he condemns with the right, than to embrace in the span of 24 hours a gay couple and the scourge of gay couples? And what better defines American liberals than taking umbrage at the pope for following traditional Catholic teaching and praising him when he acts like a Unitarian Universalist? It's not a battle for the souls of the faithful anymore. The battle now is for the mind and heart of the pope. The pope appears to know this and consciously aspires to be all things to all men and nothing in particular.

In Cuba, Pope Francis gave no indication of divided loyalties. He stood with Fidel and Raúl Castro and with nobody else.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Pope Francis Gave Private Audiences to All and Sundry, Except Cuban Dissidents

"​I spent a little time Wednesday night examining my conscience, as we used to say around the ol' confessional, as regards the meeting between Papa Francesco and noted civic layabout Kim Davis. This contemplation was prompted by two things: first, an e-conversation I had with someone who had been part of the papal travelling party and second, the appearance of E. J. Dionne on Lawrence O'Donnell's show on MSNBC. According to the first person, there were a great number of people during the pope's tour who were simply hustled in and out for informal private audiences. According to Dionne, the meeting between Davis and the pope was brokered by Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the papal nuncio to the United States at whose residence the pope stayed during his time in Washington, which is when the meeting took place. Together, these facts set off my Spidey Sense about Vatican chicanery.

"Before we continue, let us stipulate a few things. First of all, let us stipulate that there are more than a few members of the Church's permanent bureaucracy, both within the Clan Of The Red Beanie and without, who are not happy that this gentleman got elected Pope, and who are not happy with what he's done and said since he was. Second, let us stipulate that many members of this group are loyal to both former pope Josef Ratzinger and, through him, to the memory (and to what they perceive as the legacy) of John Paul II who, for good and ill, had a much different idea of how to wield a papacy than Papa Francesco does. Third, let us stipulate that this opposition to the current pope has been active and vocal, to say nothing of paranoid. Finally, let us stipulate that, for over 2000 years, the Vatican has been a hotbed of intrigue, betrayal, and sanctified ratfcking on a very high scale. (It also has been a hotbed of, well, hot beds, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.)"Charles P. Pierce, "Was the Pope Actually Swindled into Meeting Kim Davis?" on, October 1, 2015

Try to swallow the spoiled style, reeking with various bacteria, and consider what Mr. Pierce is actually saying. No, not that Pope Francis is an addle-brained imbecile at the mercy of Ratzinger's minions (not that we are disputing that premise). For our purposes it is far more interesting that there was allegedly a revolving door at the papal nuncio's Washington residence through which "a great number of people ... were simply hustled in and out for informal private audiences" with the pope: Kim Davis, the thrice-divorced champion of the sanctity of marriage, being just one in a long line of lay supplicants to meet with the pope and receive his blessing.

In Cuba, the only "lay supplicant" with whom the pope deigned to meet was Fidel Castro. The pope specifically excluded Cuban political prisoners and human rights activists from his sight and presence, and even admitted as much to reporters on the flight from Santiago de Cuba to Washington:

"[F]irst, it was very clear that I was not going to give audiences because not only the dissidents asked for audiences, but also audiences [were requested] from other sectors, including from the chief of state. And, no, I am on a visit to a nation, and just that. I know that I hadn’t planned any audience with the dissidents or the others."

His trip, Francis said, was not political and neither was he himself political. In Cuba, at least. In his address to a joint session of Congress, the mask came off: the pope confessed himself to be a political animal since his boyhood days at his grandmother's knee. And he proved that he still was when he politicized his every action in this country, seeking to impress the left while not completely alienating the right — a challenge for the most deft of politicians let alone for the most daft of popes (My God, Pierce's style is contagious!).  


The Vatican acknowledged today that “Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.”

What distinguishes a "real audience" from an unreal audience?

In any case, no Cuban was granted a "real audience" or even an "unreal audience" with the pope except Fidel Castro, and in his case the pope not only solicited the audience but  actually went to Castro's home to meet him.

As for "the pope’s characteristic kindness and availability," it was conspicuous by its absence when it came to meeting with Cubans whose last name was not Castro.

In His Own Words: John Paul II Praises "Ché" Guevara and the Cuban Revolution's "Achievements"

“He ['Ché' Guevara] is now before God’s Tribunal. Let us leave Our Lord to judge his merits. I am certain that he wanted to serve the poor.” —  John Paul II, warning others not to second guess God's judgment on "Ché" Guevara and then doing so himself, quoted in the L'Osservatore Romano (The Vatican's official newspaper), Spanish Edition, 30 January 1998, p. 6. Read that page here

"I am not completely up-to-date on the problems facing Cuba [when asked by an Italian reporter to assess the last 40 years (1958-1998) of Cuban history]. I am still studying, but according to the news and what the [Cuban] bishops have told me, there has been progress. For example, in the extension of education and in the area of health care. I am sure that this is in fact so, because Marx's followers did the same everywhere, including the Soviet bloc. From that perspective there has been progress in the means of delivering those services; but as refers to the human being, his rights as an individual, there has probably been less progress. That is where progress remains to be made. We live caught between two opposed ideologies: the Communist or Marxist and the liberal or individualistic. We must search for and find a just solution [i.e. third way]" — John Paul II, accepting the pernicious myth of social progress under Communism while rejecting individualism as the only means to obtain both freedom and social justice,  quoted in Ibid.

“I want to express the interest with which I observe the determination of the Cuban authorities to maintain and develop the achievements made in the fields of health care, education at its various levels, and culture in its different expressions. The Holy See believes that by guaranteeing these conditions of human existence [you] erect some of the pillars of the building of peace, which is not only the absence of war but also the ability to enjoy an integral human promotion of the health and harmonic growth of the body and spirit of all the members of a society.”

“For its part, Cuba distinguishes itself for its spirit of solidarity, made evident by the shipment of personnel and material resources to satisfy the basic necessities of several populations in cases of natural calamities, conflicts or poverty. The Church's Social Doctrine has developed much in recent years, precisely to illuminate the situations that require that dimension of solidarity in the pursuit of justice and truth.” — John Paul II, praising Cuban "internationalism" and the fraudulent "achievements" of the Castro dictatorship as "pillars of peace," at the presentation of the credentials of Raúl Roa Kouri as the regime's ambassador to the Vatican, January 8, 2005

Pope John Paul II and "Ché" Guevara Honored in One Monument

Notable and Still Unforgettable: Pope John Paul II Praises "Ché" Guevara

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pope Francis Bets All His Moral Capital on a Long Shot: Gay Marriage

Gay Marriage?


This is what Pope Francis was willing to squander all his hoarded moral capital on?

Gay marriage?

A moot question now, at least in this country (and in the pope's native Argentina as well).

The Vatican admitted today that the pope had granted a private audience to Kim Davis, the Rowan County (KY) clerk who is leading (and losing) Custer's last stand against gay marriage.

The pope may have acted from principle, and because a cause is lost does not necessarily make it a bad cause. But should gay marriage take precedence over every other cause?

Francis was willing to overlook the suffering of the Cuban people when he refused to meet with its authentic representatives — those who put their lives on the line every day to secure the freedom and human rights of all Cubans — preferring instead to visit and praise the man who enslaved them.

Should not the blood of Cubans be more of a priority to the pope than the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses?

Is it more important to the pope to make a symbolic gesture against gay marriage than a real attempt to save lives?

Yes, it would have been quixotic for Francis to agree to meet with Cuba's beleaguered dissidents.

But no more quixotic than his secret meeting with the last U.S. official (a county clerk) to offer active resistance to the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

The pope obviously thought that the cause of humanity demanded that he draw the line at gay marriage.

Too bad that the plight of the Cuban people did not meet that high threshold of humanity.

John Paul II and Fidel Castro: Three Different Ways to Clasp Hands

There have been a few articles published recently contrasting John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998 with Pope Francis'. All have given the advantage to John Paul, and, indeed, used the first papal visit to lambaste the latest. Although we are glad to have Francis' pilgrimage to meet Fidel Castro disparaged, it does not seem quite fair to blame the Argentine pope for following in the footsteps of his Polish predecessor; nor can we see anything that distinguishes the conduct of one from the other.

The phrase everybody remembers from John Paul's trip to Cuba was his call for the island to open itself to the world, and the world to open itself to Cuba. So innocuous was it that even Pope Francis felt that he could repeat it without giving offence to his hosts.

For Cubans, the problem with Cuba then as now is not that it is closed to the world, but that it is closed to them. Whether or no they are actually in a prison, Cubans are, for all intents and purposes, under house arrest, since they cannot leave their homes and settle elsewhere, whether in Cuba itself or abroad. Cubans are forbidden to move from province to province; from city to city; and even from one house to another house on the same block without the prior authorization of the state. Cuban citizens require both an exit visa to leave their country and an entry visa to return; and rarely are those who leave allowed to return (not that any but Castro's spies would want to). The only blockade facing Cubans is an internal one: they are hostages of a police state which has enslaved and interned them in a massive island-prison whose walls are as high as the sky and as deep as the ocean.

It was to Fidel Castro personally that John Paul should have addressed his request to open that prison and free its captives, as Reagan did when he challenged Gorbachev by name to "tear down that wall." Nothing that the outside world could have done — certainly not paying ransom to the captors — would have demolished the Berlin Wall, as John Paul well knew. He should also have known (and was too smart not to have known) that unilateral concessions to Castro would not obtain freedom for the Cuban people. "Opening the world (i.e. the U.S.)" to the tyrant would only strengthen him and make his victims even more vulnerable. Yet that was John Paul's solution to the "Cuban Problem" and his "solution" has been carried out by Francis to the detriment of all Cubans except Castro and his henchmen.

While in Cuba, John Paul engaged in a virtual orgy of hand-clasping with Fidel; but, like Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, refused to meet with or even allude to Cuba's political prisoners or human rights activists. John Paul, on his flight to Cuba, even praised "Ché" Guevara as someone whom he "was sure had desired to do good for the poor." Francis said nothing about "Ché" Guevara, although, like all Argentinians (whether on the left or right), the pope feels proud of that connection (as we may infer from Cardinal Sean O'Malley's comment about his "great joy and pride" in celebrating mass "under the picture of his fellow Argentine Che Guevara").

Pope John Paul II did not publicly lecture Fidel Castro on human rights or condemn his regime's violations of those rights as he had done in front of Ferdinand Marcos during his trip to the Philippines ["It is a fundamental principle, upheld always by the Church, that a government exists only for the service of man and for the protection of his dignity and cannot claim to serve the common good when human rights are not safeguarded."] Being a persecutor of the Catholic Church guarantees left-wing dictators respect and deference from the Holy Father. If Marcos had confiscated all Church property in his country as Castro did in Cuba and then had it in his power to return that property, he would not have been excoriated by the pope either.

On that first papal visit, the Cuban people genuinely believed that the pope was on their side. It seemed inconceivable then that the man who had defeated Communism in his native Poland and the Soviet bloc would uphold it in their country. The crowd at his first public mass waited anxiously for any indication of support or even one word of commiseration. What they got was John Paul's personal assurance to Fidel Castro that "the values of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not a threat to any social project," and that what he had come to Cuba to promote was "the Gospel of Christ, not a political ideology or economic system." The pope's chief concern, then, was to guarantee the regime that the Church in Cuba, unlike the Church in Poland, would never become with his sanction an arsenal of ideas or a bulwark of liberty.

As if to encourage John Paul to remember their suffering and its cause, the crowd that heard his words but could not believe that he had abandoned them, began to chant "¡Libertad, Libertad!" The pope at first ignored their cries, and then, when they would not stop, John Paul admonished them to seek freedom in Christ.

Their lives on earth, apparently, were intended to be a never-ending hell; and the only hope that the pope held out to them was in the afterlife. As for this life, this island and this people, the pope graciously ceded all to the Cuban despot. Such papal conduct finds many parallels in the Dark Ages, but this is the first instance of such a dynastic concession in our own. It need hardly be pointed out that Pope John Paul was not willing to surrender the Polish nation to Communist slavery in perpetuity. Cubans, however, were quite expendable and apparently worthless in the eyes of the vicar of Christ. His successors have followed his example.

In Havana, Pope Francis is no John Paul II (In Havana, Pope John Paul II was no John Paul II, either).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Guest Post: Francis Pays Homage to Fidel Castro

Pope Francis met Fidel Castro on September 20, 2015, during his visit to Havana. As you can see in the photo above, the Pope showed a warm admiration for the decrepit tyrant of Cuba. One could say Francis seems to be venerating the communist despot as he bows to Castro and strongly presses his bloody hands. 

Expressions of papal admiration can also be seen in [other photographs] , in which Bergoglio seems deeply touched and even emotional to be with Fidel.

[These attest to] the climate of mutual cordiality between the representative of Catholics and the criminal responsible for more than 50 years of brutally murdering Catholics opposed to Communism.

According to the video distributed by the Cuban government, "Pope Francis thanked Fidel and Cuba for their contribution [to] peace in a world filled with hatred and aggression." If this statement is objective, it reveals the hypocrisy of Jorge Bergoglio, because it is public knowledge that Fidel and Cuba exported armed revolution and guerilla warfare throughout Latin America and Africa as much as they could during almost the whole time Fidel Castro was in charge.

Francis offered Castro his latest Encyclical Laudato si, and the criminal offered the Pope a book — Fidel and Religion — written by Frei Betto, a Brazilian ex-guerrilla monk, today a leader of Liberation Theology.

A final detail, in 2012 Benedict XVI also met Fidel Castro on his visit to Cuba, but the tyrant went to meet him at the Papal Nunciature in Havana; on this occasion Francis went to the place Castro chose and at his convenience. Another symbol of the papal subservience to Communism.

A video of the encounter in Spanish distributed by the communist newspaper Granma can be viewed here.

By Fr. Atila Sinke Guimarães
From Tradition in Action

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Real Dorothy Day: A Castro Groupie

"In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints... Dorothy Day [championed] social justice and the rights of persons. A nation can be considered great when it [...] strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work." — Pope Francis, addressing a joint session of Congress, on September 26, 2015 

Know whom the pope admires and you will know who and what he is.

"I am most of all interested in the religious life of the [Cuban] people and so must not be on the side of a regime that favors the extirpation of religion. On the other hand, when that regime is bending all its efforts to make a good life for the people, a naturally good life (on which grace can build) one cannot help but be in favor of the measures taken. 

"We are on the side of the [Cuban] revolution. We believe there must be new concepts of property, which is proper to man, and that the new concept is not so new. There is a Christian communism and a Christian capitalism. We believe in farming communes and cooperatives and will be happy to see how they work out in Cuba. God bless Castro and all those who are seeing Christ in the poor. God bless all those who are seeking the brotherhood of man because in loving their brothers they love God even though they deny Him." Dorothy Day, writing in the Catholic Worker, July-August 1962.

This is what Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement,"tireless striver[er] for social justice and the cause of the oppressed," who was supposedly "inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints," wrote after John XXIII had excommunicated Fidel Castro for expelling most of Cuba's priests and nuns from the island; closing all parochial schools and the Catholic University (and invalidating their degrees); confiscating Catholic hospitals and orphanages; newspapers, radio stations and publishing house; looting and desecrating churches; and forcing the Cardinal-Archbishop of Havana to take refuge in a foreign embassy, in effect. decapitating the Cuban Church. Castro by then had also deprived Cuban workers (Catholic or not) of all protections under the law. His regime abolished in 1959 the right to organize unions; it outlawed strikes; it repealed minimum wage laws; it discarded collective bargaining and arbitration; it eliminated tenure and seniority; it scrapped Cuba's 35-hour work week (for which workers were entitled  to 40 hours' pay); it rescinded the "13th month" bonus paid to all workers at Christmas; it authorized the payment of wages in script; and it instituted compulsory unpaid work for the State. Everything, in short, that you would expect Dorothy Day to denounce if these outrages had occurred in her own country to her beloved Catholic workers. But when Castro's Revolution did all these things to Cuba's Catholics and workers, she "could not help but be in favor of the measures taken."

Want to really get angry?

Savor this quotation from the same article, for sheer ignorance and condescension unequaled until Pope Francis' own recent statements in Cuba:

"So here we have the problem. The education of the people. Fifty percent of Cuba’s millions were illiterate. No wonder Castro had to talk for so many hours at a time, giving background and painting a picture of what they were aiming at, for a multitude who could not read."

In "Dorothy Day, a Communist?", David H. Lukenbill writes:

"I’ve been studying this issue for some time and have reached the conclusion that Dorothy Day had so conflated Communism and Catholicism in her own mind that she saw them as one and the same; which is the only explanation I can find for her lifetime support of Communist governments and ideology, co-existing with devout practice of her Catholic faith.

"Another clear mark, in my opinion, of her lifetime adherence to Communism was that she never denounced it or its evils to protect others from becoming ensnared, which is what most people, yours truly included, do once they see a past way of life clearly for the wrong path it was."

Pope Francis Embraces the Guilty and Shuns the Innocent

Last week there were more abortions in the United States (16,799) than there have been executions over the last 400 years (15,269). There were 35 criminals put to death in the U.S. last year as compared to more than a million babies who had the death penalty imposed on them without the benefit of judge, jury or appeal. Yet Pope Francis, in his pandering address to a joint session of Congress, barely alluded to abortion and did not condemn it, but spoke at length and vehemently against the death penalty. This is what it means to have a pope who is a moral relativist, someone who, simply put, cannot distinguish between good and evil. Such myopism would be disastrous for any man and more disastrous for those who have anything to do with him. But for a pope, it is a calamity for all mankind.

Now the pope has just met and embraced prison inmates in Philadelphia, murderers, rapists and other criminals, most, no doubt, moral relativists like himself, offering to all support and encouragement as if each were St. Dismas (The Good Thief). Francis has said that "Jesus was a failure in life," and so when he looks at the faces of these prisoners, he must see the image of Christ. Aborted babies are not pretty to look at, but their humanity shines all the more because of the barbarity to which they have been subjected.

When Francis visited Cuba just a week ago, he met and embraced much more notorious and prolific murderers. Unlike the prisoners in Philadelphia, they have never been called to account for their crimes and it is likely that they never will be. History will not absolve Fidel or Raúl Castro, but Pope Francis has. When a priest visits the home of an unrepentant public sinner and does not ask him to repent, but showers him with praise and gifts — indeed, indulgences — the sin is not expunged but it is rewarded and public morals and religion are defiled. This itself is a mortal sin, for in condoning Castro's crimes Francis has acquired a share in them.

The pope did not visit the 3000 common criminals that Raúl Castro amnestied in his honor. He could well have preened himself on that "victory" but for the fact that his refusal to meet with Cuba's dissidents and political prisoners would have seemed even more inexplicable and inexcusable if the pope had embraced the guilty and shunned the innocent, and since he would not embrace the innocent he found it expedient to shun them both.  For Francis, the opponents of a one-party state are simply   rival politicians even if politics as such does not exist in their country. He does not recognize them as victims of the regime but as pariahs, and even worse than pariahs because they threaten the special relationship between Church and State which the pope is so anxious to maintain and expand at any cost.

Pope Francis cannot make Cuban dissidents disappear, But he can do the next best thing — ignore and marginalize them. And he has.

Francis Stumbles Boarding Plane to Philadelphia

It is painful to watch this video of a corpulent near-octogenarian stumbling continually over his long frock as he struggles to mount the airplane stairs, more crawling than walking erect, a strong wind blinding him with his own mozzetta (short cape-like hood) and almost pushing him backwards while he holds on to the banister with one hand and his briefcase with the other: a picture of helplessness and vulnerability. Surely they can install a stair climber for him or lift him up in a crane. Perhaps he is too proud to show how really incapacitated he is. His assistants withheld their assistance in order not to embarrass him. Their concern for his feelings may well have cost him his life. I suppose that losing some weight, raising the hem of his frock a few inches and letting some young priest carry his briefcase might also help.

One last suggestion: as a sign of humility, Francis discarded the red shoes and socks traditionally worn by popes. He should reconsider that decision. The red shoes would allow him to see his own feet and prevent him from tripping over them.

Even if Francis does not have an ounce of compassion for the Cuban people, he does not deserve to be a "martyr" of any kind.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Is Pope Francis the "Anti-Christ?"

I invite my readers to visit the Pope Francis the Destroyer Blog. Not even the Vatican's own websites chronicle the day to day activities of the pope as minutely as does this blog. In 2014, the 365 days of the year yielded 588 posts, and in what has transpired of 2015, 630. Granted, this blog is somewhat tendentious in its depiction of Francis as the Anti-Christ but not more so than the thousand blogs which just as tendentiously portray him as the Vicar of Christ. The truth does not lie in the middle. He can be one or the other; you can't split the difference. I will spend this week-end reading this blog and forming my own conclusion. After this past week I have a completely open mind about the pope (which means that I don't reject the worst said about him reflexively nor accept the best on faith). I am not endorsing the idea that Francis is the Anti-Christ or that there is even an Anti-Christ. I do believe that in many respects Francis speaks and acts as the Anti-Christ would if there were an Anti-Christ. But whom am I to judge? (to quote Francis' signature meme).

Friday, September 25, 2015

"Francis Covers the Big Town"

Guest Post: Pope Francis to Become "Pope Hippocritus"

The Vatican (which is a sovereign state with immigration laws) that already built [its] Great Wall of Trump centuries ago, just announced that [it] will take in the millions of mostly Muslim refugees seeking sanctuary. And that [it] will sell the Vatican's vast treasures of art, gold, and jewels to feed them. Yea right?

That was followed by a Papal decree informing the world that the Pope's new name has obviously been changed to Pope Hippocritus!

Comment left at

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Francis: A Pope with No Moral Compass

"Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal."Pope Francis in an address to a joint session of Congress, September 24, 2015

What utter unmitigated gall! This is a pope who denies the right of Cuban citizens to live with dignity in their own country while upholding the prerogative of illegal immigrants to decamp in a foreign country, break its laws and disrupt its social order because Americans have a supposed moral obligation to treat the interlopers as they would want their own children to be treated.

But did Francis treat Cubans as his own children on his recent sojourn to the island: would a father allow his children to be beaten and dragged away in his sight and not attempt to shield or comfort them, or at least inquire about their fate and whereabouts? In refusing to be seen with dissidents on his trip to meet Fidel Castro, Francis showed that he does not "view [Cubans] as persons" worthy of his attention or consideration (unless their surname is "Castro") and feels no need to "see their faces or listen to their stories," much less "respond as best [he] could to their situation" in "a way that is always humane, just and fraternal."

No man is more worthy of contempt than one whose own words condemn him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis: To Hear No Evil and See No Evil Is Evil

On the flight from Santiago de Cuba to Washington, DC, Pope Francis was asked by a reporter from CNN whether he would ever meet with Cubans persecuted by the Castro regime. A reporter from Spain's El País characterized the pope as "discomfited" by the question and his answer as "evasive." In fact, his answer is highly revealing though hardly unexpected given his conduct in Cuba: a coward's verbal self-portrait and a very badly executed one. The journalists on the plane were shocked by Francis' answer because he is known for his ability to turn any critical question to his advantage. Here, however, he showed no such finesse, but reinforced the perception that "he had been very deferential to the regime of the brothers Castro while ignoring, at the same time, the repression unleashed against Cuban dissidents."

Having abandoned the sheep to tend to the wolf on his now completed first trip to Cuba, the pope addressed the question from the perspective of whether a future "encounter and dialogue" with Cuban dissidents was contemplated. He had sponsored and extolled in the highest terms the "encounter and dialogue" between the worst men in Cuba and their counterparts in the U.S. Would he agree to meet with the bravest and noblest of Cuba's sons and daughters who represent the entire dignity of the Cuban people?

Rosa Flores, CNN: Good afternoon, Holy Father. I am Rosa Flores of CNN. We understand that more than 50 dissidents were arrested outside the nunciature [in Havana] as they were trying to have a meeting with you. First, would you like to have a meeting with the dissidents, and if you had that meeting, what would you say?

"Look, I have no news that that ever happened. I can't say yes, no I can't. I don't know. Would I meet directly with them? I just don't know. Would I like to? What would be the result? These are questions to be answered in the future. I like to meet all kinds of people. I consider, first of all, that all people are children of God and have the right [to meet me]. And, secondly, that meeting other people is always rewarding. As to what may lie in the future, I don't have an answer."

The pope's sentences are halting and clipped, as if he were afraid of developing his thoughts fully because his thoughts frighten even him. He asks himself questions aloud which he then declines to answer [e.g. "Would I like to (meet them)?" and "What would be the result?"] The only thing that he appears sure of is that he shouldn't answer the question. He doesn't explain why but proceeds to suggest that he should meet with them "because they are God's children and have the right [to meet me]." Still, Francis is non-committal: is it necessary or desirable that he should meet "directly" with them? There is a Noli me tangere [Don't touch me] aspect to his reaction. Francis postpones his answer to an open-ended futurity. In a more literal translation, his answer is: "your question is futuristic" and therefore does not conform to present reality (like landing a man on Mars or ordaining women as priests).

The pope continued:

"If you want me to speak more about the dissidents, you can ask me something more concrete. For the nunciature, first, it was very clear that I was not going to give audiences because not only the dissidents asked for audiences, but also audiences [were requested] from other sectors, including from the chief of state. And, no, I am on a visit to a nation, and just that. I know that I hadn’t planned any audience with the dissidents or the others."

The pope asks for "concrete questions" when he seems incapable of giving a concrete answer. He does reveal for the first time that it was never his intention to meet with Cuba's dissidents. Apparently, he doesn't want anyone to assume that he was constrained from doing so by his hosts, which, incidentally, is exactly what happened. Half a dozen of Cuba's most prominent dissidents were invited to a meet and greet at the nuncio's palace in Havana, but were arrested by the regime on their way there. Perhaps all that Francis intended to do was wave at them from his window, but he was not even given the opportunity to do that. In fact, the Vatican was obliged to submit lists of all Cubans who had been invited to attend the pope's masses in Cuba. The regime excluded by intimidation or force all whom it deemed unacceptable. To acknowledge that every detail of his trip to Cuba was micromanaged by Castro's henchmen would have reflected badly on him and his hosts. Francis would rather seem despicable by denying any intention to meet with the dissidents than by admitting the fact that he was a willing stooge for the regime. Since he actually did grant audiences to both Raúl and Fidel Castro, it is mendacious for him to suggest that he didn't meet with the dissidents because he chose not to give an audience even to the chief of state! Even if we take him at his word, we must ask why he granted no audiences in Cuba but dozens of audiences in the U.S.

"And, secondly, from the nunciature, some people made some calls to some people who are in these groups of dissidents, where the responsibility was given to the nuncio to call them and tell them that I would greet them with pleasure outside the cathedral for the meeting with the consecrated [religious]. I would greet them when I was there, no? That did exist. Now, as no one identified themselves in their greetings, I don’t know if they were there. I said hello to the sick who were in wheelchairs. … Oops, I’m speaking Spanish. I greeted those who were in wheelchairs, but no one identified themselves as dissidents; but from the nunciature calls were made by some for a quick greeting."

Ah, the poor pope! He was willing, after all, to greet the dissidents — and "with pleasure." too —outside the doors of the Cathedral but they did not introduce themselves to him. It does not occur to the pope that the dissidents had already been arrested before he arrived at the Cathedral, or that, if any had managed to get beyond the police barricades, they would have been arrested on the spot before they had the chance to introduce themselves to him as dissidents (Castro's goons are aware of who they are and do not require introductions). The pope certainly would not have intervened on their behalf. Francis had that opportunity when dissidents were arrested in front of the popemobile after his first mass and he chose to look the other way (literally).

María Flores of CNN then asked the pope a follow-up question: What would you tell the dissidents if you had the opportunity to meet with them?

Refusing to be baited into saying anything that could be construed as compassionate, humane or Christian, Pope Francis replied:

"Oh, my daughter, I don’t know what I would say. (laughs) I would wish everyone well, but what one says comes in that moment and … You’ve got the Nobel Prize for being a reader of the future, eh?" (laughs)

Francis is not just a bad pope. He appears to be a preeminently bad man.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pope Francis Gives Anti-Castro Book to Fidel

Or How a "Devious" Vatican Official Made a (Bigger) Fool of Good Pope Francis

The pope knows little or nothing about Cuban history. This has allowed the Castro regime to manipulate him in a thousand different ways. It has also permitted a daring and ingenious Vatican official (anonymous and likely to remain so) to introduce a discordant note in the pope's hitherto uninterrupted hallelujah chorus for Fidel Castro and his revolution. Whoever pulled this stunt deserves to reign in Francis' stead, for he is a worthier candidate in every way for the papacy.

The pope, for some as yet unexplained reason, visited the home of Cuba's retired dictator, an honor which his predecessor Benedict XVI also conferred on Fidel Castro. No previous travelling pope has ever visited the residence of a former head of state who is now no more than a private citizen. Moreover, Francis treated Fidel as if he were still his country's head of state, even exchanging gifts with him.

Among several insipid works which he himself authored, Francis gave the dictator a copy of the autobiography of Fidel's erstwhile spiritual adviser Father Armando (or Amando) Llorente, S.J. and two CDs of his prayers and songs. Although only ten years older than Fidel, Llorente was perhaps the greatest influence in the adolescent Fidel's life, part father and part older brother: the first man, as Llorente claimed, who loved that unhappy and neglected child. At Havana's elite Belén Preparatory School where the novice Jesuit was Fidel's teacher, mentor and greatest booster, the two were inseparable. Llorente took Fidel with him on camping trips to the Sierra Maestra mountains where they explored together every trail and passage of what would later become the base of operations (or hideout) of the Rebel Army. Years later, supposedly at the request of the papal nuncio in Havana, Llorente visited Fidel at the rebel camp for two weeks and came away with the impression that the man who wore a crucifix around his neck had lost his faith. Still, he said nothing and continued to support his former pupil until the day in 1961 when Llorente was expelled from Cuba with a thousand other Spanish-born priests and nuns on a ship sent by Franco to retrieve them. He spent the rest of his life in Miami praying for Fidel's return to the Church and ready at any moment's notice to fly to Havana to hear his confession and absolve him of his sins. Father Llorente died at age 92 in 2010 with his fondest wish unfulfilled.

The gift of Llorente's book and recordings of his voice was the gentlest of jabs, but still a jab at Fidel Castro. No man likes to be reminded of his own ingratitude, and the most ungrateful of men like it the least. Fidel alone knows now what was the nature of their relationship. Assuming that it was not what we are all assuming, then he might well feel regret if he had conscience, which psychopaths don't.

Still, I do not believe that this was a calculated slight. In fact, I am quite sure that it was entirely unintentional (certainly on the part of the pope). Indeed, Francis may have already apologized for his presumption. Far be it for him to inflict the least discomfort to a man whom he admires for his "contributions to world peace."

But whoever recommended to Francis that he give Fidel these "reliques" from Llorente was not so innocent. That man actually had a brain and moral convictions. A good thing for him that the Inquisition has been abolished.

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Ché" Guevara's Daughter Boycotts Papal Mass

"The CPC (Communist Party of Cuba) asks us militants to go to mass, to go to meet the Pope. That is a directive from the party with which I don’t entirely agree. I won’t go to the mass because it would be hypocritical of me. What will I do standing there for hours? No, no. My dad is there ["Ché" Guevara’s mural is in Havana's Revolution Square] because he is a symbol of this country" [no endorsement of the pope implied or intended]."Aleida Guevara, in an interview on Russian Television

"Che" Guevara's porcine-like daughter Aleida preferred not to stand for hours in the tropical sun for a day's wages and snacks, which is the incentive offered to party members who attended the public mass. The more of them there, of course, the fewer the spots that would be available for the faithful or "disruptive elements." For Aleida Guevara, it is enough that her father's image will hold a place of honor (if not veneration) at the mass. She will do anything for the party even forgive Fidel's assassination of her father, but don't ask her to transfer her avoirdupois beyond the confines of the family sofa in the purloined mansion that she inhabits. If Guevara's daughter had attended the mass, she would not have had to stand with the plebes, but would have been seated beside Raúl Castro or Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, who sported a $23,000 Hermes handbag for the occasion. But to have attended the outdoor mass would have compromised Aleida's atheistic convictions besides exposing her to a spotlight that she would prefer to avoid if possible (vanity, as Cristina herself proves, is not limited to beautiful women). As for hypocrisy, Aleida's legal campaign to franchise her father's image and reap millions of dollars in royalties from its reproduction shows that she has higher aspirations than being a party hanger-on and honorary ambassador-at-large for the regime. Unlike Fidel, Raúl and their other cronies, "Ché" Guevara did not have enough time to amass a sufficient fortune for his family, which fuels Aleida's secret resentment for those who treat her like a star but won't pay her as such. She has no use for the pope's admonitions against the evils of wealth. For her, fame without wealth is a bitter cup.

Pope Francis Is Preaching to the Converted

Raúl Castro was talking "Popespeak" back in 1968:

"A spirit of work creates a spirit of work; consciousness engenders consciousness; courage and faith engender courage and faith; an honest attitude engenders more honest attitudes; love of all society, of the entire people, and of all humankind engenders more love among men; But if we teach selfishness and money, it will engender more selfishness; opportunism will engender more opportunism; corruption will engender more corruption; ferocious individualism will engender more ferocious individualism. That is why we refuse to erect an altar to the god of money and prostrate the consciousness of men at its feet."Raúl Castro, May Day Speech, 1968, the year that the Castro regime confiscated within the span of two weeks 57,600 small businesses in Cuba and made every citizen an employee of the State and as impoverished as his neighbor (unless his neighbor was a Castroite official)

This quotation was cited in Britain's The Guardian (where else?) with the comment: "Jesus could have uttered these words. Satan is the great deceiver. He's tricked the world into believing capitalism is good and socialism is bad."

Francis, the Despot's Pope

Pope Francis had not one but two meetings with dictator emeritus Fidel Castro; the second, which took place in "his" home, included his wife, children and grandchildren, all of whom asked and received the papal blessing. The pope could not, however, spare one minute to meet with Cuba's dissidents and political prisoners. That would have given offense to his hosts and the pope would never be so rude. The meek may inherit the earth some day but until that happens the "people's pope" will pay court to the Pharisees and serve as their chaplain, bringing aid and comfort to the enemies of Christ while turning his back on his people.

Immediately after visiting the Castro clan and rendering unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, Francis attended a vespers celebration at the Cathedral of Havana, where he addressed for the first time Cuba's priests, nuns and seminarians. He advised them to value their poverty, which is Christ's greatest gift to mankind. "Material wealth," he said, "impoverishes because it deprives us of the only wealth worth having" — presumably the immaterial (or spiritual) kind. He called poverty "the wall and the mother of consecrated life" because like a mother it fosters greater trust in God and acts as a wall against worldliness.

Any man who has not lived a cloistered life knows that the poor are not exempt from materialism or worldliness. If anything, poverty makes one even more keenly aware of the benefits derived from wealth and anxious to share in them. The "spirituality of poverty" as a meme may appeal to the wealthy, but not enough for them ever to embrace it. It can have no charms for the poor who do not idealize poverty because they actually know something about it, as apposed to dictators and popes. Like the slave masters of old, they extol a culture of poverty but would not cast off their wealth to share in its supposed blessings. It is not given to every man to be wealthy, but any man who desires to be poor can be poor.

The pope railed against "excessive consumption" in a country where nothing is consumed in excess thanks to an economic model which for 56 years and counting has kept the Cuban people on the edge of starvation (and sometimes over the edge) as a means of societal control. The Castros, like the Church, also regard poverty as a "mother" and a "wall" which fosters greater dependence on the State and dampens materialism. They also feign poverty as does the pope and blame it on the economic system that produces the least poverty while endorsing the economic system that produces the most poverty. But, of course, that is to be expected since poverty is a positive good (for others): "Our holy mother Church is poor. God wishes Her to be poor, as he wanted our Holy Mother Mary to be poor. Love poverty as you would love a mother." And, by implication, be grateful to those who keep you poor and thus assure you the Kingdom of Heaven.

The pope does not take a vow of poverty, as do other religious. He is the richest of the rich: so rich that he is above money. The pope receives no salary and never carries money on his person (neither does the queen of England); but, as a benefactor once observed of Gandhi, it takes a great deal of money to keep him "poor." Francis' "poverty" is more symbolic than real. In fact, the pope presides over the world's largest real estate holdings and controls an art collection worth a trillion dollars. This is the so-called "patrimony" of the Church, which the pope is nonetheless free to do with as he pleases. 264 successive popes have added to that hoard, not one has ever willingly disbursed any part of it.

It is the ne plus ultra of hypocrisy for the pope to preach the gospel of poverty in a country and among a people where abject poverty has been imposed for 56 years by the ruling kleptocracy. If hunger refines the spirit, then the Cuban people are all spirit by now.

This well-fed pope did his penance in Cuba's tropical heat by wearing layers of petticoats and capes. But these, after all, are no hair shirt and will soon be cast off in the privacy of the papal suite. The sliminess of his hypocritical notions, which clings to him like a second skin, cannot be as easily shed.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pope Francis: "Party On, You Indolent Carefree Negroes!"

"God’s holy and faithful [black] people of [America] is a people with a taste for parties, for friendship, for beautiful things. It is a people which marches with songs of praise. It is a people which has its wounds, like every other people, yet knows how to stand up with open arms, to keep walking in hope, because it has a vocation of grandeur. Today I ask you to care for this vocation of yours, to care for these gifts which God has given you, [and party on, you indolent carefree Negroes!]." Pope Francis, in his homily at the mass officiated at Revolution Square, Havana, on September 20, 2015

Of course, Pope Francis was not addressing African-Americans, but Afro-Cubans and all other Cubans. But imagine, just imagine, what the reaction would have been if the Argentine pope had spoken the same words before an audience of Obama's countrymen?

Another Argentinian, Ernesto "Ché" Guevara, said very much the same thing about blacks that Pope Francis has just said about Cubans (black and white):

"The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese. And the two ancient races have now begun a hard life together, fraught with bickering and squabbles. Discrimination and poverty unite them in the daily fight for survival but their different ways of approaching life separate them completely: The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations."Ernesto "Ché" Guevara, in The Motorcycle Diaries

Are all Argentinians innately racist? Well, that is the reputation that they have throughout Latin America, whether they actually deserve it or no (and we suspect that their own predominantly European background and orientation may account for some of the hostility directed at them).

Nevertheless, leftists who have had to confront and explain this "Ché" quotation attribute it to Argentine attitudes about race which Guevara was exposed to and internalized in his youth. They claim that he overcame his racism by helping to establish a police state in a more racially variegated country. We are rather inclined to think that it was in Cuba that his racism found its fullest expression.

This pope must have a face and heart of stone to suggest that Cubans have "a vocation for grandeur," which is a job description of the office which he occupies. The vocation of Cubans is another, one which this pontiff does not understand much less honor. We mean, of course, that theirs is a vocation for suffering, which in the Church is known as heroic virtue and is valued above all others.

Parsing Pope Francis' Speech on his Arrival in Cuba

Mr President,
Distinguished Authorities,
Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank you, Mr President, for your greeting and your kind words of welcome in the name of the government and the entire Cuban people. [There is no legally-constituted "government" in Cuba, and the ruling clique responsible for this fact does not represent the Cuban people nor is it entitled to speak for them. The pope can acknowledge the thanks of its chief capo in the name of the criminal enterprise that has hijacked Cuban freedom for 56 years and made the Cuban Church a clinging vassal of the State; he should not, however, presume that Raúl Castro's gratitude for the undeserved legitimacy which the papal visit confers on his regime is something for which the Cuban people themselves should feel grateful]. I also greet the authorities and the members of the diplomatic corps present at this ceremony.

My gratitude also goes to Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, the Most Reverend Dionisio Guillermo García Ibáñez, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and President of the Episcopal Conference, the other bishops and all the Cuban people, for their warm welcome. [Archbishop García Ibañez should have been named first because the archdiocese of Santiago de Cuba is Cuba's oldest and therefore he, and not Ortega, is the primate of Cuba (that is, the titular head of the Cuban Church). Of course, the power if not the title has been conferred by the Holy See on Cardinal Ortega, a cretinous collaborator of the Castro regime who denies the existence of political prisoners in Cuba, refers to Cuban dissidents as agents of Miami's exiled "worms" ["gusanera"] and threatens them with arrest by Castro's henchmen when they dare to attend church services or have the effrontery to present him with a list of Cuba's political prisoners].

I thank, too, all those who worked to prepare for this Pastoral Visit. Mr President, I would ask you to convey my sentiments of particular respect and consideration to your brother Fidel [The dictator emeritus of Cuba will later be thanked personally by Francis, who will no doubt reiterate then his "particular respect and consideration." Since Francis' "respect and consideration" is "particular" (that is, distinct from and superior to his respect for other "authorities," etc.). it would not be fastidious to ask on what he bases his "respect and consideration." Is it for the eradication of the Catholic Church from the daily lives of the faithful? Or is it for allowing Catholics to join the Communist Party?]

I would like my greeting to embrace especially all those who, for various reasons, I will not be able to meet, and to Cubans throughout the world. [Those that he "will not be able to meet" (or chooses not to meet) are Cuba's dissidents and political prisoners, his flock's most abandoned sheep. They are so very abandoned that the pope does not even dare to acknowledge their existence at all, though he nevertheless wishes to "embrace" them with his silence. The only hint that he means Cuba's "disappeared ones" is that this unnamed group is classed with "Cubans throughout the world," that is, the one-fifth of Cuba's population that has fled Castro's island-prison. The pope, of course, is free to "embrace" Miami's exiles on U.S. soil, but he will never succor the victims because that would offend his hosts, who seized the property of the Church in Cuba and now have it in their power to return it in exchange for her support. The irony, of course, is that the property that was stolen by Castro & Company was donated by those that the Church now spurns].

This year of 2015 marks the eightieth anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Cuba and the Holy See [It is ridiculous to mention this historical fact since there is no connection between the Republic of Cuba that existed in 1935 and the Castro dictatorship. It is the dictatorship itself that would be the first to disavow such a connection].

Providence [Is "Providence" another name for Raúl Castro?] today enables me to come to this beloved nation, following the indelible path opened by the unforgettable apostolic journeys which my two predecessors, Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, made to this island [he does indeed follow in their footsteps, and, like them, will say nary a word that would offend his hosts, while posing for photographs with them that leave no doubt about his support for the regime]. I know that the memory of those visits awakens gratitude and affection in the people and leaders of Cuba [in the "leaders of Cuba," certainly. Who would have thought that a tinpot dictator could make three pontiffs dance to his tune?]

Today we renew those bonds of cooperation [collaboration] and friendship [opportunism], so that the Church can continue [?] to support and encourage the Cuban people in its hopes and concerns, with the freedom, the means and the space needed to bring the proclamation of the Kingdom to the existential peripheries of society. [The Church needs "the freedom, the means and the space" to "bring the proclamation of the Kingdom to the existential peripheries of society" (whatever that means). The Cuban people, however, do not require (in the pope's estimation) "the freedom, the means and the space" to accept or reject such a proclamation. The Church wishes to be co-equal with the State in the exercise of her fueros (rights). She is not interested in upholding the free-will of the Cuban people. In fact, her interests (like those of the State) are best served by denying the Cuban people any say in their future, as this would lead to the rejection of both].

This Apostolic Journey also coincides with the first centenary of Pope Benedict XV’s declaration of our Lady of Charity of El Cobre as Patroness of Cuba. It was the veterans of the War of Independence who, moved by sentiments of faith and patriotism, wanted the Virgen mambisa to be the patroness of Cuba as a free and sovereign nation. [Pope Francis should have praised the generosity and willingness to forgive of Cuba's veterans at least as much as their "faith and patriotism," since, in petitioning the pope to have Our Lady of Charity declared Patroness of Cuba, they had to overlook the fact that Pius IX and Leo XIII had sided with Spain against the Cuban people during our Wars of Independence (for that sordid history, see here).]

Since that time she [the Virgin of Charity, we suppose, but certainly not the Catholic Church] has accompanied the history of the Cuban people, sustaining the hope which preserves people’s dignity in the most difficult situations and championing the promotion of all that gives dignity to the human person. The growing devotion to the Virgin [as Ochún] is a visible testimony of her presence in the soul of the Cuban people.

In these days I will have occasion to go to El Cobre, as a son and pilgrim, to pray to our Mother for all her Cuban children and for this beloved nation, that it may travel the paths of justice, peace, liberty and reconciliation [while remaining a one-party police state which obstructs all paths to justice, peace and liberty. As for "reconciliation," there is no way of reconciling with unrepentant evil that does not make us its accomplices — a theological premise that the pope should take to heart]. 

Geographically, Cuba is an archipelago [he is right, for once], facing all directions, with an extraordinary value as a "key” between north and south, east and west. Its natural vocation is to be a point of encounter for all peoples to join in friendship, as José Martí dreamed, "regardless of the languages of isthmuses and the barriers of oceans.” [But certainly not regardless of whether a tyrant oppresses his people or endangers his neighbors. Martí regarded despotic regimes as incompatible with human dignity and refused to live under the sway of any tyrant however outwardly friendly or hospitable. He intended Cuba to be a point of encounter for all the free nations of Our America, not the axis for subverting freedom everywhere on the continent. It is an insult to Martí's memory to suggest that Castro's Cuba fulfills what Martí believed to be his country's destiny. It is, if anything, the negation of that destiny and the antithesis of everything that Martí hoped, struggled and died for. (Since Pope Francis likes to quote Martí in support of what Martí would have found reprehensible, I offer him a quotation that cannot be misconstrued and admits but one interpretation: "Christianity died at the hands of Catholicism.")]

Such was also the desire of Saint John Paul II, with his ardent appeal: "May Cuba, with all its magnificent potential, open itself to the world, and may the world open itself to Cuba.” [Fidel Castro closed Cubans off from the world. It is he who created fortress Cuba and imprisoned 11 million people within its walls. Pope John Paul II was right to ask Castro to open Cuba to the rest of the world, that is, to return it to the concert of civilized nations. He was wrong, however, to ask the world (read the United States) to "open itself to Cuba" since this would entail the acceptance of a tyrannical regime as the representative of the Cuban people in perpetuity. For the world to open itself to Cuba necessarily means that Cuba itself will never be opened to the world. You do not promote justice by rewarding injustice, nor endow freedom by underwriting tyranny].

For some months now, we have witnessed an event which fills us with hope: the process of normalizing relations between two peoples following years of estrangement. It is a sign of the victory of the culture of encounter and dialogue, "the system of universal growth” over "the forever-dead system of groups and dynasties.” [Again the pope misquotes Martí in the best manner of those who proclaim him the "Intellectual Author of the Cuban Revolution." Martí is condemning "the forever-dead system of cliques and dynasties," as represented today by Francis' hosts, who have created a system in Cuba that is the very negation of "the system of universal growth.” The "culture of encounter and dialogue" [no such "culture" is mentioned let alone endorsed by Martí] has supposedly scored a victory because "the system of universal growth” has somehow been found to be compatible with "the forever-dead system of cliques and dynasties," Martí is right — the two systems are incompatible and no amount of encounter or dialogue can make them compatible. Pope Francis is wrong to suggest otherwise and worse than wrong to falsify Martí's thought to buttress his own feeble moral relativism. Encounter and dialogue are of no value in themselves if they lead to the adjuration of justice and the embrace iniquity].

I urge political leaders to persevere on this path and to develop all its potentialities as a proof of the high service [Raúl Castro has performed "a high service?" To whom? The Church? Humanity? The Americas? The Cuban people? The pope no doubt means all of the above] which they are called to carry out on behalf of the peace and well-being of their peoples, of all America, and as an example of reconciliation for the entire world. The world needs reconciliation, as it experiences an atmosphere of a third world war that's happening in stages. [So the reconciliation of the U.S. and Communist Cuba will defuse "a third world war that's [been] happening in stages" since the 1960s when Fidel Castro first tried to blow-up the world and failing that transformed Cuba into the epicenter of Soviet-sponsored terrorism in the Third World. The pope believes that ISIS will lay down its arms because the U.S. has made peace with the granddaddy of international terrorists! In truth, the U.S. could have "peace in our time" with ISIS if Obama offered to surrender to these terrorists without prior conditions also].

I place these days under the protection of our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Blessed Olallo Valdés and Blessed José López Pietreira [sic], and Venerable Félix Varela, the great promoter of love between Cubans and all peoples, so that our bonds of peace, solidarity and mutual respect may ever increase. 

[Blessed Fray José López Piteira (yes, the pope misspelled and misspoke his name) was a 24-year-old Cuban-born priest who was killed by firing squad during Spain's Civil War (1936-39). He was one of 4,000 priests and nuns murdered by Spain's Stalinist "Republicans." Because he was a foreigner, he could have been reprieved, but preferred to die with his brothers in Christ. He was the first Cuban to be beatified. Cardinal Ortega did not attend the ceremony in Vatican Square in 2007, nor did any representative or delegation from Cuba. Ortega even said that Blessed José was not a real Cuban ("cubano cubano") because he been raised and educated in Spain (as was that other "non-Cuban," José Martí). A Cuban killed by Communists for his religious beliefs is not the ideal patron saint for the accommodationist Cuban clergy and certainly a source of great personal embarrassment to Ortega. Still, the pope had no choice but to name him among Cubans worthy of veneration. Perhaps he softened the blow by mangling his name. For more on the Cuban martyr, click here].

[As for the Venerable Félix Varela, he was a priest and champion of Cuban freedom, not just the "great promoter of love between Cubans and all peoples." Pope Francis may wish to explain why three successive popes (including himself) have refused to canonize Varela on their trips to the island when this is customary on papal visits elsewhere. For the answer, click here].

Once again, thank you, Mr. President [does he mean Obama?].

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Guest Post: "What My Millennial Students Can Learn from José Martí"

by Alfred J. López
Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Purdue University
For Cubans and Cuban-Americans, this past summer has been, shall we say, eventful. (Whether you see these events as cause for celebration, condemnation, or deep ambivalence is another matter.) For me, however, the highlight of Summer 2015 was the six weeks I spent in Miami, teaching a course on José Martí at Florida International University. Here at last was the opportunity to bring Martí to the readership I'd envisioned for my recent Marti biography: Third-generation English-dominant Cuban-Americans and other Latina/os and Anglophone Caribbeans, who might have heard of Martí from relatives and word-of-mouth--or politicians--but had not read him.

I expected that the course's focus on Martí's writings on the U.S. and evolving relationship with his adopted country in the late 19th century, and the prominence of U.S.-Cuba relations in the news, would capture my students' interest. But I was more than surprised at the level of engagement and enthusiasm they brought to class from the very first day.

Partly due to the brevity of that summer course, and all the material we covered--Martí's love of North American writers such as Emerson, Whitman, and Helen Hunt Jackson (whose novel Ramona he translated into Spanish), his brilliant Gilded Age journalism, his complex relation with U.S. politics and culture--we never talked about Martí's relationship to them, 20-something men and women in the 21st century. This blog post is my way of trying to compensate for that absence, to share what I never got around to saying in the classroom.

My FIU students--and you millennials reading this--may know what makes Martí intellectually important, academically relevant, and so on. But what you maybe don't quite grasp--what I didn't have time or maybe the skill to give my summer students--is what José Julian Martí y Pérez, a 19th-century writer and revolutionary, might mean to you in 2015. You know, better than your professors do, that it's often the intangible, non-academic stuff that so often "hooks" us on a particular writer--their personal quirks, life experiences, not only the material conditions that produced them and their work but the way that time and place translate into a reader's here and now.
So here's a preliminary and very personal list of what I think you can learn from your old Tío Pepe. In compiling this list, I've stuck to personal qualities and choices that Martí made that seem to translate well into the 21st century. Here goes:

1) It doesn't matter where you come from.
Martí was born into a working-class Cuban household, the son of a Spanish soldier. His mother also hailed from a military family loyal to the Spanish government then colonizing the island. A combination of bad financial decisions, his father's ailing health, and Cuba's own political instability and economic decline plunged the Martís into poverty shortly after his birth in 1853. The family had no history of academic achievement, or of the kind of political activism and organizing that defined their son's life. The odds against someone of Martí's origins and background rising to the forefront of a political movement, or becoming one of the greatest writers and thinkers of his time, were staggering.

No matter what you perceive as your outward limitations--lack of money or opportunity, a difficult family life, geographical remoteness, lack of access to like-minded people or culture--I promise you don't have a bigger hole to climb out of than Martí did. But climb he did. And so can you.

2) Once you find your purpose in life, stick to it.
His obvious intellectual abilities aside--and his brilliance is pretty well undeniable--Martí's greatest asset was arguably his persistence and utter single-mindedness in pursuit of the things that mattered to him. He persevered in the face of obstacles that would destroy most of us: Sentenced to prison and hard labor at 16, he was twice deported from Cuba, the first time before turning 18. Martí spent the next decade as a virtual nomad, living in four different countries on two continents and being expelled or forced out of three of them. He finally settled in New York City in 1881, spending his last 15 years as an exile, in his words "without a country, but without a master." It was from New York, separated from his family and loved ones, that Martí built the revolution that eventually liberated his people from centuries of economic, cultural, and spiritual slavery. He survived years of persecution both political and literal--the reports of Spanish spies and Pinkerton agents assigned to follow his every move fill volumes--and at least one assassination attempt. The decades of stress and adversity wore down what was already a less-than-robust constitution; well before his death at 42, Martí was a physical wreck suffering from a constellation of ailments large and small. None of it stopped him.

More importantly for you, as a young man Martí overcame what was in many ways the most difficult obstacle of all: the disapproval and at times vehement opposition of his family. His loyalist Spanish father was outraged by the teenage Pepe's nascent political activism for a free Cuba. His mother lived in mortal fear (correctly so) that her son's activities would lead him to great suffering. Even the mentor who first inspired and encouraged young Pepe begged him to relent. His work for Cuba later cost him his marriage and relationship with his only son, when his wife, tired of the toils and burdens of the revolutionary life, left New York for good and took their child with her. Through it all, Martí stuck with his inner voice, the political and philosophical compass from which he almost never veered.

Sometimes the people who love you the most and want the best for you--your parents and mentors, your significant other, your best friend--are just wrong. Once you know what's best for you, once you grasp indisputably your path in life and where it may lead, let no one lead you from it.

3) Read. A lot.
Really, this comes down to intellectual curiosity. It's not just about reading books, though Martí did plenty of that--from Shakespeare and Hugo in his youth to Emerson and Whitman, Longfellow and Alcott later on--but about engaging everything, from art to science to sports and everything in between. As the Table of Contents of Martí's Selected Writings amply demonstrates, the sheer breadth of Martí's journalism was staggering; from children's games to amusement parks ("Coney Island"), from political trials and boxing matches to modern art and the Brooklyn Bridge, and the plight of the poor, and high-society balls. He was interested in, and wrote about, just about everything that crossed his path. If Martí were alive today, you better believe he'd be blogging and tweeting and Instagramming, writing about Obama and Raúl Castro but also about Miley Cyrus and A-Rod and Caitlyn Jenner and Super Smash Bros.

Beyond his (not entirely undeserved) image as a dour, somewhat morbid and single-minded person, Martí was a man who loved life, and who embraced the world in all its wonders and horrors. Nothing went over his head, but nothing was beneath his attention either. You should be that way too.

4) Invite others--even your enemies--to share your vision, so it can be their vision too.
In Martí's early years, his single-mindedness got him into a fair amount of trouble (see #2 above). Despite his unswerving dedication to Cuba's liberation, by the time he was a little more than 30 Martí had alienated almost everyone who could help him achieve it. But he soon transformed himself into a master coalition-builder, creating a political and fundraising juggernaut out of what had for decades been a fractious exile community long hindered by backbiting and ideological bickering. He achieved this not by deriding or humiliating his enemies but by using their common goal--the liberation of Cuba--as the ground for a democratic organization in which everyone had a stake and a voice. By the end of his life, Martí had turned lifelong enemies into some of his most loyal and ardent supporters. His genius in articulating a vision of freedom and democracy for Cuba would have come to nothing without his ability to also allow others to see themselves in it and make it their own. As Martí once wrote about the Brooklyn Bridge: "Better to bring cities together than to cleave human chests."

Nothing on this little list is explicitly or narrowly political. Part of that is because the politics and ideological battles of Martí's day were quite different from today's (although the stakes may strike some as being quite similar). But really it's because I believe that Martí is larger and greater than the various ideological boxes into which readers have been trying to stuff him for over a century now, and into which your elders have been trying to get you to stuff him. No matter our individual political leanings, we can all learn from Martí's example, how he lived and what he lived for. We may not all be poets or revolutionaries, but we can all resolve to lead more fulfilling, authentic lives. For the 30 or so students I had the pleasure of teaching this summer, I am hopeful that their time spent with José Martí will help on that journey.

Published originally in the Huffington Post