World Net Daily has an exclusive. They make a big deal about these, of course, though it’s not as if anyone would publish the crazy claims which follow (okay, okay…I forgot about Fox News…)
Remember how just the other day Rush Limbaugh said Pope Francis was a Marxist? This latest WND exclusive seems to double down on that theory: it “proves” that Pope Francis is being influenced by a nefarious KGB plot to inject into Latin American Catholicism Marxist ideas of social justice.
(Isn’t it funny that WND never suggested that Pope Benedict’s thinking was influenced by the Nazis, even though he was a Hitler Youth?)
The author of the exclusive, Ileana Johnson Paugh, Ed.D. offers “proof” that this is true:
In the 224-page document, “The Joy of the Gospel,” Pope Francis critiqued the following.
• The current capitalist inequalities
(Socialism and communism were never equal; there were two classes, Communist Party apparatchiks and the proletariat.)
• “The idolatry of money”
(The Vatican is wealthy beyond belief if one considers thousands of priceless works of art, marble statues, gold and silver icons, urns, crucifixes, chalices and marble cathedrals around the world. Should the Church not follow its direction and distribute all wealth to the poor?)
• “The inequality that spawns violence”
(Many factors spawn violence such as religion, land, drugs, natural resources and power.)
• “Trickle-down economics” – a theory that “expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.”
Why is this proof? Because Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa wrote in a book published by WND in which he argued that, “the Soviet communist-led idea of ‘social justice’ was infiltrated successfully by the KGB into Latin America’s Catholic Church as a religious movement called ‘liberation theology.'”
(Wikipedia tells us that Pacepa is “is a former two-star general in the Securitate, the secret police of Communist Romania, who defected to the United States in July 1978. He is the highest-ranking defector from the former Eastern Bloc, and has written several books and news articles on the inner workings of the communist intelligence services.”)
Because, Jesus never argued for social justice, right? Well, according to Paugh it was the KGB but there is an older source that contradicts her claim: the Gospels.
And if you go to AmericanCatholic.org you will see,
The foundation for Christianity’s involvement in social issues was poured by many of the prophets of the First Testament. Isaiah, Ezekiel, Amos and others called loudly and often for the fair treatment of the disadvantaged. Jesus was unquestionably familiar with their words. In fact… he used Isaiah’s social justice platform in the address that launched his own public ministry.
We find, as I have argued repeatedly here before, that,
Among the Beatitudes, which form the heart of Jesus’ powerful Sermon on the Mount, we find, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Mt 5:6). That positions this virtue squarely in the center of Jesus’ enduring message… Jesus’ concern over the social sins of his day is indisputable.
In fact, Jesus began his public ministry by citing Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Is 61:1-2).
How did Paugh miss that? Did she not read the New Testament? Did she stop at Pacepa’s book and go no further in her search? How, exactly, did she get that Ph.D. and is it in animal husbandry?
(She does not reveal anything about herself on her website other than that she is a “recovering from communism” after living in Romania for twenty years.)
I suppose that makes her an expert on what Jesus is recorded having said in the Gospels (after all, he was born in a manger). Let’s examine this for a moment: It wasn’t Jesus who put social justice into the church but the KGB….was Jesus with the KGB?
On the one hand we have a Romanian communist (who wasn’t in the KGB) saying the KGB did it; on the other hand, even if the gospels are not as old as conservative Christians would like to think, we still have book written within a century of Jesus’ death, based on earlier books and oral traditions, which point to Jesus as the culprit.
(To be fair, the Inquisition – the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – condemned liberation theology for using “Marxist concepts” in 1984 and again in 1986, when former Hitler Youth Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, argued, essentially, that the Beatitudes have no practical application for the living.)
What are we to think? If you read one of those Bibles the KGB missed, it begins to look, as Reza Aslan proclaimed on Nov. 30 for The Washington Post, that, “If you don’t like the pope, you won’t care much for Jesus.”
The only defense left conservatives then is to insist Jesus never said it. This is a strange claim to make of a book that is, according to The New Yorker, the ultimate best-seller:
The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year. Calculating how many Bibles are sold in the United States is a virtually impossible task, but a conservative estimate is that in 2005 Americans purchased some twenty-five million Bibles—twice as many as the most recent Harry Potter book. The amount spent annually on Bibles has been put at more than half a billion dollars.
We can draw several possible conclusions about these facts:
- Conservatives are insane to think they can fool anyone into thinking Jesus was not a proponent of social justice (since he says he is and because so many Bibles are in circulation);
- The KGB has cleverly and diabolically re-written every Bible ever sold all the way back to the second century of the Common Era, missing only those copies anyone actually bothers to read; or,
- All those people who buy Bibles…well, they don’t read them; Therefore,
- Conservatives are not insane to think they can fool anyone into thinking Jesus was not a proponent of social justice.
This last is a dismal thought, that despite all those Bibles floating around out there, nobody reads the damned things, that people would rather have WND and Fox News and bigots of every stripe, tell them what Jesus said, rather than finding out for themselves.
Paugh argues elsewhere that liberals want “to keep rising generations uncontaminated by knowledge, and safe from the vice of reasoning” but it would seem that the opposite is true. And sadly, intellectual laziness is a vice that plays straight into the hands of conservatives like Paugh engaged in re-writing not only history, but the Bible, doing away with the historical Jesus and turning him into an apologist for plutocracy.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.