The Vatican and the Left

By Coe, Charles J.; Livney, Martin J. et al. | Monthly Review, October 1984 | Go to article overview

The Vatican and the Left


Coe, Charles J., Livney, Martin J., Lewis, Charles Douglas, Duran, Miguel, Marzani, Carl, Monthly Review


THE VATICAN AND THE LEFT

By Charles J. Coe

Years ago life was much simpler. When we were told that someone was a socialist, we did not have to ask, "What kind of socialist?' But today we have so many different kinds that only an avid inquisitor like the late Senator McCarthy can perhaps find a common denominator.

"Is Pope John Paul II a socialist?' was the question posed in the first sentence of Mr. Marzani's article, "The Vatican as a Left Ally?' (MR, July-August 1982). I wondered then if we were about to witness the spawning of a new species of socialism: perhaps Papal socialism. In the months and years that followed I expected that MR might offer an alternative evaluation of the new Pope's role in place of the forty-two page original so extravagantly prettified. But nothing appeared as John Paul II conducted his expeditions into Mexico, Central America, and Poland; nothing, as he intensified his garrote being used to silence the liberal Jesuits supporting people's struggles in Latin America; nothing, as the Vatican's hi-jinx in high finance erupted in scandal after scandal, with one of "God's Bankers' (Calvi) found swinging under Blackfriar's Bridge in London while his predecessor was incarcerated in Sing Sing. When none of these developments brought any comment, criticism, or modification of the mid-1982 evaluation of the Vatican as a potential Left ally, I feared lest "independent socialism' might be metamorphizing itself into "Papal socialism.'

Since left-wing publications are notoriously reluctant to let any humor into their pages, I began to surmise that Mr. Marzani was probably pulling our legs with his rhapsodic vignette of Pope John Paul II. The Wall Street Journal, which is not generally considered a left-wing newspaper, published an analytical article (December 30, 1982) stating that Opus Dei had picked Wojtyla when he was still an obscure prelate to head up the Vatican-- back in the days when Opus Dei's wealthy lay members were sponsoring Franco to be installed dictator of Spain. The WSJ article indicated that a deal had been entered into whereby Wojtyla, if elected, would make Opus Dei a full-fledged Order of the Church, staffing it with enough Churchmen of high status to lift it from lay elitism. Since becoming Pope, John Paul II has mercilessly drained the Jesuits of liberal blood while raising Opus Dei to an accredited Order of the Church.

Both of the so-called God's Bankers, first Sindona and later Calvi, used their Vatican channels to help Opus Dei send millions of dollars to nefarious enterprises, openly reactionary or even fascist, in Latin America, aided by Archbishop Marcinkus of Cicero, Illinois. As the debt load mounted and private creditors were refused payment of Vatican-backed obligations, Italy's largest bank, the Banco Ambrosiano, was plunged into bankruptcy.

Instead of cleaning up this financial flimflam, Pope John Paul II has tried to cover it up and deny responsibility, thereby avoiding repayment to innocent victims. Only the pressure of the Italian government, which has been threatening to extend governmental supervision to the Vatican's privileged financial operations, has permitted some light to penetrate into the darker recesses of Vatican financial hanky-panky.

From some of these revelations, there would seem to be grounds for looking into the charge of close Mafia links with the Vatican financiers. Just how left-wing forces might participate in an alliance with the Vatican and its current cohorts would seem to require more concrete clarification than has been provided so far.

By Martin J. Livney

Since you printed the article "The Vatican as a Left Ally?' quite a few things have happened, and I wonder if you care to write another article in which you could state a few more up-to-date facts.

I have been very interested in what the Pope has been doing in this past year, but cannot see at all where either the Pope, or the powers around him, have changed too much that one can call him an "ally of the left' by the farthest stretch of the imagination. …

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