Armando Valladares, Castro’s political prisoner for 22 years, said his Catholic faith was strengthened behind bars by hearing young Catholics shouting “Viva Cristo Rey,” for “Long Live Christ the King,” and “down with communism!” as they faced the firing squad. It has been his hope that Cuba would one day be free of communism. But he is far less hopeful now that Pope Francis has taken measures that he says “objectively favor the political and ecclesiastical left in Latin America” and could undermine the “Christian future of the Americas.”
Meanwhile, Marxist writer Richard Greeman has written an extraordinary article, “Catholicism: The New Communism?,” arguing that “progressive forces” have “captured” the Vatican, and that Francis is conducting a “purge” of traditional elements, such as those loyal to anti-communist Pope John Paul II.
Valladares, author of Against All Hope: A Memoir of Life in Castro’s Gulag, was the United States Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission under the Reagan and Bush administrations. He writes in a recent column that Francis was the “most eminent architect and mediator” of the Obama administration deal with Cuba that will “now provide the repressive apparatus of the Cuban regime with rivers of money and favorable publicity.”
He goes on, “We are witnessing one of the greatest examples of media sleights-of-hand in history: From a well-deserved image of aggressor, a regime which for decades spearheaded bloody revolutions in Latin America and Africa and continues to spread its tentacles in the three Americas, has been craftily made to look like a victimized underdog.”
He says the responsibility lies with the unexpected rise of a Francis-Obama “axis” in foreign affairs that benefits Marxist governments throughout Latin America.
Valladares, who received the Citizen’s Presidential Medal from President Ronald Reagan, was sentenced to 30 years in prison in communist Cuba in 1960 for being philosophically and religiously opposed to communism. He was tortured and kept in isolation for refusing to be “re-educated.” He was released after 22 years in prison, in 1982, when international pressure was brought to bear on the regime.
Valladares says it’s not just the Cuba betrayal that concerns him. He notes that Francis overturned the suspension of Nicaraguan priest Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, a former communist Sandinista foreign minister and a leading pro-Castro figure in liberation theology.
Despite his credentials as a political prisoner turned human rights activist and powerful voice for freedom, his column on the Obama-Francis “axis” has received very little attention. An associate says it seems “too politically incorrect,” an apparent reference to the fact that Francis is a global media star for identifying with the poor, and that liberals and conservatives alike are reluctant to criticize him.
Valladares, however, says the pope has gone far beyond taking up the cause of poor people. His column notes that Francis personally attended something called the World Meeting of Popular Movements last October in Rome. “It gathered 100 revolutionary world leaders, including well-known Latin American professional agitators,” Valladares points out. “The meeting turned out to be a kind of marketing ‘beatification’ of these Marxist-inspired revolutionary figures.”
One of the participants in the Vatican event was Evo Morales, the Marxist President of Bolivia who dedicated his election victory last year to Cuba’s Fidel Castro and the late Venezuelan Marxist ruler, Hugo Chávez.
The Vatican’s own description of the meeting referred to changing “an economy of exclusion” and “an idolatrous system of money.” The statement went on, “Together we want to discuss the structural causes of so much inequality (inequidad) which robs us of work (labor), housing (domus) and land (terra), which generates violence and destroys nature. We also want to face the challenge Francis himself sets puts [sic] to us with courage and intelligence: to seek radical proposals to resolve the problems of the poor.”
Valladares isn’t the only one to notice the “radical” or leftward drift of the papacy. Greeman’s article wondering if Catholicism is the “new communism” appears in New Politics, a socialist magazine “committed to the advancement of the peace and anti-intervention movements” and which “stands in opposition to all forms of imperialism…”
New Politics has strong links to the Democratic Socialists of America, a group that backed Barack Obama’s political career from the start. Its “sponsors” include Noam Chomsky, Frances Fox Piven, Michael Eric Dyson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Cornel West and the late communist historian Howard Zinn.
Greeman notes that the world’s Catholic Bishops have “explicitly pointed to capitalism as the basic cause of impending global catastrophe,” in the form of climate change, and have “called for a new economic order.” He was referring to a group of Catholic Bishops who met at the U.N. climate talks last December andblamed “the dominant global economic system, which is a human creation,” for global warming. They argued for “a new financial and economic order” and the phasing out of the use of fossil fuels.
Greeman says the Bishops’ attack on capitalism was generally ignored, even on the left, and he understands why. There have been so many “rapid changes” coming out of Rome “since the ascension to the Throne of Saint Peter” by Pope Francis that it is hard to keep up with them, he says.
Francis will issue a Vatican document, known as an encyclical, on climate change in June or July.
Greeman writes that these “radically anti-capitalist Catholic positions” have got him wondering whether Catholicism is “the new Communism,” Rome “the new Moscow,” and the church “the new Comintern.” The term “Comintern” refers to the Communist International, an association of national communist parties started by Lenin.
Growing up as a “red diaper baby” during the Cold War, Greeman writes, Catholicism was “synonymous with militant anti-Communism.” But changes that started coming years ago in the church have been accelerating under Francis, he writes. He attributes some of this “change” to Francis, who is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a Jesuit, which is a “progressive” religious order whose “solid organization and discipline” and “attempts to take over the Church” go back centuries.
Greeman refers to the Catholic or “universal” Church as “the only actually existing organized world-party,” whose “vast wealth and influence are now in Francis’ hands.” He writes about “the capture” of the church by “progressive forces,” a development which opens up “huge possibilities for human liberation and perhaps a chance for the planet to avoid climate catastrophe.” He believes Francis “and his allies” are now conducting a “purge of the apparatus” in the Vatican.
Writing in Links, an international socialist journal, Canadian activist Judith Marshall discusses meeting the pope during the World Meeting of Popular Movements and witnessing his presentation to the group. “Pope Francis’ forthright statements on the social ministry of the church hearken back to the 1960s and 1970s when liberation theology was such a dynamic force in promoting struggles for social justice, particularly in Latin America,” she wrote. “The symbolism of a World Meeting of Popular Movements which brought a multitude of the poor right into [the] heart of the Vatican has not been lost on those looking for a resurgence of liberation theology.”
Liberation theology was manufactured by the old KGB to dupe Christians into supporting Marxism.
She also insisted that Francis “has arguably made the Papacy the most radical and consistent voice in pointing to the profanity of global inequality and exclusion. He has also repeatedly named the inordinate power of multinational corporations and finance capital as key factors in reproducing global poverty and destruction of the planet.”
She says Francis met with several Marxist activists from Latin America and even met privately with President Morales of Bolivia who “stressed how Mother Earth had become ill from capitalism,” and that “under the prevailing global economy, the planet would actually do better without humans—but humans need the planet.”
In a previous meeting Morales told the pope, “For me, you are brother Francis.” The pope responded, “As it should be, as it should be.”
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org