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Thu Feb 21, 2013, 10:15 AM


TRANSCRIPT: Former Catholic Priest Matthew Fox on Ratzinger, Opus Dei & The Broken Catholic Church [View all]

I interviewed Matthew Fox on February 13th. This is part one of a two part interview. Here's a link to the audio podcast.

Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.

I met Matthew Fox about nine years ago when we were both speakers at the first Mythic Journeys conference an amazing event bringing together writers, mythologists, psychologists, poets. At the time, I was running the Storycon Conference on the art science and application of story, which I'd founded two years earlier, and which ran for six years.

Matthew Fox was first stopped from teaching Liberation Theology by Cardinal Ratzinger, then defrocked. He has since lived an extraordinary life. But he also brings a unique point of view on Pope Benedict, the next pope the college of cardinals will choose and today's Catholic Church.

Excerpts from Transcript:

Rob Kall: OK. Well let me slow you down and get you to give a little more details on a couple of things you said. You described him as "Bringing back the Inquisition." What do mean by that?

Matthew Fox: That he fired all the Theologians, and he hounded them; like in my case, he expelled me from the Dominican Order, of which I'd been a member for 34 years, and he silenced me for a year, and then expelled me three years after that. Father Boff, the most read theologian in Latin America, he hounded him, silenced him, and then, Boff quit the Franciscans, of which he was a member for many years. The most read Catholic Theologian in Germany was a psychologist Priest, Eugene Drewermann; and he hounded him, and kicked him out of the Priesthood. So, that's what the Inquisition means, you're not free to think! They spread fear. The three of us were the most read Theologians on our Continent, and all of us were expelled, one way or the other; and so they spread fear to other Catholic thinkers. You know: "Don't think too much, and just stay in line."

In addition, by pushing Opus Dei and these Right-wing groups that are all about obedience and not about Theology, they are sending a message that "The Pope knows everything, and it's all about just obeying what the Pope and the Curia has to say." So, what do you get then, with a dumbed-down church? You get the Cardinal Law's, you get the cardinal Mahony's, you get the sexual crisis, the pedophile crisis, because you don't have men of conscience and intellect overseeing things. You have people that don't know what to do when they hear there's a pedophile Priest, they just hide it under the rug. Obviously that's no way to go.

Rob Kall: And basically, this was not just about influencing them, because they were creating whole movements, particularly in the Americas, right? Liberation Theology was a really big deal that the Pope basically (with the help of Ratzinger) killed, right?

Matthew Fox: Absolutely. Emasculated, absolutely. And it was a big deal. First of all, it was such courageous people who, for example, on behalf of the rainforest Indians in the Amazon, stood up to the corporations who were tearing down the rainforests willy-nilly; stood up to the military government of Brazil. Cardinal Arns of Sao Paulo was a real hero who stood up to the military there, who were in charge for like 18 years. And it's out of that movement that in fact Silva, the fine President of Brazil, he came from that movement, as did the President of Uruguay who used to be a Bishop, actually. You know, a lot of leaders now in South America, which has really become much more Democratic in the last thirty years, these people came from the Base Community and Liberation Theology movements.

On the other hand, the Pope, was backing Pinochet, this horrible dictator who has blood on his hands from torturing and murdering priests, nuns, and lay people. Pinochet, of course, was put in by the American CIA. In the proof of my book, the CIA under Reagan worked real closely with the Vatican to destroy Liberation Theology. That was the goal of the National Security group under Reagan, and I footnote that. That's well documented now. They had a meeting. They said "We can't destroy Liberation Theology, but we can split the church." And that's how they got the pope and Ratzinger splitting the church, and we're still dealing with some of that fallout today.

Rob Kall: Tell me a little bit more about what Liberation Theology was and is about. Does it still exist at all? What's the Status of It?

Matthew Fox: Good question. If you talk to many South American Liberation Theologians today, they'll say "We used to serve the church, now we serve humanity." So they've broadened their, if you will, their agenda, their scope; they realize the church, as now constituted under Ratzinger and the previous Pope, is impossible to deal with, because Opus Dei is now running so many of the Dioceses in South America, and of course, more and more they're forming Opus Dei Bishops and Cardinals in North America too. The Bishop of Los Angeles, the largest Diocese in North America, is Opus Dei now, the new Bishop there, who will be Cardinal soon.

Rob Kall: One thing I've wondered: is it possible for there to be a Catholic Church, a Catholic Religion, that is bottom up as compared to the ultra-hierarchical system that begins with the Pope?

Matthew Fox: That's a great question, and that's really what I concluded in my book on the Pope. It's that I think the Holy Spirit has been at work destroying the Catholic Church as we know it. That is to say, exactly how you're identifying the top down thing. It's just lost all credibility. This horrible revelation of, not just the Priestly Pedophilia, but the coverup of the priestly pedophilia by hierarchy; like Cardinal Law, like the Pope, and like Cardinal Mahony now. All this coverup, that's the real crime. To think people at the top, the CEOs so to speak, would act on this this out of moral necessity, but they didn't. They swept [it] under the rug to protect the institution.

Look at Penn State, look what happened at Penn State. Within two years they fired everyone, they took down the statue of this icon, this hero football coach, and they got moving. But here, it's been thirty [30] years since the horrible news abut Father Maciel, this Priest that Pope John Paul II was so close to that he took him on his plane with him when he went places. This Father Maciel had abused twenty [20] of the seminarians, sexually abused them. He had two wives and four children, and he sexually abused them, all of the rest of it. And Ratzinger knew about this and did nothing. After he was Pope he finally did something, but he knew about it well beforehand. That's absolute fact. And it was his job as head of the congregation, doctrine, and faith, to do something, and the Pope knew about it and did nothing.

Rob Kall: .....Now, Matthew, you talk about some big changes, but are they really possible with the powerful hierarchy that exists right now that is used so effectively to silence anybody that speaks out?

Matthew Fox: Well, that's why I have very, very little optimism about the next Pope, because they've sacked the Cardinals, the people who vote for Popes. All the men they've appointed the last forty [40] years think like themselves, which means they'll do nothing new there. So that's why I think the Holy Spirit has asked us to step beyond the structure that we know as the Catholic Church. I think that it's run it's course.

And I'm not alone in this at all. A very great Saint, a Father Bede Griffiths was a monk in Southern India for fifty years, a Benedictine monk, and he said to me shortly before he died a few years ago, "Don't worry about the Vatican, don't look over your shoulder, don't even think about them." He said, "Continue to 'plant shoots' for the new Christianity, because one day it's all going to come tumbling down, just like the Berlin Wall." And I think we're living through that day.

Every day these revelations - just this week they finally printed the documents from the L.A. Diocese. Of course, Mahony sat on them, got high priced lawyers to sit on these documents for seven years (I believe it was). And the documents just absolutely reveal that Benedict XVI knew about this, Cardinal Mahony knew about it, they did nothing about the pedophile Priests; they passed them from parish to parish, diocese to diocese, even country to country, instead of protecting the young people. The credibility is gone, and the structure has run out of steam. So I just don't think we should be putting a lot of energy into electing Popes and all the rest, I think we have to, like your program says, start at the grass roots. There are a lot of wonderful grass roots Christians and Catholics, and Priests and Sisters, who know about the essential teachings of Jesus.

Rob Kall: Now, there's an Oped in the Wall Street Journal today that says "Catholics needed a Pope for the new evangelization." What does that mean, "New evangelization?"

Matthew Fox: Yeah. You have to be careful with that word, because the Right Wing loves to play with that. But in a basic sense, evangelization means "Preaching good news." It's really the meaning of the word "Gospel." Evangelium: The Good News. So, that could be taken innocuously, but on the other hand, that's kind of a code word, evangelization, for a lot of Right wing Catholics.

That's another scary thing about [what] Ratzinger and John Paul II have done. They put wind in the sail of extreme Right wing people who get on television all the time saying that they represent Catholicism, and they don't. They represent these cults like Opus Dei, who is very powerful. Opus Dei is this movement that was backed wholeheartedly by the last two Popes, and they're secretive, and they're very powerful.

I'll tell you a story. I was in Frankfurt a few years ago and a journalist took me to lunch in downtown Frankfurt, and he said "Look out there. How buildings do you see being built?" I said, "It looks like seven skyscrapers." He said, "Yes. Every one is about finance, because the head of finance is moving from Switzerland to Frankfurt because of the Euro," and he said that "At the top of each of those skyscrapers will be Opus Dei." So, Opus Dei goes where the power is.

And in America they're embedded in a lot of media, they're certainly represented in the Supreme Court. Citizen's United happened because of five votes from five Roman Catholics Supreme Court Judges. That Citizen's United thing is about as Fascist an idea you can come up with, the idea that Corporations are people. Mussolini defined Fascism (and it's a quote) as " The marriage of corporations and Government." Well, isn't that what Citizen's United is all about? Tell me that it isn't! That's what I read in it. American's are so naïve. You know, we think that religion is someone dressed up pretty in white and blessing people - well there's a lot going on behind the scenes. And that's what I tell about in my book, The Pope's War, because we're not just talking religion here, were' talking politics.

Do people know, for example, that when Kerry ran against Bush II in that election in 2004, in June, you know, right in the middle of the election, Bush went to the Pope, went to Vatican and complained, and said, "I'm against gays, I'm against abortion. Why don't the Catholic Bishops support me more?" A week later, Ratzinger, the Pope's right-hand man, wrote a letter to the Bishops of America saying "A Catholic politician (i.e. Kerry) who does not come out against gays and abortion should not receive communion." And this just totally flipped the Kerry campaign upside-down, because Kerry is a practicing Catholic, and they didn't know how to handle it. But the results of the election show that three states, New Mexico, Ohio, and Iowa had a very peculiar percentage never before seen of Catholics who voted for a Republican president, for Bush. If just one of those states had not had that result, Kerry would have been President and not Bush.



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