Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Word Count – 828

Last Friday, Bernie Sanders ran off to the Vatican.

Yes, he was invited to speak about moral economics at a conference hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. But this is the Senator from Vermont who styles himself as the honest, anti-corruption, pure candidate. This is the candidate for the Democratic nomination who rants against Wall Street, against the one-percenters, against those who have raped and pillage the American middle-class and against Hillary Clinton and her ties to these American plutocrats. Then Bernie, what are you doing traveling to Rome and hanging out with the most corrupt of human institutions; a group of one-percenters so exclusive, it even reject half of the human population? Bernie what are you doing hanging out with the group that has sheltered pedophile for years; that has subjugated women for millennium; that has preached the words of Jesus Christ, but has lived in splendor, in the Renaissance palaces?

In 1944, the Allies bombed the monastery of Monte Cassino, in six months Holy Mother Church had rebuilt it. Meanwhile southern Italy was starving. My parents and their contemporaries never talked about the Church coming to their assistance. No, they still talk about the parish-priest who had a cook and house-cleaner all through the war. The one-percenters were too busy to worry about Italy’s starving people. They were busy fluffing up their gold-embroidered capes so that they could attend the re-opening of the refurbished monastery south-east of Rome. (The gold-leaf in the chapel alone, could have fed hundreds of thousands.)

Senator Sanders has warned against the evils of a corrupt campaign-financing system; he has criticized Bibi Netanyahu for his war-mongering, his treatment of the Palestinians; he has energized young Americans and pulled them into the Democratic primary; he has proposed a social-welfare state that comes to the assistance of average Americans; he has identified the fault-lines in the American economic distribution system. All good and honorable ideas. But he is unwilling to consider any good the American economic systems have created. And for me, it’s this unwillingness, this blinders approach that is at the center of my anger with the Senator and his trip to the Vatican. He can’t overlook Wall Street’s evils, but he can easily overlook the evils of the Roman Church. Evils that include a Pope who put the interest of his institution over those of millions of Jews. While Germans soldiers filled rail-cars the Roman Pope negotiated the safety of the Vatican with the Führer.

But then, I don’t understand American Jews’ and American Non-Catholics’ swooning over Pope Francis. Yeah, he is pushing the monarchy, known as the Roman Catholic Church, towards the poor, but he’s one man. Cardinals and Bishops still live in palaces; are still attended by servants; still ride in limousines. Their life-style is closer to the life-style of Jamie Dimon, president and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, than to the life-style of ordinary Catholics. And yet Senator Sanders pinpointed one dot in this vast canvas, a dot that is consistent with his political message. The Washington Post’s Katrina vanden Heuvel  in her piece, gave Sanders’ narrow vision legitimacy. She placed the Sanders’ visit within the Church’s nineteen century pro-workers’ context. That’s very nice. But Mother Church has come a long way from that stance. Ask the teachers at America’s Catholic schools. They are paid well below the national average, health-care is scrutinized for contraceptives and other pregnancy related options and their retirement benefits are dismal. Senator Sanders, how can you accept the invitation of an organization that promotes these types of worker exploitations? (In modern America, the Church has given middle-class families, who don’t want to send their children to public schools, the option of going to a Catholic school. According to the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the average cost of Catholic elementary school tuition is $3,673 per pupil. In 1970, by contrast, a Catholic elementary education cost just $100. This 3,573 percent increase. A gigantic increase attributed to a dramatic decrease in nuns, monks and priests. All these Religious men and women had to be replaced with lay teachers who needed paid.)

And what are we supposed to do about the American children who were raped by the pedophile priests; the poor Irish women who were exploited by the holy nuns in charge of their care; the Australian boys who were sodomized by the Catholic priests in charge of the orphanages; the Native Americans and Native Canadians who were locked up in Catholic reform schools; the Conversos who were horribly tortured by the papal legates of Sixtus IV; and the Muslims and Jews who were slaughtered by the armies of Innocent II and Eugenius III? Do we hold all those questions, because the topic is workers’ rights and degradation of the environment? Senator Sanders, Ms. vanden Heuvel why is Wall Street’s reign of terror any different than Holy Mother Church’s reign of terror? And Senator, why didn’t you just say, “No”?