The power and the inglorious
Two of Mexico’s most prominent clerics — Cardinal Juan Sandoval of Guadalajara and Bishop Raúl Vera of Saltillo — have both come under fire this past month for their apparent forays into political matters.
Bishop Vera, whose support for Coahuila’s “Ley de convivencia” (“registered partnerships”, including those of same gender couples) and outreach to groups traditionally under-serviced or turned away by the Church I’ve mentioned before,
… is under investigation by the Vatican over his sponsorship of an organization that condones sodomy, according to Mexican press sources.
Saltillo area newspapers are reporting that Vera has received an inquiry from unnamed Vatican officials regarding the Gay and Lesbian Community of Saint Aelred (San Aelredo).
LifeSite … has consistently called for … Gravel — briefly a separatist member of the Canadian parliament — to either renounce his views on abortion and homosexuality or give up the priesthood.
While Father Gravel, who resigned from Parliament in obedience to a Vatican ruling that priests could not hold elective office, claims to adhere to Church teachings on those two issues and blames Life Site for a campaign against him personally, based on his nuanced views on the two “hot button” issues:
Father Gravel opposed Bill C-484 [which would have made an assault on a pregnant woman an attack on a second person, i.e., the fetus] not because he was pro-abortion, he said, but because he was against “recriminalizing” abortion.
He also joined other priests in 2008 in addressing an open letter to Quebec’s bishops calling on them to support same-sex marriage and oppose new Vatican regulations regarding homosexual priests.
At the end of each of its reports on Father Gravel’s controversial public statements, LifeSiteNews put the name and address of the priest’s bishop, and when that produced no results, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Similarly, articles on Bishop Vera and the San Aelredo community (which is less a parish, than a club for gay and lesbian Catholics, served by the same chaplain who oversees outreach to prisoners and migrants) also include the names and addresses of Bishop Vera’s superiors, and the Vatican offices to which one should address complaints.
I admit I don’t follow Mexican conservative religious publications, and wasn’t able to find mention in the Saltillo newspapers, but I have seen no mention of any scandal, or even controversy, surrounding the San Aelredo community in the national press, although there have been plenty of complaints from the right about Bishop Vera for other reasons. He has recently complained to Interior Minister Blake and Patricia Bugareli, the head of the Federal organized crime task force — to their faces [my translation]:
Citizens … continue to suffer the consequences of an irrational war, filled with Constitutional and human rights violations , in which the only strategy has been violence, and which has abandoned and denied at any cost the administration of justice.
Your war has not touched those who harbor the criminals, those public servants who aid and abet them, nor does it pursue or attempt to apprehend those who continue doing business and amassing wealth with blood money earned through multiple and various crimes, which have killed more than 50,000 Mexicans.
On Sunday, Bishop Vera described the high salaries paid to some local authorities as “insane” given that the wages paid to the average worker barely feed his or her family. If that. In other words, a typical work week for a Bishop who sees his job as “comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable.”
While it is plausible that Mexicans have complained to the Vatican authorities about Bishop Vera, given the rather low-key (and practically non-existent) complaints about the GLBT outreach in the Diocese of Saltillo, and the many complaints about the Bishop’s challenges to the status quo, and his seeming support for the political left in Mexico, I’m not at all surprised that Hoffman and Life Site News (read mostly in the United States and Canada) has had nothing but praise for Cardinal Sandoval (most recently for “protesting the recent passage of a homosexualist ‘human rights’ amendment to the nation’s constitution by the Mexican Senate”). And, has said not a word about a far more serious Church-state conflict in which the cleric is at fault, at fault, at most grievous fault.
As Duncan Tucker reported in the (subscription required) Guadalajara Reporter two weeks ago (21 July 2011), Cardinal Sandoval
…sought help from the U.S. government to prevent popular leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from winning the 2006 presidential election, according to a WikiLeaks document * released last week.
Sourced from the U.S. embassy in the Vatican, the cable reveals that Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez asked Francis Rooney, then U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, if President George W. Bush could help prevent the possible election of Lopez Obrador, the candidate of the left-of-center Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).
The cardinal was worried by the rise of popular socialist governments throughout Latin America, the likes of Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and more moderate leftists Christina Kirchner and Michelle Bachelet.
Sandoval described this as a “dangerous trend,” fearing that AMLO, as he is commonly known, would lead Mexico in the same direction as the aforementioned governments. He also said that levels of “crime and violence had risen in Mexico City” under the government of AMLO, who was mayor at the time.
“The cardinals felt the poor in Latin America did not understand the potential benefits to them of free markets and urged U.S. government help, acknowledging that the Church, though necessarily cautious, can also play a greater role,” reads the leaked cable.
In a statement published on his website on Friday, AMLO said he had no doubts that Sandoval had solicited U.S. help against him, and reaffirmed that he had been robbed of the presidency.
Sandoval has since denied the allegations, declaring it “gravely irresponsible to publish this false information.”
To which, one must ask, whether the U.S. Ambassador (the cable mentions that he and the Cardinal were not the only ones at this meeting), or the Cardinal is the one who needs to confess to telling a lie. As it is to call a truth a falsehood, and a falsehood a truth.
Ironically (or maybe not so ironically), it’s that impunity that Bishop Vera spoke of that’s kept Sandoval out of the courts (and likely out of jail) for his irresponsible — or shall we say sinful? — behavior.
* 06Vatican61, released by Wikileaks on 11 July. A cable released 28 July, 05Vatican562 reveals Vatican distrust of Latin American leftists, including AMLO goes back a year before Sandoval’s discussions with the U.S. Ambassador.