Why the Serra Canonization? Part II

Under Pope John Paul II there was a concerted effort to dismantle the role of the “devil’s advocate” that had been in effect since the sixteenth century. The devil’s advocate’s job was to look critically at all the evidence and witnesses regarding a proposed “nominee” for sainthood.  JP II effectively removed that dimension to canonization.  The results have been abominable—and predictable. 

Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva. Photo: Oficina de Información de la Prelatura del Opus Dei en España

The very first person canonized in this “new” version of sainthood was Josemaria Escriva, card-carrying fascist, admirer of Hitler (yes!), pal to Spanish dictator Franco, rabid sexist, and founder of the far right wing secretive cult named Opus Dei, several members of which served on Franco’s cabinet.  One can only guess at how much money was transferred under the table when the Vatican rushed through his canonization in absolutely record time. 

Josemaria Escriva’s  secretary of six years wrote a book about him but was never called to testify at his canonization process.  She details his regular screaming at women servants about him, his secrecy and spying on members (especially female ones) and much more.  All this I lay out in detail in my book The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved.

John Paul II and then-cardinal Josef Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Under the JPII papacy, 108 theologians were silenced, expelled from their orders, or banished from the Church.

(I wanted the subtitle to be “What can be saved” but the publisher insisted on the latter.   I will always be grateful to him, however, for having the courage to publish the book because no other publisher I approached would dare to take on the Vatican.)

A second person canonized sans devil’s advocate was Pope John Paul II himself, the man whom history will remember as the one who brought the Inquisition back.  I list the names of 108 theologians (I was just one of them) he silenced and expelled, several of whom died of heart attacks, had nervous breakdowns, or ended life in poverty when their livelihood was taken away from them. 

Obituary of Cardinal Law, former archbishop of Boston, revealed to have moved priests accused of pedophilia from parish to parish instead of addressing the allegations. After Law’s forced resignation in 2002, Pope John Paul II promoted him as archpriest emeritus of the Basilica Maria Maggiore in Rome. Uploaded to YouTube by Al Jazeera English

In so doing he put fear into generations of theologians that followed and indeed “killed theology throughout Europe,” according to a professor of theology at my alma mater, the Institut Catholique de Paris. 

In bed with the CIA, JPII brutally attacked liberation theology and replaced prophetic bishops and cardinals in South America with Opus Dei yes men.  One very knowledgeable priest told me JPII was “responsible for at least 10,000 murders in South America,” of lay and clergy fighting for social and eco justice. 

JPII was silent about pedophile clergy and supported many far right wing sects besides Opus Dei.

Fr. Marcial Maciel at the ordination to the priesthood of Legionaries at Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy, 2004. Photo by DominikHoffmann on Wikimedia Commons.

This includes Communion and Liberation and the Legion of Christ whose founder, Father Marcial Maciel, traveled often with JPII as a special favorite. While raising more cash than any Catholic in history, Maciel ran a completely fascist “order,” sexually abused numerous boys in his seminary, was a drug addict, had two wives on the side, and sexually abused his own children.

Then there is Serra.  Again, no devil’s advocate.  Money talks.  Enough said. 

The corruption in high places that our generation has witnessed is not restricted to the White House, attorney generals, or the supreme court.  Roman Catholics endured  34 years of malfeasance under two popes who turned their back on Vatican II.

See Matthew Fox, The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, pp. 106-144.

Banner Image: St. Peter’s Square, The Vatican, Rome, is dominated by the 25.5-meter obelisk at the center of a circus that was started by Caligula, completed by Nero, and used for chariot races and the public executions of Christians. The circus now lies beneath the square and basilica. Photo by Tim Rawle on Flickr

Are you surprised that the removal of the devil’s advocate in the canonization process might lead to some checkered results? 

The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved

The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic Christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.”   — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

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5 thoughts on “Why the Serra Canonization? Part II”

  1. Avatar
    Anne Marie Raftery

    Matthew: Thank you for uncovering to the lay folks some of the deep
    evil practices of life in the Vatican. I reckon that these and such are just
    the “tip of the iceberg” if the whole truth were ever to be revealed.
    Long live Pope Francis….

  2. Avatar
    Martha Hamilton

    Thank-you so much for your bold courage in presenting the truth. Stepping forward to expose corruption is not an easy task by any means, and we all have benefitted from your willingness to do so. Positive change will not occur until the honest facing of what needs to change is embraced. Then our collective consciousness can step up and require things to be different. Out in the open is the best place for the illumination of the insidious destructive forces that have done so much damage, and you are succeeding in this forward movement.

    1. Carol Kilby

      Thanks, Billy, for your question. These morning meditations, and their wide readership, are testimony to the fact that people do care about the truth. We can take hope from the truth-speakers. Along with Matthew, there are many other truth-speakers and seekers such as yourself in these times.

  3. Avatar

    Matt Fox I learn so much from your meditations! Things I had no idea of before. As a Catholic I am keenly aware of the backlash to Vatican II that’s gone on for this long. I remember the excitement of the new music, customs, liturgies, inclusive language, which has now regressed to He and Men, etc. it’s why I have a love/ hate relationship with the church. And go often to other churches where I hear speaking out against injustices as issues to be concerned with, Black Lives Matter, Gun violence, lgbtq brothers and sisters. My favorite pastor is the Rev William Barber. ( sigh)

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