Religion & Fascism: Examination of Conscience in a Time of Advent

In yesterday’s DM, I referred to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s contribution to the authoritarianism afoot in current American politics. 

The largest, loudest and longest demonstration outside the annual meeting of Catholic bishops was led by Joseph Strickland, dismissed from his Texas bishopric by the pope on November 11. WBAL-TV 11 Baltimore

The Conference recently declared that their number one priority this upcoming presidential election year will be: Abortion.  Not the destruction of democracy and rule of law; and not even Climate Change, the subject of not one but two encyclicals by Pope Francis.  

In the most recent, Laudate Deum, the pope calls out the United States in particular for its lifestyle that uses seven times the amount of fossil fuel energy per person than persons of the Global South.  Did that touch the moral conscience of American Catholic bishops?

Religion contributed mightily to the selling of fascism in the 1930s via Fr. Coughlin’s antisemitic radio program which reached 30 million listeners in a population of about 150 million.  

David Kertzer, author of “The Pope At War: The Secret History of Pope Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler,” and Amna Nawaz discuss new revelations on the relationship between Pope Pius XII and Adolf Hitler in the early days of WWII. PBS NewsHour

Mussolini, Franco and Hitler used the church in their reigns of terror just as many white evangelicals back today’s version. 

The recent papacies of JP II and Benedict XVI made it their priority to destroy liberation theology in Latin America in cahoots with the then Opus-Dei driven CIA.  And to appoint young hierarchy in their own image, many of whom are still operating today.

The outsized role that Opus Dei and its philosophy carries with the current Supreme Court is clear.  Leo Leonardo is their poster boy.  Opus Dei is the brain child of the most corrupt, misogynist and fastest-declared-“saint” in history, Jose Escriva, a fascist Spanish priest whose followers were on the cabinet of Spanish fascist dictator Franco for years. 

“Women are worth more than our wombs” Protest for Roe v Wade at the U.S. Supreme Court, May 2022. Photo by Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash

Fascism with its extreme homophobia and misogynist anti-abortion politics seem to hold a special appeal to some Roman Catholic hierarchy in America today.  Consider Archbishop Strickland, Cardinal Burke, his buddy Steve Bannon and the Opus Dei archbishop of Los Angeles, for starters, the latter having led the National Conference of Bishops for several years including canonizing Junipero Serra.

Let the season of Advent be a fitting time for collective examination of conscience regarding religion’s role in the history of American fascism.  

To be continued

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

And Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.

Also see Matthew Fox,

Banner Image: Bible Baptist Church sign: “We Need to Reinforce God and Patriotism.” Photo by Gilbert Mercier on Flickr

Queries for Contemplation

Do you think abortion should be religion’s number one priority in the upcoming presidential year?  If not, what would be your number one priority?

Recommended Reading

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

Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society

Visionary theologian and best-selling author Matthew Fox offers a new theology of evil that fundamentally changes the traditional perception of good and evil and points the way to a more enlightened treatment of ourselves, one another, and all of nature. In comparing the Eastern tradition of the 7 chakras to the Western tradition of the 7 capital sins, Fox allows us to think creatively about our capacity for personal and institutional evil and what we can do about them. 
“A scholarly masterpiece embodying a better vision and depth of perception far beyond the grasp of any one single science.  A breath-taking analysis.” — Diarmuid O’Murchu, author of Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics

In the Beginning There Was Joy: A Cosmic Celebration for Kids of All Ages

The first book in the Father Fox’s Fantastical Fables series tells the story of the big bang and how humans fit into the awesome, fantastical, cosmic picture! In this full-color, beautifully illustrated book, world- renowned theologian Matthew Fox weaves together modern science and classic spirituality in a whimsical, entertaining format to illustrate important truths to readers aged 4 and up. With artwork curated from illustrators around the world, this book expresses the joy and wonder of all peoples and cultures, planting seeds of respect, cooperation and hope to work together for the healing of our planet.
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6 thoughts on “Religion & Fascism: Examination of Conscience in a Time of Advent”

  1. Avatar

    With deep gratitude for Matthew Fox and this group I pray daily. Without this daily medication I would be lost. I appreciate the information so I may follow my conscience. I have 8 adult children, including partners and 6 grandchildren and friends. I take my role as Matriarch very seriously. I need these teachings to help educate me. I want to be Faithful to Christ. Love and peace to you.

  2. Avatar

    To the question: Absolutely Not!
    It was not surprising though given the makeup of these bishops. They are going to lose more Catholics over this. It seems to me that they’ve accomplished their objective already, as the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v. Wade. What do they want now? It’s misogynistic.

  3. Avatar

    No! 1)Climate change and it’s underlying basis on our capitalist economic system;2) the growth of fascism/authoritarianism around the world; and 3) the underlying causes of social injustice around the world should be priorities for the church and all religions.
    On a deeper spiritual level, all religious institutions need to address the need to balance Divine
    Feminine~Masculine Sacred Energies in our personal and societal spiritual values/lives in order to heal and transform deeply rooted, historical, and toxic patriarchal values in our human institutions (including religious ones) that have been destructive to humanity and our earth.

  4. Avatar

    Climate related issues are the most critical to address. Abortion should be a matter of conscience and health. I have to believe that if God has a place for a soul, he will find an alternate person if necessary.

  5. Avatar

    Probably 20 yrs ago I attended a presentation showing a no. 1 initiative by the US Catholic Conference of Bishops which was all about how the oil and gas industry was a destructive force in the world, especially in Africa. They were hoping to gain traction and were making it a priority, and said that its promotion could even cost a billion dollars. I was impressed and shocked. That was the last I heard of it. I don’t know if was the Boston sexual abuse scandal but it saddened me that -in my opinion- their credibility was lost and this great work was going no where.
    It’s one of those occurrences in my life that has me wondering, “was anyone else there? Did I really hear that?” I tried to find out more afterwards and never did. It was either wholly unsuccessful or silenced. The time couldn’t be more ripe for it.

  6. Avatar

    Absolutely not–it is a private matter between a woman or girl and her doctor. It is one more issue showing the authoritarian control that the church should be fighting, not supporting. The number one danger to our world is injustice, which includes the destruction of ecosystems and all forms of oppression of people.

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