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All Is Forgiven Comrade Father Miguel!

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You know, Saint John Paul II had a very good reason for suspending Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann back in 1985 from the priesthood.  This was while he was part of the Sandinista  government in Nicaragua  and participated in their persecution of the Catholic Church.  This included Sandinista mobs who tried to shout down the Pope at an open air mass in Managua in 1983, go here to read about it.  Now the powers that be in the Vatican have lifted his suspension.  Why the suspension was lifted is a mystery, since, as Rorate Caeli  indicates, Escoto certainly has not changed his tune:

No, the Maryknoll Sandinista priest Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, 81, who had his suspension a divinis — first decreed by Pope John Paul II — removed by Pope Francis in the past few weeks did not leave his absurd statements and government positions behind, as one might gather from various news reports of the past couple of days that repeated his statements from many years ago. 

Go here to read the rest.  Go here for an interview that Escoto gave to America magazine in 1985.  I only have one  question about this:  What was the motivation that caused the lifting of the suspension of a completely unrepentant  priest who has spent the past four decades as a left wing political figure rather than a priest of Christ?  A slap at the legacy of Saint John Paul II?  A bravo to liberation theology?  A spit in the eye to Catholic conservatives everywhere?  All three?
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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

24 Comments

  1. The motive, I suspect, is an inveterate desire to please the chatterati. Bianca Jagger will like this, so it’s all good.

    I seem to recall an unrepentant heretic in the Irish priest corps who had his suspension lifted a propos of nothing in particular. That priest is an advocate of the cause du jour.

    We’ve had past ages where Popes displayed in bright colors the signature vices of their social circles. We haven’t been there in a while. There is not any doubt in my mind that at least a third of the priests any of us are likely to interact with if we were not self-sorted to Eastern-rite or Latin Mass services are well at home with this sort of thing and have the same sort of dispositions.

    We had for 15 years a Pope who seemed to have no tools at his disposal to repair the damage the Council at done and at times to be indifferent to repairs. We had for 35 years popes who at least acted to contain further architectural damage. Now we have a pope promoting further damage. This pontificate will seem interminable for many.

    You could look on the bright side. At least you’re not Mark Shea and Cdl. Dolan and stuck with the imperative of twisting yourself into a pretzel making excuses for every crass thing Francis does.

  2. I think the Pope was just snookered on this one. From the sound of it, the Pope was given a letter from this guy that basically said “I am old, I will die soon, please can I be reinstated so I can say mass one last time?” The unspoken premise was that he had given up politics and now wanted to become a priest again.

    I applauded the Pope for his willingness to show Catholic mercy. But, it looks like this guy just took advantage of the Pope’s kindness. And now he is on Nicaraguan TV telling us how Fidel Castro – you know, the guy who killed all those people and impoverished his country – is basically a fruit of the Holy Spirit, placed here by God.

  3. I’m not surprised. From the beginning Pope Francis has struck
    me as a left leaning pope who enjoys politics.
    If I remember correctly, Saint John Paul II demanded all clergy
    and religious to stay out of politics. However, Pope Francis is
    signaling to the clergy and religious to return to far left political
    activity, by this act. I would imagine there will be more such political
    activity conducted by this pope, as he politicizes the Catholic
    Church.. It is, after all, the rage throughout the Western World to
    modernize “out dated” institutions.

  4. I think the Pope was just snookered on this one.

    C’mon, I’ve heard of Miguel d’Escoto. You think the former Jesuit provincial in Argentina hadn’t?

  5. What in the world were those cardinals thinking when they elected this pope! What did they expect from him? What were they looking for?

    God bless us and help him, if he was snookered, to find a way to make it right.

  6. I believe that a significant change was introduced into the policy of the CDF with the appointment of then Cardinal Ratzinger as Prefect.

    It has, by and large, confined itself to censuring opinions, rather than persons. Dissident theologians, like Hans Küng have had their teaching censured and their Mandatum removed, but have not been subject to canonical penalties. Fr Küng has never had his priestly faculties suspended.

  7. Pope Frank should have made permanent the suspension based on the so-called priest’s rank stupidity.

    The economic figures are depressing. From 1950-1975 under the dictator Somoza (whose departure was the one good thing the Sandinistas helped achieve) economic growth was the highest in Latin America: 6.8% per year. Per capita GNP in 1977, just before the Communists took over, was $2500 per person. In 1990, when the Sandinista regime fell, per capita GNP was $500 per person. That was the great achievement of liberation theology in Nicaragua.

  8. While most of us posting here do not agree with most if not all elements of liberation theology [there is a Catholic ‘liberation theology’ that was published when Pope Benedict was head of the CDF and received St John Paul’s complete affirmation], it is important to keep in mind that this priest was censured not for his liberation theology but his act of defiant disobedience in refusing to step down from political office under the 1983 Code of Canon Law. That Code is very clear that clergy and religious are not to enter any political office. The issue is one of obedience-not theology or politics. This eighty-one year old priest is no longer in political office-the issue is dead.

    MPS is correct. The Church has set out very clear distinctions concerning false or erroneous teaching. We are all familiar with the true statement, love the sinner hate the sin. The Church has seen that this applies to ‘error’: love the one in error hate the error. Or to put in a form in which it was debated during the Second Vatican Council:
    “error has no rights, but the one in error does”.

    On the issue of liberation theology, there will be those who automatically jump to the conclusion that because Pope Francis even questioned capitalism [in the famous ‘trickle-down economics’ statement] that he is a leftist or as one American radio celebrity called him, a marxist. If that is the case Pope Paul VI, St John Paul in some of his writings [he pushed the CDF for clarification on liberation theology because he did not want a complete condemnation of it] and, yes Pope Benedict [in his social-economic encyclical Caritas in Veritate] must also be ‘leftists’. Of course the real rub is that we cannot ‘judge’ the Church or a pope by political, economic etc viewpoints but only by the Gospel and Church teaching:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, therefore He has anointed Me, to proclaim good news to the poor…..” [Isaiah 61 quoted by Jesus in His first homily in Luke 4] There would be those in the West who would claim that just mentioning ‘the poor’ must make Jesus a ‘marxist’-some saying this favorably; some saying this critically. But is it marxist? And what does the Prophet Isaiah and Jesus Himself mean by ‘the poor’? I do not believe ‘the poor’ can be limited to the socio-economically deprived nor can they be excluded either. The real issue is that the Church has been proclaiming the Gospel of liberation from sin and death [in all their forms] for two thousand years.

    Jesus and His Gospel nor His Church is ‘out’ to overthrow any political or socio-economic institutions. Jesus, the Gospel and His Church are not ‘anti-‘ anything, but ‘for’.
    This old priest with his views reminds me of another priest of the same age in America whom I knew. When one of our Cardinals publicly questioned how a Catholic could be a Democrat [a gutsy but good question] the old priest went into a rage stating that “I was born a Democrat, I was only baptized two weeks later” After I lifted my jaw off the floor I just chalked it up to age, impulse control and being completely ‘out of it’ lol

  9. On the issue of liberation theology, there will be those who automatically jump to the conclusion that because Pope Francis even questioned capitalism [in the famous ‘trickle-down economics’ statement] that he is a leftist or as one American radio celebrity called him, a marxist.

    No, I jump to the conclusion that the Pope’s thinking on such subjects is as sophisticated as you’d find in an American opinion magazine ca. 1985. I do not expect the Pope to be an economist; I just expect him not to talk like Barbara Ehrenreich. He needs to articulate principles and to be in conversation with people schooled in economics and finance and general business enterprise on the subject of whether an economic actor could live by such principles in the terms in which they were stated. It’s not like the Holy See does not have talent on which it can draw.

    A traditionalist priest of my acquaintance dissatisfied with St. John Paul had this to say, “The Pope’s not supposed to say too much”, inasmuch as the more verbiage you produce, the more you can confound people.

  10. Art Deco,

    We have been down this road before. To say that any economic system must have a moral foundation and place the human person [vs some other category] at its center is not naive, unsophisticated etc. The two of us will just need to continue to agree to disagree otherwise we will be carrying on a ‘pairing’ [group dynamics] which will be neither constructive nor illuminating

  11. B:

    Look at the universally tragic results of all leftish experiments.
    .
    See Hayek, “Full [economic-outcome] equality for most cannot but mean the equal submission of the great masses under the command of some elite who manages their affairs. While an equality of rights under a limited government is possible and an essential condition of individual freedom, a claim for equality of material position can be met only by a government with totalitarian powers.”

    .

    Camus: All attempts to create Heaven on Earth result in Hell on Earth.
    .
    J. M. Keynes, “Marxian Socialism must always remain a portent to the historians of Opinion — how a doctrine so illogical and so dull can have exercised so powerful and enduring an influence over the minds of men, and, through them, the events of history.” – John Maynard Keynes
    .
    And,
    “. . . an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world . . .” – John Maynard Keynes on Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital”

  12. We have been down this road before. To say that any economic system must have a moral foundation and place the human person [vs some other category] at its center is not naive, unsophisticated etc. The two of us will just need to continue to agree to disagree otherwise we will be carrying on a ‘pairing’ [group dynamics] which will be neither constructive nor illuminating

    I neither stated nor implied that economic systems do not nor should not have a moral foundation. My complaint is that a public figure who uses terminology like ‘trickle-down economics’ is signaling to you that he thinks about such subjects in newspaper columnists’ bromides. Which he should not.

  13. Smooth move, Papa Frank. Let this guy off but bust on the FFI. I have another reason to dislike this Pope. I shall pray more for him and pray more for his resignation.

  14. I guess my problem with this is analogous to the Pope’s recent comments on Mafia members. He declared them excommunicated. I have no problems with that. But let’s say in the future there is this 81 year old, former Mafia leader. He is no longer “in charge”, but he stands by his past wrongs and even promotes those who are still committing these wrongs. He also promotes these wrongs publically even though, again, he is no longer in charge. I would expect this Pope to publically lift the prior excommunication. Right?

  15. Phillip,

    Although the two examples which you give might initially seem related, they are distinct and not the same, actually. D’Escoto was canonically excommunicated for his disobedience to the canon prohibiting men in holy orders and religious from being in political office. In the case of the mafia there was no canonical act of excommunication. Although reported that Pope Francis had excommunicated the mafia what he said was that their actions etc excommunicated them-prohibited them from approaching the Eucharist. In other words by being Mafia members they excommunicated themselves [There are in fact many acts etc which excommunicate us from the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist and from full communion with the Catholic Church]

    In D’Escoto’s case he needed a canonical lifting of the excommunication before anything else could be done. In the case of your Mafia example, they have no need for this canonical lifting of the excommunication.

    Both examples however need the Sacrament of Penance-whether or not either is ‘repentant’ is a whole other subject

    Hope this clarifies things a bit

  16. Botolph,

    I was an analogy and so not meant to be exact. Such is the nature of analogy. That being that we have a priest, who apparently cooperated with manifest evil (i.e. such as Mafia murders) who remains unrepentent and continues to support such things.

  17. Phillip,

    I both understand and agree with you. The issue however now becomes whether or not he really and truly repents, enters into real conversion, is sorry for his sins and goes to the Sacrament. The issue is his ‘state of grace’/salvation and no longer his canonical status.

    There is a hint in how the Holy Father puts it: he called on his superiors to assist him in his ‘reintegration’ [read full reconciliation] in his order. The lifting of the excommunication was only one step.

    Remember Pope Benedict lifting the excommunication of the four bishops of the Society of Pope Pius X. The excommunications were/are lifted, that did not and does not mean all issues etc are resolved etc. [which sadly they are not]

  18. I have no problem with forgiveness. The problem is, at least as I understand it, is that he stands by what he supported. This goes beyond canonical status etc. It goes to the moral concept of cooperation. And by continuing to cooperate in such a way he provides scandal.

    This is the problem for me. Perhaps not for Pope Francis or anyone else. But for me. For someone to have supported manifest evil and continue to do so does scandalize me.

  19. Phillip,

    I understand. It seems that the only thing that has changed is his canonical status, which was lifted, I believe as an act of mercy especially in regards to his age.

    On a different level this is a good example of what happens to a person totally taken up with their ideological position versus faith identity

  20. I believe as an act of mercy especially in regards to his age.

    The man’s still ambulatory and considered himself well enough three years ago to accept a diplomatic post from Col. Qaddafi. Oh, and isn’t this cute..

  21. Art Deco

    As I also wrote he is a good example of what happens to a person totally taken up with their ideological position over their faith identity

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