Wednesday, December 28, 2005

"Cardinal Pinochet"

Just the other day, after years of judicial relay-racing, the Chilean supreme court ruled that the country's former dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, is fit to stand trial over what's become known as "Operation Colombo," the disappearances of at least 119 Pinochet opponents in the mid-1970s, who are believed to have been killed due to their opposition to the Pinochet regime. Somewhere in the region of 3,000 Chileans were killed for political motives over the course of Pinochet's 27 years in power.

Of course, as there is no greater fan of silencing perceived "dissidents" by any means necessary than the former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez -- pictured here indulging in his cherished post-retirement pasttime of playing Mother to new Tridentine dynasties -- Medina has made no secret of his support for Pinochet and the former dictator's regime at every possible opportunity over the years.

Just so I'm reminded, cardinals are supposed to be pro-life, right? Even Tridentine-sympathetic ones? But, then again, for any conservative worth their salt, what's so horrible about offing a couple thousand liberal nuisances in the grand scheme of things?

That, cari fratelli e sorelle, is what we call the Gospel of Life gone out the window. For further information viz. United States of America, Republican Party.

As recently as last October, Medina said in referring to Pinochet that "There is no sin that can't be forgiven," implying that he should be forgiven. The cardinal has spoken on numerous occasions of Pinochet's "suffering," and how he has prayed for him. Medina and Pinochet have dined together on several occasions recalling Valparaiso (the city of Pinochet's birth and Medina's archiepiscopate) and the cardinal's support for the former dictator was such that he became known in some progressive curial circles as "Cardinal Pinochet." Even Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga took a swipe at Medina's support of the Pinochet regime in a 2002 interview with The Tablet.

But, as should be expected, the watershed piece on the ties that neo-fascism binds comes from The John Allen Archives....
In an interview with La Cuarta de Santiago, [Medina] called Pinochet’s Oct. 16, 1998, arrest in England a “humiliation” to Chilean sovereignty that the church “deplored.”

Medina had earlier intervened for Pinochet in late 1997, when the Chilean government was considering revoking the former president’s status as senator-for-life. Medina said the constitution granting him that status should be respected; the Chilean foreign minister said he didn’t think a member of the hierarchy should issue political opinions.

In 1990, when Chile was struggling to make the transition from Pinochet’s rule to modern democracy, Medina voiced doubts about the project: “The fact that democracy exists does not automatically mean that God would want it to be put into practice,” he said Aug. 3, 1990.

It's somewhat jarring to think that any churchman would seek to treat a megalomaniac despot with pastoral charity while reserving his scorn for those good-intentioned ones who only ever sought to do faithfully the work which had been entrusted to them, not harming even a fly in the process....

Four words for Medina's fanbase: Conservatives, handle your business.