So, about that whole Bergoglio the Fascist Fiend narrative

Reader Irenist writes:

On the Wikipedia vetting process, and the way that journalists and comboxers who cite to it will end up with the results of a GIGO algorithm if they don’t wait until the initial edit war for a newly prominent page dies down, I found this instructive exchange on the talk page for the Pope Francis article this morning:

involvement with argentinian dictatorship

The following sentence “Verbitsky also writes that the Argentine Navy with the help of Cardinal Bergoglio hid the dictatorship’s political prisoners in Bergoglio’s holiday home from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission” should be removed as it is not true. The note links to the source which is an article on “The Guardian”, but the article itself has been amended on this regard with an apologising note stating this is not actually true — Preceding unsigned comment added by 83.244.243.165 (talk) 13:39, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes Done. Good catch, I verified the change to the cited source and removed the incorrect content. Andrew327 14:13, 14 March 2013 (UTC)

(my italics). N.B. that the Guardian, one of the Anglosphere’s more prominent mainstream papers (although of a left-liberal bent that is openly admitted in the European fashion, rather than hypocritically denied, in the fashion of the Acela Corridor), was propagating this psuedoknowledge, too. Here’s the article in question, to which, among other prominent American news sites, Andrew Sullivan was pointing people yesterday in that knee-jerk way of his that has led him into believing all sorts of nonsense (uranium in Iraq, e.g.) without properly vetting things: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/jan/04/argenitina-videla-bergoglio-repentance?rss=1

For a vitally important take on the far graver psuedoknowledge problem that happens when journalists cite made-up nonsense in Wikipedia as fact without acknowledging that they got it from Wikipedia, leading to the journalist’s own article becoming the cited source for the now dangerously credible psuedo-fact when another Wikipedian subsequently edits the article, it’s worth checking out the xkcd cartoon on “Citogenesis,” which is one of the most incisive commentaries on the perils of Internet rumor ecology I’ve ever seen:

Citogenesis

Note to Combox Star Chamber members *and* fans of Francis: This does not mean Francis is a Living Saint Above Criticism.  As the careers of other recent hastily anointed Living Saints have demonstrated over the past decade, the Church is smart to wait until saints are dead to call them saints.  But it does mean (for Star Chamber members) that due process and adequate fact gathering is still a duty, even when your bigoted soul hates the guy.  Otherwise you come off like a prosecutorial jerk who will buy any internet rumor if it strokes your bigotry.

Here’s what we *do* know: that Wikipedia link that formed the backbone for the Combox Star Chamber prosecutors who instantly condemned him as a torturing murdering fascist turns out to be , ‘ow you say?, a load of dingo kidneys.  Here’s the Guardian retracting that whopper (one wonders how you “accidently” charge somebody with conniving to hide political prisoners from human rights advocates: “Ooops!  We *meant* to say he pled for the lives political prisoners and rescued them from the regime”):

This post was amended on 14 March 2013. Hugh O’Shaughnessy’s original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors in the period of military dictatorship. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human right abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s “holiday home”. These references been corrected.

Oh, and speaking of human rights advocates, it turns out this smear was raised at the last conclave.  So John Allen, Jr., reporter for the arch-conservative National Catholic Reporter called the zealously right wing Amnesty International and several Jesuits who were not notably fans of Bergoglio.  They scotched that lie and pointed out that Bergoglio had rescued two priests from the regime.   In short, it’s really looking bad for the Bergoglio the Fascist Fiend propagandists.

The reality is that most of us in the English-speaking world know very little about him, because he a) speaks Spanish and most of the press on him is in that language; b) seems to have a certain affinity for Calvin Coolidge in terms of his volubility.  What we do know so far is this (collated by Steve Kellmeyer):

As archbishop of Argentina:

We also know this:

My favorite title for the Bishop of Rome is "Servant of the Servants of God."

Meeting Pope makes baby hungry.....<br /> Pope Francis during a newborn mass in  Buenos Aires, March 24th 2005.<br /> Photo source - Today's Spanish newspaper EL PAIS, Fotogalery titled ' Before becoming Francis'. Author: Daviel Vides (AFP)</p><p>http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2013/03/14/album/1363255027_914375.html#1363255027_914375_1363255173

So to the atheist combox trolls who were so eager to believe the worst, it would appear that you have nothing to support the Bergoglio the Fascist Fiend narrative.  In light of this, it would be good if those so eager to accuse would do two things:

First, use your intellect instead of worshipping it.  When somebody tells you a priest of seven years with this guy’s rep for spartan living had a “holiday home” dust off your vaunted “critical intellect” and question such an assertion.  Otherwise, you come off like a credulous bigot (which, you know, you are).

Second, it turns out (as Francis demonstrates above) that the poor and suffering are actual human beings and not simply useful tools and stepping stones for you to fake concern and register fake dudgeon against the object of your bigotry.  So in future, I would urge you to imitate Bergoglio in actually caring for the poor and not merely use them as disposable tools for pummeling the object of your bigotry.  It kind of makes you look like a heartless tool without the normal complement of social and affective skills of normal people.  If you want to shake the whole “Napoleon Dynamite with a Mean Streak” image that so many Evangelical Atheists so richly deserve then try to actually *care* about poor people and not just use them.  If you aren’t sure what to do, just imitate Bergoglio.  He’s been living with and caring for the poor for decades while you’ve been doing what again?

  • Advocate

    After reading Pope Francis’ homily yesterday, I’m willing to trade a few small ceremonials, like the red mozzetta and some initial liturgical awkwardness) for the the big, raw chunks of orthopraxis he threw at us.

    • http://www.usmc.mil S. Murphy

      Yes, he did, didn’t he?

  • Faith

    I might be stating the obvious, but I have not seen anyone actually mention this: since Pope Francis is a Jesuit, didn’t he take a vow of poverty? So could that be why he rejects things like fancy robes, palaces, fancy parties and prefers public transportation, cooking for himself, fancy robes, etc. Seems like he is just living out his vow which continues even as he is Bishop and now Pope.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      They also promise not to accept ambitious positions except when required to out of obedience to prevent them from sin. I’m pretty sure that once Francis became a bishop in the first place, he was only nominally a Jesuit. He certainly wasn’t liable to the Superior anymore.

      • Faith

        I thought they were perpetual vows? No? If the Pope asks you to be a bishop and you’ve vowed obedience to the Pope, don’t you kind have to say yes???? I don’t see any contradiction here. If he isn’t really a Jesuit and hasn’t been for a while, why the big deal that he’s our first Jesuit Pope?

      • Harpy

        I might be all wet, but I thought the promise was to never to “strive or ambition” for a high office in the Jesuits or in the church. I don’t think in itself this precludes serving in those positions. After all, there is a “Superior General” in the Society of Jesus. There could be a conflict with the vow of poverty, but in the little I have read he seems to continue to take that vow seriously given what has been asked of him. Anywhos … just my 2cents ..

        • Andy, Bad Person

          I will never strive or ambition, not even indirectly, to be chosen or promoted to any prelacy or dignity in or outside the Society; and I will do my best never to consent to my election unless I am forced to do so by obedience to him who can order me under penalty of sin (Constitutions S.J., Part X, N°6 [817]).

          Yes, there are reasons why this vow can be dispensed with; I was never accusing the Holy Father of anything untoward. It seems that when a Jesuit becomes a bishop, though, he loses his voice in the Society and is essentially a Jesuit in name only.

          • Harpy

            Thanks for the complete quote from the constitution, I had only ever seen it summarized.

            One question I have is whether it is necessary for the vow to be dispensed in any way. If he was appointed Bishop by the Pope, and then Cardinal by the Pope and then Pope by the college of Cardinals – wasn’t he obligated to accept? I would expect that a fully formed Jesuit owes obedience to both the Superior General and the Pope. Wouldn’t he still be in compliance with both the spirit and letter of his oath?

            Not trying to be argumentative, I find this question fascinating … .

            • Kate

              I’m not sure if this helps, but I seem to remember that Cardinal O’Malley was released from his Capuchin vows upon taking on the position of Bishop. Perhaps this is the case with any priest who has professed vows to an order when he is elevated. But if someone knows more, please correct me.

    • TheRealAaron

      Maybe it’s different for Jesuits, but I asked a Franciscan bishop once how being bishop affected his vows. He said that bishops have to own things, so he had to be dispensed of his vow of poverty. He didn’t specifically address obedience when I talked to him, but I would assume he is no longer under obedience to the head of his province.

    • Susan

      I can’t TELL you how many Jesuits I have seen (primarily at universities, but not only) living very, VERY indulgent and regal lives! I do not know if the order has a vow of poverty – I assume it does – but it may be kept” more in the breaking of it, at least by the dissidents!

  • The True Will

    I also turned up old posts from people asserting that a Jesuit could not become Pope because of the Fourth Vow. Make sense to anyone? I immediate thought of the line in Philip Dick’s SOLAR LOTTERY: “Then I will be the first man who was under oath to himself.”

    • Faith

      Maybe the Holy Spirit trumps the vow in this case. If your fellow cardinals vote you to be Pope supposedly by promptings from the Holy Spirit, perhaps in this one case, your vow no longer makes sense and so no longer applies. I have no idea at all. Interesting question though.

    • Susan

      Luckily the pope doesn’t really own anything. Look at JPII’s last will and testament (or the Church equivalent). He had nothing.

  • The True Will

    Is anyone else reminded of the reaction to Sarah Palin? I mean, the Two Minutes Hate sessions started when she had been the “presumptive nominee” for, well, two minutes.

    • Molly

      Thankfully, nothing about Pope Francis reminds me of Sarah Palin. ;)

  • Jared

    We also know he’s a member of the Argentinean Chesterton Society

    • Mike

      If true, wonderful but do we have any supporting docs?

      • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

        It looks like he helped organize a conference for them in 2005, at which he said Mass. Here’s a link listing him as a conference organizer on their “Committee of Honor,” (if that’s the correct translation):
        http://www.sociedadchestertonianaargentina.org/conferencia2005/comisiones.htm
        For more on the 2005 conference (in Spanish), try googling this:
        “Sociedad Chestertoniana Argentina” Bergoglio
        Don’t bother with an English-language search; if you try something like
        “Chesterton Society” Bergoglio
        you’ll just get a bunch of results from American Chestertonian bloggers commenting on the new pope.

        • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

          Oh, extremely cool find: The “Sociedad Chestertoniana Argentina” homepage has a translation of Chesterton’s poem “Lepanto” into Spanish by (the agnostic but still staggeringly great) Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Wow.

  • http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com JoAnna

    “Use your intellect instead of worshipping it.”

    Love it!!

  • Susan

    GREAT POST Mark. Do I hear any of the writers of the ugliest comments coming back here to apologize?

    ….crickets chirping…..

    • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

      I think Mark may have banned a few of the worst.

      • Mark Shea

        Anon is gone. I think this is just “faith free” under a different handle, judging from the IP. It’s odd who “Faith free” is so shackled to his obsession with hanging around the Church and throwing rocks. Lots of atheist do this: proclaim their liberation and celebrate it by endlessly perseverating over the Faith. I don’t think stalkers are what I would call “free”.

  • Susan

    Just a note on Communion and Liberation. The Pope is indeed close to this movement, and wrote a chapter for the book “A Generative Thought: Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani” (founder of the movement, started in Milan). He is not a member, however. He is in fact a very good friend of several other ecclesial movements and Societies of Apostolic Life of the Pontifical Right, most notably Latin America (and now North America’s) Christian Life Movement – their SOALPR is the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV – laymen, priests and bishops), of which Alejandro Bermudez is a member – the Alejandro Bermudez who heads the Catholic News Agency (NOT the CNS) and who was on EWTN last night as a good friend of Pope Francis, who has known him for years.
    The CLM was founded in Lima Peru by layman Luis Fernando Figari, who was ALSO the victim of a Wikipedia drive-by: for awhile there was all kinds of bizarre lies about how he “listened to the speeches of Hitler to get ideas.” Thankfully the Wikipedia editing process is improving…slowly. Figari was often an invited speaker at the Synod of Bishops held under JPII and B16.
    Anyway, the CLM and SCV are very active in Denver – brought by their good friend Cardinal Stafford, and strongly, strongly supported by Archbishop Chaput. Archbishop Samuel Aquila is another good friend, as is Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles who brought the women’s side – the Marian Community of Reconciliation, whose members are known as Fraternas – to Los Angeles. This movement has universities, schools, clinics, an architectural firm, and much much more and are in all the major Latin American cities.
    With the love Pope Francis has for them, as do the most faithful US bishops, it wouldn’t hurt to learn more!

  • Bella

    Just a note on Communion and Liberation. The Pope is indeed close to this movement, and wrote a chapter for the book “A Generative Thought: Introduction to the Works of Luigi Giussani” (founder of the movement, started in Milan). He is not a member, however. He is in fact a very good friend of several other ecclesial movements and Societies of Apostolic Life of the Pontifical Right, most notably Latin America (and now North America’s) Christian Life Movement – their SOALPR is the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV – laymen, priests and bishops), of which Alejandro Bermudez is a member – the Alejandro Bermudez who heads the Catholic News Agency (NOT the CNS) and who was on EWTN last night as a good friend of Pope Francis, who has known him for years. As Cardinal, Bergoglio personally invited the SCV to open a community in Argentina.

    The CLM was founded in Lima Peru by layman Luis Fernando Figari, who was ALSO the victim of a Wikipedia drive-by: for awhile there was all kinds of bizarre lies about how he “listened to the speeches of Hitler to get ideas.” Thankfully the Wikipedia editing process is improving…slowly. Figari was often an invited speaker at the Synod of Bishops held under JPII and B16.

    Anyway, the CLM and SCV are very active in Denver – brought by their good friend Cardinal Stafford, and strongly, strongly supported by Archbishop Chaput. Archbishop Samuel Aquila is another good friend, as is Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles who brought the women’s side – the Marian Community of Reconciliation, whose members are known as Fraternas – to Los Angeles. This movement has universities, schools, clinics, an architectural firm, and much much more and are in all the major Latin American cities.

    With the love Pope Francis has for them, as do the most faithful US bishops, it wouldn’t hurt to learn more!

  • Bella

    Sorry for double post – Mark, please remove one – I was using someone else’s computer and logged in under her name!

  • Mike

    Fantastic exposition of the smears and the outright bigotry masquerading as “critical thought” among the lights. Brillian, thanks again.

    I am sending links to the haters I know.

  • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

    Still more evidence in this morning’s Miami Herald that it would be nice if people waited a day or two for facts to emerge before spreading and believing rumors:

    BERLIN — A Jesuit priest whose kidnapping by the Argentine military junta decades ago led to strong criticism of the newly elected pope said Friday that he and the pontiff have reconciled.

    The Rev. Francisco Jalics, who now lives in a monastery in southern Germany, said in a statement that he had talked with the Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was named Pope Francis on Wednesday, long after the 1976 kidnapping of himself and fellow slum priest Orlando Yorio.

    Bergoglio has said he told the priests to give up their slum work for their own safety, and they refused. Yorio, who is now dead, later accused Bergoglio of effectively delivering them to the death squads by declining to publicly endorse their work.

    “It was only years later that we had the opportunity to talk with Father Bergoglio … to discuss the events,” Jalics said Friday in his first known comments about the kidnapping, which occurred when the new pope was the leader of Argentina’s Jesuits.

    “Following that, we celebrated Mass publicly together and hugged solemnly. I am reconciled to the events and consider the matter to be closed,” he said.

    It looks like Fr. Yorio thought that the future Holy Father should have endorsed Marxist Liberation Theology publicly so he and Fr. Jalics would be able to continue preaching it under Fr. Bergoglio’s aegis, and that Fr. Yorio may have remained bitter that this never happened. (Of course, Marxist theology being heretical, it never could have happened.) Fr. Jalics, on the other hand, has publicly forgiven his brother in Christ for whatever may have happened in those days.
    Source: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/03/15/3287440/priest-kidnapped-by-junta-reconciled.html#storylink=cpy

    So, the only living victim here wishes to move on. Andrew Sullivan, whose sincerity and willingness to apologize are a pleasant balance to his knee-jerk lack of skepticism, has said of this news about Jalics:

    That doesn’t exactly exonerate Bergoglio on the facts but when the victim has reconciled with the alleged violator, and considers the matter closed, we can look forward rather than back.

    Are atheist inquisitors in the comboxes here going to follow the examples of Jalics and Sullivan? “Dare we hope that all [comboxers] will be saved” from the compulsion to keep yammering on about this? We’ll see.

    • Jon W

      “Dare we hope that all [comboxers] will be saved”

      I think even von Balthasar would despair.

  • JK

    Rorate Caeli has a follow up on whether Abp. Bergoglio was hostile to the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. I’m not trying to stir up animosity toward the Holy Father, but it does seem that there’s more to the story than the link you provided.

  • http://prodigalnomore.wordpress.com The Ubiquitous

    Just a note regarding the TLM. The Hermeneutic of Continuity issued a retraction.

  • Advocate

    Fr. Z has a pretty definitive discussion of what Pope Francis’ motto actually means (and it isn’t Miserable yet Chosen):
    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2013/03/what-does-the-popes-motto-really-say-the-latin-motto-explained/


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