ANSWER: Name this socialist

t byfield tbyfield at
Thu Aug 12 08:31:51 PDT 1999

>Date: Wed, 11 Aug 1999 21:15:22 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Michael Pollak <mpollak at>
>Subject: Re: ANSWER: Name this socialist
>On Wed, 11 Aug 1999, t byfield wrote:
>> read up
>> on the fine examples of stoogery, quislingdom, and explicit fascism
>> he's zealously advocated with his innovative fast-track canonizations.
>Actually I've been kind of intrigued by the politics of canonization.
>Are there any books or articles in particular you'd recommend?

sadly not--just what i picked up in passing. it seems to be a weirdly touchy subject; and it's obverse, disposing of retroactively inconven- ient saints (e.g., the saint formerly known as christopher) even more so--when i was nosing around this subject ~10 years ago, there was no- thing written on it at all, and i mean in a dozen languages. but the process of canonization has been 'radically' revised under JP2 in ways that have caused quite a bit of fuss; and some of his nominees--tous- saint the new york society hairdresser, queen isabella, what's-his-name the founder of the opus dei--have occasioned particular notice, so a bit of searchiong should turn up lots of material. i don't remember i penny lernoux's books have bibliographies, but if they do there should be some good material there.

also worth noting was his endorsement of the new, improved satan and, with that, of the new procedures for exorcism. lucky you, i just happen top have filed away a decent article on it (see below).

JP2 seems to be quietly obsessed with the fact that he's the pope of the non-turn-of-the-era and ramping up doctrine to cope with the fact that jesus ain't coming back anytime soon. apocalyptic fervor has a nasty habit of effecting serious redistributions of capital, so if JP2 was an 'economic radical,' as nathan claims, it'd be a breeze to help the poor, just like in Y1K: ecclesiastics could slyly remind the rich that it's easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get through the gates of heaven, and--voila!--there'd be a lot fewer poor people. instead, he's focused on instituting neostal- inist doctrinal control and pursuing narrow agendas that are rapidly shrinking the numbers of people entering the clergy *ergo* funneling more money and power into fewer hands--hence the phenomenon of these superchurches with congregations in the thousands. and shoring them up with new-style saints who exemplify subservience and submission, in place of the more troublesome kinds of folks who used to be canonized.

oh, and then there was the minor matter of the alleged 'bulgarian con- spiracy to bump him off.' problem is, the assassin had much closer ties to motley fascists (e.g., the white wolves) than to any commies. but who cares about details when you're battling the evil empire? iirc, the bulgarian conspiracy theory first appeared in..._reader's digest_, in an article written by a certain claire sterling, whose CV has CIA all over it like white on rice. i don't remember the vatican objecting very loudly to fabrications that served JP2's anticommunist agenda--and i don't mean any generic or abstract 'opposition to actually existing socialism,' i mean the western cold war establishment.

(cat [driscoll], if you're interested, JP2 a/k/a karol wojtyla [sp?] has also published a bad juvenilia play, called something like 'the clock- maker' or 'the watchmaker' or somesuch.)

i really should add that nathan's complaint about 'unidimensional analysis' is an illusory artifact of his ignorance combined with his rather, um, theological worldview. there's a lot of sophisticated commentaries out there; but the claim that the pope is an 'economic radical' is just silly. it's pretty hard to take very seriously any endorsements of unionism when they come from a guy who broke the back of liberation theology--and *at least* turned a blind eye to theologial justifications of murderous repression under the rubric of 'separating the wheat from the chaff.'

cheers, t --- 5

January 25 1999 EUROPE The Prince of Darkness is being cast in a new light in time for the millennium, Richard Owen writes

Bad become mad as Vatican reformers drive Satan out

The Vatican, which ten days ago decreed that God was not to be imagined as "an old man with a white beard", will this week seek to recast the image of Satan, arguing that the Church needs a "more subtle and sophisticated" definition of evil for the millennium.

A Vatican commission of theologians and liturgical experts has revised longstanding 17th-century rituals governing exorcism, or the casting out of devils. A new formula drops references to Satan, or the Devil, as the embodiment of evil, in favour of definitions more compatible with modern concepts of "psychological disturbance".

"In revising the form of words for exorcism, we have re-thought the nature of the evil we are trying to root out," one member of the commission said. Officials said the Church was not revising "scriptural references" to the Devil or suggesting that people should cease believing in "the Evil One". But priests conducting exorcisms should deal with evil as a force "lurking within all individuals" rather than as a force, traditionally embodied as Satan, threatening human beings from without.

Definitions of "demonic possession" and the rituals for dealing with it have largely remained unaltered since Pope Paul V (1605-21) issued the Rituale Romanum in 1614. It was revised under Leo XIII (1878-1903) but not substantially changed.

Monsignor Corrado Balducci, the Vatican's chief exorcist, said the Church had to adapt to modern thinking and "be more careful in distinguishing between possession by evil spirits and what are more commonly called psychiatric disturbances".

He added: "We are changing the rules for the millennium as part of the continuing process of liturgical reform which followed the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s."

The new definition will be presented tomorrow by Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Esteves, Prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Cult and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

According to Vatican officials, under the new rituals priests will be encouraged not to refer any longer to the Prince of Darkness, the Accursed Dragon, the Foul Spirit, the Satanic Power or the Master of Deceit. Instead the formulas refer more vaguely to "the cause of evil". They also introduce for the first time an appeal to the Virgin Mary to help to combat evil in an "afflicted individual", a reflection of Pope John Paul II's personal commitment to the Marian cult.

Both Old and New Testaments refer to Beelzebub, the Evil One, or Satan, with the Devil often depicted as Lucifer, a rebel angel expelled from Heaven, a theme taken up in Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. The Revelation of St John (xii.7) describes "war in Heaven between the angels" (led by Michael) and "the Dragon, that ancient serpent who led the whole world astray whose name is the Devil, or Satan".

Jesus cast out demons in several famous New Testament passages, and St Mark (i.13) and St Matthew (iv.1-11) both record that Jesus was "tempted by Satan" during his 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness.

But some modern theologians regard the depiction of Satan as a reptilian beast with cloven hooves, wings and a tail, as a medieval invention, and prefer St Augustine's definition of evil as "the absence of good".

According to Signor Balducci, every Roman Catholic diocese is supposed to have at least one priest qualified in exorcism. Under the rituals currently in force, the priest lays his hands on the head of the possessed person while reciting the words exorcitio te.

He then calls out ex cruciem Domini while wrapping the hem of his stole round the neck of the possessed and keeping his right hand on his or her head. Exorcists say that the evil spirits emerge "sometimes a bit at a time, and sometimes in one big convulsion".

Father Gabriele Amorth, president of the International Association of Exorcists, said he had examined 40,000 alleged cases of demonic possession, and of the "small number" which turned out the be genuine he had successfully dealt with 130.

"There is no harm in carrying out an exorcism where it turns out to be unnecessary, whereas not to carry out an exorcism where it really is needed can be catastrophic," Father Amorth said.

Monsignor Balducci said that of every 1,000 people who turned to an exorcist for help, only "five or six" were in reality possessed by evil spirits. Thirty cases in a thousand qualified as "demonic obsession, infestation or disturbance". The rest were "in need of psychiatric help".

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