the real battles of the religious right and left




Mat 10:14 If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.    16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 

As I was reflecting on the Examen, the Spiritual exercises of the Jesuits, I am reminded on how how focused the Jesuits are and how they have seemingly changed from the murderous counter reformist 400 years ago to the founders of Liberation Theology. God can be very different to many. For some, it is Jesus Christ, for others the saints, and for some, the Church itself and its structures and hierachies. For others, the divine is within, and found in love, in humanity itself. Who do say God is? Is God black or white?

"St Igantius - Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it" Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola

If we had lived in the 16th century, fighting for the church would have meant sacrificing our humanity and conscience where black becomes white. This was the case of the Jesuits ruled by the General, acting in stealth and cunning, where the the end justifies the means, as long as it serves the greater good of the church. Humanity is denied and is sacrificed for the greater good of the church. But it seems that after 400 years, the Jesuits became more humane.

For the Jesuits, liberation became a liberation from poverty rather than Liberation from death unto eternal life. They de-emphasised Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Rather, salvation is liberation from poverty and lack against the elite, the rich and the powerful. Hence, Christianity was the champion of the oppressed against the oppressors.

In Nov 1991, the Time Magazine reported a shocking event where John Paul II removed the leader of the Jesuits and replaced him with his own men - Paolo Dezza, 79, and Joseph Pittau, 53.  John Paul II was against the Liberation Theology especially the nomination of the Rev. Vincent O'Keefe, an American liberal, to run the order. 

John Paul II was a strong supporter of another secretive Catholic Order - the Opus Dei meaning  "The Work of God" . Opus Dei's founder, Spanish priest Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, was made a saint by Pope John Paul II. Today, there are over 100K members of Opus Dei more than three times the Jesuits. Founded in Spain in 1928, it is deeply secretive and ultra conservative. One has to be invited into Opus Dei and it is difficult to leave.

The members of Opus Dei lived in a controlled environment and not free to make their own decisions. It hides behind the church and is secretive and manipulative. It's infamous for its practices of self-flagellation or self beatings where as Jose Maria puts it, "Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain. . . Glorified be pain!". They needed to suffer because Jesus' stripes didn't bore their sins. They have to be justified by their own works. Their works became the "Work of God".

The Opus Dei, has the status of personal prelature of the Pope, which meant that it worked worldwide outside the control of the local bishops and report only to the Vatican. The Opus Dei looks beyond the church to the World domination driven by economic wealth of the rich and political power. The rise of Opus Dei meant the demise of the Jesuits and the fall of Liberation Theology. 

It was the Opus Dei being the most right wing of the Catholic Church who had championed an anti-gay aggenda.  In the States, it has reported ties to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).  

The Opus Dei prospered being linked to the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco where dissent was quashed and in the 40s, a total of 50,000 were killed. He won power through a military coup against a left wing Government who had championed the separation of state and religion.  The Protestants have not been left out, we have the rise of the New Apsotolic Reformation with the Pentecostals and Charismatics taking the lead. Again the State and Religion is seen as one.

In the Aware saga in Singapore, the Protestants were accused of being militant as they attempted to take over the secular women group. They had a victim mentality because they can't find their real enemy which is not as imaginary as some liberals would have us think. The mega churches is not in the right of Christianity but the most conservatives hidden elements within the Catholic Church such as Opus Dei eager to maintain its power. Here there are no absolutes as long as the churches power, wealth and strength is maintained.

There is such a grave contradiction in the Catholic faith where seemingly liberal, yet the Pope vehemently condemns gays. Gay marriage goes too far. The Jesuits Liberation theology was to counter the rise of the Pentecostals. But it meant breaking down of the church to the angst of Opus Dei. Once, the priests are not married to the church, their alliegence may be compromised. The fear of the church is not a "redefinition of marriage" but that marriage to include the priests. Marriage is not defined as between one man and one woman but between the priests and the church. Gay marriage raises a slippery slope of de-constructing the power structures of inequality. 

 Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam ("For the greater glory of God")

For those in the conservative secretive far right, the church is divine and worships her and do anything for the greater glory of the church. The kingdom of god is the church membership. Jesus is the figure head whose power has been passed down to the head of the church. Only what the church says is absolute.

The Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is a strong supporter of Opus Dei visiting Rome in year 2002 for the anniversary of its founding. Gay marriage is a grave and mortal danger for some Christians not because they are anti-gay, but because it impacts the hierachy and power structures of the church. The maintenance of power, wealth and glory is a religious goal that had meant gays are to be sacrificed for the greater good of the church.

In "A Response to an imagined critic from North America" by Ulrich Duchrow (professor of systematic theology at the University of Heidelberg, Germany) , on "Why Liberation Theology is necesarry for us all", he frames his argument based on America as being the oppressor and putting dictators into power for her own interests. Yet the greatest supporters of Liberation theology outside Latin America were the Jesuits in America.

Ulrich claimed that "present way of life and economic system has no future" forgetting that the present way of life is not only economics, but of military power and religious system. At the center of it is the maintenance of a rigid church power structures which would be undermined by gays, the weakest group in society. Gays breached the space between men and women where once there was a clear binary of differences.

As we hear the loud voices of those who proclaim that traditional marriage is between one man and one woman, and for marriage not to be redefined, what they actually meant to the hierarchical church is that marriage is between the priest and the church. The "one woman" is the priest, and "one man" symbolises the church.    The women is surpressed at the lowest rung of the church, for the priests who were men were supposed to be married to the church. The Opus Dei was known for its segregation between men and women.

The Kingdom of God is not the Kingdom of this world. We don't worship the church or humanity or the secret church orders such as the Opus Dei. We worship Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, who brings us into to the Kingdom of God where Christ is the head. For the head of the Church is Jesus Christ, and no man, woman or Saint can ever replace.

We go back to the Prayer of Examen. The presence of God here is the presence of the Holy Spirit of God revealing the measure and goodness and the salvation of Jesus Christ. It is not for us to recognize the presence of God for the Holy Spirit is not at our bidding. Rather, we are to invite the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, and looking at each day with thankgiving for the blessings of God because of Jesus' Christ.

We are all in a battle whether we like it or not. It's important to know what one is really standing for, that the name of Jesus and His grace may be glorified.


Prayer of Examen - Mars Hill

Finding the movement of the Spirit in our daily lives as we review our day. Recognize the presence of God

[Be still and know that you are with God.]

Look at your day with gratitude

[Acknowledge God in the big and small things of life.]

Review your day When or where in the past 24 hours did you feel you were cooperating most fully with God’s action in your life? When were you resisting? Ask yourself § What habits and life patterns do I notice? § When did I feel most alive? Most drained of life? § When did I have the greatest sense of belonging? When did I feel most alone? § When did I give love? Where did I receive love? § When did I feel most fully myself? Least myself? § When did I feel most whole? Most fragmented? Reconcile and Resolve Seek forgiveness Ask for direction Share a concern Express gratitude Resolve to move forward




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