Liberation From Fallacies:
A Response to Padre Agostinho Kreutz
by Fray Quirino Peláez
Recently, a certain padre
published a column in the pages of an awful Fascist rag. Usually, this shameful act would hardly be noticed, but the present circumstances of our locality have placed a disproportionate amount of attention to the ramblings of demented authoritarians. A temporary situation, of course, but one that makes it the duty of good Catholics to face and rebuke the falsehoods spit out by the Integralist Fascists and their friends. I apologize beforehand for the extended nature of this text, but even as it stands it can count only as a superficial rebuttal of Integralist lies.
The article in question begins by speaking about the growth of religious activism in the Red Mountain, however, the author sorely misrepresents it. This growth was not some strange outside thing arriving at our community with new ideas and words, but rather a natural development borne out of the homegrown needs of the local population. Indeed, as he puts it, God's message is an immense aid to the poor and dispossessed, like an opioid medicine given to a sickly or wounded man. It was us, however, native Mountaineers, who decided this was the medication we needed, nobody else. The Integralists claim time and again that the Nightingales somehow control the Nación, yet this very padre
cannot avoid confessing that he heard these thoughts on the mouths of the youths of his congregation because that is precisely
where they come from. It is the people of this great land who have taken up the mantles he so callously dismisses, the simple folk, the working folk. For all his paranoid inventions, this padre cannot hide the humble, popular, and real origins of the hopes for Liberation now guiding our people.
The author then goes on to disparage the ideas, the hopes and the dreams of the many many cold and hungry, who are supposed to be his flock, and outright accuses us, those men of the cloth who have taken the side of the meek and the poor, of some form of Heresy. A shocking claim, but one that, fortunately, doesn't hold up against the conscientious study of Scripture. He says we would put Marxism above Catholicism, when it is clear that the truthful application of both doctrines, not plagued by the outside or the accidental but one that grasps their very essence
, is complimentary and even one and the same. Has Marxism been done wrong in the past? Sure. I believe Marx himself did not realize the profoundly Christian nature of his ideas. Yet the Church has made mistakes too, and has apologized for them. Maybe that padre could learn some humility from that.
Is the Raza bad Christians because it helps the poor? Because it sides with the people in their struggle against the oligarchs? Because it aims to put the workers in charge of their affairs and no longer live in bondage (virtual or literal) to a wealthy vicious elite?
At no point have we ever idolized Chávez, but to pretend Jesus' message is anything less than revolutionary is to misrepresent our religion entirely, for it is written of Him that "when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). Jesus took pity on the poor, for they were weak and disorganized. And he loved them. He didn't fear them or slander them, but rather gave them hope and healed their wounds (Matthew 11:5). Christ was not some conservative preacher, speaking of compassion without backing it up, he spoke plainly of the great rewards awaiting those who now suffered: the very Kingdom of Heaven itself (Matthew 5:3).
The Bible is also very clear on its position against the oppressors: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24). The rich become wicked in their power, even though Jesus warned them that coins were not a real salvation (Luke 12:15) and told them to be charitable (Luke 3:11), yet the reality of the situation of Mars is not one of harmony and brotherhood but of chaos and hatred, of greed amassed at the expense of the majority, of the poor being relegated to the margins of public life and the horrors of slavery fueling a military-industrial complex with impunity, only opposed by a few that, far from being helped by those who speak of being pious (indeed, making great noise and proclaiming their piety, as goes against the will of God (Matthew 6:7)) they are persecuted like the first Christians of old. The reactionary "pious" should bow down their heads in shame that they do not aid the Maroons in their rightful struggle, for they are the weakest and most vulnerable children of Christ, his most forsaken flock, driven to desperation and forced to take up arms by the sheer Terror launched upon them.
This man launches shameless slander against the Maroons of Mars, as if the mission of Fray Buenaventura and Nueva Cumaná were not only justified but also Holy. Remember that Jesus proclaimed he was here "To proclaim liberty to the captives [...] To set at liberty those who are oppressed;" (Luke 4:18). It is Jesus's will that we help the downtrodden: "For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me." (Matthew 26:11). And though the slave and the peasant and the worker may seem pitiful now, when they rise up there will be no mercy for those who in their vanity thought they may control the lives of their fellow man: " And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" (Matthew 25:40).
The poor, the maimed, the unfortunate are all here to test us, so that the works of God may be displayed in our compassion towards them (John 9:1-41). And do not think, padre
, that you are somehow exempt from the guilt of not standing up to defend the weakest among your flock, for even with your words you go against the Lord's will:
"Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees,
and the writers who keep writing oppression,
to turn aside the needy from justice
and to rob the poor of my people of their right,
that widows may be their spoil,
and that they may make the fatherless their prey!" (Isaiah 10:1-2)
So where are the principles of Christendom in conflict with social justice, exactly? The good padre has many loud scandalous insults, but nary an argument. He appeals to the word of a Pope, as if we could not also quote the great Francis I when he says: "Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'Thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills." Let us remember it was this same Francis who lifted the block on Saint Óscar Romero's canonization process, and thus gave us one of our most beloved figures to pray to.
In the end, when he has run out of ideas, this padre goes on to accuse the Nightingales of the most vile things. It is not my place to defend our doctor compañeros, I will simply ask that this author present evidence of these fantastic claims. Anyone who has been with them can prove that their ideology is, indeed, that of Revolutionary Humanism, a school of thought that has its roots in the Christian tradition of Saint Thomas More, Erasmus of Rotterdam and Luis Vives. They are good people, and I am prepared to stand by their actions and defend them here.
My father was a factory worker all his life and my mother worked as well. Their words taught me respect, their actions taught me responsibility, their faces taught me the look of pain, and their whole lives put together spoke to me the word of the Lord. A fair, caring, God. One preoccupied with the welfare of His flock, a good shepherd who desires we be safe and free (Psalm 23), not an excuse for the rich and the powerful to keep living off people like my mother and my father. The Lord is not a comfortable refuge for the painful conscience of the privileged but the beacon of Holy light guiding the steps of the poor as they march on to fulfill his will, to build paradise on Mars.
Yes, it is a difficult road, one plagued by many dangers and pitfalls, yet do not despair when you hear gunfire and dogs coming after you, compañeros. Remember the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12). So stay strong, my people. Together, we shall triumph.