MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Antonin Scalia is rumored to belong to the secretive Catholic Opus Dei Society, which is said to number about 100,000 world wide. Its main tenets are that God is an authoritarian and, therefore, Opus Dei adherents support dictatorial societies; that women stand behind men in life; that mass should be in Latin; and that God created a natural order of life in which the rich are rich and the poor are poor -- and the divine order of inequality shouldn't be disrupted.
In fact Opus Dei, which is so covert that it won't even reveal its membership, has neither denied nor confirmed if Scalia belongs to the highly conservative theological church within a church.
Nevertheless, these and other beliefs of the renegade right wing Catholic cult are basic to Scalia's rulings on the Supreme Court.
It remains to be seen whether Pope Francis is the "new Coke" of the Catholic Church or an actual agent of change. But clearly, his pronouncements thus far on the potential devastation of capitalism, the needs of the poor to be attended to immediately, his first-ever -- although less than comprehensive amidst an institution that is still gender discriminatory on a massive scale -- words of tolerance toward gay men (The Advocate just named him "Person of the Year"); his pronouncement that some of his good friends are Marxists; his reaching out to other religions; and so on are enough -- even if only words for now -- to make Scalia apopleptic, which warms the cockles of many a heart this holiday season.
Pope Francis is, for the moment it appears, a breath of fresh air in an ossified, archaic religous hierarchy -- and he is using his "bully pulpit" to challenge -- even if fleetingly for now -- a few of the most fundamental tenets of Western society, particularly the ravages and inequality of capitalism -- which he labeled "a new tyranny."
He recently, in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, denounced the Reagan apostles' evocation of the "trickle down theory":
There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. (Italics inserted by BuzzFlash at Truthout.)
BuzzFlash at Truthout has written dozens and dozens of columns on the mis-wired circuitry of Antonin Scalia's brain and his bizarre legal pronouncements over the year. In a Supreme Court review of the right of Troy Davis (who was subsequently executed) to receive a new trial due to potentially exonerating evidence, Scalia wrote an opinion which stated that there was nothing in the US Constitution that prevented an innocent man from being put to death by the state. Now, there's little one can do when confronted with such diabolical thinking except pray that Zeus might return and teach a lesson or two to such a destructive mortal.
So now there is a new pope in town. Pope Francis, if he continues on his present course of pronouncements, is going to make life increasingly uncomfortable for the self-appointed Pope of the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia.
A pope who expresses scorn toward capitalism run amok! Scalia's undies are certainly in a bunch.
Poor Antonin! There is only room for one pope, and that one -- the one in Rome -- is endowed with the doctrine of Papal Infallibility: "In Roman Catholic theology, the doctrine that the pope, acting as supreme teacher and under certain conditions, cannot err when he teaches in matters of faith or morals."
There is no doubt that the jury is still out on how much, if any, Pope Francis will change the institutional anachronisms and injustices of Catholicism as a male hierarchy that generally supports entrenched power. But he is certainly providing a lot of lip service leading in that direction, and clearly has taken a position that finds capitalism critically deficient -- specifically targeting the "trickle-down" theory that has been disseminated, institutionalized and become the dominant economic force in the United States for more than four decades.
In this sense, Scalia is going to have to either fight the pope head on or admit that there's a new Pontiff in town.
Author's Note: Inspired by "Pope Francis vs. Rush Limbaugh: Swatting Away the Smack-Down King" by William Berkowitz and posted on BuzzFlash at Truthout.