22 June 2007

Monsignor my ass

The guy you see on the picture is called José Luis Mollaghan. Now ask yourself (and reply to yourself, of course), what makes it different from you, me or anyone else on this planet? I mean, besides the fact that he's wearing a weird purple hat and speaking on a microphone very close to the top authorities of Argentina.

Well, this guy Mollaghan is called an archbishop, a word which etymology tells us means "chief overseer", or maybe "top-grade supervisor". He's in charge of checking on the local community of Catholics, an arduous job for which he was appointed by the Pope himself. The Pope is in charge of checking on us all, and I mean all the world, since he's the vicar of Christ, and he must not let us sin — since Christ was nailed to a cross 2000 years ago precisely to save us from sin, and apparently we didn't pay attention.

The Pope was found to be OK for this demanding job by an assembly of other notable Catholics called cardinals, in turn appointed by a previous Pope, under the inspiration of someone or something called the Holy Spirit, an invisible, inaudible, inodorous... thing which is one part of the three that make up the entity known as the Holy Trinity, aka the Roman Catholic God, or just "God". Who created the universe and loves us all, forever and ever, and will not let us be tortured in a lake of fire as long as we go to Mass every Sunday, et cetera.

Now it makes sense that the archbishop sits next to the president and tells us what to do, right?

If you, like me, think all of the above is farfetched, absurd and outrageously ridiculous, you'll answer "no". But then you'll be in the minority.

You're also supposed to address Mr. Mollaghan as "Monsignor", that is, "my lord" (or "milord"). Sorry, I thought all titles of nobility in Argentina had been abolished in 1813. This seems unfair to secular nobles.

Mollaghan gave a speech to the troops amassed on the celebration of Flag Day, before anyone else, even the governor or the Commander-in-Chief (that would be the President). The speech had little to do with the occasion; Flag Day was only an easy plug for a religious rant about how Argentina is a Catholic country, how the Virgin Mary wants us all to worship her 24/7, and how it should always be illegal to prefer a poor woman's life over a handful of barely differentiated cells. The authorities (a Socialist mayor, a left-leaning Peronist governor who professes to be a great friend of Fidel Castro, and other officials of a country supposedly governed by a secular Constitution) listened attently and (I guess) tried to ignore a group of women with a green banner set up before the stand who demanded free access to their reproductive rights. I was exposed to religious indoctrination and to this kind of oblivious, matter-of-factly intolerance for such a long time, this shouldn't bother me by now, but it did.

So Monsignor got to advertise his beliefs from a privileged spot during a public secular holiday, and nobody said a thing. But wait: the princes of the Church have other advantages over their secular counterparts: they get paid by the state (a bishop gets 70% of the salary of a federal judge) and their titles and other entitlements are not subject to the legal framework of Argentina — they're in fact representatives of another country, the Vatican, the only modern theocracy in the Western hemisphere, by virtue of a Concordat... signed between the Holy See and the dictatorial (i.e. illegal) government of Juan Carlos Onganía, in 1966.


  1. Anonymous20:13

    Indeed, the audaciousness of the Catholic Church does raise hackles. Worse, the gov't complicity, cooperation. Probably boils down to the catholic vote being quite formidable. But also people slow to wake up and see that things CAN be done differently.

    But what about the feminist vote? And besides, is the majority of Argentina devoutly, or nominally Catholic? If it's mostly nominal (as it seems to be in Spain and Chile and many parts of the catholic world), how much will it take to remove that nominal vote from Catholic-leaning governments?

    I'm sure I'm just touching the tip of the iceburg, the corruption, the Catholic Church has slid its unprotected member into the government and, vote all you want, they ain't pulling out any time soon.

    But still, my very uninformed impression is that Argentina is a lot more adamant and vocal than Chile when it comes to reparations from their dirty war, and perhaps that spirit could be carried over into the fight against Catholic oppression and audacity.

    In any case, Chile seems to have very similar problems with the Catholic Church calling the shots, despite this "socialist democracy". This despite a strikingly different history from Argentina. As the oppressed of both countries fight against Church domination, it might be worth checking in from time to time with the neighbor on the other side of the Andes.

    Here's an interesting discussion about the Church's domination in Chile.

  2. Anonymous05:42

    This rant was the last nail in your coffin, friend. I used to enjoy reading your blog, but since the interdiction with "Que dicen ellos" it's very clear to me that you don't apply the same standars for exposing your ideas than for judging someone elses. In other words, you are intolerant and disrespectful and I feel really aggraviated as a Catholic for the pungent way used to mark your views. This is the last time I check on your blog.
    Daniel, from San Luis.


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