Frei Betto: There is no future for humanity other than socialism.
One of the leading ideologues of Marxist liberation theology, the Brazilian Dominican Frei Betto, was interviewed by the daily Diario Libre in the Dominican Republic. In it he described Pope Francis "as a great friend of liberation theology" and talked about the future of humanity and celibacy.
The son of a journalist and a writer who studied journalism himself, he was in his youth a member of Catholic Action, which was close to the Communist Party in Brazil. His role-model was the Communist leader and later guerrilla Carlos Marighella. Betto also became politically active at the time. At the same time he joined the Dominican Order in 1964, which was aligned to the Marxists in São Paulo. In the year of his entry into the Order, he was arrested and tortured by the military for two weeks because of his political activism. In 1966 he resigned from his profession and was arrested again in 1969, this time for two years.
Consultant of communist dictatorships
After his release, he became the liaison of revolutionary circles of Brazil to the communist regime in Cuba. In 1973, he retired to the Favela district of the poorest and joined as a non-combatant of the communist guerrilla movement Ação Libertadora Nacional Marighellas. The ALN kidnapped the then US Ambassador to Brazil. Betto's role model, the guerrilla leader Marighella, was tracked down and shot by the military in the Dominican monastery of Sao Paulo in 1973.
In the 1980s Frei Betto worked as an adviser to socialist dictatorships, alongside Cuba for Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, Poland, the People's Republic of China and Nicaragua.
In 2003 he said there had been three "traumatic" moments in his life: the overthrow of the Chilean Popular Front government of Salvador Allende, the overthrow of the communist government of Granada of Maurice Bishop, and the collapse of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.
Together with his friend and liberation theologian Leonardo Boff, Betto supported his friend Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and his workers' party in Brazil. When Lula became head of state in 2003, he made Fei Betto a government advisor. UNESCO distinguished the Dominican "for his commitment to human rights and social justice". In the circle of like-minded people they honors each other.
"I believe in a god without religion"
His journalistic work also includes a "New Credo" in which he confesses:
"I believe in the God liberated from the Vatican and all religions existing today and in the future. The God who is above all baptisms, before all sacraments, and who goes beyond all religious doctrines. Free from the theologians, he disinterestedly spreads himself in the hearts of all, the faithful and the atheists, the good and the bad, those who consider themselves saved and those who consider themselves children of damnation, and also those who are the secret, who will face death with indifference.
I believe in the god who has no religion [...]
I believe in the God who hides on the back of atheist reason [...]. "
Already on January 29, 2019, Frei Betto spoke in an interview with the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano:
"Cardinal Bergoglio was not progressive, but as Pope Francis, he became a promoter of liberation theology. In his social-ecological encyclical Laudato si (2015) he explores the causes of environmental degradation. And his positions on communion for the divorced and the confession for the children of homosexual couples are big leaps forward, even if he has to struggle between all the hurdles that are thrown between his legs. "
Pope Francis "is today the most important head of state"
At the beginning of May, Frei Betto was a guest at the International Book Fair Santo Domingo in 2019. On this occasion, he was interviewed by the Dominican daily Diario Libre, who presented him on May 4th as "Leftist intellectual, Dominican and central figure of liberation theology".
In his replies he defended the socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, declaring that "there is no country in the world that has violated human rights more than the US,” and that "the rights" in Brazil are "drastic measures" eliminating the elected left-wing government.
Overall, according to the Dominican, there is "no future for humanity other than socialism.” It could be said that socialism did not work in the Soviet Union, but that did not mean that socialism had failed.
Of Pope Francis he thinks:
The incumbent Pope needed time because before him there were "34 years of conservative pontificates.” However, the election of Francis was a big step forward because:
"The Catholic Church today is a conservative body with a progressive head."
"Francis is a great friend of liberation theology. Francis is certainly today the most important head of state, who has the courage to defend the poorest, and the refugees in Europe, who have the courage to accuse the Geldimperialismus and the Marktvergötterung. "
"The celibacy thing must stop"
On the current celibacy debate Frei Betto raved:
"Yes, that's another problem. As long as the Church does not stop with this obligatory celibacy thing ... that must stop. There was no idea of compulsory celibacy in Jesus' head. (...) The problem lies in the macho tradition that started after Jesus in the Church and imposed this compulsion. It should be like in the Protestant churches that a pastor can marry.”
In contrast to many progressive hierarchists in the Church, one can at least not blame the Brazilian Dominican for disguising his convictions.
On April 10, 2014, Frei Betto was received in audience by Pope Francis. Of the topics discussed, the Brazilian then revealed to have sided with an excommunicated brother:
"I asked the pope about his brother, who was burnt at the stake and asked him to rehabilitate Giordano Bruno officially. I think the Church should finally do justice. "
Pope Francis had given him no negative answer, but said that he would "pray" for Giordano Bruno.
The former Dominican Giordano Bruno had been burned on 17 February 1600 as one of the few heretics, by the Roman Inquisition at the stake in Rome. A total of 97 people were executed in Rome during the 250 years that the actual Inquisition was active, most were felons. After the Italian unification, Church opponents, especially the Italian Masons, created a myth around Giordano Bruno to make his case an instrument in the fight against the Church. It was (and is) not precisely in line with the historical facts. That was also the reason why the Masons of Italy erected a statue on the Campo dei Fiori, where Giordano Bruno was executed. Militant atheism, which describes itself as a "humanism critical of the Church,” venerates the former Dominican brother as their “heretical anti-saint." This includes the atheist Giordano Bruno Foundation in Germany and Austria.
Frei Betto is in strange company, but that does not seem to have bothered him since his youth.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Diario Libre (Screeenshot)
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