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Cardinal Dolan’s Neocon Cheerleader

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Since Pope Benedict announced his resignation  only one of the potential successors  (Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi) offers hope for a more moderate papacy. So while conservatives are unlikely to be disappointed, prominent American Catholic neo-con Michael Novak is rooting for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.  Indeed, if Novak’s one man dream team were to ascend to the Chair of Saint Peter, neo-conservatives like Novak would have the ability influence world events beyond their wildest dreams.  

And if Novak’s dream comes true it would certainly involve the kind of  state-based faith and buccaneer capitalism I have written a lot about.  As typical of many American neocons, Novak began his political odyssey on the Socialist Left but over time, lurched over to the neoconservative Right.  But he is still a revolutionary in search of a revolution.

Novak is a hyper-libertarian when it comes to money but leans towards collective state power on individual morality. And yet there is something profoundly hypocritical about complaining about any state -role in economics while advocating state directed and enforced neo-orthodox Catholic morality. When it comes to business it’s “laissez-faire”, but individuals including (maybe especially) non-Catholics should be coerced into Novak’s neo-Catholic orthodoxy by the long arm of the law.

We should remember that neo-conservatism is built upon a three-legged stool of nationalism (as opposed to patriotism); laissez-faire capitalism (as opposed to the New Deal legacy variety); and religious orthodoxy (as opposed to religious neutrality). It is with this in mind that I must wonder about Novak’s recent cheerleading for Cardinal Dolan to become the Church’s next pope.

While Novak did not mention Cardinal Dolan by name it isn’t difficult to figure out who he wants running things from Vatican City. The neocon “philosopher” has declared, “it’s time for an English speaking candidate to be considered for the post.” After this was pointed out to Cardinal Dolan in a recent interview, with the added proviso “Novak was also referring to the cultural contribution a U.S. Pope could make acting as a crossroads between European and Hispanic cultures” Dolan replied, “Novak is a very intelligent person and what he says always makes sense.”  

For all of his jovial outward appearances, Gotham’s prelate is a vicious culture warrior. For example, when the Opus Dei bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, was taking heat from the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), he joined Bill Donohue and the Catholic League in waging a scorched earth campaign against them, designed to drain it of money while scaring potential victims from cooperating with SNAP.  Novak, it should be noted, serves on the Catholic League’s Board of Advisors, along with other Catholic neocons. The Cardinal has also gone to war against the Affordable Care Act while blunting Catholic criticism of GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand, libertarian-inspired budget plan.

While Dolan might be the neconservative’s man, Novak’s cheer leading for him is about more than the papacy.  

It is no secret that neo-conservatism has taken a big hit since the debacle of the Iraq War and the halcyon days of  the Bush administration.  Indeed, some of the more pointed criticism of the 2003 invasion has come from the Vatican. Beyond that, much to neocon chagrin even the Papacy of Benedict XVI has denounced the libertarian economics favored by the likes of Robert George, George Weigel and Mr. Novak himself.

Short and sweet:  having a pope who speaks their language sure would help the Catholic necons rebound out of the doldrums.

Cardinal Dolan, Bain Capital, and Archbishop Romero

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

The Republican Party is putting a Catholic face on the kick off of the Romney-Ryan campaign for the White House.  The face is none other than Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who will give the closing prayer at the Republican convention in Tampa.

While Dolan’s appearance broadly implies that  he supports Romney’s candidacy, it serves as a distraction from something the Republicans would rather we not know; or if we do, forget; and for those of us who will never forget, help ensure that we are never heard.  Thirty years ago Mitt Romney sought the financial backing of those who bankrolled the murder of priests, nuns and an archbishop.

When we see the face of Timothy Dolan at the GOP presidential nominating convention, there are other faces we also need to see:


These are the faces of four Catholic nuns murdered by El Salvadoran right-wing death squads in 1982.

And these:
The the faces of six Jesuit priests and two of their young assistants murdered by similar thugs.

And finally this face:

Archbishop Oscar Romero, who simply called for an end to the senseless killing.

These other Catholic faces are the faces of Catholicism at its very best: seeking justice for and reaching out to the marginalized with love and compassion.

But as Cole Stangler and Ryan Grimm recently reported for the Huffington Post when Mitt Romney sought start-up funds for Bain Capital, he went to the people who most benefited from, and perhaps most responsible for their murder.

In 1983, Bill Bain asked Mitt Romney to launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of the successful consulting firm Bain & Company. After some initial reluctance, Romney agreed. The new job came with a stipulation: Romney couldn’t raise money from any current clients, Bain said, because if the private equity venture failed, he didn’t want it taking the consulting firm down with it.

When Romney struggled to raise funds from other traditional sources, he and his partners started thinking outside the box. Bain executive Harry Strachan suggested that Romney meet with a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region.

The GOP presidential contender cannot, however, plead ignorance of his backers’ unsavory past:

Romney was worried that the oligarchs might be tied to “illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism,” Strachan later told a Boston Globe reporter, as quoted in the 2012 book “The Real Romney.”  But, pressed for capital, Romney pushed his concerns aside and flew to Miami in mid-1984 to meet with the Salvadorans at a local bank.

As Stangler and Grim further reported, “The Central Americans provided roughly $9 million — 40 percent — of Bain Capital’s initial outside funding” adding, “they became valued clients.”

Prominent among these “valued clients” were members of the Salaverria family whose connections to the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), founded by death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson were established not only by Stangler and Grim, but by The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times.

Before their execution, the four Maryknoll sisters were raped and tortured. Their bodies were then buried in a shallow grave. The six Jesuits were also tortured before they were murdered and left in the courtyard of their residence to serve as a warning to others who dared speak out against injustice and violence. Archbishop Romero was gunned down while saying Mass.

Cardinal Dolan and those on the Catholic Right who now bless the Romney campaign are depending on our forgetting the faces of the victims of Mitt Romney’s original investors.

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