Sunday, May 01, 2011


Today is Day 11 of Plaza de Armas's heroic effort to pretend that its botched Archbishop of Querétaro scoop never happened. Under normal circumstances, the reporter responsible for such a story would find himself exploring an exciting career in footware retail, but since in this case the reporter in question was the executive editor of the paper and - we're sure this part is a total coincidence - son of the publisher, he's been punished with an all-expenses-paid trip to the Vatican to cover the beatification of Mexico's pope, Juan Pablo II. He filed this report:

"IT'S SUNDAY!" says the little blue headline, showcasing the paper's trademark prognostication. And then, "HE'S BEATIFIED!" which, at the time PdeA went to press, was not technically true. JP2 was beatified at or about 10:39am Vatican time, or 3:39am Mexico City time, which we can confirm because our clock read 3:42 when we were blasted out of bed by fireworks this morning. Reporting from the scene, but having obviously filed his story in advance of the events actually taking place, our intrepid correspondent, writing in the past tense as if it had already happened, informed readers that the beatification ceremony had taken place "this morning (afternoon in Italy)" and had begun "at 10:30am Mexican time," which amused us because we were reading the paper at 9:45. Other than those two mistakes, the rest of the four-paragraph dispatch - which basically said that JP2 has been beatified - was right on, and totally worth the airfare.

Regular readers will probably not be surprised to hear of our indifference to JP2's fast-tracked, shortcut (what the nativist crowd would call "amnesty")-laden path to sainthood. Sure, we stood in the rain to see him in Boston once, but who here is proud of everything they did when they were 12 years old? Speaking of 12-year-olds, it's nice to know that an utterly massive child abuse and molestation scandal occurring - and being covered up - on your watch is in no way considered a barrier to beatification these days. Perhaps Benedict should appoint Gary Glitter as Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City.

But we're probably the only people in Mexico who feel this way. Of the five papal visits ever made to Mexico, all five were made by Juan Pablo Segundo ("te quiere todo el mundo!"), and because Mexicans love any attention from non-Mexicans, they've been wanting to see him canonized for 30 years. You can see the signs here in Querétaro, both big...

...and small.

This is despite the fact that JP2 used his first visit to Mexico to eviscerate the church-led social justice movement known as liberation theology, at a time when repression and inequality were even greater in Latin America than they are today.

In the chapel of the Palafox Seminary, before an audience of bishops, 6,500 miles from St. Peter's, John Paul delivered a 5,000-word speech that may mark the entire course of his papacy. The text was designed to strip away any ambiguity over future papal social policy. ...

John Paul, who rose to eminence in Communist Poland, made clear his urgent desire to eliminate priestly activism based upon Marxist dogma. The Pope emphatically rejected liberation theology, without ever using that phrase. Repeatedly emphasizing the value of each person before God, and the need for spiritual freedom, he used the term liberation in a Christianized context. To the Pope, "atheistic humanism" holds out to mankind only a half liberation, because it bases everything on economic determinism ignores spiritual dynamics. The result, he said, is that man's very being is "reduced in the worst way." Today, he said, "human values are trampled on as never before." Implicit in his statements was a basic judgment: the tactics of Marxist revolution, based as they are on class conflict, violate the most profound Christian teaching.

In one passage heavy with theological significance, he rejected efforts by modern radicals to view Jesus Christ as a political Messiah. "People claim to show Jesus as politically committed, as one who fought against Roman oppression and the authorities and also as one involved in the class struggle," said the Pope. "This idea of Christ as a political figure, a revolutionary, as the subversive man from Nazareth, does not tally with the church's catechesis."

Music to a wealthy landowner's ears.

But Querétaro is Wealthy Landowner Central, and all day long the celebratory fireworks have been echoing through the hills like a US-sponsored death squad. The city is apparently home to what was yesterday a used skullcap but now, as of 3:39am, a secondary relic of a saint. And while today's festivities came about thanks to JP2's miraculous curing of a French nun's Parkinson's disease (an illness we wish he would continue to attack as if it were a left-leaning Jesuit), at least five queretanos claim to have been cured of various (suspiciously unspecified) illnesses, according to the archdiocese - meaning that if just one of them pans out, Querétaro could give JP2 his second, saint-qualifying miracle. We're sure Plaza de Armas already has its full-canonization report typeset and ready to run.

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