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Religion and Capatilism - Significant Coincidences
The Mexican TV chains apparently split the papal loot. Azteca got the ceremony in the race-track, and Televisa the impressive Azteca sports stadium. Televisa won, and the ceremony there was extraordinary, with delegations from all other American countries present. Especially significant were the words of Mexico City Archbishop Norberto Rivera condemning "a new form of colonialism," which would refer to both American capitalism and to the U.S. bombing of Iraq, which by coincidence resumed at the same time. Since both Mexico and Cuba have bitter memories of U.S. armed intervention, they feel especially sympathetic toward Iraq.
Another coincidence was a Washington meeting on "The Religious Meaning of the Millenium." Our pious President and his wife were the guests of honor. Clinton said his major concern was the growing gap between rich and poor (not his own problem!). University of Chicago theologian Martin Marty mentioned the Pope's visit to Mexico and said it reminded him of a meeting of the American Historical Association at which a speaker described a clergyman's family in ante-bellum South Carolina. They were excellent Christians--moral, kind and generous--except for one thing: they took slavery for granted. The implication was that U.S. capitalism might go the way of slavery, and that the Pope was promoting true Christianity.
The Pope's tour was shrewdly planned. Triumphant from his Mexican victories, he went on to St. Louis to say mass before a crowd anticipated to be 100,000. He blessed a specially commissioned 33-foot stainless steel statue of the Virgin Mary, which he hopes will be to the United States what the small Virgin of Guadalupe is to Mexico. His meeting with Clinton was secret, but the Pope's remarks were presumably a combination of the harsh Old Testament justice and the promotion of charitable New Testament justicia. The clash between the two men symbolized the clash between two systems. For Clinton it was the usual water off the duck's back.
Ronald Hilton - 01/26/99