Back in the 80s of the last century, I was often attacked with this slogan “communist priest”.
More recently, I was named “Fr Watermelon”. He says he is an “ecologist”, but he is really “communist”: green outside, red inside.
In the same period of the 80’s, I received two threatening letters from the CCC – Commando de Hunt to the Communists. They threatened to skin me and even eliminate me if I didn’t convert to what they thought was “true” Christianity. Never took a single minute of sleep.
I didn’t think this bullshit would ever come back. Well, it’s not back! Any loose phrase that speaks of liberation, defense of rights, anti-fascism, solidary society, comes with the fault: communist priest.
:: MST is going to sue the Pocketnarista who spread fake news about the destruction of houses in Pernambuco ::
Although living the vocation of a simple friar, consecrated and not ordained, because he has been with the “landless” for many years, peasants, small farmers, indigenous people, quilombolas, fishermen, defending their causes and fighting for the distribution of land and income, I’m on the list of those who, and even promote me as “priest”.
Not even today they take my sleep. I know the faith I embraced. But I imagined myself in an inquisitive court made up of traditional, rancid and angry Catholics, bewitched by pocketnarism, convinced to the marrow of the pure and unique authenticity of their medieval religion painted anew with the use of modern social networks.
To avoid being crucified on this charge in the new media court, I thought of a strong line of defense: I’m going to anchor myself in the Bible. Then I started to realize that my defense has several holes, and I was afraid of being, even with such a powerful defense, condemned.
:: Bishops react after the attack of a Pocketnarista deputy who cursed Dom Orlando, CNBB and Papa ::
So I decided to take a providential measure: I will rip the texts that could condemn me from the Bible.
I started ripping the first 4 chapters of Apostles’ acts. Those parts that say that “the Christians had everything in common and there were no needy among them” and “sold their goods and laid the value at the feet of the apostles” to share with the needy, could condemn me. And yet the apostle Peter saying that “God makes no distinction between persons” … Wow! Pure Communism.
Then I ripped out the entire Letter from James. That mania of St. James in saying that “faith without works is dead” and that “rich people, your wealth has rotted” and “the cries of the reapers from whom you took the wages reached the ears of God”. Worrisome. Useless for my defense.
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Then I started going through the Gospels. I was very concerned about the Song of Mary in the Gospel of Luke. Our Lady praying that God “will overthrow the mighty from their thrones and exalt the humble, satiate the hungry and dismiss the rich with empty hands.” For God’s sake. I tore it up right away. In addition to condemning me, it could hinder many unscrupulous people who use the Marian devotions of simple people to gather money and speak ill of Pope Francis and the Church committed to the poor, in the name of Our Lady.
I also tore up the parable of the rich glutton and poor Lazarus. I tore up and burned, so as not to leave traces, the passage of unemployed workers in the square who received the same value as those hired earlier, as they can interpret “from each one according to his capacity and to each according to his need”; also those in which Jesus distributes loaves and fish to the hungry crowds; I eliminated all where He invites the sick, the lame, the beggars, the poor, abandoned to the banquet of the Kingdom for which the “good of life”, invited, refused; I have destroyed several in which Jesus says “go, sell what you have, give to the poor and then come and follow me”; those of the camel passing through the eye of the needle before rich men accept the Kingdom of God… Creed. Pure communism in the minds of these hate-blind people.
I also started the Our Father. Let them be aware that the Master taught to pray for the coming of the Kingdom and for the fulfillment of His will “on earth as it is in heaven”. This Kingdom thing on earth, here in this world, no, no, no. “My Kingdom is not of this world.” This is the correct interpretation. Kingdom in this world too, is Liberation Theology. And TdL is communism. And then that part of asking for “our daily bread”, no way. Food for everyone is a communist thing. To avoid problems, I tore it up.
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The expulsion of the sellers from the temple, I eliminated in the four Gospels. Creed. One of the few times the Master got angry was when he saw trade with the people’s faith. There is a great risk that He will also be classified as a communist. Prohibiting taking money from the people in exchange for blessings, healings, prayers and graces, pure communism.
That parable of the Samaritan doing what priests and pastors should and did not do, welcoming and taking care of the poor man thrown by the side of the road, I was really in doubt. Because charitable assistance, it can. What you cannot ask is, “Who robbed you? Who stole you?”
Perhaps for this reason the servants of the temple preferred to pass by. Getting closer to the poor can lead to deeper commitments. Damn it. I already have a communist argument for the polluted mind of those who accuse me. No risks. The Gospel of Luke will no longer have this parable when I present it in my defense.
:: Carla Zambelli is fined for not paying compensation to Tom Zé and practicing “bad faith litigation” ::
I also tore the beatitudes and Lucas’ misadventures. “Blessed are you poor”, “Damn you rich”, madness, class struggle, Marxism, vade retro, satan. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice”, by Matthew, I also excluded. I took a closer look and also excluded, in Matthew, the blessedness of peace, for now it is a time of arms and crusades against enemies and heretics. Talking about peace contradicts the new “messiah” of the machine gun instead of beans.
Bah. And that text where Jesus says “you ALL” are brothers.” Will it ALL imagine that they are “landless”, blacks, Indians, LGBTQI+, “homeless”, migrants, homeless people, “all those who are worthless”… My BROTHERS, these? Not weighted with gold. Communism. Torn page.
And that scene of washing the disciples’ feet and saying, “The great of the earth rule with tyranny, let it not be so among you.” Breaking social hierarchy. Without a doubt, communism. I decided not to take a risk and page in fire.
I took a few extra precautions: I deleted the passage from John, where a woman caught in adultery was going to be stoned and Jesus wouldn’t let her. They will think that I defend people of “bad life”.
Besides, I might ask: why was the adulterer free from the stones? This habit of asking questions that make people think is something of Paulo Freire, a leading communist. I also eliminated the one in which Martha asked Mary to go back to the kitchen and Jesus guaranteed the right of women to participate in the same circle as men on an equal footing. Women may want to demand too much based on this. Risk eliminated. Feminism is the fruit of communism, period.
Then I started to worry about the Old testment. I tore the prophet Isaiah apart. Very dangerous. Then Amos. I eliminated Hosea. I took Micah out. Very much against exploitation and in favor of the wronged. And also Ezra and Nehemiah, too many assemblers and distributivists. They won’t help me in defense.
My Bible was getting small, but alas, I needed to save my hide from the anti-communist rage.
Then I started to worry about the Exodus. Organize slaves, confront tyrant rulers, camp in the desert and conquer the promised land, and God supporting it, creed in a cross, this is MST in the vein, communism of the bud. I deleted the entire book.
But then I also remembered Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Those laws to guarantee justice, establish a sabbatical year to give back land, and even say “there are no poor among you”… Too dangerous. Two books less.
Then I got tired. The Bible was already tiny.
I preserved the texts of Solomon by imposing heavy taxes on the people, living in luxury, with 700 official wives and 300 concubines. This one, I assure you, is not communist at all. Let us make temples and altars to Solomon.
I even thought of arguing that the first modern advocates of a society of equals, however utopian, were two Christian thinkers: Morus and Campanela.
I also thought of making a distinction between socialism and communism, so that, at least, we know what we are talking about when superficial speeches are multiplied around the subject. And that socialism, as a historical movement, stripped of atheism and totalitarianism, was given an opening for Christian engagement in Pope St. Paul VI’s encyclical Octogésima Adveniens.
But I think that in the face of so much intellectual pettiness and so much blind fanaticism, it won’t do any good. Perhaps even my tiny torn and cleansed Bible is no defense. Even so, I will remain a friar engaged in social struggles in defense of the unprotected, excluded and exploited, anti-capitalist, socialist and follower of Jesus of Nazareth, the Crucified and Risen Christ.
Better to be accused of being a communist than to be, in fact, alienated, neglectful, in bad conscience with the faith I profess.
Call me what you want and attack me however you want. But, by preference, I liked being called “frei watermelon” better: that red juice is very sweet.
*Frei Franciscano, MPA militant, author of “In Prayer with the Gospels”.
** This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.
Edition: Leandro Melito