I interviewed Matthew Fox on February 13th. This is part one of a two part interview. Here's a link to the audio podcast.
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
I met Matthew Fox about nine years ago when we were both speakers at the first Mythic Journeys conference an amazing event bringing together writers, mythologists, psychologists, poets. At the time, I was running the Storycon Conference on the art science and application of story, which I'd founded two years earlier, and which ran for six years.
Matthew Fox was first stopped from teaching Liberation Theology by Cardinal Ratzinger, then defrocked. He has since lived an extraordinary life. But he also brings a unique point of view on Pope Benedict, the next pope the college of cardinals will choose and today's Catholic Church.
by pope image from wikipedia
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township, New Jersey, reaching metro Philly and South Jersey. My guest tonight is Matthew Fox. Now, Matthew Fox has an interesting story, and I'm going to ask him to tell us a little bit about it. I invited you on, Matthew, and welcome to the show...
Matthew Fox: Thank you. Good to be here.
Rob Kall: I invited you on because you know a lot about the Pope, Ratzinger, from a different perspective than many. Can you explain that?
Matthew Fox: Yes. First of all, I wrote a major book on him a year ago, and I've been translating the German and Italian, called The Popes War: Why Ratzinger's Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church, and How It Can Be Saved. I was involved for twelve years in a battle with Ratzinger, and you have to understand: he has pursued and hounded Theologians for the last thirty-some years. I was just one of a hundred and five  that he silenced and expelled or hounded in some way. In fact, I list the 105 (they're from all over the world) in my book, at the end.
Ratzinger was a young Theologian at the Second Vatican Council, and he was quite Progressive there; he complained about the Curia and all the rest. But then in 1968, when he was a professor at Tubingen University in Germany, the student riots were happening there (as they were in Paris in Berkeley and every place else), and the students invaded a faculty meeting and were honored to be heard, ranted and raved; and all the faculty at the [incoherent word] stayed except one guy, and that was Ratzinger, who stood up and walked out. People said the next time they saw him, he was an arch-Conservative.
Then he made his way up the Ecclesial ladder, but meanwhile, he brought the Inquisition back. That's how History will remember him. And he didn't do it alone: his boss John Paul II gave him complete carte blanche to do that. And it's scary, because when you dumb down the church, which is what has happened the last forty-two  years, deliberately dumb it down, it's like General Motors firing all it's engineers!
That's really what the Vatican has done: they fired all their Theologians, and they destroyed Liberation Theology, which was the most vibrant and justice-oriented movement on the planet after the Civil Rights Movement. They replaced the heroic Bishops, including people like Oscar Romero, who was actually martyred for his work with the poor in El Salvador, they replaced him with an Opus Dei Bishop; and they've done this all over South America. Opus Dei is a Radical, Fascist, Right-wing Catholic movement begun by a Fascist Priest, Escriva, who actually praised Hitler. And Ratzinger and John Paul II rushed him into canonization! They made a saint of him faster than anyone in the history of the church, and they destroyed the whole process of canonization to do it. They did away with the Devil's Advocate tradition, where you have someone there representing the "shadow side" of the guy -- they had none of that. Anyway, the guy is leaving a very dirty footprint behind.
Rob Kall: OK. Well let me slow you down and get you to give a little more details on a couple of things you said. You described him as "Bringing back the Inquisition." What do mean by that?
Matthew Fox: That he fired all the Theologians, and he hounded them; like in my case, he expelled me from the Dominican Order, of which I'd been a member for 34 years, and he silenced me for a year, and then expelled me three years after that. Father Boff, the most read theologian in Latin America, he hounded him, silenced him, and then, Boff quit the Franciscans, of which he was a member for many years. The most read Catholic Theologian in Germany was a psychologist Priest, Eugene Drewermann; and he hounded him, and kicked him out of the Priesthood. So, that's what the Inquisition means, you're not free to think! They spread fear. The three of us were the most read Theologians on our Continent, and all of us were expelled, one way or the other; and so they spread fear to other Catholic thinkers. You know: "Don't think too much, and just stay in line."
In addition, by pushing Opus Dei and these Right-wing groups that are all about obedience and not about Theology, they are sending a message that "The Pope knows everything, and it's all about just obeying what the Pope and the Curia has to say." So, what do you get then, with a dumbed-down church? You get the Cardinal Law's, you get the cardinal Mahony's, you get the sexual crisis, the pedophile crisis, because you don't have men of conscience and intellect overseeing things. You have people that don't know what to do when they here there's a pedophile Priest, they just hide it under the rug. Obviously that's no way to go.
Rob Kall: Now, I call my radio show The Bottom Up Radio Show because I believe that we're in the middle of a transition from a more top down world to a more bottom up world, and I've long thought that the hierarchy in the Catholic Church is one of the most top down organizations in human history.