Matthew Fox: Absolutely. Unfortunately, that's what Pope John XXIII, in calling the Second Vatican Council in the early 60s, was trying to alter. For example, the Council defined the Church as the people of God, not as hierarchy, not as "top down." But all that was taken away under John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. In fact, Benedict actually uses the phrase "The people of the Church," and by Church of course he means the hierarchy, so he totally changed the language. So, this effort to try to bring a horizontal dimension to our Catholicism, which really was a big part of the Second Vatican Council, and certainly a big part of Base Communities and Liberation Theology, and the other movements after the Council, all this has been stuffed by the last two Popes.
And frankly that's
what I say in my book on the Pope's war, that these two Pope's actually are in
Schism. They're in Schism because they
have destroyed the basic teachings of Vatican II; and in the Catholic
tradition, and Ecumenical Council trumps a Pope, a Pope does not trump a
Council. When there were three Popes in
the 14th century all claiming their infallible rights, if you will,
they called a Council. The Council
deposed all three and chose a new one.
And so, Councils trump Popes, Popes don't trump Councils, but what has
happened the last forty  years is that these two Popes, Ratzinger and John
Paul II, working together, have trumped the Council. Therefore, they're in Schism; and people who
are still attempting to live out the teachings of Justice and also horizontal
Catholicism, they're not in Schism, they're trying to live the reality. Of course, now they're coming /
Rob Kall: When you say "Schism," what does that mean? It's a word you hear but, what does it.. ?
Matthew Fox: It's a loaded word. I mean, it's a heavy word in theological history. For example, when the Eastern Church split from the Western Church, that was called Schism; and Protestantism splitting from Roman Catholicism, that was called Schism in the 16th Century. It's a big word historically, and for me to say... I'm not alone in this. Father Schillebeeckx, the great Dutch Theologian, I spoke to 15 years ago, (he's dead now, he was a big thinker at the Vatican Council), he told me, he said "I and many European Theologians," this is under John Paul II, "feel the present Papacy is in Schism." And that conversation really came back to me when I was writing this book on Ratzinger, and I realized "Well, this helps name what has been going on." The Vatican is not really preaching the Gospel or even the Catholic tradition. They've gone their own spin, their own route out of Vatican II, and are trying to create this church based exclusively on Ratzinger's catechism, and obedience to whatever the Pope says, the implication being "We don't need Theologians, we don't need thinkers." That's why they've silenced so many. And I will say, that's not very smart.
Rob Kall: Let me take another step back to review what you've said so far. You talked about Liberation Theology, and that Ratzinger hounded over a hundred Priests; it wasn't just a hundred people.
Matthew Fox: Not just Priests; some of them lay people, some of them Sisters, women. Of course, now they're hounding Catholic Sisters; they're trying to kick them under the bus.
Rob Kall: And basically, this was not just about influencing them, because they were creating whole movements, particularly in the Americas, right? Liberation Theology was a really big deal that the Pope basically (with the help of Ratzinger) killed, right?
Matthew Fox: Absolutely. Emasculated, absolutely. And it was a big deal. First of all, it was such courageous people who, for example, on behalf of the rainforest Indians in the Amazon, stood up to the corporations who were tearing down the rainforests willy-nilly; stood up to the military government of Brazil. Cardinal Arns of Sao Paulo was a real hero who stood up to the military there, who were in charge for like 18 years. And it's out of that movement that in fact Silva, the fine President of Brazil, he came from that movement, as did the President of Uruguay who used to be a Bishop, actually. You know, a lot of leaders now in South America, which has really become much more Democratic in the last thirty years, these people came from the Base Community and Liberation Theology movements.
On the other hand, the Pope, was backing Pinochet, this horrible dictator who has blood on his hands from torturing and murdering priests, nuns, and lay people. Pinochet, of course, was put in by the American CIA. In the proof of my book, the CIA under Reagan worked real closely with the Vatican to destroy Liberation Theology. That was the goal of the National Security group under Reagan, and I footnote that. That's well documented now. They had a meeting. They said "We can't destroy Liberation Theology, but we can split the church." And that's how they got the pope and Ratzinger splitting the church, and we're still dealing with some of that fallout today.
Rob Kall: Tell me a little bit more about what Liberation Theology was and is about. Does it still exist at all? What's the Status of It?
Matthew Fox: Good question. If you talk to many South American Liberation Theologians today, they'll say "We used to serve the church, now we serve humanity." So they've broadened their, if you will, their agenda, their scope; they realize the church, as now constituted under Ratzinger and the previous Pope, is impossible to deal with, because Opus Dei is now running so many of the Dioceses in South America, and of course, more and more they're forming Opus Dei Bishops and Cardinals in North America too. The Bishop of Los Angeles, the largest Diocese in North America, is Opus Dei now, the new Bishop there, who will be Cardinal soon.
Rob Kall: Tell me more about Liberation Theology. I want to hear about Opus Dei, and we're going to have a conversation about that, but first tell me about the good stuff, about Liberation Theology.
Matthew Fox: Well, it is, as the Latin American Bishops said in one of their big conferences, Medellin Conference, years ago, they said "It's a preferential option for the poor. The Gospel requires that we put the poor out front and up front, and that we listen to them. So, the Liturgy is Base Community Theology is about a circle, not about just one guy preaching, but about everybody testifying to their experience trying to live out the Gospel. So it's a much more Horizontal approach to worship and to Theology, and it is about the struggle for justice being one of the important ways to incarnate the Jesus teaching, such as Matthew 25: "When you do it to the least, you do it to me." Love your neighbor is not an abstraction. Of course you remember, Latin America back then had horrible disparate divisions between the very rich, and the many, many, many poor. But since then, you'll notice that the Middle Class is building up in many of these countries, especially in Brazil, Argentina, and so forth; and so there has been real progress, but it's not been -- what can I say? It's not from the top down, it's from the bottom up, and that's how Liberation Theology operates. The Holy Spirit works through the poor, and not exclusively through the [Church]. It's not trickle-down grace - or trickle-down economics.
Rob Kall: One thing I've wondered: is it possible for there to be a Catholic Church, a Catholic Religion, that is bottom up as compared to the ultra-hierarchical system that begins with the Pope?
Matthew Fox: That's a great question, and that's really what I concluded in my book on the Pope. It's that I think the Holy Spirit has been at work destroying the Catholic Church as we know it. That is to say, exactly how you're identifying the top down thing. It's just lost all credibility. This horrible revelation of, not just the Priestly Pedophilia, but the coverup of the priestly pedophilia by hierarchy; like Cardinal Law, like the Pope, and like Cardinal Mahony now. All this coverup, that's the real crime. To think people at the top, the CEOs so to speak, would act on this this out of moral necessity, but they didn't. They swept [it] under the rug to protect the institution.
Look at Penn State, look what happened at Penn State. Within two years they fired everyone, they took down the statue of this icon, this hero football coach, and they got moving. But here, it's been thirty  years since the horrible news abut Father Maciel, this Priest that Pope John Paul II was so close to that he took him on his plane with him when he went places. This Father Maciel had abused twenty  of the seminarians, sexually abused them. He had two wives and four children, and he sexually abused them, all of the rest of it. And Ratzinger knew about this and did nothing. After he was Pope he finally did something, but he knew about it well beforehand. That's absolute fact. And it was his job as head of the congregation, doctrine, and faith, to do something, and the Pope knew about it and did nothing.