The Pope's War

A Response from a Woman in Germany to "The Pope's War."

This very moving response to my book holds, I believe, many lessons for others about what bad religion does to the soul.  With the poet's kind permission I reprint it here because I believe it also holds truths that can heal many others.  Feel free to respond with comments of your own to this moving and heart-felt piece.  It came to me by way of Joanna Macy who is a friend both of the author and of myself (thus the references to "Joanna").
Thank you.

Matthew Fox

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April 2012

Coming from Gratitude

My heart is so over flowingly full that I don’t know where to start, Joanna. And I should actually write this letter to Matthew Fox, to this courageous, truly Christian “whistle-blower”. He would rejoice to have freed once again another human child with his book about Ratzinger. May God protect him and bless him every day!

What immeasurable suffering in the name of God does he impeach! I bow to all the humans on the earth – and especially in South America – that since the Second Vatican Council have been abused, ridiculed, betrayed, condemned, persecuted, tormented, killed for their integrity and mercifulness, for their compassion and sense of justice by the church and politics. They believed in the good in humanity and in the creation.
This is closeness to God, true closeness to God!

Honoring my Pain for the Child

Compared to this, my suffering is small. But it is the suffering of an entire life. And although I very consciously tried to protect my children from this, I still passed it unconsciously and unwillingly on to them. I can perceive i when I see their efforts to be worthy of love and respect.

Ratzinger, the High Inquisitor …

I find him: in my father, -who denounced me even before I could say “I”; -who beat my bottom as a child until black and blue with a wooden spoon; -who determined the length of my skirts, when other girls where wearing miniskirts; -who let someone examine my virginity and sent a detective after me; -who let me feel day after day, that I am the wrong daughter – lazy, dishonest and rotten to my very core. Ratzinger, the High Inquisitor …

I find him: in my mother, -who never protected me, -who never rejoiced over me or with me, -who never inquired after Tomas, my children or my work, -who condemned my life relentlessly -who disinherited me and lied to me about it nine years long.

Ratzinger, the High Inquisitor …

I find him: in my brother, -who fought the “antichrist” in me, -who found me guilty of depravity and conspiracy against his church, -who used the inheritance of our parents to punish me for my impiety, -who promised “to force me on to a park bench as broken vagrant in my old age”.

Well, my father died early. But my mother and my brother became fervent followers of Pope Wojtyla. And then of Ratzinger, whose books were their bibles which gave them arguments and judgments whose subtlety and cynicism I could never understand.

But, Joanna, it’s not as if it was only after the influence of Wojtyla and Ratzinger that my family became so fundamentalist, self-righteous and callous. My parents had been like this before. Now I believe, |that they had retained all of that from the times of National Socialism and into the post-war era: their zombielike obedience to higher authorities, their intolerance of dissidents, their habit of looking for the enemy outside themselves and to propagate their worldview as the only one that’s valid.

And in God’s representatives on earth, Wojtyla and Ratzinger, my mother and my brother finally found divine confirmation of their narrow-mindedness and heartlessness.

Seeing with New Eyes

None of this is new. New is the insight of how deep in my being, in the way I am these convictions are grounded: That I am the wrong daughter. That deep in myself I am so evil and guilty, that not even my father and my mother could love me. That I never do enough. That I never try hard enough. That I don’t listen enough to others. That I only think about myself. That my compassion is nothing but silly sentiment. That I don’t understand enough and don’t love enough. That I deserve to be ostracized and punished.

I look back on my life and see clearer than ever how these convictions have contaminated my whole life, my feelings and actions. Have I ever done anything that was good and beautiful enough? Have I ever sung full-throatedly? Have I ever danced without watching myself critically? Have I ever loved without feeling guilty of not loving enough? Have I ever trusted someone so much, that I wasn’t waiting for the next attack? Have I ever allowed myself to become convinced that I am loveable? Did I believe myself when I was happy? Did I believe myself when I was in deep pain Have I ever rejoiced in being born as the person Marliese? Have I ever celebrated myself? Have I ever known the simple and unclouded joy of being?

This person Ratzinger hasn’t come unto me from the outside. I have cut my teeth on him. And through fatherly violence he became manifest. I couldn’t perceive him because he was part of my perception. Perhaps you can compare it to a canvas screen On to which my whole life is projected like a movie. It is not and never has been my life which was stained and overshadowed. It was the canvas screen itself … All my shame, my self-doubts and self-contempt, my self-condemnation and self-aggression are the shadow of the catholic God on the canvas screen of my life. How many years of my life have been shaped by the futile attempt to realize and understand all of this!

With his analysis of Ratzinger Matthew has opened my eyes. He has returned to me a part of my life. He has bestowed my lost liveliness back on me. This is one of the happiest moments of my life! It’s a redemption!

Going Forth

But there is and always has been a memory in my life, Very hazy and fleeting, buried under pangs of conscience and feelings of guilt. It’s the memory of how it felt to wake up on a beautiful summer morning with an unfounded thrill of anticipation and in the trust of being God’s beloved and protected child. Even now, when I try to describe this memory, it seems to fade away with each word. Perhaps it comes from a time where I didn’t have words for it. It’s the memory of the moment of simple grace. Moments of the divine child, “the one up there” or the universe rejoices over. The moments, Johanna, that I was allowed to spend with you during the last 26 years come very close to that. But as consistent moments that belong to my awareness of life I thought to have lost them forever. But are they really lost, Signora Pavacini?

When I watch the movie of my life with keen eyes now it seems to have always been torn between: the God of my family: the controlling and relentless and punishing God and the God of my spiritual longing: the curious and smiling and unconditionally loving God. But the God of my spiritual longing has never left me. He guided me to the Lake Neusiedl and into the puszta, to the gypsies and their music, to the Beatles, to Francois Villon, to Jack Kerouac, Bertrand Russell, John Lilly, Timothy Leary and Ram Dass, to Castaneda, to Tomas and Nina and Sarah, to Lama Govinda and Ernest Callenbach, to the sufis and the Advaita Vedanta, to Ghandi, to Ramana Maharshi and Krishnamurti, to the Indians of North America, to the shamans of Africa, to the soil in my garden, to the nightingale, to the people of Tibet, to deep ecology, to the castors in Gorleben, to the shaft Konrad and to the Asse, to Kathleen, to Joanna at so many places where people meet.

What wild abundance have I received to celebrate the diversity of the world and of humans! Yet there is something very important missing: the way into the ugly center of power of the Catholicism of my origins, the way into the netherworld of a Josef Ratzinger. Not even the Tibetans could offer me refuge from that. I’ve always run away from that.

So perhaps it was the loving God of my spiritual longing who has sent me now to you, Joanna, and like you fulfilled my desires in so many years – even those you didn’t know about – even those I didn’t know about – you fulfilled my desire for healing with your presence and finally with this book from Matthew Fox.

I can only thank you, Joanna, and Matthew Fox than in preserving and sharing the light that has risen in my heart day by day.