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'Marxist cultural vision': USCCB head José Gomez decries social justice movements

USCCB President José Gomez has taken to his personal website to criticize stateside social justice movements, alleging atheism and heresy ahead of the bishops' annual meeting.

(CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop José Gomez, head of Los Angeles Catholics (and the USCCB), released today a transcript of a shocking address on “new religions” that will air during a conference next weekend in Spain.

What are these new religions, you ask? Social justice movements, of course.

The three-point polemic is to be given virtually at the “Congress of Catholics and Public Life” running November 12-14th in Madrid, just days before the opening of the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly, which is fraught with controversy concerning conservative bishops in the conference.

In his address to Spanish Catholics, Gomez paints with a broad brush a number of stateside phenomenons—perhaps most pointedly the ongoing racial reckoning related to the murder of George Floyd.

“The new social movements and ideologies that we are talking about today were being seeded and prepared for many years in our universities and cultural institutions,” Gomez said.

“But with the tension and fear caused by the pandemic and social isolation, and with the killing of an unarmed black man by a white policeman and the protests that followed in our cities, these movements were fully unleashed in our society.”

While Gomez does note that racial inequality exists in America, he lambasts the modern (progressive) responses, alongside other ideas such as intersectionality and identity politics.

“I believe the best way for the Church to understand the new social justice movements is… as pseudo-religions, and even replacements and rivals to traditional Christian beliefs.”

He pins his argument on the alleged secularization of American society, the “breakdown of the Judeo-Christian worldview”, and the replacement of it by the new movements.

Curiously—and not unlike his oft-lauded auxiliary bishop Robert Barron—Gomez also appears to argue that the ongoing racial reckoning and its sister movements (which he paints as merely “woke”) are devoid of Christian influence.

The claim is complicated by the fact that at least one of the founders of Black Lives Matter is a Christian, and Jesus-followers of all stripes—including Catholics—have joined the multitude of protests over the past 18 months.

Gomez in his diatribe paraphrases both Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, arguing that their vision of fraternal solidarity is at odds with what he calls the “profoundly atheistic” “critical theories” of the day.

“They deny the soul, the spiritual, transcendent dimension of human nature; or they think that it is irrelevant to human happiness,” he claims, adding the contradictory accusation that their traces of liberation theology—a movement founded by a living Catholic priest in good standing—are “coming from the same Marxist cultural vision”.

The accusations of Christian heresy did not stop there.

“Like the early Manicheans, these movements see the world as a struggle between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Like the Gnostics, they reject creation and the body,” he said.

“These movements are also Pelagian, believing that redemption can be accomplished through our own human efforts, without God.”

His use of Pope Francis’ words is particularly ironic, given that not even three weeks ago the Holy Father praised George Floyd protesters as “collective Samaritans” in a conference address of his own.

Incredibly, Gomez also quotes Servant of God Dorothy Day (a known Christian anarchist) and Venerable Augustus Tolton (the first openly Black priest in America) in an attempt to underscore his argument.

“The Catholic Church deplores a double slavery—that of the mind and that of the body. She endeavors to free us of both,” the Tolton quote reads.

As it is, the legendary Black priest’s most ardent devotees, of course, are squarely in the crosshairs of Gomez today.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger, a seminarian with the Josephites, and a ThM student with the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).

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