The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Activist speaks about corruption in the Catholic Church

Blase Bonpane, an activist and author known for his work against human rights abuses reads a lecture at Thursday night at CSUN. Photo Credit: Natalia Bereznyuk / Staff Photographer

The Catholic Church was the center of discussion in a lecture given by internationally acclaimed humanist and activist Blase Bonpane.

The lecture, “Sexual Abuse, Cover-Up, and the History of the Catholic Church” held in Sierra Hall’s Whitsett Room Thursday night was about the history of corruption within the Catholic Church.

“The Vatican needs to end a cult of silence,” Bonpane said. “Bishops are told to send their evidence to the Vatican immediately as a matter of secrecy.”

Those who did not have a reservation to the event had the opportunity of watching it through a live video broadcast in Sierra Hall 120.

Bonpane’s lecture was part-autobiographical and part-informative.

Sharing personal experiences of various episodes in his life with current humanitarian and religious issues, the 81-year-old activist spoke of the current taboos that exist within the Catholic Church such as mistreatment of power, sexual abuse, pedophilia, celibacy and war.

Bonpane began his lecture with a historical and religious overview of the split of Christianity and the rise of political power of the Vatican church over Europe and the new world.

Bonpane’s categorization of the church and the clergy as a “cult” interested Sam Chang, 20, Business Management major.

“The best part of the lecture was when he (Bonpane) compared the Roman Catholic Church to a cult,” Chang said. “At this point, the speaker was extremely passionate about this aspect of the church.”

While working with the students at the University of Guatemala in the 1970s, Bonpane soon found himself partaking in a number of political and social demonstrations in an effort to assist dialogue between Christianity and social justice.

“Because of our work in the field, people referred to us as ‘guerillas of peace,’ Bonpane said. Many of us (including myself) were expelled from Guatemala as a result.”

Upon returning to the United States after witnessing the bloodshed and animosity that was occurring in Central America, Bonpane was sent to Hawaii, a move which he said he thinks  was made to keep him silent.

“By the time I came back to the headquarters, I was sent off to Hawaii and I realized I was under a gag order of no writing or speaking about what happened in Latin America,” Bonpane said.

It was during this time when Bonpane was interviewed for The Washington Post.

The article titled “Our Latin Vietnam” was an in-depth piece criticizing the various military and political injustices that were occurring in Latin America as a result of U.S. intervention.

Bonpane also spoke heavily about the topic of exceptionalism within the Catholic Church.

Bonpane said various clergymen and religious figures within the church were given special privileges and at times  were not required to follow social rules.

“Sexual abuse is found in every walk of life,” Bonpane said. “The clergy has been responsible for the deaths of tens and millions because they thought of themselves as being exceptional.”

Bonpane also spoke on the relationship between Pope Julius II and Michelangelo.

Ashneel Chand, 18, business marketing major found the Pope’s power in using painters such as Michelangelo as a major problem.

“I think the strongest message of this lecture was when he talked about Michelangelo and how he painted for the Pope,” Chand said. “This analogy meant that there are problems all throughout the history of the church and this is why there’s an internal problem within the church today.”

Bonpane’s critique of the American media was related to his original topic of societies that belonged to various cults as a result of political and social injustices.

Bonpane said the U.S. media was a “garbage can,”  and criticized the way wealthy businesses and conglomerates pay hate mongers in the media to speak night after night, ultimately influencing the way Americans think.

“We are wonderful at creating enemies, because our people are in a cult, just like the Catholic Church is a cult that praises pedophiles,” Bonpane said.

Bonpane is an author of two books and currently serves as the director of the Office of the Americas and senior research fellow for the Council of Hemispheric Affairs.

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