Viva Cristo Rey!
A Christmas Carol by Albert Weisbord
(From the magazine "La Parola del Popolo" December 1960)

WHERE is the battlecry Viva Crsto Rey! (Long Live Christ the King!) that the clever priests and reactionaries used to launch every so often in Latin America whenever they felt the masses were stirring and attacking their rights and privileges. 

Isn't this slogan long overdue? The peones and guajiros, and campesinos have been on the rampage all over Central and South America, as well as in the Caribbean. Confiscation of estates of the wealthy in Cuba; violent disturbances in Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvadore, Columbia, Venezuela, Ecuador; unrest in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Haiti, Santo Domingo; deep stirrings in Puerto Rico and the West Indies --- what more is needed to bring out the priests and monks leading brain-washed fanatics under the cry of Viva Cristo Rey! ?

It cannot be said that this slogan has not in the past proved its effectiveness. It marked the opponent as Anti-Christ, arch foe of the church and personal representative of the devil. It was a sign to the hordes following the clever papal organizers to burn, strike, and kill without mercy or quarter for the more they did so, the more surely they would go to heaven to be blessed in eternity. And if they had to die, what better death than the one under the mystical slogan arousing the deepest passions, but obscuring all reason, of Viva Cristo Rey!

Very important to the use of the slogan was the fact that Viva Cristo Rey! was formulated to hide the dirty materialist facts that the masses were bitterly oppressed and exploited by families of merciless conquistador landholders, by rich capitalists, and by the church. Viva Cristo Rey! was the church's answer to hunger, poverty, disease, vice, ignorance, and slavery of the people. In this respect the Catholic Church was like the Orthodox Church engaged in pogroms in Russia, or like Martin Luther who was fond of putting down the restive peasants of his day with such appeals as "Therefore strike, throttle, thrust, each man who can secretely or openly --- and bear in mind that there exists nothing more poisonous, more harmful, more devilish that a rebellious man --- as one must slaughter a mad dog." (See R. Pascal: The Social Bases of the German Reformation, p. 146).

That the reactionary armies of the civil wars and class struggles now being waged in so-called Latin America no longer use Viva Cristo Rey! is a commentary both of the changed situation and of the cleverness of the church in recognizing this changed situation. Let us spell this out briefly.

In the first place the upheaval in Latin America is only part of a general world-wide colonial upheaval. Second, leading the masses are broad groups of intellectuals who would laugh at and easily expose the obscurantism and idiocy of Viva Cristo Rey! Third, the masses themselves are no longer the easy dupes they once were, the penetration of industry and commerce having done wonders to wake them up, and the formation of a city organized proletariat having done wonders to show them the way. Fourth, world reaction and capitalism is on the verge of receiving its deathblow from the hands of Atheist Communists. The Catholic Church, to save its life, must try hard to show the peones, guajiros, and campesinos that the Church is not opposed to change, to social reform and security, to decency, and to democracy but is really for them and has always, always, always, been for them.

Therefore, good bye Viva Cristo Rey! (but hail anti-communism!) Naive old timers who wait for the charge to be made by peasants under the cry Viva Cristo Rey! instead will find the charge carried out by the labor bureaucracy led by such as Meaney, under the slogan: Down with communist intolerance, dogma, and dictatorship and Long Live the free, democratic, tolerant, broad-minded, socially scientific, ethical, loving Catholic Church (and its properties, livings, monies, incomes, and privileges).

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