The Infowar: Holy Orders
In my twenty years of being an ordained Priest in the Catholic Church, I've heard all sorts of confessions. My most recent one, however, takes the cake for strange ones. It started out like any other: The penitent was a young Hispanic man who entered the Confessional booth, and blessed himself. "Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned," he muttered to himself. It was obvious from the young man's voice he had a heavy conscience.
The mortal sins the youth mentioned were standard for his age: Missing Mass due to television and sports, looking at dirty pictures, and other such things. Then followed the venal sins, such as swearing in public, pulling a few pranks, and so forth. However, near the end, an interesting one came up: theft.
Now, in Catholic tradition, there's something we refer to as the Seal of the Confessional. To the laymen, that refers to the fact a priest may never tell anyone else what a penitent told them in Confession. If the priest breaks the seal, they are automatically excommunicated. If the act is illegal, such as theft or murder, the priest normally can advise the person turn themselves into legitimate authorities. Wanting to hear more, I inquired about the details.
The youth mentioned a part time job of his other the previous summer. He apparently worked as a hired hand on a local farm for a few months, and came across an interesting discovery: a crate of seeds for genetically modified wheat. They were in a forgotten corner of a barn, slated for destruction due to the passage of Congress' new "Agricultural Defense Act," which essentially banned genetically altered "Frankenfoods" from being imported from outside the country. The effects of this bill were twofold: First, agribusinesses that relied on foreign suppliers were starved of income, and second, agribusinesses in the States were free to grow as much "Frankenfood" as they wanted here.
What made the bill interesting was the fact that environmentalists had passed it without actually reading it, much like most of the Senate passed that horrid PATRIOT Act legislation around 9-11. Sadly, the neocons were still in power, and were being backed by bioconservatives from both the Religious Right and fringe environmentalist groups. There was nothing wrong with environmentalism, though like most things in American politics nowadays, it has becoming increasingly radicalized. One need only look at the rhetoric of the Gaia's Knights ecoterrorist group.
The Agricultural Defense Act also hurt several smaller American farmers. To grow "Frankenfood" in the States, one had to have a special permit. Of course, the permits normally required millions of dollars and navigating red tape to acquire. Thus, only large corporations could afford them. Abroad, especially in the Third World, there was plenty of consequences that the media ignored. Since "Frankenfoods" often had genes inserted into them that added vitamins and nutrients, they helped put a dent in malnutrition and starvation in several places. Now that the Third World was growing only the "natural" types, diseases and disorders were on the rise again.
Now, the youth explained he had family members starving abroad due to the new bills. What the youth had done was stolen several bags of genetically-modified seeds, and mailed them to his family abroad in Mexican. When he described it in greater detail, the quaking fear in his voice suddenly became a sort of hidden pride. Now, that was something that made this penitent unique. He was not afraid to break a Federal law to help his family survive.
Now, a classic moral dilemma is the case of the bread thief. The premise is a thief steals a loaf of bread to feed his family. The case here, however, was a bit more clear-cut. The youth had taken seeds that would've been destroyed anyway, and found a way to bypass the System while helping his family out. It was that sort of loyalty and thought that might make him a valued asset to a certain organization. When he asked for advice, I gave him an envelope and told him to open it next time he went online.
That was how the man known online as "Centeotl" joined the Network. The handle is from the Aztec god of maize. This is especially fitting, since he's been a member of the Network and a provider of banned genetic goods to Third World farmers. There's no reason that millions should starve because of some illogical law.
While I am a priest first, I am a member of the Modernist Network second. The Church can speak out against political corruption, but the Network by far is active in combating it. Instead of tearing down, we build up alternatives to the System. We're always looking for new recruits, and you find them in the strangest places. I found a star pupil in a Confessional. This is the Infowar, after all. Everything is not always what it seems, and the strangest faces can mask even stranger people. After all, Jesus Christ himself was a subversive pacifist humanitarian. Christianity didn't defeat the Roman Empire by violence, but by building an alternative network with an attractive philosophy. The Church eventually consolidated power, but the separation of Church and State reminded it of its true goals. Who says that we can't all be Christians in the modern world?