PopeWatch has been disappointed that more attention has not been paid to the life of Pope Francis in Argentina, since PopeWatch believes that is a key to understanding him. A brief article touches upon the Pope as a Peronist:
When Pope Francis was simply Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he would visit these communities regularly. One of his biographers, Paul Vallely, says he was known as the ‘Bishop of the slums’.
Francis was certainly not a radical in Latin American political and religious terms. He lived modestly in a small downtown flat but he did not live, as some fellow Jesuits did, among the poorest. And while he embraced the Catholic Church’s preferential option for the poor, he rejected the class struggle tinge that came with liberation theology.
But Hilary Burke—an American journalist who has spent the past 12 years in Buenos Aires and co-authored the recent Time magazine cover story declaring Francis ‘Person of the Year’—says the slums made a deep impression on him and his attitude to economics.
‘These particular slums—villa de miseria—are sort of off the grid,’ she says. ‘So they don’t have basic services, such as electricity or sewage and they tend to be, in Buenos Aires, home to a lot of immigrants from neighbouring countries.’
Francis was not born into poverty but lower middle class austerity. His family neighbourhood, Flores, was austere but the streets were clean, the kitchen tables full, and children played on the pavements and filled the classrooms.
For much of the 20th century, Argentina had one of the highest standards of living in the world, largely because of the strength of its middle class. The post-war government of Juan Peron—and the movement that he and his wife Eva, or Evita, spawned—strengthened the labour movement and laid the basis of a welfare state.
‘Peronism’ has clearly influenced Francis, insists one of Argentina’s leading scholars and broadcasters, Pedro Brieger. ‘He was and is close to Peronism because Peronism is a popular movement,’ Brieger said. ‘If you want to be close to the masses, you have to be Peronist.’
Go here to read the rest. Peronism has developed into a fairly amorphous term in Argentina, and you can find people of widely varying ideologies embracing that title. However, at bottom much of Peronism still consists of demagogic appeals to class warfare, combined with crony capitalism and government boondoggle projects. Juan Peron and Evita were not solely to blame for transforming Argentina from a nation that should, based on resources, be one of the richest in the world to a spendthrift nation always tottering on the verge of economic collapse, but they certainly played a major role. PopeWatch fears that the dubious economic views of the Pope are quite in line with the insane economic policies embraced 68 years ago by the original Peronists.