Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa brings us more about the controversies of whether Pope Francis is a Peronist and just what being a Peronist means:
There has been a great deal of discussion over the idea of a “populist” and “Peronist” Jorge Mario Bergoglio, addressed in the two most recent articles from www.chiesa:
> Political Ecumenism. With the Technocrats and Anti-globalists (21.8.2015)
> From Perón to Bergoglio. With the People, Against Globalization (12.8.2015)
In particular the discussion has been over the description of Peronism and its multiform expressions presented by Professor Marco Olivetti in an article published in “Avvenire” on the eve of the presidential primaries in Argentina last August 8, won with a wide margin by Daniel Scioli, the candidate of current president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner:
“Kirchnerism is the latest reincarnation of Peronism: after the original, vaguely fascistic form of Juan Domingo Perón and Evita; the free-market conservative form of the dying Perón and his third wife, Isabelita, during the 1970’s; and the neoliberal form of Carlos Menem during the 1990’s.
“It constitutes the socialistic variation, in continuity with the para-revolutionary groups that infested Argentina in the early 1970’s, and is upheld by traditional Peronist trade unionism. Its support is particularly high among persons with low incomes and little education.
“Its distinguishing mark is populism, identification with a good ‘people,’ now inflected according to the political terrain prevalent in much of Latin America, from the Venezuela of Chávez and his heirs to the Bolivia of Morales, from the Brazil of Lula and Dilma to the Ecuador of Correa, albeit with all the differences of the various cases.”
Olivetti is an expert on constitutions and political systems, and made no reference, in the article cited, to the political vision of Pope Francis.
But the most noted Italian expert on Latin America, Professor Loris Zanatta of the university of Bologna, has explicitly upheld a connection between Bergoglio and Peronist populism both in his latest book, “The Catholic nation. Church and dictatorship in the Argentina of Bergoglio” – published in Italy by Laterza and in Argentina by Editorial Sudamericana – and in this article published in the Argentine newspaper “La Nación” after the pope’s journey to Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay:
> Un papa propenso a abrazar las raíces del populismo latinoamericano
Professor Olivetti has received a contentious reply from Buenos Aires, from a man with a deep understanding and appreciation of Peronsim, José Arturo Quarracino, in the message published in its entirety further below.
In addition to being a nephew and sharing the last name of the cardinal who as archbishop of Buenos Aires wanted Bergoglio as his auxiliary and snatched him out of “exile” in Córdoba, Quarracino has taught the history and evolution of political ideas at the faculty of economic sciences of the Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora, and is an excellent translator of great authors like Romano Guardini, Gilbert Chesterton, Joseph Ratzinger, as well as of various articles from www.chiesa, including this one.
In replying to Olivetti he too makes no explicit reference to Bergoglio. And yet he gives a definition of Peronism that is perfectly in line with what Pope Francis has recently said in this regard.
This is what Quarracino writes:
“Peronism has always defined itself as a humanist and Christian movement, as a third philosophical and political movement next to free-market capitalism and Marxist totalitarianism. On the social, economic, and cultural level, many of its doctrinal postulates were explicitly founded on the principles of the social doctrine of the Church.”
While these are the pope’s words to Javier Cámara and Sebastián Pfaffen, authors of the book “Aquel Francisco” published last autumn in Córdoba, with regard to his interest in politics:
“In the formulation of Peronist doctrine there is a connection with the social doctrine of the Church. It must not be forgotten that Perón showed his speeches to Bishop Nicolás de Carlo of Resistencia in Chaco, so that he could look at them and tell him if they were in accord with the social doctrine of the Church.”
“Bishop de Carlo was a Peronist sympathizer, but also an excellent pastor. The one thing had nothing to do with the other. In April of 1948 Perón, from the balcony of the seminary in the central square of Resistencia, said at the end of his speech that he wanted to make one thing clear. He mentioned that they were accusing Bishop de Carlo of being a Peronist and said: ‘It is a great lie. It is Perón who is decarlista.’ De Carlo was the one who helped Perón with the social doctrine of the Church.”
Pope Bergoglio also said to the authors of “Aquel Francisco”:
“I have always been a political butterfly, always.”
And he explained:
“I come from a radical family, my uncle was a ‘radical of ’90’ [editor’s note: the party born from the revolutionary movement that overturned the ruling regime in 1890]. Then, as an adolescent, I also got a crush on the ‘zurdaje’ [editor’s note: Argentine term that indicates the left], reading books from the Communist Party that were given to me by my teacher Esther Ballestrino de Careaga, a great woman who had been secretary of the Partido revolucionario febrerista paraguayo.
“In those years the political culture was very lively. I liked to get in on everything. Between 1951 and 1952 I would wait anxiously for the arrival, three times a week, of the socialist militants who sold ‘La Vanguardia.’ And naturally I also frequented social justice groups. But I never signed up for any party.”
The “social justice groups” that Pope Francis said he frequented were precisely those of the followers of Perón, who called his own ideology “justicialista” – a blending of “justice” and “socialism” – and gave his party the name of “Partido justicialista”.
In the five pages of reminiscences that Pope Francis dedicates to politics in the book cited, there is not even one word that sounds the least bit critical of Perón, in spite of the anti-Catholic character of the end of his first presidency and the excommunication issued against him by Pius XII in 1955.
But here is Quarracino’s commentary on “true” Peronism, so similar to the political vision of Pope Francis.
A POPULAR MOVEMENT, BUT NOT POPULIST
by José Arturo Quarracino
Kirchnerism is not “the latest reincarnation of Peronism” – as Professor Marco Olivetti calls it – because it is by its nature a “subtle form of anti-Peronism,” or the “anti-Peronization of Peronism”: in fact, the content of its policies is completely opposed both to the policies historically implemented by Peronism and to its theoretical positions.
In general terms, Kirchnerism has kept alive until today the founding laws of the civic-military transformation of 1976 that turned Argentina into a neocolonial appendix of international financial power, as well as the concentration and outward projection of its economy and the role of single main export (soy) country.
For its part, historically speaking, Peronism opposed this predatory financial power, while Kirchnerism instead docilely submitted to this power and repaid with interest the plundering perpetrated from 1976 onward: more than two hundred billion dollars, with the paradox that today Argentina has a debt much higher than what it had at the beginning of Kirchnerist rule.
The ability of Kirchnerism consisted in putting into action a profoundly anti-Peronist and pro-colonialist politics, but under the disguise of Peronism. That is, in the name of Peronism it advanced a politics completely opposed to the theoretical postulates of Peronism.