The Washington Post has an interesting look at the Pope’s life in Argentina:
In recent months, the pope’s indictment of unfettered capitalism as “the devil’s dung” and his calls for sweeping cultural and lifestyle changes to reduce global warming have fueled a perception among some conservatives that Francis is a leftist, with Marxist views dressed up in white vestments.
Here in Argentina, where Francis had a reputation as a conservative, those who have known him for decades find such characterizations risible, throwing their hands in the air, as if told the Brazilians were better at soccer or Chile had better wine.
Gen. Juan Perón ruled Argentina from 1946 to 1955, and again briefly in the 1970s, and Peronism has endured as a dominant force in the country’s political life. It attempts to bridge class divides through the combination of a strong, authoritative leader, a highly centralized and generous social welfare state, and heavy doses of quasi-religious nationalist sentiment. Even after her death in 1952, Perón’s wife Evita was a figure of adoration among the country’s working poor.
Go here to read the rest. PopeWatch is increasingly convinced that the current pontificate is largely the application of Peronist methods and beliefs:
1. A cult following of a charismatic leader is fostered.
2. The leader is always right and is above and beyond criticism.
3. A strong devotion to ludicrous economic nostrums.
4. Reliance on cronies in carrying out the tasks of the regime.
5. The poor operate as an excuse for the policies of the regime, whatever the impact on the poor the actual policies may have.
6. Demonization of the opponents of the regime.
7. Ostensibly trying to chart a middle course between capitalism and communism while cronies of the regime fatten themselves with lucrative insider deals.
8. Sudden shifts in policies which lend an air of chaos and keep adversaries off balance.
9. The regime fosters a permanent campaign mode where enemies of the regime are to be kept constantly in defense mode.
10. Leaving devastation behind?
The interesting aspect of Peronism is that while the time in power of Juan and Evita Peron was a disaster for Argentina, it has spawned an amorphous political movement that has long been the dominant faction in Argentinian politics, with politicians of all ideological stripes claiming to be the true Peronists. PopeWatch wonders whether the longest lasting legacy of Pope Francis will be to leave within the Church a Franciscan “party” that under the banner of Pope Francis will fight to gain, and retain, power within the Church for years to come. If so, this will be a most pernicious legacy.