PopeWatch: Argentina on the Tiber

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It is remarkable that Pope Francis has been Pope for almost half a decade and has not had a visit to Argentina.  Sandro Magister helps explain why this is the case:


For almost five years now Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been pope. But he has yet to set foot again in his homeland, Argentina, although he has already visited seven Latin American countries and in the upcoming days will also visit Chile and Peru.

On Monday, January 15, while flying to Santiago, Chile, he will limit himself to looking at Argentina from above. And from the sky he will send the telegram with which he almost always greets the presidents of the countries over which he flies, in this case Mauricio Macri.

The fact that the Peronist Bergoglio does not love the center-right Macri is no mystery. And to a large extent it is precisely this disagreement, multiplied in incessant and heated disputes among the Argentines, disputes that are much more political than religious, that has dissuaded Francis from returning to his native country and igniting further discord.

But if he wants to keep himself out of the mix, the same is not true of some of his Argentine friends who are labeled, and not always unjustly, as the pope’s mouthpieces. Very outspoken, and combative.

It is against these loose cannons that two days ago, a few days before Francis’s journey to Chile and Peru, the Argentine episcopal conference issued a tough reprimand:

> Francisco, el Papa de todos

The “fatwa” of the bishops is written in coded language. It is hard for non-Argentines to understand who the target is. And this is even less clear from the Italian translation that the paravatican website “Il Sismografo,” directed by the ultra-Bergoglian Luis Badilla of Chile, quickly posted online from Rome, but after scrubbing it of a couple of its most explicit lines, the last of this paragraph, which are underlined here:

“Accompanying the popular movements in their struggle for land, housing, and jobs is a task that the Church has always performed and that the Pope himself openly promotes, inviting us to lend our voices to the causes of the weakest and the most excluded. That does not imply in any way that he should be saddled with their positions and actions, whether these be correct or erroneous.”

What led the Argentine bishops to take a position was, most recently, the statements made to the newspaper “Página 12” by Juan Grabois (in the photo), a figure so close to Bergoglio as to make one think that his every word in effect reflects the pope’s real political thought.

Grabois, 34, son of an historic Peronist leader, founded the Movimiento de Trabajadores Excluidos, now directs the Confederación de Trabajadores de la Economía Popular, and has been very close to Bergoglio since 2005, when the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires was at the head of the Argentine episcopal conference. After he became pope, Francis appointed him as a consultant to the pontifical council for justice and peace, which is now incorporated in the new dicastery for promoting integral human development. And Grabois is also the one who pulls the strings at the spectacular assemblies around the pope of the “popular movements,” a network of a hundred-plus combative anti-capitalist and anti-globalization social groups, from all over the world but most of them from Latin America.

It therefore comes as no surprise that in the popular opposition to the free-market measures of President Macri, as also at the roadblocks, the picket lines at the factories, the squatters’ protests, Grabois should be one of the “lideres piqueteros” most in view. In the interview with “Página 12” he slammed Macri with the charge that “his vice is violence” and, alluding to his role as a businessman, disqualified him with words of disdain: “He is not one who did it himself, but an heir of the fortune of his father, who was a beneficiary of the corruption of the state.”

Go here to read the rest. Argentina is a beautiful country with messed up politics.  Since the time of Juan and Eva Peron the best description for Argentine politics is self-destructive.  The biggest legacy of Pope Francis may be his bringing dysfunctional Argentinian politics into the Vatican and his attempt to make them into Church teaching.  The years that the Argentinian locusts ate may be the fondest recollection possible of the Francis years.


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  1. “Don’t cry for me, Argentina”
    Let there be no mistake…first, last and always a marxist/socialist, with an occasional nod to the Almighty.

  2. I am a student – not an expert – on Latin American history. Argentina has long been a dysfunctional nation. Blessed with great land, a mild climate and no powerful military enemies, no nation has so thoroughly shot itself in the foot as Argentina.

    Poland threw the Communists out of power 29 years ago. After 123 years of partition, two world wars, millions dead, hundreds of thousands deported and exiled and 45 years behind the Iron Curtain, Poland has surpassed Argentina economically.
    As to which is the stronger Catholic state, need I go there? It isn’t Poland that allowed gay marriage and abortion.
    Had we a Pontiff from Colombia or Venezuela, we would all be better served.
    I wonder if Jorge Bergoglio really has all of his marbles. I tend to doubt it.

  3. It is remarkable that Pope Francis has been Pope for almost half a decade and has not had a visit to Argentina.

    Ed Koch was asked by a reporter in 1972 to explain why Bella Abzug had lost her home precinct (by a margin of 2-to-1) in a contested primary election. His reply: “Her neighbors know her”.

  4. Poland has surpassed Argentina economically.

    All of Europe has bar White Russia, the Ukraine, and some of the more impecunious Balkan states.

  5. first, last and always a marxist/socialist,

    There is no indication the Pope is an adherent to Marxism, nor is there any indication (unlike there was with John Paul) that he’s knowledgeable about philosophy or social theory. He has the impulses of a social worker. That’s all.

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