The Pope thanked President Rafael Correa for the “congruity” of his thoughts with his own. In his speech, he recalled the steps the country has taken towards renewal, quoting the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” and the “Laudato Si’” encyclical, speaking about “Latin America’s great social sin, which is that of injustice”. He also stated that “the fair distribution of wealth must be demanded”. The Pope congratulated Correa “on the accomplishment” of his mission. A mission which is by no means easy for a left-wing head of state who has criticised the gender ideology, is proposing the establishment of an international body for environmental justice and is implementing social inclusion policies. And who aims to introduce two laws on capital gains tax and inheritance, a sort of “property tax” that is contested both by rich property owners and by the middle class which fears it will lose properties purchased for their children. Correa’s opponents are launching demonstrations all around the country but have stated that they do not intend to disturb the papal visit.
From Vatican Insider by Andrea Tornielli
The Pope is in Ecuador, part of his eight day swing through Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay, what Pope Francis calls forgotten countries. Both Ecuador and Bolivia have left wing presidents who model themselves after the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela: Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia. The statist policies they embrace seem quite similar to what the Pope endorses in the Green Encyclical. They both have deserved reputations for using the power of the state against critics, as noted in a story in the Wall Street Journal:
Pope Francis’ journey to Ecuador, which kicks off on Monday, “is to cultivate the virtues of the people and not to politicize his presence,” Quito Archbishop Fausto Trávez said late last week in public remarks.
Good luck with that. President Rafael Correa has spent weeks appropriating the pope as his government’s very own 21st century socialist icon. So unless the Holy Father finds a way to signal Ecuadoreans otherwise, the visit is likely to leave the impression that the church is in solidarity with the repressive Correa machine.
That would be bad. But it could get even worse, depending upon what transpires during the pope’s visit to Cuba in September.
In early June, Havana Cardinal Jaime Ortega declared that there are no political prisoners on the island. That offended Cuba’s human-rights community, which estimates that the regime holds some 70 prisoners of conscience. The church doesn’t seem to want to know about them.
Last week, in yet another sign that the church wants to distance itself from the Cuban struggle for justice, a Catholic priest banned the women’s human-rights group known as the Ladies in White from attending Mass at his Cienfuegos parish dressed in white on the grounds that other parishioners object.
These events came in the same month that Francis hosted Raúl Castro at the Vatican. Castro used the photo op, which went viral, to claim legitimacy for the bloody 55-year-old dictatorship.
Now the Holy Father is walking into a political mine field in Ecuador—the first stop on a nine-day tour that includes Bolivia and Paraguay. In Ecuador he will celebrate open-air Masses in Guayaquil and Quito, have lunch with a Jesuit community, visit the Catholic University, and make a private visit to a historic Jesuit church.
The pope will also meet with Mr. Correa, who undoubtedly will have plenty of photographers on hand. In a republic that protected civil liberties, the meeting would be seen as nothing more than standard protocol. But in Correa’s Ecuador, where the government rules through intimidation and is increasingly unpopular, the meeting will be used for politics. This means that it is likely to overshadow the rest of the visit, possibly damaging not only the pope but also the church.
As Archbishop Trávez indicated, the trip has been framed by the Vatican as part of its mission of evangelization. Most South Americans are nominally Roman Catholic but the number who practice is much lower than it once was. “The joy of the church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost,” Pope Francis said in a homily in Rome in December.
But this pope is very political and his politics, if we take him at his word, favor statist solutions to poverty. In terms of appearances that puts him on the same side of many policy debates as the region’s socialist tyrants.
Go here to the Wall Street Journal to read the rest. Critics of the Church on the Left have long criticized the Church for being too cozy with right wing dictatorships. Usually this criticism was meritless. Hopefully Pope Francis will not now adopt the opposite error of being two cozy with leftist authoritarian regimes.