PopeWatch: Dictators


 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.

More to explorer


  1. “Hopefully Pope Francis will not now adopt the opposite error of being two cozy with leftist authoritarian regimes.”
    The Pope believes in the ideology of these leftists authoritarian regimes, so cozy he will be.

  2. He is infallible on matters of faith and morals. He’s embarrassing on secular topics.

    Unbelievable as it may seem, over the years, I have read all the Gospels. It was a Lenten discipline for years. I do not recall reading the words “justice”, ” civil/world peace”, “inequality.” In His teaching about “Caesar,” Christ draws a sharp distinction between God and state. I think it’s mutual exclusion.

    I suggest Pope Francis read Orwell’s essay upon the death of Gandhi. In it Orwell states that progressives believe that there is only this society/World and it is their duty to make them better. As did Christ, Orwell goes on to state that the secular and the Spiritual are mutually exclusive and that the mildest progressive cannot be Spiritual. So, the Pope and the rest of the catholic Left, need to convert to the Spiritual.
    Never happen. Ideology trumps truth. And, despite the consistent evidences of massive state failures, they will never admit that the state is not the solution.

  3. The Pope teaches in his encyclical absolute solidarity with the worldly, with barely a breath spent on the subsidiarity of family and community, or the solidarity of the Eucharist. His words take on significance with his alliances and appointments. He has no love for the messiness of freedom. Has he spoken Truth to power using the teachings and language of the Church or has he gone chummy with despots? It was just a short time ago that the Church defied godless communism. The brokered deal with the narco terrorist Castro brothers is shameful. His deference to Abbas, and to what is now a putative terrorist state co-governed by Hamas, is at best bad judgment. Does anyone really expect anything more than what we are now witnessing and about to witness on the world stage?

  4. 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
    Meanwhile, the flock is scattering throughout the valley of the shadow of death, hopefully fearing no evil and knowing Whose rod and staff comforts them, whose doesn’t, and Who leads them beside still water, who doesn’t.

  5. Read some thirty year old issues of The Nation or Monthly Review or Seven Days, or inspect the verbiage issued by NGO functionaries (especially crooked ‘human rights groups’) and you’ll have a sketch of the Pope’s sympathies. He’s a common occidental type. Paul Hollander offered explorations of the more virulent subtype herein. The President is an unctuous and circumspect variant. It’s so too bad.

  6. “Green Encyclical” Let’s call it for what it is. It’s the “Red Encyclical.”
    Alan, That is worrying.

  7. ,,, “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.”
    heh. They claim to have the public on their side. They say “look all the states that have approved SSM” … as if populations of states were for it…

  8. (sigh) — tears, too, if I wasn’t so worn out by all of this.

    Read Ezekiel 34
    “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?
    3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings; but you do not feed the sheep.
    4 You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured, you have not brought back the strayed, you have not sought the lost, but with force and harshness you have ruled them.
    5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and scattered, they became food for all the wild animals.

  9. I am ashamed of Cardinal Ortega of Havana. Almost every prisoner in Cuba is a political prisoner. The faithful of Cuba deserve clergy who will stand up to then Castros, not back down in front of them.

    I can understand why the Roman Pontiff wants to tour Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. The Church has long been under attack in South America – usually from forces of the Left. Correa and Morales are no friends of the Church and nothing will change with them as a result of this visit.

  10. The Church has usually had a very cool relationship at best with any dictatorship. Her relationship with the Franco regime, often rather a turbulent one, is instructive. Franco could claim, with some justice, to have saved the Church from the worst persecution she had suffered since the French Revolution. Pius XII congratulated him on his victory and then constantly feuded with him, as demonstrated by the fact that a Concordat with the Franco regime was not signed until 1953.

    Dictators have their agendas, like all governments, and the Church has hers, and they rarely coincide for long.

  11. I believe that where ever Pope Francis goes to spread his message of Liberation Theology and his ambivalence on Catholic moral doctrine will be worse off for his being there.

  12. Meritless? Please explain further.

    Constitutional regimes of any sort were a spotty presence in Latin America prior to the 2d World War and atypical from that point until about 1985.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: