PopeWatch: Peronism



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.”

And again:

“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.



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.



Go here to read the rest.  Discussions about what Peronism is strike PopeWatch as wrong-headed.  Peronism was always just a vehicle for Juan Peron to keep power.  A true demagogue, he had no loyalty to anything except himself, and no belief in anything other than himself.  That goes double for his wife, Evita.  Whatever seemed momentarily popular was seized upon by them in order to retain political power.  The politicians who have followed them under the amorphous banner of “Peronism” have operated in precisely the same manner, which is why every ideological shade in Argentina has, at one time or another, called itself Peronist.  In most of his political beliefs, Pope Francis is obviously a man of the left, but the motivation for many of his policies, PopeWatch suspects, is the Peronist idea of embracing ideas popular with the political base.  For all his incessant talk about the poor and the marginalized, the Pope may, correctly, perceive his political base as being the left of center opinion makers, firmly in control of the global media.  Thus he emphasizes new teaching, global warming for example, seeking to transform leftist concerns of the moment into Church policies, while soft-peddling traditional Church teaching, on abortion and gay marriage, that offends these opinion makers.  The Pope claims to be a “loyal son of the Church” on these issues, but he will talk about them only briefly, in a pro-forma fashion, while he gains plaudits from the international media by loudly championing causes of the left.  A classic mode of operation for a Peronist leader.


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  1. The optimist within me hope’s that somehow a miraculous catch of souls will take place for God sake, and will be the bright spot in this otherwise cloudy pontificate. I miss the last two Pope’s. The loss of faithful due to this pontificate is a reality as well.

    So, again, I will continue to pray for him.
    The office and the man.

  2. One might perceive that the “social doctrine” of the Church, Trumps (no pun intended) that of the spiritual doctrine and mission of the Church.
    The issue I see, is that our shepherds have reversed the proper order and view the Social doctrine as their prime role and salvation of souls as merely incidental to Social machinations by various Caesars.

  3. One recalls the advice given by Talleyrand to Emmanuel Crétet, one of the commissioners charged withnegotiating the Concordat of 1801. Speaking of Pius VII, Talleyrand suggested, “Watch the juggler’s eyes, not his hands.”
    Crétet, a financiaer and first governor of the Banque de France often recalled it as one of the best pieces of advice he had ever received.

  4. Peronism incorporates class-based mobilizations and clientelistic politics relying on allocation by state agencies and labor bosses. It’s stylistically distinct from the Democratic Party and perhaps less under the thumb of certain professional guilds like lawyers and the media, but otherwise familiar. The abusive behavior of the legal profession as manifested in Eric Holder is erasing the distinction between American political practice and latter-day Peronist political practice (the Peronists being more domesticated now than they were in 1950). Obamaism is Peronism decorated with the tastes and prejudices of unreflective big-city bourgeois. Call it NPR Peronism.

  5. Peronism also had a colouring of corporatism, along Italian Fascist and Spanish Flangist lines, rather like the mediaeval guilds, with occupation-based constituencies, although it was never really implemented.

    It was an idea that many Catholics in the inter-war years found rather congenial and Pius XI was not averse to it.

    In England, it had been promoted by Belloc, Chesterton and Fr Vincent McNab OP, where it was also influenced by the guild socialism of William Morris and the arts and Crafts movement – All very idealistic to anyone familiar with the way the Livery Companies in London or the Incorporations of the Scottish Burghs actually worked in practice.

  6. It was an idea that many Catholics in the inter-war years found rather congenial and Pius XI was not averse to it.

    Different manifestations of that sort of thing were everywhere ca. 1933, and not really local to any sort of cultural heritage. See the National Industrial Recovery Act here. The survival of such practices in Spain goes a long way toward accounting for the horrid condition of the Spanish labor market.

  7. Yes I think I discussing what Peronism is is wrongheaded too. When we talk bout “isms” we are talking about something that no longer”is”, but talking about a conflation of many opinions and applications of that something. . Peron is not the same as Peronism. As a suffix “ism” changes the meaning of the word from defining an original or ” proto ” type to something that is like the original. And what does it matter? Jesus has said that He is the Truth. Not a truism .. Not a socially accepted personal understanding of Truth.
    Our pope’s protestantism and peronism are his own amalgamation. He gets to live out the Consequence of the Protesant revolt against the papacy and be his own pope, answerable not to Revelation nor Tradition, but to his own judgment and proclivity.

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