Evo Morales, who fled to Mexico after resigning as president, may not be missed in Bolivia but his absence will be felt at the Vatican.
One of the most curious aspects of the first Latin American pontificate is that Morales enjoyed the status he did. He was the Holy Father’s favourite leader in the Americas.
Which was passing strange, as he was a tyrant.
He did some good things. But typical of his type, and when the going got tough for his programs, he got tough.
Latin American populists of both right and left invoke the people but are less keen when the people take a different view.
Morales demonstrated ruthless tendencies early on, suppressing opponents, seizing control of the courts and using the electoral authorities for his own benefit.
He promulgated a new constitution that had presidential term limits, but after being re-elected twice thought he would like to run again.
These guys. When they don’t get what they want, what they have decided is best for the so-called citizens, they pull out the stops and make them do it.
Like Francis, throwing away the Gospel-and-doctrine rule book to make things happen — throughout the world. He will close you down if you buck him, and Commonweal Mag and other leftists applaud or ignore it.
Morales played hob with election rules and the constitution and refused to leave the country, and . . .
. . . people took to the streets in massive protests. Morales first dismissed them, then invited observers from the Organization of American States to investigate.
When they reported that there were too many irregularities to make the elections credible, the protests increased.
Only the military could quell the growing disorder and declined to shoot the citizenry to protect Morales. When the military leadership “suggested” that it was time for Morales to go, he resigned and fled to Mexico.
The pope objected, right? Wrong. The papal mouth remained closed when his friend did obviously bad things.
Morales [had] met Pope Francis six times in six years. At the final meeting he felt comfortable enough to greet Francis as “brother”.
In 2015, the papal visit to Bolivia was crowned by a fiery populist address by the Holy Father to the World Meeting of Popular Movements.
Morales was seated beside Francis as the Holy Father employed the high-octane rhetoric on economics favoured by Morales.
Brothers indeed. He’s my kinda pope, said the one, my kinda dictator, said the other.
During the crisis following October’s rigged election, Bolivia’s bishops took a strong line against Morales and his corruption of the election. The Holy See was more muted, following the pattern of the last several years in Venezuela.
Is it not hard to take such a pope seriously?
Oh, and there was the Marxist crucifix, . . .
. . . that remarkable moment in Bolivia, instantly symbolic, when Morales presented the Holy Father the blasphemous hammer-and-sickle crucifix, the meaning of which the Holy See’s communication apparatus has not adequately explained to this day.
And that pagan statue business during the recent Amazon synod:
Morales’s gifts keep on giving. He is a devotee of the Pachamama, attending ritual sacrifices in her honour and promoting her cult.
Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register tweeted that Morales was a “key figure” in the presence of the Pachamamas at the recent Amazon synod.
The new (acting) president in Bolivia, on the other hand, “took office holding an enormous Book of the Gospels, announcing that ‘the Bible was back’ in the presidential office.”
The hammer and sickle and Pachamama are no longer the accoutrements of the Bolivian president. How long before [she] is given a warm welcome at the Vatican?
A long time.