Category Archives: Latin American politics

From the land of Francis, a cautionary tale

From the land down under, directly down under (or just over) the equator, that is, as described by Samuel Gregg, of the Acton Institute, in Stream magazine, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina: Pope Francis and Economic Populism”:

The attitude of Latin American populist leaders to one institution they haven’t been able to dominate — the Catholic Church — varies. On the one hand, they’re regularly at odds with many Catholic bishops. In January 2015, a pastoral letter issued by Venezuela’s Catholic bishops courageously described their government’s policies as “totalitarian and centralist.” The regime, the bishops added, seeks control “over all aspects of the lives of the citizens and public and private institutions. It also threatens freedom and the rights of persons and associations and has led to oppression and ruin in every country where it has been tried.”

Doughty bishops.

The government’s reaction to this critique was the usual demagoguery. Nonetheless the same populist leaders regularly invoke Christian symbols to legitimize their ideologies. Bolivian President Evo Morales’ presentation of what’s now called “the communist crucifix” to Pope Francis is one such example. Whatever the motives of the deceased priest who designed the cross, the fact that the hammer-and-sickle symbolizes philosophical materialism, police-states, and the mass imprisonment, torture and murder of millions of people counts for nothing in the rather provincial world of Latin American leftist-populism.

Is our Pope equally doughty?

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