Saturday, April 27, 2013
Peronism in the Apostolic Palace?
A political journalist friend of mine said, "If you want to understand Pope Francis, you have to understand Peronism". Certainly, Argentina's press seem to want to paint him as a Peronist.
Not being Argentinian, I don't understand it but it is something that can embrace the Kirchners but also those who oppose them. It seems to be about a strong (and benign) populist leader, who sets out to gain mass support, the message is simple: the national good, national harmony, national solidarity, an appeal to the majority, to the workers, in other words "the poor".
Peronism was Argentina's own response to the dictatorships of Europe. If one subtracts the Hitler pact, racism and the castor oil of pre-war Mussolini, who got the trains running on time, virtually destroyed the Mafia, brought about a sense of hope, economic well being, vitality and national pride, might well be more accessible model for Europeans. Mussolini was essentially a moderniser, who re-presented the dream of the ancient Rome. Someone once suggested that Mussolini modelled himself as a secular Pope and to some degree Pius XII modelled himself on Mussolini.
I am certainly not suggesting that Papa Bergoglio is a latter day Mussolini but getting the Church's trains running on time, getting rid of corruption, regaining the masses seems to be his mandate. The message of simplicity, or in fact simplifying the message, popularising, de-intellectualising seems to be what we have seen so far.
Despite the Tablet and other journals, Archbishop Piero Marini and a few other Curial members, the German Bishops, even our own Bishops, to some extent, presentation of Francis seems to want to present him as a break with Benedict, apart from the outward signs of Papacy, there doesn't seem to be a doctrinal rift, on the contrary Francis seems, in the best sense of the phrase, the poor man's Pope Benedict, speaking to the masses rather than an elite. In deed the announcement this week that he intends to complete Benedict's encyclical on Faith seems to suggest continuation rather than rupture.
Even when he speaks to the Cardinals as he did on St George's day his message ended simply, "Avanti! Avanti!", (which might well ring bells, of good or ill, with certain Italians) or to biblical scholars, he seems more concerned to communicate to the doorman or the cleaners or the security men, or those beyond his immediate audience, to the masses.
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