I had a lesson in Peronism from an Argentinian waiter recently, in Argentina he was a PPE graduate.
Peronism, he said, was the most corrupt form of politics, because you could be a Communist, or a Facist, or a Capitalist, the only thing that mattered was support for Peron, post Peron any other head of State. It is a remnant of 1920/30s Facism, where the will of the Fuhrer or Il Duce was all that mattered. Right or Wrong, Good or Bad, Custom or Tradition, Law or Morality or anything else pale into insignificance and have no validity compared to the Will of the Leader.
Therefore the ideal is to be as close as possible to the Leader, failing direct proximity the next best thing is to be close either to those who are close to the Leader or those know, or claim to know, the mind of the Leader. Under such a system moral automony is reduced to slavery because is no mral compass, such abstracts as Right and Wrong are of no importance. All that does matter is Dux Vult. If the leader is somewhat erratic that doesn't really matter, it just means his followers have to be closer and listen even more intently and it could be that what was the Leader's will last year or even this morning, might not be so now, or his will expressed to A might be the complete opposite of what was expressed to B.
To the Peronist the old elite, who based their authority on intellectual expertise or their understanding, or knowledge, even their fidelity to the law must be supplanted, nothing other than the leaders will matters. They represent an alternative authority, and therefore a possible alternative source of power, and certainly a source of evaluation and criticism. Peronism hates intellectuals, they are always totally arbitary and concerned with what is expedient, what adds to or deepens the leaders power.
Nowaday's everyone identifies the rule of Francis as in some sense Peronist, it is popular conclusion, I identified it at the beginning of his reign, if somewhat positively, as appealing to the ordinary man and trying to make the Papacy 'popular', that was a bit naive of me, it is actually Peron's Peronism, essentially about making the leader powerful.
The trouble with Peronism as my waiter friend explained is that far from being a cure for corruption it becomes a source of it The corruption in the Vatican is based on nepotism and patronage, it is the old Italian thing as dominant in Rome as it is in Palermo; X has done me a favour, therefore I will do a favour for Y who, will do you a favour, in return for you helping Z, who will then be indedted to me. Peronism thrives on this because relations with the leader, rather than integrity, honour or honesty, are all that matters. It does indeed reduce everyone to slavery because personal integrity is always subject to whatever the leader wants. North Korea is perhaps the Peronist ideal or at least the reductio ad absurdum.
What is hated are upright men of integrity, those who are approved of are the servile and weak and those who are either stupid, indebted in some sense or lack integrity, who are therefore always and corruptable, one could list a huge number of Papal courtiers who fit into this category
In his recent comment in Chile on Bishop Barros and his denouncing Barros' accusers of being callumnious liars, the Pope quite rightly says bring me evidence and I will act; proof is just and innocence should be presumed. The problem is of course that in other situations he has removed bishops on mere rumour or gossip, as in the case of the Bishop of Ciudad del Este.
In the English speaking world the norm is if a priest or bishop is accused of sexual abuse he is suspended until he is exonerated, the burden of prove is on him, not his accuser. In Italy Francis has a reputation of extending "mercy" to the friends of friends of sexual abusers such as Fr Mauro Inzoli, suspended by Benedict, then rehabilitated by Francis, then suspended again when he was convicted and imprisoned. His own record on sexual abusers in Buenos Aires is reportedly not quite a shining example, it compares very poorly to Cardinal Pell's, even in the 1980s. It is a very Peronist way of acting, where due process or good practice is over-ridden according to the leader's will or friendships.
The same could be said of the 'wedding on the plane', due process, ritual, law seemingly ignored for the sake of what many might see as a stunt.
The Papal award to Liliane Ploumen or the praise of Emma Benino can be seen in Peronist terms; what matters is not Catholic belief but what is political expedient. It is good thing in the eyes of the world, or just his friends to praise or honour famous women, after all they might be pro-abortion but they are anti-trafficking and anti-violence against women.
The latest action of asking Chinese 'underground' Catholic Bishops to stepdown in favour of State appointees is indeed a Peronist act. The orthodoxy, the past suffering and loyalty of such bishops and their people counts for little compared with rapprochement with the Chinese Government. The message sent to the world is that in its relationship with the world everything the Catholic Church once believed is up for grabs, almost as if what is most desired is a Papal visit to China and the status in might bring the Holy See and the Pope personally.
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