When Jorge Bergoglio (today Pope Francis) was passed over in 2005 for Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI, Argentines were frustrated. They thought they would never realize the dream of seeing their compatriot at the head of the Catholic Church.
The Argentine media, in joking tones, speculated as to the remoteness of the possibility that an Argentine would ascend to the Vatican balcony amidst the traditional white smoke that signals the election of a new pope.
However, surprisingly Pope Benedict decided to resign his post after a mere eight years. Not since 1415 had there been a resignation, during the Papacy of Gregory XII.
Thus Bergoglio surprised the world five years ago with his unexpected election as Pope Francis.
His appointment generated new enthusiasm in the Argentine church, who’s attendance swelled during Sunday masses. The new papacy also impacted politics: upending Kirchnerism’s perception of the Francis, which went from deeming him a “collaborator of the old dictatorship” to viewing him as the most important Argentine of all times.
Nevertheless, with the passing of time, Bergoglio went from being a source of unity for Argentines to a source of discord. His alignment with Kirchnerism, his sympathy for authoritarian-socialist governments, and his clear left-wing profile inspired many but infuriated others.
Francisco’s clear ideological profile
Francisco’s ideological profile is easily identifiable and leaves little subject to interpretation. For the current pope, money is bad (more precisely “devil’s dung”) and the market economy is a system that generates exclusion, poverty, and misery.
In the words of the same pontiff: “savage capitalism” teaches the logic of profit “at all costs” generating “exploitation without thinking about people.” According to Francisco, this is the problem of “the crisis we are experiencing.”
The Argentine pope is dedicated to economic issues; he blames “deregulation” of the market economy for causing the latest European crises. He also views a spiritual dimension to the informal labor market: “Paying wages under the table is a very serious sin.”
According to Francisco, avoiding any tax represents “an affront to solidarity with humanity,” since “besides being an illegal act, it denies the basic law of life: help for one’s fellow man.”
In addition to religious and legal issues, Francisco also calls into question “capitalism.” He criticizes those who congratulate themselves for “donating a part of the profits” so that they can avoid “touching and embracing the people who receive the crumbs.”
A cursory analysis of the pontiff’s comments suggests that the Pope does not understand what money is; a tool that facilitates exchanges.
Francisco completely ignores the role of central banks and the distortions that they generate in a country’s economy as they create a monopoly on caring for its people. It is also apparent that the Pope does not have the slightest idea about the most basic rules of the market economy. He demands laws that mandate high wages. At the same time he complains about informal salaries and questions tax evasion, he has outspokenly favored high taxes for the wealthy in order to effect a redistribution of income.
When asked about his position on communism, he responded that “the communists are the ones who think like the Christians” when it comes to worrying about the poor. He has little interest in questioning the tired rhetoric on the left when it comes to addressing the issue of poverty. His focus is not on criticizing communism but instead on recognizing its shared agenda.
His less than Christian attitude
Beyond validating a completely flawed and discredited economic model, Pope Francis has very little interest in calling attention to the victims of socialism in the region.
He’s said nothing of victims of the Castro regime and is silent in the face of the Venezuelan crisis generated criticism. An appalling omission in the face of the humanitarian disaster and systematic oppression experienced by the Cuban and Venezuelan people.
“The silence of Bergoglio before the perversity of the Maduro regime has grown intolerable, that is to say, his failure to speak out against the repression, the crimes, the hunger, the disease, and the exile that the Venezuelans suffer,” affirmed former Colombian president Andrés Pastrana.
The record he leaves behind is fives years of, at best, appeasement and, at worst, admiration for socialism.