Peronism in Rome

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Guest post By Supertradmum

A few weeks ago, a brilliant friend of mine drew my attention to the fact that Pope Francis had been influenced by the dictator Peron of Argentina to the point where my friend called Francis a Peronist.

At first, I was puzzled but told my friend I would think about this and do some research.

I have come to the conclusion that Francis, indeed, is heavily influenced by Peronism, which may explain the contradictions one sees in Rome. Let me unwrap some ideas. I write this so that we can understand the chaos from Rome, but also to pray for the Argentinian pope.

Another brilliant acquaintance described Peronism to me by relating a famous story of Juan Domingo Perón. According to an Argentinian source, the head of the communist party met Peron and the President of Argentina commended him on his good work, agreeing with this man on Communist principles. On the same day, apparently, this diplomat witnessed Peron meeting a fascist leader and commending him on the goodness of his work and fascism. (Peronism is an odd mixture of tyrannical rule, democracy, socialism, fascism and utilitarian. Basically, I see Peron as mainly an utilitarian, doing whatever was needed and using whatever means to get it. This is why this story is so apt).

The diplomatic remarked to Peron, “How can you agree with both parties, as they are opposed to each other?” The President answered, “It makes no difference.”

In other words, the only arbiter of truth was Peron himself, and as he was in power, the other ideological leaders simply did not matter—or worse, Peron was playing both sides.

This story underlines the odd support of the right and the left when the Perons were in power. As many readers know, Peron died in 1974 and was succeeded by his wife, Isabel Peron.

The Perons were extremely popular, especially with the labor unions and working class. But, these groups turned against them. However, dictators, these two appealed to those who only wanted stability in Argentina. Peronism is not really a political party, although the current Justicialist Party is the Peronists stronghold.

Peronism seems to be an ism which accepts attributes of many isms—it is pro-capitalist, yet engaged with the communists. On the whole, the Peronists are split between those who are far-right wing and those who are left-wing and violent.

Peron himself said in 1950, that Perónism “is an ideological position that is in the center, on the left, or on the right, according to circumstances. We obey circumstances.”

This is important. Circumstances influence, not a political doctrine or set of principles.

So, what does this small description of Peronism have to do with Rome and the Papal influence?

First of all, Peron managed the Catholic Church through-out his long presidencies by playing off different groups.

A quick look at the Church’s relationship with Peron is key. First of all, he joined the Church against socialism and communism, early on in his career. Peron’s government saw itself as a buffer between the left and the right. However, as Peron’s governance continued, the Church came out against his government’s strict control over economics, education and even social issues. In other words, Peron was a champion for Big Government-and the Church saw this as threatening, and rightly so. When Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the Pope strongly fought the influences of the far-left communists movements influencing the Kirchner regime.

Big Government clashed with the Church over social issues, as when the government insisted on laws affecting private lives.

Yet, Peron managed the Church, by appealing to the Catholic upper-class, as against the far-left communists. This management created an odd Church-State relationship. Again, the vagueness of this ideology allowed it to be used—I call it utilitarianism.

The Pope is not a socialist or communist and has supported capitalism in his talks over and over. He is not a Liberation Theologian, believing that Christ was a military leader. However, one may see his working method as purposefully vague, appealing to many groups, and being utilitarian—doing what works without a philosophy.

The popes we can remember had strong philosophies behind their speeches, apostolic letters and encyclicals. This present pope was formed in a Vatican II seminary, where Thomas would have been suppressed, as it was all over the Americas

What could have provided a basis for a philosophy could have been Peronism—or doing what seems right at the time.

Now, I am merely drawing similarities, without source proof of influence. However, there does seem to be some overlaps.

The second way Peronism may be affecting Rome falls into a category I wrote about the year Pope Francis was elected.

This is the category of how authority works. We know that in Rome, the common way for things to get done, was that various offices, or congregations would take on business in their particular areas of responsibility, do the hard work, and pass the finished statement or decision to the popes who would approve or not approve such things. We saw how this worked in the mess about the socialism economic paper which was leaked under Benedict XVI, who had not seen or approved that document. It was put into the bin by the pope, but only after the leak.

When Francis became pope, he changed the way things are managed in the Vatican. Instead of the normal, centuries old way of the congregations working on items and passing them up for approval, my Vatican sources told me that Francis reversed the order of management. Things now start at the top. If this is so, the pope has created a top to down managerial style—very Jesuit, by the way. I wrote about this the year he was elected in my article on this South American Jesuit.

Authority is the way things are done among the Jesuits. Perfect obedience is still part of the charism. One is under authority, and under the authority of the Pope.

However, this managerial style, was also the style of Peron, who became more and more authoritarian the longer he was president. I suggest the Pope thinks in terms of his authority, not only in those given to him by Canon Law, or by the Doctrine of Infallibility, but in other addresses or decisions.

So, we are witnessing a contradiction in Rome—a person who is trying to appeal to all people, right and left, to a certain extent, and a person who wants to be popular, while demanding the rule of the authoritarian.

To me, the greatest sign of Peron’s influence is in the Pope’s utilitarianism. Do what works…and honour those who are useful. Although, to be fair, this pope is a pope of the poor, the innocent, the refugee, the aborted babies…

Yet, he honours those who have been useful to him, which may explain why he is not leading the way against the explosion of sexual sins and crimes, as we have seen all summer and into the winter, now, in the press.

My intelligent friend and the wise priest I know claim the Pope is a Peronist. I do not go quite that far, but I do believe there is an influence, just as my growing up in America has “made me a federalist republican”, that is, one believing in the goodness of a republic type of government, with authority given to the states in a federal system, instead of a monarchist.

We are influenced by the political governance under which we live. We can become rebels against that form, be it constitutional or otherwise, yet, even the rebellion reflects influence.

The Pope may be trying to pacify the many tribes within the Church now and if so, he is missing the point of his role as Shepherd. He is being more political than pastoral. Pray for him that he can break away from these influences, which we all have. We actually see this, so can one not think that this Peronist pacification comes out of the Pope’s Argentinian roots?

JMJ, pray for us!

God is good,

Jay