…According to Bergoglio, “it takes a myth to understand the people.” And he has recounted this myth, as pope, above all when he called around him the “popular movements.” He has done it three times so far: the first time in Rome in 2014, the second in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in 2015, the third again in Rome, in 2016. Every time he rouses the audience with endless speeches, of around thirty pages each, which when put together now form the political manifesto of this pope.
The movements that Francis calls to himself are not ones that he created, they preexist him. There is nothing overtly Catholic about them. They are in part the heirs of the memorable anti-capitalist and anti-globalization gatherings in Seattle and Porto Alegre. Plus the multitude of rejects from which the pope sees bursting forth “that torrent of moral energy which springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny.”
It is to these “discards of society” that Francis entrusts a future made of land, of housing, of work for all. Thanks to a process of their rise to power that “transcends the logical proceedings of formal democracy.” To the “popular movements,” on November 5, the pope said that the time has come to make a leap in politics, in order “to revitalize and recast the democracies, which are experiencing a genuine crisis.” In short, to upend the powerful from their thrones.
The powers against which the people of the excluded are rebelling, in the vision of the pope, are “the economic systems that in order to survive must wage war and thus restore economic balance,” they are “the economy that kills”. This is his key for explaining the “piecemeal world war” and even Islamic terrorism.
But here already there emerges a contradiction between words and deeds, in the politics of Pope Francis.
Because while he preaches ceaselessly against the rich Devourers – whom he never identifies and calls by name – the richest men in the world and the superpowers of finance come thronging to be received by him. And he not only welcomes them with wide-open arms, but he heaps praises upon them.
In the initial phase of his pontificate, in order to get the curia and its balance sheets back into shape, Francis called to the Vatican the world’s most famous and expensive management and financial services firms, from McKinsey to Ernst & Young, from Promontory to KPMG.
He praised Christine Lagarde, received repeatedly when she was at the head of the International Monetary Fund, as “an intelligent woman who maintains that money must be at the service of humanity, and not the other way around.”
He received in highly visible audiences, accepting in front of the cameras their substantial offerings of money, Tim Cook of Apple, Eric Schmidt of Google, Kevin Systrom of Instagram. He accepted the financing of Paul Allen of Microsoft and of the Mexican magnate Carlos Slim, for many years at the top of the Forbes ranking of the richest people in the world.
And then there is a second contradiction, between – on one side – the narrative that Bergoglio continually presents of a world in which “the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer,” in a crescendo of the concentration of wealth into the hands of the very few and of a deliberate extension of poverty to ever wider segments of the population, and – on the other side – the incontestable data of the statistics.
Suffice it to say that, according to the figures furnished by the World Bank, in 1990 47 percent of the world’s population lived on less than 1.9 dollars a day. In 2015, twenty-five years later, it was less than 10 percent. In China, over the same span of time, those living in conditions of extreme poverty dropped from 61 to 4 percent.
The above comes from a Dec. 3 Settimo Cielo column by Sandro Magister in L’Espresso newspaper (Italy).
It is based on a talk Magister gave on Nov. 30.
To read the entire address, click here.