NEWS: September 30, 2019
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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães
POPULAR MOVEMENTS vs. POPULISM - About a week ago Italian bookstores received the first copies of a new book published by the Vatican. Its name tells you everything: The Eruption of Popular Movements: the 'Rerum Novarum' of Our Time. The foreword was written by Pope Bergoglio who gave it his strong endorsement, which makes its content a sort of indirect papal statement.

book

Just off the press with a foreword by Francis

I ordered the book by express mail with the hope it would arrive in time for this column. It did not. In this situation I will base my analysis of the papal foreword on a review by L’Osservatore Romano (August 21, 2019). When the book arrives, I may post a synopsis of it given the importance of the topic.

I start by clarifying two fundamentally deceptive expressions that Pope Francis uses in his preface.

Popular Movements

In the papal verbiage, popular movements mean social cells (small groups of persons) turned toward causing class-struggle under the inspiration of Liberation Theology. They are primarily Latin American movements made up of landless persons fighting against farmers, the homeless or renters fighting against property owners, Indians fighting against the “oppression” imposed by ranchers and members of the established governments, blacks fighting against whites, women fighting against men, employees demanding to own part of their employers’ enterprises, students fighting against the discipline of scholarly institutions etc.

In the Pope’s foreword these movements are addressed as “all those who live in the territorial and existential peripheries of the population.”

movements

Francis receiving representatives of
Popular Movements at the Vatican

Pope Francis took the initiative of inviting some representatives of these popular movements to the Vatican in 2016 and, thenceforth, has encouraged their unrest and subversion of society. These movements are habitually put together by organs of the Conciliar Church. Their point of departure is the Christian Base Communities .

They are usually also financed and stimulated by the Church. Although most of the time they are made up of small inexpressive minorities, they are referred to as “popular” movements to give the impression that all the people feel themselves represented by them. So, “popular” is used by Francis in this case to confer importance and prestige to that essentially socialist movement.

Populism

He refers to “populism,” however, as a new plague. His target – I include here not only Francis’ words in this foreword, but his constant parlance in speeches and interviews – is the rightist reaction that is surging all over Europe against the Muslim immigration and the European Union, and in the Americas against Socialism and leftist corruption.

So, in Europe these leaders would be populists: Orban in Hungary, Kaczynski in Poland, Kurz in Austria, Salvini and the Lega Nord (Northern League) in Italy, the successive victories of the AFD (Alternative für Deutschland – Alternative for Germany), and at times even the English referendum favoring Brexit in Great Britain.

bolsonero macri

Bolsonaro & Macri won by opposing the corruption of Rousseff & Kirchner supported by Francis

The victories of Trump in the U.S., Bolsonaro in Brazil, Macri in Argentina, Piñera in Chile and Duque in Colombia have also been considered as victories of “populism.”

This term has frequently been used by Francis and L’Osservatore Romano to disparage and combat the growing reaction against Socialism and Muslim immigration we have seen recently. Before Francis' election as Pope and the introduction of this new artificial use of “populism,” the word referred to demagogic movements in South America that fooled multitudes of workers with promises for a better life in order to establish their leaders as presidents of their countries and remain in power indefinitely.

Getulio Vargas in Brazil and Juan Domingo Peron in Argentina are characteristic populist caudillos (dictators). Peronism in particular is a populist movement. So, Jorge Bergoglio, who is – and has always been – an enthusiast of Peron, is certainly a populist Pope. For example, he introduced into the Papacy an anti-aristocratic and demagogic way of governing that copies the method used by those proletarian dictators. Thus, I believe that there is no exaggeration in affirming that Francis is the most populist Pope ever recorded in History.

With this in mind, it seems to me either hypocritical or schizophrenic to see the populist Francis shaming those right-wing politicians under the epithet of “populists.”

Popular Movements vs. Populism

These presuppositions allow us to understand the principal thesis of Francis’ foreword for the newly released book, The Erruption.

He portrays those Popular Movements as the “mustard seed that is meant to give many fruits,” as the “leaven of a great social transformation.” He encourages their members not to be passive spectators before the elites who are administrating the world, but to be active protagonists of the future, to make a “pacific rebellion,” which counts upon the full support of the Pontiff. These movements should resist the “dominant model,” Capitalism, and be “sentinels for a better future.”

Populist Pope

The most populist Pope in History shames the conservative wave in Europe & Americas as populist...

Francis believes we are experiencing an “epochal change characterized by fear, xenophobia and racism”: This is how he describes the good conservative reactions against Muslim immigration in Europe and the right-wing political victories in North and South America.

Just as the Pope sees the Popular Movements as a reservoir of morality and “the strength of sharing,” he views Populism as far removed from ethical values and subsisting from “the culture of self.” So, these movements provide hope to “revitalize our democracies” and act as an “antidote” to Populism.

In face of the “deviations of neo-liberal theses” that “asphyxiate and oppress men in their working experiences,” Francis invokes “a new humanism to end the analphabetism of compassion and the increasing eclipse of culture and notion of the common good.”

These are the essential parts of the papal foreword, according to the review I read in L’Osservatore Romano. It is a summary that allows us to realize that Pope Bergoglio continues to be the greatest standard bearer of the left, the more efficient present-day promoter of Communism and the best and most dynamic opponent of Capitalism.

In Fatima Our Lady predicted that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world. Who could imagine then that the Pope would become its principal agent?