Written by Luciana Danquis
Thursday, 30 July 2015 21:28
About Pope Francis’ visit to Latin America
By mid-July, Pope Francis made his second tour of Latin American countries. This time he visited Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay. As in his previous tours, millions of the faithful flocked to hear his message.
According to some of them, the first Latin American Pope with his messages against poverty and exclusion seems to have changed the conservative Catholic Church. Many comrades, many young people who wish to fight for a word with no unevenness may regard Pope Francis and the Church as an alternative place where this battle can be fought. So we have to wonder, “Has the Church ceased to be functional to the powerful? Has it become a solution to unevenness? Or is it only that the Pope has learned from the recent experience of the populist Latin American administrations (such as Nestor and Kristine Kirchner) in order to change his discourse so as to save the institutions that can guarantee the domination and the looting by imperialism in these latitudes?”
Remembering his youthful militancy on the Peronist right, the new Pope has interpreted better than anybody else the crisis that the institutions are going through in this new century and has launched a policy to rescue the Church so that it can still play the old game, but adapted to the times underway. The analysis of the facts, leave alone the gestures and the sermons, turn him into one of the main instruments of those who keep the world under their control.
Where do we come from?
Francis took over in the midst of an unprecedented crisis of one of the most important institutions in the world: the Catholic Church, engulfing 1.2 billion faithful, 42% of whom live in Latin America. We were all surprised when, following the resignation of Benedict XVI, with the Church challenged due to cases of paedophilia, publicity of corruption and ultraconservative postures, a Latin American cardinal had to be elected.
In consonance with the Black President of the USA, with the “Empowered” women occupying very high positions, such as Angela Merkel in Germany, with indigenous or working class persons in the governments, it looked like the Latin American Pope was introducing the Church into a new era where all those who had been historically neglected were beginning to arise to positions of power, creating great expectations among millions and millions of people that deep changes are about to benefit peoples. These expectations, however, never became anything but unfulfilled hopes.
As soon as Francis took over, from these pages we pointed out, “the Argentine Jesuit is a conservative man, with a rich background in the defence of the most conservative positions of the Church, coincident in most essential of the positions adopted by his predecessor. And yet, precisely because he came from a Latin American country, he could create the sensation of “renewal” and of openness if compared to the Italian, European and American curia corroded by the economic crisis, corruption scandals and massive rape of children. For that reason and cause he was elected Pope. ”
Who was and who is Francis Bergoglio
With the change of his name, characteristic of papal inauguration ceremony, it seems that many of the now staunch defenders of the Pope have altogether forgotten His Holiness’ past and their own criticism. The very Kirshnerist administration seems to have forgotten their confrontations with Cardinal Bergoglio when the latter acted as the spokesman of theemployers and soybean business in conflicts such as the one in 2008 (1), or the militant opposition to marriage equality.
From this point of view, there has been a vicious operation to conceal the links between Bergoglio and the military dictatorship and his cooperation for the detention and torture inflicted on two of the slum priests, which “magically” became testimonialsof how he helped victims of the dictatorship. The fact that during the years of his leadership of the Argentine Church neither [the former dictator] Videla nor any other military genocidal have ever been excommunicated testifies more of the former than of the latter.
Cardinal Bergoglio was the conductor of one of the most backward churches in the world: the Argentine church, aligned with the worst elements of the right in that country, relentless militant against the women’s right to choose their moment for their maternity. Could he have turned suddenly into his own opposite when he turned into Francis?
Francis’ main acts
Since it is not enough to “convict” him for his past alone, it is necessary to stop and ponder his main actions since taking office. These actions are deeply political even if many would like to regard politics as separate from the Church.
During his first trip to Latin America, Francis visited Brazil just a few weeks of the eruption of the demonstrations known as “the June days”. It was there when he surprised everybody with his message to the youth urging them to canalise the emerging movement through the ecclesiastic channels. At the same time he refused to stand for the legalisation of drugs, he defended the illegalisation of drugs something that actually benefits only the big drug dealers.
In relation to one of the most algid processes in the world, the Syrian revolution, ever since he took over he has been claiming for “peace and reconciliation.” There is no doubt that peace is a desirable thing, but within this context, what is the meaning of demanding simply peace? After being subjected to misery and the al-Assad dictatorship for over 40 years, this means asking the Syrian people tobe reconciled with the tyrant Bashar. Whom does this peace benefit?
The same goes for the visit to Jerusalem in 2014, graphed in his photo with the leaders of the Jewish and the Muslim religions, which travelled around the world. It meant no solidarity with the massacred Palestinian people but to support the policy boosted by the entire imperialism: that of the two states. The Palestinian one and the Israeli one for it reaffirmed the decisions taken in 1974 by the United Nations and guaranteed by blood and fire by the Israeli army with full support from the political and military apparatus of the American imperialism and the remaining of the powers (2).
As part of these policies we cannot omit the importance of Pope Francis, admitted everywhere, in the recent agreement between the USA and Cuba, which regardless of what the Castroist trends want to pretend, was useful to advance in the American colonisation of the island, and it is simultaneously a cruel demonstration that capitalism has been back on the Island for a long time now and that Cuba is a market that the USA are not willing to give up.
So do all Francis’ activities favour the poor or the ruling class and the powerful?
Latin America 2015
As we can see by making a follow-up of the “Pope’s visits”, the places chosen are no coincidence at all. The first country visited in this latest tour, Ecuador, is going through a situation of crisis and mobilisations facing the attacks by the Correa administration where workers and indigenous population have begun to get organised to fight. In Bolivia, Evo Morales is not any better for his wear and tear and in Paraguay there is a process of organisation of the workers and some very important struggles.
And so, has Francis, “the Pope of the poor”, visited these countries in order to boost their organisation and struggle against the adjustments imposed by the governments and the entrepreneurs? Did he stand up for the rights of the indigenous people against the multinationals that loot the natural resources? Unfortunately this did not happen.
In spite of all his speeches against poverty, the main call was for “dialogue” and “conciliation” creating among millions of his followers the expectation that exclusion can be fought against hand in hand with the governments (who in turn represent the entrepreneurs). As for the original populations, even if he did beg forgiveness for “previous deeds” of the Church emulating what had already been said by John Paul II in the past, he said nothing about the current poverty that natives have to support all over the world.
Neither is a secret his active policy to maintain the “governability” of Cristina Kirchner’s administration, for he is the sponsor of the employers-trade unions’ pact to allow the administration to advance with its economic attacks and reach the elections “in peace.” Nor is a secret his policy to unite the trade-union centrals in Argentina to support the forthcoming elected president [in October], never mind who he may be, in his task of making the attacks against the workers and in the delivery of our natural resources to the multinationals.
A “new” form for an old Church
It is undeniable that there has been nobody who has developed a policy to convince diverse sectors of the population and keep them “under his wing” as Pope Francis. With the help of the media there has been a permanent attempt at proving that a change and an opening has taken place in the Church but without affecting its historic structures and positions. Doubtlessly, the new form of the Church must suit the purpose of stopping the diaspora of the faithful that has been going on while playing the same role as usual.
At the same time we must not be misled to believe that it is a merely religious problem. The Church’s fundamental role is on the political field, for everything done benefits the powerful while misguiding the oppressed of the world to boost the “conciliation” with their hangmen.
Surely, many extremely valuable comrades who long for a world without poverty, with no exploitation and no oppression may regard Francis as a reference. And yet, with absolute respect for their religious beliefs and their expectations we wish to tell them that, unfortunately, the facts evidence that the “Pope of the poor” is nothing but a kinder expression of the old Church in the service of power.
If things are to change at all it is still necessary to for the working class to get organised and seize the future in our hands.
Notes: – In 2008, the Cristina Kirchner administration boosted a project of an increase of taxes on export of cereals and derivatives. The large landowners were against that and with the aid of different parties boosted the “employers’ pay-packet”. The bill failed to pass in the Parliament.  – In 1947, the UN passed the bill of the division of the historic Palestinian territory into two States. The Jewish sector (which only represented 30% of the inhabitants – most of whom were newcomers and resulted from the recent Jewish immigration boosted by Zionism and English imperialism) was given almost 60% of the land. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were evicted violently and, as years passed by, Israel seized an additional 20% of the territories.