“The word ‘people’ is not a logical category, it is a mystical category,” Francis said last February, on his way back from Mexico. Afterward, interviewed by his Jesuit confrere Antonio Spadaro, he adjusted his aim. Rather than “mystical,” he said, “in the sense that everything the people does is good,” it is better to say “mythical.” “It takes a myth to understand the people.”
Bergoglio recounts this myth every time he calls 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 last November 5, again in Rome. 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.”
And if this global revolution needs a leader, there are those who have already pointed to him in none other than the pope. This is what was done a year ago at the Teatro Cervantes in Buenos Aires by the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, an influential voice of the worldwide far left, when he upheld the cause of a new “communist and papal” International, with Francis as its undisputed leader, in order to fight and win the “class war” of the 21st century. At Vattimo’s side sat a pleased Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, an Argentine and a close collaborator with Bergoglio at the Vatican.
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.” This is his key for explaining the “piecemeal world war” and even Islamic terrorism.
Meanwhile, however, the populist South American leftists for whom Bergoglio shows such a liking are going through one downfall after another: in Argentina, in Brazil, in Peru, in Venezuela.
As partial consolation for the pope, from this last country has come the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, who has spent a lifetime writing and teaching about nothing but politics and the social sciences, having been a Marxist in his youth and then a supporter of the rise to power of Hugo Chávez, the one who brought the Venezuelan “pueblo” to disaster.
But Pope Francis’s politics have now also been ruffled by the death of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump, the latter surprisingly voted for precisely by the “discards” of capitalist big industry.
This commentary was published in “L’Espresso” no. 50 of 2016 on newsstands December 11, on the opinion page entitled “Settimo cielo” entrusted to Sandro Magister.
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