Pedro Castillo, representative of the Marxist-Leninist party Perú Libre, was sworn in as the new president. A sensation for the Andean state that Pope Francis seems to pleased by.
(Lima) The political left is taking power in Peru. One of the well-wishers, which would have been astonishing just a few years ago, is the head of the Catholic Church.
At the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis was referred to as a “sociologist on the papal throne” to draw an analogy to his predecessors: John Paul II (1978–2005) became “the philosopher” and Benedict XVI. "the theologian". However, it soon became apparent that in March 2013, Francis was less of a sociologist than "the politician" at the Cathedra Petri. The political attention of the ruling Pope is mainly focused on the American double continent. It aims at the USA, as the leading but no longer undisputed world power, and at Latin America, where Francis comes from.
The political sympathies of Pope Francis are located on the left, which he makes no secret of. This applies to the Democratic Party and its exponents in the USA, as well as to the representatives of the various left-wing groups who exercise power in Latin American countries or who reach for it. There are few American countries where Francis has not yet campaigned through elections, either directly or indirectly. He was by no means always successful, quite the opposite. This was especially true for the first few years of his pontificate. Meanwhile, the political left seems to be recovering. The USA could be recaptured, as happened in Argentina. In Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, the communists, who today prefer to call themselves “socialists of the 21st century”, hold on to power. For Francis this is definitely a relief.
However, Jair Bolsonaro's election victory in Brazil is still an open wound. This could not be prevented despite the personal commitment of Francis. In the months leading up to the elections in autumn 2018, he had declared several preventative measures that if the Labor Party (PT) lost the election, it would in reality be a “coup” by the political right. The socialists couldn't have said it better. Since the successful removal of Trump from the White House, the political left in Brazil has regained hope. The wind has turned, it is said: The left is on the rise again.
Papal interventions of various kinds in favor of left-wing candidates and parties have existed since 2013 at least in the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile (see On which Side Francis in Latin America Stands).
In Peru, Francis intervened in the episcopate to achieve a new orientation. As in other Latin American states, Marxist liberation theology is widespread in the Andean state. A protective dam on the other hand was the bellicose Juan Luis Cardinal Cipriani Thorne, who was Archbishop of Lima and Primate from 1999 to 2019. The now 77-year-old cardinal and member of Opus Dei was retired by Francis at the age of 75, i.e. at the first opportunity presented (see And it Came to Evil). Previously, the head of the Church had given sufficient understanding of whom he wanted to promote. The cardinal was certainly not one of them. Francis had no hesitation in publicly humiliating Cardinal Cipriani in the dispute over the direction of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. Pope Benedict XVI had intervened at the request of Cardinal Cipriani against an ecclesiastically progressive and politically radical left-wing takeover of the university. Francis reversed everything.
Yesterday, Sunday, Francis discovered "some Peruvian flags" according to his own statement on St. Peter's Square. He took this as an opportunity to send a veiled greeting to the new government of the Andean state. A few days earlier, on July 28th, Pedro Castillo Terrones was sworn in as the new president. In the runoff election on June 5, Castillo won against his rival Keiko Fujimori with a wafer-thin majority of 0.12 percent. He had threatened beforehand that he would not even recognize an election defeat. After a review, the national electoral court confirmed his election victory on July 19.
A novelty in the history of Peru has been in effect since last week: the first radical left head of state has moved into the presidential palace. Castillo is an exponent of the Marxist-Leninist party Perú Libre. With Bolivia and Venezuela, the Andean state joins the fronde of an agenda of socialist planned economy and left-wing nationalism for the first time. During the election campaign, Castillo called for the nationalization of the key industry, which is why his cautious distancing from Venezuelan Chavism can be seen as a mere election tactic.
Pope Francis said yesterday at the Angelus in St. Peter's Square:
“And I see some Peruvian flags and greet you Peruvians who have a new president. May the Lord bless your country always! "
When Dilma Rousseff was removed from office as head of state and government by the Brazilian Workers' Party (PT) in 2016, Pope Francis was “sad” at an improvised event in the Vatican Gardens. Yesterday he was visibly satisfied with the entry of a Marxist into the presidential palace in Lima.
Liberation theology in Latin America is not a tool for the Church, but against it. The left politicization of the Church triggered a mass exodus among the Catholics. Millions of Catholics have since migrated to Protestant free churches. Even Castillo's wife and children are evangelicals. But the Vatican has not wanted to see the negative consequences since the spring of 2013, and certainly not to analyze them.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
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