Sunday, May 10, 2015

Castro's come-to-Jesus moment ... not really ;)

When the current leader of the Roman Catholic faith, Pope Francis, talks about issues that the political left typically cares about, the political right jumps to label him a Marxist or a communist or whatever such red-colored labels they like to stick on him.

But, as the Economist noted in reviewing a book, a biography that traced the arc that Jorge Bergoglio took to become Pope Francis:
Pope Francis excoriates the “golden calf” of the free market, and there are echoes of Marxist or even Leninist thinking in the way he links capitalism and war. But Mr Ivereigh locates the pontiff’s roots elsewhere: in the broad Argentine movement known as Peronism, a kind of populism tinged with nationalism which trusts the wisdom of ordinary folk and resents all elites. Some Peronists went Marxist; the young Father Bergoglio did not.
That last sentence there says a lot: "Some Peronists went Marxist; the young Father Bergoglio did not."

Now perhaps you are worried about the Pope's Peronism, eh!  Don't jump to conclusions:
Nor, contrary to one version of his early life, did he have any truck with right-wing authoritarianism.
 So, what's the deal?
The pope also shows more sign than his predecessors of understanding the human dilemmas posed by abortion and assisted suicide, but still hews to the church’s teaching on the sanctity of life. Even among people who disagree with all those views, Francis commands sympathy. For his part, he has acknowledged the integrity of people, including atheists and Marxists, whose beliefs differ from his own; and the respect is often mutual. His idiosyncratic humanism, forged in a land of political and economic turmoil, seems infectious. This book explains where it comes from.
Within the religious framework, Pope Francis is a relatively freewheeling critic of capitalism and a pragmatic humanist, in contrast to the hardcore ideologue that Pope Benedict was.

If one is not an ideologue, or is rapidly running away from brutal ideology, then this papacy will look all the more friendly.  Is it any wonder then that Raul Castro met with the Pope, on his way back from a trip to Putin's Russia?  Especially after the role that the Vatican played in helping the US end its freeze of Cuba.  And, of course, as any good politician, Castro knew well what will sell in the press:
After the audience with the Pope, Mr Castro said he was so impressed by a Vatican audience with Pope Francis that he might return to the faith he was born into.
Mr Castro praised the pontiff's wisdom, adding: "I will resume praying and turn to the Church again if the Pope continues in this vein."
After ruining Cuba, and exporting its brand of communism, and making Che's secular-jihadist image a "brand" in the global capitalism that they despised, prayers the Castro brothers will need in plenty!

In a few months, there will be the return visit:
Francis will travel to Cuba in September on his way to the United States. He will be the third pope to go to the Caribbean island nation, following John Paul II's visit in 1998 and Benedict XVI's in 2012.


Ramesh said...

The papa is a very different man to his predecessors. He can, and might, become the moral beacon to lots in this world irrespective of their religious affiliations. The world needs somebody like him.

As for Castro, he will need more than prayers, although I am not sure if this brother is as much in need of salvation as his more illustrious sibling.

Sriram Khé said...

Yes, the Pope is using his "bully pulpit" really well on many issues.

But, he lacks any real power over people--after all, it is not like back a thousand years ago when people worried that not doing what the Pope says will mean they will go to hell. Nor does the Pope have an army or print his own currency.

So, at the end of it all, I suspect that it will be--pardon my inappropriate language--all talk and no shit!

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