Over decades, Perónism would mutate, blending populism, authoritarianismand nationalism, with Perón ultimately splitting from the Catholic Church. As ayoung priest during the military dictatorship in 1971, Francis ministered to theIron Guard, a worker-based social justice group working for the return of Perón,who had been exiled to Spain.Mr. Ivereigh, the biographer, argues that Francis eventually rejected politicalideologies and focused on the pueblo fiel — the faithful — while becomingincreasingly outspoken against politicians, whom he thought did too little for thepoor. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis mobilized the church in response toArgentina’s economic crisis of 2001-02, expanding the number of priests assignedto the slums, opening food kitchens and opening schools, clinics and drug rehabcenters as state services receded.He also castigated Argentina’s political leaders during the traditional Te Deumservice, often with the president in attendance. (The service coincides withArgentina’s anniversary of the May Revolution, a precursor to nationalindependence.)His rebukes would infuriate different leaders, including former PresidentNéstor Kirchner. His critics argued that he was interfering in secular affairs andplaying his own political games.“He takes risks,” said Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a Jewish leader in Buenos Airesand a close friend to the pope. “He doesn’t stay in a comfortable position.”Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, an Argentine who has served in theVatican for more than 40 years, said Francis is not condemning capitalism in total,but he is criticizing the indifference it fosters toward the poor.
9/19/15, 2:27 PMA Humble Pope, Challenging the World - The New York TimesPage 10 of 15“The pope, of course, doesn’t have a solution — the economic solution,” saidMonsignor Sánchez Sorondo, who is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy ofSciences. “But the pope is like a light on the street to say: ‘This is not the way. Thisway sacrifices many people and leaves many people excluded.’”He added, “The pope is concerned that the plutocracy is destroyingdemocracy.”Ken Hackett, the United States ambassador to the Holy See, argues thatFrancis’ economic views have been wrongly simplified and scoffs at the suggestionthat the pope is a socialist as “a naïve characterization.”Mr. Hackett added: “I don’t think he hates capitalism. I think he hates theexcesses.”To a degree, Francis seems to be lashing out against the contemporaryprimacy of economics over faith. He believes the answers are found with theGospel, not with Adam Smith or Karl Marx.