Pope Francis The Politician

BUENOS AIRES: Jorge Mario Bergoglio - not an Italian, not a European, but a Latin American from Argentina - has now been chosen as the supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.

 What, if anything, can Latin America expect from Pope Francis I?  For starters, it seems clear that Francis will try to assert political influence in the region, rather in the manner that Pope John Paul II used his authority in his native Poland and Central Europe in the decade leading up to the fall of communism. A former Jesuit, Bergoglio was raised in a religious order - founded in the sixteenth century to oppose the Protestant Reformation - that is known for its power inside the church and its desire for wider political influence. So it is no surprise that Bergoglio has always considered politics, even from a religious point of view, as central to his work.

For example, he has been very vocal in voicing discontent with the rule of Argentine President Cristina Fern‡ndez de Kirchner and that of her husband and predecessor, Nstor Kirchner. He was active in helping to create a coalition of opposition parties to balance the overwhelming power of Kirchnerism, which has steadily been gaining power over Argentina's parliament, judiciary, and independent media.  Indeed, Nstor Kirchner once accused Bergoglio of being the head of the opposition coalition, and refused to attend a traditional mass - a Te Deum - because he was afraid that he would be the subject of the then-Cardinal Bergoglio's sermon. He memorably declared that the church belongs to everyone, and that the devil sometime wears a cassock.

Editor's Comment
Women in Politics caucus NGO, a welcome development

In the 2014 General Election, women who stood for parliamentary elections were a mere 17 out of a total of 192 aspirants, and sadly the number dropped to 11 out of 210 parliamentary aspirants in the 2019 General Election. Hopefully, registration of the Women in Politics Caucus will give women the necessary support to join politics. While things were slowly improving, women for a long time were at the receiving end as compared to their male...

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