Argentine Archbishop: Francis Is a Despotic Demagogue

(LifeSiteNews) — In his Epiphany Mass homily, Pope Francis warned against “ecclesiastical ideologies” in order to “find the meaning of Holy Mother Church.” It was a fair and timely observation. In the 1970s ecclesiastical ideologies caused serious damage, confusion, and abandonment of the priestly vocation. They became strong in some sectors of religious life. Above all, Marxism became an obsession under the pretext of reaching out to the poor. The relationship of the Church with culture implied an “evangelization” in reverse: worldly ideologies gave rise to ecclesiastical ones. Later it was the cultural vigencies; they had their turn and impregnated the Christian vocation with their criticism of Tradition, which was discarded as the opposite of pastoral aggiornamento.

The meaning of the Church is based on faith and developed in the experience of ecclesial life. Ideologies simulate the meaning of the Church and destroy it. Generally they come from feverish minds that imitate models of the world – in this way they ignore the Gospel or contradict it. Ideology pretends to be an implementation of the Gospel – and therein lies the error and injustice. The experience of the 1970s spread widely in the Church. The last decade of Paul VI’s pontificate (from 1968 to 1978) was one of theological ideology, which spread a repudiation of Humanae Vitae by various authors, especially German and French ones, and ideologies of a socialist nature due to an obsession with Marxism. The “Church of the poor” was a swindle that deceived many. In several countries, particularly in Latin America and Africa, it took on a revolutionary aspect. Many Catholics, especially priests, committed themselves to guerrilla movements – in Argentina this phenomenon became a real internal war with thousands of victims.

The warning of the Supreme Pontiff illustrates quite well a fundamental problem of the current path that has opened up in Rome. Some of Francis’ positions can only be understood by recognizing the two ideologies that drive him. The first is of a doctrinal nature: theological progressivism, with a relativistic bent. This is how one can understand the tyranny against Tradition and the contempt he experiences from Catholics attached to it, which is revealed all the time – especially after the scandal of Fiducia Supplicans, a declaration that should not be obeyed – sometimes spontaneously and other times in a programmed manner. Catholic identity and fidelity to a line in effect for centuries but always updated – these things are no longer the inspiration of the pontificate.

One grave decision was the appointment of Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández as prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith – the author of little books on “spirituality” and a scandalous book titled Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality, in which he presents a sexological interpretation of mystical union with God, an ignorance and distortion of mystical theology. This cardinal occupies the position honored for many years by the great theologian Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI). Francis’ theological progressivism has been revealed especially in the area of morals, where one also perceives the theological tradition of the Jesuits, which at one time was rigorist but has more of a laxist orientation nowadays.

The other ideology that inspires Francis is Peronist populism, which is also found in several Argentine bishops. It is a political and cultural current combined with the dictatorial decisions of the boss. Taken to Rome, this ideology is manifested in a change to the identity of the Church, which no longer appears as a Body or a Communion, but rather with the figure of an inverted pyramid: the people at the top, the hierarchy below.

Another image used by Francis is the polyhedron, which illustrates the overcoming of the classic distinction between the teaching Church (docens), which is the magisterium, and the Church that listens and learns (discens), which is the faithful. This distinction is not a historical creation but is based on the Gospel. The Pope’s alteration of the reality of the Church hides his despotic decisions. Peronism is the name given in Argentina to the doctrine and followers of Juan Domingo Perón, three times the president of the nation. Peronism is a unique populism since it includes obedience to the dictates of the boss. This movement has had a decisive influence on Argentine politics over the last 80 years, inside and outside the government.

Jorge Bergoglio, like more than a few priests in Argentina, has sympathized with Peronism since his youth, and this atavistic tendency explains the pastoral bent of his pontificate: ecclesiastical Peronism has become papal Peronism. This makes it possible for us to understand how populism does not exclude the authoritarianism of some of the Pope’s actions.

The concept of ideology signifies negativity and opposition to – falsification of – the truth. There have been subjectivist and heterodox ideologies throughout the history of the Church, such as the modernism of the early 20th century. It is admirable how St. Pius X knew how to understand, expose, analyze, and refute this heresy in Pascendi Dominici Gregis. Progressivism is more diffuse; it is possible to recognize its principles, but we lack a characterization of its identity as an ideology.

In the homily quoted at the beginning of this article, the Pope expresses quite well how necessary it is to lay down or abandon ecclesiastical ideology in order to “find the meaning of Holy Mother Church.” The ideologies that explain the orientation of the current pontificate (theological progressivism and Peronist populism) bear an Argentinean stamp and can be transmitted through Francis’ discourse to particular churches.

+ Héctor Aguer
Archbishop Emeritus of La Plata

Buenos Aires, February 14, 2024
Ash Wednesday, Beginning of the Holy Season of Lent