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The Argentine left doesn’t like the new pope. Horacio Verbitsky, a leftist journalist and author in Argentina, responded to the election of Pope Francis with a bitter column in Página/12 .

He describes former Cardinal Bergoglio as “a conservative populist,” who, like Pius XII and John Paul II, is “unwavering on questions of doctrine,” but open to the world, “and above all, to the dispossessed masses.” For Verbitsky, this fits into the standard Marxist frame of reference: the Church seducing the poor with a false solidarity. Religion as opiate of the masses.

Verbitsky ends with a warning to his fellow Argentines. Just as Pius XII worked to impede a communist victory in Italy after World War II, and then John Paul II worked to bring about the end of communism in Eastern Europe, so might the new Argentine pope use the seductive Christian rhetoric of solidarity with the poor to undermine the populist government of Argentina and restore the exploiters to power, etc.

I find the criticisms very interesting. Verbitsky knows the new Pope’s modus operandi quite well. Francis renounced the grandeur of his episcopal residence, and expressing solidarity with the common man as he rode a bus to work. (Not something Cristina Kirchner does.) But he did not do so for the sake of the revolution, at least not the Marxist revolution, but instead for the sake of the revolution of the Gospel. This, unlike free market ideologies, poses a direct threat to the modern left, which claims a monopoly interest in the poor.

Perhaps we’re about to open an interesting new chapter in the ideological story of the modern West.

Thanks to Katie Infantine for the translation of Verbitsky.

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