Argentine president seeks rapprochement with Catholic Church

Argentine president Cristina Kirchner attended a Mass of thanksgiving in commemoration of the 1810 May Revolution that marked the beginning of her country’s war of independence. Celebrating the Mass and Te Deum was Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli, the archbishop of Buenos Aires. This was the first time that the Peronist Kirchner had attended the liturgy in ten years. Attending with her on May 25 was Mauricio Macri – the head of the government of the capital city.
 
It was a decade ago that Kirchner, whose husband Nestor Kirchner was president at the time, had last attended because of differences she had with the Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – who is now Pope Francis. She objected to a homily Bergoglio gave on that occasion in which the churchman denounced the perceived indifference of the government to the real needs of Argentines who, at the time, were suffering during one of the country’s periodic economic tumults.
 
On May 25, Cardinal Poli said in his homily, "The only way forward for the development of peoples is that of the culture of meeting. The other has always something to offer me if I get close without prejudice,” adding, “…today we either commit ourselves to dialogue and the culture of the meeting, or we lose everything. This is the fruitful path." He asked for a dialogue in an open and cooperative spirit, which he calls "social humility." The cardinal concluded by saying that "the art of dialogue ensures a healthy vitality to our blessed democracy.”
 
The Peronist movement has long had a troubled relationship with the Catholic Church despite its populist rhetoric. In the 1950s, during the government of the party’s namesake – President Juan Domingo PeronPeronist rioters burned churches and called out the church hierarchy for their opposition to Peron.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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