“We are ashamed of him,” a former prosecutor says of Jorge Bergoglio during George Neumayr’s visit to the pope’s home country. The admission follows an epithet I’d prefer not to print. “He represents our worst qualities,” the man concludes.
Neumayr, author of The Political Pope and one of the most dogged antagonists of Theodore McCarrick and the corrupt clerics who either participated in or helped cover for his crimes, is in Argentina looking for answers.
Specifically, he would like to know why the first pope from Latin America has not returned to his home country since his election to the papacy.
Based on the reaction of some of the people Neumayr is speaking to, it’s starting to make more sense.
Neumayr paints a picture of a man willing to cover up for clerical abusers because it gives him “leverage”:
“Bergoglio would call up those investigating, say, a pederast priest and tell them to back off,” a Buenos Aires Church insider told me. “He then would inform the offending priest of his intervention and then use that to extract total obedience from him.” Many such priests were in Bergoglio’s debt.
Some have wondered why as pope Bergoglio has surrounded himself with so many crooks, creeps, and degenerates. But that is no mystery to Argentine Catholics. “He did the same as archbishop,” says one. “He uses their secrets to control them.”
He has protected too many offending clerics — whether abusers or merely known for some involvement in perversity — for this to be a mere rumor. The list is long, and I’ve written on it before, so I won’t name them all here. Some have become familiar, though: Barros; Inzoli; Danneels; Ricca; Pineda; Peña Parra; and yes, McCarrick all come to mind. This “parade of embarrassing friendships” (as Vaticanista Marco Tosatti called it) tells us a great deal about the sort of man we’re dealing with.
The origin story of the pope, which has, to my mind, never been sufficiently examined, appears, based on Neumayr’s efforts to find answers, shrouded in equal parts disinterest and myth. Much of what he has uncovered in the first and second installments of his ongoing series will come as confirmation of things already discussed in books like Henry Sire’s The Dictator Pope. (Sire also traveled to Argentina in search of answers while researching his work.)
For example, the pope is a communist-inspired Peronist. (His political mentor was a Paraguayan communist named Esther Ballestrino.) Neumayr says:
Argentine Catholics describe Bergoglio as an ecclesiastical Peron — a ruthless, socialism-addled chameleon willing to tell any lie and try any low tactic to preserve power.
“Peron used to say he is a weather vane, that he moved where the wind went,” a journalist said to me. “Bergoglio was like that too. On Monday he was a liberal. On Tuesday he was a conservative. On Wednesday he was a liberal again. And so on.”
I covered this critical but often overlooked understanding in a short post I often reference called “The Perón Rule.” I often warn people not to take the pope’s words at face value because of how quickly he will either change them or act in contradiction. (For those outside the bubble of Argentinian politics, this fact still often seems elusive.)
The man who told Neumayr that Argentinians are ashamed of the pope spoke of his being a fake: “He knows nothing — not morals, not theology, not history. Nothing. Only power interests him.”
This is certainly consistent with what we’ve seen over the past six years. Neumayr continues:
The description of Pope Francis as a power-mad ideologue is very widespread, I am finding. I spoke at length with Antonio Caponnetto, who is the Argentine author of several books on Pope Francis. “At seminary, his classmates called him ‘Machiavelli,’” he noted.
As to the question of why he avoids his home country, Caponnetto offered Neumayr two reasons: “one, at least half the country hates him, and two, Francis dislikes the supposedly ‘conservative,’ pro-capitalist Macri regime. The latter reason is absurd: Macri is hardly conservative, as Argentine conservatives are the first to say.”
On the matter of the political incompatibility of the pope with the current Argentinian regime, Santiago Estrada, former Argentinian ambassador to the Holy See, told Neumayr:
… if the hardcore leftists return to power, “he will come back.” Estrada thinks he “definitely will come back next year” if Macri loses, but that he will call it a “pastoral visit.”
“Francis has been working behind the scenes” to help Macri’s opponent, an Argentine political operative said to me. “He wants Macri to lose.”
Conservatives fear the prospect of a Peronista victory. One, who has a political blog, said to me, “I will leave the country. It won’t be safe for us.”
Bergoglio as a force of real political danger is a story we’ve also heard before.
The one aspect of Bergoglio’s life I hope Neumayr can find out more about before his return home has to do with Bergoglio’s family. Who are they? What was his relationship like with them? How did he grow up? What was his relationship with God like? Why did he allegedly lie to his mother about being in seminary?
He is said to have only one surviving sibling out of a total of five Bergoglio children: a sister named María Elena Bergoglio. Where is she? Does she have a role in his life? Why doesn’t he ever talk about them? What does she think of her brother?
More questions than answers, I know, but even a few answers would be better than none.
I applaud Neumayr’s attempt to get to the bottom of these things. Few stories can be truly understood without knowing the opening chapters.
And please do head over to George’s page at The American Spectator and give both of these posts a read. I expect that more will be coming soon.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.