Francis is no liberal. He had no truck with liberation theology, the popular movement in Latin America and elsewhere which links the church’s work to radical social change, even though many of its supporters have been Jesuits. Not Francis: he is close to the conservative Communion and Liberation movement. Economist
Latin America is the breadbasket and center of gravity of the Roman Catholic Church today, both in number of faithful and number of vocations. But there are storm clouds on the horizon; two movements have the Church worried in Latin America and the problems they cause are interconnected: on one hand the revolutionary movements of the Bolivarian variety, which threaten the position of the propertied classes and on the other the growing, US financed, Evangelical Protestant penetration in the continent.
Though as socially conservative as the Catholics, the Evangelicals are ultra-conservatives on economic issues following the US model and very much part of the reactionary culture of the American south. The problem for the Catholic Church is that if they cannot stop the left wing revolutionaries from making inroads in the Catholic population, the rich criollo’s money in South America will begin to flow toward the Evangelicals to see if they can do the job, thus leaving the Church without cash and vocations.
Don’t expect any loosening of Church doctrine under the new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Karol Wojtyla and his enforcer Josef Ratzinger, systematically carried out a 35 year long purge of all “green shoots” of John XXIII, Paul VI and Vatican II. This has been deep and thorough and every trace of progressive thought has been exhaustively eradicated from the Church aparat. Bergoglio is a product of that purge and a collaborator in carrying it out. The Jesuit order was once a hotbed of left wing liberation theology, Bergoglio made his bones helping to stamp that out.
There is a lot of disturbing news about the new pope coming out of Argentina. He is accused of operating hand in glove with the Videla regime… it might be a good idea to moderate our enthusiasm for this “Franciscan” simplicity of his till all that is cleared up.