The Argentine Church warns of “the tensions that seem to repeat cruel confrontations”

The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, enters the Buenos Aires Cathedral accompanied by Archbishop Mario Poli, on May 25, 2022.
The President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, enters the Buenos Aires Cathedral accompanied by Archbishop Mario Poli, on May 25, 2022.ESTEBAN COLLAZO

The Argentine Church has launched this Wednesday a warning to the Government. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Mario Poli, warned about “the internal tensions” that divide the ruling Peronism. “They seem to repeat cruel confrontations,” he said in the Cathedral, in front of President Alberto Fernández and a good part of the Cabinet ministers. They were there to participate in the Te Deum on May 25, a tradition that began in 1810, when the Creoles formed the first national government and began the formal process of independence from Spain. The tedéum is the usual space in which the Church analyzes the situation and sets its political position. This time a harsh homily was expected, focused on the growth of poverty and the economic crisis. Poli, who succeeded Jorge Bergoglio when he became Pope Francis, instead preferred to refer to the internal in Peronism, with calls to “think of others when bread is missing on the table.”

Fernández received the text of the homily minutes before the start of the ceremony. He had arrived at the Cathedral on foot, after traveling with his ministers the 100 meters that separate it from the Casa Rosada. Before he had chocolate with churros with the Cabinet, another tradition that is strictly fulfilled in each national holiday. When Poli spoke, Fernandez nodded his head. It is that he expected harsher words.

Jorge Bergoglio’s homilies are still remembered, when the then archbishop mercilessly charged against Kirchnerism in the government. Poli, with a less political profile than his predecessor, opted for an ecumenical discourse, which he structured around the Parable of the Good Samaritan. “Faced with so much pain and so much injury, the only way out is to be like the good Samaritan, all other options end up alongside the robbers or those who pass by. In the name of the human fraternity that embraces all men, it encourages us to think and develop a more open society”, said Poli.

“I sign every word you said,” Fernández replied at the end of the homily. Later, in an interview with the public television channel, the president said that Poli’s words had been “very thoughtful.” “I definitely share them and appreciate them very much. They were very propitious words, he talks about what I always say, repeating Pope Francis, that no one is saved alone.

The tedéum served, in any case, to loosen tensions. The president had announced his intention to spend the May 25 holiday in Antarctica, but he had to suspend it due to climatic issues. In the previous weeks, the local press highlighted that Pope Francis had not received Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero at the Vatican, arguing that the pain in his knee did not allow it. But days later, he received a visit from a governor from the interior aligned with Cristina Kirchner. Finally, Fernández did not miss the tedéum and Poli was very moderate in his criticism.

The internal fight in the Government went through the entire national day. After the Te Deum, the president participated in a lunch with traditional foods organized by the social movements that support him. In the most popular area of ​​the suburbs, Fernández returned, for the umpteenth time, to ask for unity, that is, the support of Kirchnerism. “I don’t know what happened in the last few weeks, but the unit depends on us, it’s a decision of each one of us,” he said. Then he took photos with those present and went on stage to sing a song by Litto Nebbia, the Argentine musician he most admires. Cristina Fernández did not participate in the party, because she decided to travel to Santa Cruz, in the extreme south of Argentina, where she has her private residence.

It has been quite a political gesture that of the vice president. May 25 is a special date for her and her followers. That day, in 2003, Néstor Kirchner, her husband, began a cycle in the Casa Rosada that would end only in 2015. From that moment on, May 25 was the scene of large demonstrations by La Cámpora, the group led by Kirchner’s son. Cristina Kirchner, Maximo. This time there were no marches or celebrations; just a message on Twitter written from a distance, in which the former president lamented “the very difficult times” that Argentina is going through.

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