Monday, August 31, 2015

Cold War Latin America Shapes the Pope's View of the U.S.

The AP takes a look at the Pope's views of the United States, focusing in particular on his lack of familiarity. Fortunately, it successfully navigates the "anti-capitalist" message that many seem intent on misunderstanding. And this point is a good one:

But Francis' outlook is also shaped by another history, including U.S. ties with Latin American dictators, America's treatment of Mexican and Central American immigrants, and longstanding U.S. policy toward Cuba, Sanchez Sorondo said. Francis recently helped negotiate a historic thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations that has led to restored diplomatic ties between the countries. 
"I don't think the pope has anything against America," Sanchez Sorondo said in an interview in Rome. "What the pope might have is that he felt the repercussions of America in Latin America."
This is utterly new ground as well for American Catholics, accustomed to Francis' immediate predecessors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who both lived through World War II, when Americans were considered liberators and generous benefactors who rebuilt the war-ravaged continent. 

These are great points. Pope Francis doesn't hate the United States and he is not socialist. But he remembers the terrible effects of U.S. Cold War policy--it affected him directly. So his perspective is not one of a benevolent power but rather a hegemonic power. You cannot quickly shake that off.

I don't know what Francis will say when he comes to the United States, and I don't know how he will be received (though my hunch is that he will draw huge crowds but then also grumbles from Republican presidential candidates). But his sensibilities will be new to most Americans, who take exceptionalism and self-reverence entirely for granted. The more Americans who listen to those unfamiliar sensibilities, the better.


Alfredo 11:32 AM  

Yes, yes and yes......

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