In a recent article published for The Catholic World Report Samuel Gregg highlights some similarities between Pope Francis and the former president of Argentina, Juan Perón. Gregg asks: “Does a long-deceased Latin American populist provide us with insight into Pope Francis?”
Juan Perón served as the president of Argentina from 1946-1955, while Pope Francis was just a teenager, and again from 1973-1974. According to Gregg, the economic views of this potentially influential leader on Pope Francis are:
“best described as a mixture of economic nationalism, extensive wealth-redistribution, efforts by the state to coordinate different groups from the top-down (also known as “corporatism”), and a suspicion of markets. This resulted in heavy tariffs on foreign products, subsidies for domestic businesses (especially those close to government officials), and nationalization of key industries.”
These ideas sound a little similar to some of the statements that Pope Francis has made concerning economics. Gregg goes on to ask the questions “But is Francis really a Perónist? Or does some of his rhetoric just happen to mirror that of Perón and his followers?” Gregg then states:
“These are difficult questions to answer, given (1) Perón’s gift for ambiguity and (2) the pitfalls involved in drawing correlations. It’s no secret, for example, that Francis is, like Perón, skeptical about free markets. That, however, doesn’t automatically make the pope a Perónist. Doubts about capitalism run the political gamut, ranging from royalists to Marxists.”
Gregg eventually comes to the conclusion that while correlation isn’t causation, there definitely are parallels between Perón and the Pope. You can find Gregg’s full comparison in “The Pope and Perón.”
In Becoming Europe, Samuel Gregg examines economic culture - the values and institutions that inform our economic priorities - to explain how European economic life has drifted in the direction of what Alexis de Tocqueville called "soft despotism", and the ways in which similar trends are manifesting themselves in the United States.