93 – Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are (I): An important precontextualization to one of our studies


“The Holy Spirit, whom Christ the head pours out on his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 747). Every since the beginning of Christianity, this sanctifying action has resulted, among numerous other aspects, in the fraternal help and assistance in favor of our brothers and sisters in need. Nonetheless, this pastoral undertaking of the Church has never meant stimulating rivalry, disputes or hatred toward those who possess a greater economic status, by having acquired such goods through their own efforts and the application of their talents and intellectual gifts or simply by inheritance. On the contrary, it was Pope Leo XIII, the Pope who inaugurated the social Encyclicals, who ardently condemned any incitement to envy, resentment and hatred between social classes promoted by anarchists, socialists and communists. Moreover, this ‘class struggle’ and ‘scientific discovery’ of Marx and Engels, was pointed out as the ‘motor’ behind all of the social complaints against the ‘exploitive bourgeoisie’, owners of capital, land and properties. This same ‘scientific discovery’ applied and developed later on by Lenin in the Revolution of 1917 in Russia and then numerous other countries, also received the condemnation of posterior Popes (see here).


Almost 100 years after the Russian Revolution, could the promoters of this ‘class struggle’ in favor of capitalism of the state demonstrate any kind of beneficial experience behind the Iron Curtain or the Bamboo Curtain? What nation among the dozens that were subjugated by the various facets of communism have prospered and been a model of well-being for humanity? Does even one exist? Is the Soviet Experience an example for the world? Or the savage experiment of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia? Or, today, the eternal dictatorship of the Castro brothers in Cuba? The hermetic ‘paradise’ of the Kim dynasty of North Korea? And the Bolivarian Revolution of Chávez and Maduro that has been able to ruin a country as rich in petroleum as Venezuela? Why do the utopian ideas of Marx and Lenin prophesying social changes to establish an idyllic world always fail, causing poverty, misery and oppression? These are questions which the Popes, and most especially John Paul II and Benedict XVI, pointed out many times in diverse documents (here is the study of the DzB-En).

Francis in the II World Meeting of  Popular Movements, July 9, 2015. Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Bolivia.

However, at times you would think that Francis wishes to relive these dreams, utopias and illusions, or at least that he doesn’t worry too much about his image being used at the service of the same. Are we exaggerating? Let’s analyze certain recent encounters organized with Francis’ undeniable support: The World Meeting of Popular Movements. These events were promoted by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The first occurred in Rome in October of 2014 (here), and the second in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in July of 2015 (here). To better understand their goals, it will be helpful to take a careful look at the political and ideological profile of the principle leaders that figure in their organizing committees, and whose active participation has facilitated their coming out on stage. This contextualization helps us to better understand the words pronounced by Francis that will be published and studied in our next entry.

A syndicalist, activist and Bolivian coca-cultivist leader


Evo Morales, President of Bolivia and leader of the Movement toward Socialism (Movimiento Al Socialismo, MAS) participated in the first meeting in Rome, as was affirmed, “not as president,” but rather “in the capacity as an indigenous person and leader” (Vatican InsiderZenit)

A ‘busy’ October 28, 2014, in the Vatican

Morales’ visit to Rome in October of 2014, and the publicized encounter that took place with Francis at Casa Santa Marta, would provoke enigmas and perplexities, not only among the Bolivian Catholics, but even among their pastors. The spokesperson of the Vatican, Father Ferderico Lombardi, tried to downplay such misgivings, as has become habitual in these circumstances, minimizing their importance and doing everything possible to cover up their outcome: “the visit to the Vatican by President Evo Morales, was due to his participation in the World Meetings of Popular Movements, organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, whose participants were received by the Pope this morning.” And he further emphasized that the visit wasn’t “organized through the usual diplomatic channels.” He added that the “private and informal meeting” was an “expression of affection and closeness to the people and the Church in Bolivia and support for the improvement of relations between the authorities and the Church in the country” (Holy See Press Officehere in English).

Strong words: “a sect…”

Why did Father Lombardi end his declaration referring to “the improvement of relations between the authorities and the Church in the country.”? As is well known, ever since he assumed power in 2006, Evo Morales hasn’t ceased having conflicts and skirmishes with the Church. One of the most notable confrontations occurred in July of 2013, when Morales launched the preposterous idea of founding the “Renewed Apostolic Catholic Church of the Pluri-National State.” As the bishop of Oruro, Monsignor Cristóbal Bialasik, declared: “The government [of Morales] aims at dividing the faith of the Bolivians” with the encouragement of this ideal which “is not a Church but rather a sect” (The Catholic Church refuses to recognize Evo Morales’ officialist Church)

Within this horizon of conflicts, a new incident had recently stirred the waters in the Bolivian political scene. Five days before the aforementioned encounter between Francis and Morales, on October 23, the president of the Chamber of Deputies and Militants of the Movement toward Socialism (Movimiento Al Socialismo, MAS), Marcelo Elío, harshly criticized Cardinal Julio Terrazas, Archbishop Emeritus of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, accusing him of assuming a “right-wing”, “pro oligarchical”, “pro imperialist” position, “distant from the Bible” (sic!). The Bolivian Episcopal Conference (CEB) supported Msgr. Julio Terraza lamenting and regretting the “unjust attacks” proffered by the congressman Elío (Church counters attacks of the president of Congress).

Besides the former incident, with a certain level of presumption Elío himself had declared that the president Evo Morales would visit Francis. The Bolivian Episcopal Conference, ignorant of this proposal, limited itself to expressing, through its President Msgr. Scarpellini, that: “With respect to the announcement concerning the trip of the President and the interview with the Pope in the Vatican next week, we have no official diplomatic confirmation regarding this possibility” (Vatican Insider, October 18, 2014).
Later, the same Italian media, the Vatican Insider, commented: “Even until this Tuesday [October 28], the Episcopal Conference had it for sure that there will be no private encounter between Francis and Morales. But the encounter finally took place and fell like a bucket of cold water upon the Bolivian Bishops” (Vatican Insider, October 28, 2014).
The hermeneutic of the facts doesn’t require much effort. The MAS congressman, Marcelo Elío, was simply ‘playing with marked cards’. In other words, the political cupola of the Movimiento Al Socialismo was much better informed than the Bolivian Episcopal Conference itself, and inclusively – an unusual fact – than the Apostolic Nunciature of La Paz. It’s logical: the Episcopal Conference and Nunciature, as institutions representative of the “usual diplomatic channels”, were not adequate ‘cards’ for the ‘diplomatic poker’ that is being played in Casa Santa Marta. There, just as in the famous game of playing cards, the ones that don’t match up, are put aside…In fact, as the News Agency Zenit transmitted, it was the Government of Bolivia that communicated through a press release that the interview between Francis and Morales would take place in the afternoon of that Tuesday, October 28: “(…) the Pope and the leader “met for dinner at Casa Santa Marta”. The encounter lasted 90 minutes. Moreover, it was expressed that “Francis and Morales shared a meal behind closed doors”, and that “they said goodbye just as fraternally” as when they had greeted each other that morning at the World Meetings of Popular Movements (Zenit, October 29, 2014).In fact, the morning encounter had been extremely cordial.

Francis greets Evo Morales during the I World Meeting of  Popular Movements. Rome, October 28, 2014

The press informed that after Francis’ address to the Popular Movements, Morales, in the same place, pronounced a conference entitled: “Pluri-Nationality, State and Popular Movements.” Without forgetting to thank “brother Pope”, the exposition had as its central theme: “How to do away with Capitalism?” In effect, Morales declared: “The great sin of humanism is capitalism, that is why in Bolivia the social movements propose to re-found democracy and politics to empower the poor and the people” (Vatican Insider, October 28, 2014).

The II World Meeting of Popular Movements

II World Meeting of  Popular Movements, July 9, 2015. Santa Cruz de la Sierra – Bolivia.

Nine months after October 28, 2014, at the closing of the second Meeting on July 9, 2015, Evo Morales, – this time occupying the position of proud host to the event – eagerly showed to Francis and the world, his left fist held high, wearing a jacket of doubtful elegance that displayed the face of Ché Guevara. (Evo with the Che jacket)

At the same time, in his speech, he once again repeated his dogma of political and ideological theory: “The sin of the human being is Capitalism, as long as capitalism and imperialism exist, the fight will continue (…)” (For the first time, I feel like I have a pope: Pope Francis)

Nonetheless, the continuous train of revolutionary events that occurred during the Apostolic journey to Bolivia, reached their climax when Morales presented Francis with the blasphemous crucifix, figuring the hammer and sickle, together with its duplicate in a showy commemorative medallion…Really too much! Words fail us…(see the study)

**** UPDATE***

From Bolivia, we receive this video, dating from 2012, where Morales declares that he is communist, marxist and leninist…if anyone still had any doubts…


The Argentinian activist Juan Grabois


Who is this personage? A great friend of Francis from former times, he’s a militant with Marxist affiliation, a promoter of agitations in peripheral neighborhoods and industries in Buenos Aires. As the leader of the “Workers Confederation of Popular Economy” (CTEP in Spanish), Grabois figured officially as the only member of the organizing committee of the I World Meeting of Popular Movements. (News Va, October 24, 2014English)

At the same time Cardinal Peter Turkson of the PCJP participated together with four other directors in the press conference of the presentation of the Second Meeting held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (Popular Movements)


Marx, Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro, Ché Guevara and Hugo Chávez

Juan Grabois does not hide his admiration for the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its chief Vladimir Lenin, finding fulfillment in the expansion of communism around the world during many years, and considering as historic milestones the revolutions of Mao Tse Tung, Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara. Eager to achieve a society without classes, he considers the Zapatista rebellion of 1994 and the Bolivarian movement of Hugo Chávez as outstanding forerunners of the popular anti-capitalist waves that approach in the XXI century. In short, with nostalgias of Peron and Argentinean Peronism (or justicialism), Grabois dreams of a utopia with great social changes, rebellions and ‘popular governments’, along the Cuban or Venezuelan style. These ideological predecessors may come up in the study text that Grabois published together with his companion in the fight, Emilio Pérsico, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture of the Government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and leader of the Evita Movement: “1. Our Reality. Book of formation for workers, militants, delegates and directors of popular movements.” On the cover of this book, a suggestive slogan may be read: “For a society without slaves nor excluded. For an economy at the service of the people. For unity of workers and the humble. Without popular power there is no social justice!” (To download the books of  Emilio Pérsico and Juan Grabois enter into the official site, clicking here) (The Economist: It is unlikely that anyone like Grabois would have been let inside the Vatican’s gates in the past)

Pérsico and Grabois complete this eagerness to recruit and educate militants in favor of communism with three other books: “2. Our Organization”. “3. Our Objectives”. “4. Our Struggle”. Within this pro-Marxist tetralogy both authors propose Ché Guevara as a model of the generous militant given to the revolutionary cause (Book 2, Ch. 8, p. 32).

Moreover, they reveal the methods and tactics that should be put into practice in order to achieve what is defined as “The Revolutionary Project. Our strategic objective” (Book 3, Ch. 10, pp. 33-37). What is the goal they propose? It’s very simple. Establish “the socialist economy for the XXI century” (pp. 35-37). In this section, the following projects of clearly communist bent may be read:

  • New Economic Justicialism or peronism (‘living well’ or socialist economy for the XXI century):

We want an economy at the service of the people, where the riches and the profits are distributed with justice, where the salary is a source of dignity, where there is no exploitation or exclusion. We want an economy where the principal recourses are in the hands of the popular government. Our mines, our petroleum, our earth, our exterior commerce, our transport, our public service, our health, education and recreation are too important to be in the hands of the market. We the workers can manage the great factories without the necessity of managers as the recuperated companies have shown; we can distribute the food without the necessity of intermediaries that remain with the lion’s share. We can cultivate the earth and take care of the environment if the earth is distributed in equal shares.
This economy does not go against individual initiative, it does not claim to eliminate all kinds of private property, but rather in the first place, to put the economy at the service of the people and not of money, to put property at the service of the community and not of individual profit. Perhaps in this way some day we will arrive at a society where “each one contributes according to their capacity and each one receives according to his necessities.”
Nor does this deny the development of the individual character, which is very distinct from individualism. Our principle objective is so that all of the companions may enjoy their time to develop as peoples, to create, to love, to play, to have a good time, to share with family and friends, to enjoy art and culture, to enjoy sport, to contemplate the world, to know their homeland. In many countries the development of a new economy – that is communitarian, christian, humanist, solidary – is being attempted. In Ecuador, Bolivia or Venezuela, in different ways, an advance towards a new economic order is being carried out, where not money but human persons and families will be in the centre (book 3, ch. 10, pp. 35-37).

papa+francisco+-+emilio+persico+-+juan+grabois+(3)As can be verified, Pérsico and Grabois form a very harmonic duet in which the ideology, desire to fight and giving for the socialist cause is not lacking. The former, naturally, can’t help but display a close friendship with Francis, which in these days, is worth more than any financing from the kirchnerist government…(Evita capital movement). But, Grabois does not let himself be overtaken in love for Francis – with his profile on Twitter


The Marxist leader of the Landless Workers Movement


Another member of the organizing committee of the II World Meeting of Popular Movements, is the director of the MST (Landless Workers Movement – in Portuguese, Movimento Sem Terra), João Pedro Stédile. The Marxist ideology that inspired Stédile is revealed in a farewell speech to a comrade in militancy, Vito Giannotti, deceased in July of 2015: “Gramsci”, “struggles of the working class”, “struggle of the masses”, “militancy”, “socialist ideals”, “social equality”, are some of the topics mentioned. (‘We’ve lost a great comrade, Vito’).The desire to fight for these postulators is reflected in the telling symbol of the movement.


Without doubt, the MST is a group formed for decided and radical combat. In its magazine, no. 326 of December, 2014, it announces that for Brazil the year 2015 would be decisive: a year of great mobilization for Agrarian Reform.


In its editorial it doesn’t hide the fact that “the retaking of the fight of the earth will give the tone to a new moment of “class struggle”. And so that the militants and the activists of the MST do not forget their ideological mentors, on p. 14, they are reminded – not without a certain emotional nostalgia – that the Cuban Revolution of 1959 was undertaken by Fidel, Ché Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos (MST newspaper).

It’s also very instructive to take a look at the abundant bibliography that the MST presents in favor of Socialist Agrarian Reform, pro-communist proselytism, class struggle and social agitation.

Stedile with Nicolás Maduro

The mind and heart of children: Ideological objectives of the MST


However, the studies aimed at the ideologization of children calls attention strongly: “The development of education in Cuba”, “How to work the mystic of the MST with children?” “How to create the school that we desire?”, “Diversion and games for children”, “Childhood education: constructing a new child”; “Pedagogy of the MST: accompaniment toward the schools”. To evaluate the strongly Marxist ideological content of these works and others similar to them, enter into the official site of the MST the complete library that they offer.

The “putting into practice” of these Marxist approaches directed toward children, can be proven by entering into the same official side of the MST in the section SEM TERRINHA. It causes real disconcertion to perceive that the “awareness” and the “ideologization” in the MST of Brazil begins at an early age, as can be observed in the photograph obtained from the official site of the movement

Francis greets Stedile during the I World Meeting of Popular Movements, Rome, October, 2014

UPDATE – A Venezuelan priest sends us this interesting document on the work carried out by Stedile on March 5, 2015, for the Bolivarian commemoration of the second year of the death of Hugo Chavez:

The World Movement of Christian Workers

The third member of the committee organizer of the II World Meeting of Popular Movements was the Spaniard Xaro Castelló, who appears in the photograph between her friends Crabois y Stédile. She is the president of the World Movement of Christian Workers (MMTC in Spanish) and militant of the Worker Brotherhood of Catholic Action (HOAC – in Spanish). Judging by the age range of its members and the worn out proposals it holds, the latter certainly has its days counted.


The proposals of the MMTC were approved in an important General Assembly undertaken in July, 2013, in Haltern am See, Germany. On this occasion, Castelló was elected president of the Movement. On one hand, the MMTC manifested itself against the current economical model which it denominated as “neo-liberal capitalist”, for in their opinion it impedes “the construction of a just, fraternal and sustainable society.” On the other hand, it declared that “there are sufficient recourses for all, therefore it is necessary to undertake a redistribution of riches in a just manner”. Moreover, it affirmed that “an adequate social protection is necessary so that people are not enslaved by a capitalistic system that is immoral. It is thus necessary to fight img-20141029-wa0003against this capitalist neo-liberal model”. The MMTC advocated for change when it declared that “another political model is necessary and possible, centering on the defense of justice, the common good and giving the power to the people. We need a political community at an international level that develops politics and a just distribution of economic, social and cultural riches”. In all, the MMTC, differently than the MST of João Pedro Stédile and the CTEP of Juan Grabois, does not present any concrete political and social proposal. But is there any doubt that this alternative for Xaro Castelló is socialism? (HOAC, August 2, 2013)

An emerging ideologist within the government of Evo Morales


The fourth member elected to participate in the committee of the II World Meeting of Popular Movements was the vice minister of Social Movements of the government of Evo Morales, Alfredo Rada. When consulted by the Bolivian press regarding Francis’ visit to Bolivia and his encounter with the Popular Movements, he didn’t hesitate declare that: “for us the Pope has arguments that alfredo_rada_0renew the approaches of Liberation Theology, the Catholic Church has as its position the benefits of the people and the poor. These approaches coincide with those for which the Government works together within social movements. Therefore there are points of concomitance with the vision of ‘living well’ that in Bolivia is constructed from the Executive to the social movements”. (Rada: Francis’ proposals coincide …)

Monsignor Sánchez Sorondo manifested his rejection for private capitalism

Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo-Arzobispo

Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, the Argentine Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, participated in the press conference that presented the I World Meeting of Popular Movements, formulating an important declaration. The Vatican Insider emphasized them in the following manner:

“Responding to the journalists participating in the press conference, who had asked if there wasn’t a risk that this Encounter would become politicized, Msgr. Sorondo insisted: ‘if politicalization is necessary?’ – of course!, not in the bad meaning of the word, not useless ideologization, but rather implying that it is important that the politicians know of these problems, which require a certain pressure” (Vatican Insider, October 24, 2014)

But, what does this “certain pressure” directed to the politicians consist of? Does Msgr. Sánchez Sorondo have an “ideologization” in mind that would be useful? What might this “ideologization” be? Should we conclude that Msgr. Sánchez Sorondo was referring to the “pressures” and the “ideologizations” that the political leaders who had organized the World Meeting of Popular Movements proportion? Each of us can reach our own conclusions according to our own God-given intelligence. In his speech during the II World Meeting of Popular Movements, demonstrating an ideological harmony with the militants and activists that listened attentively to him, Msgr. Sánchez Sorondo revealed only some of the “pressures” and “ideologizations” that he has in mind.

In an article, the official page of the Popular Movements, wished to get the greatest advantage of his talk: “‘The capitalist system works in function of money, in which an exclusion results – because it benefits the System, with the objective of profit, the exclusion of a part of society – which is a consequence of how the system of work is organized today…’, insisted Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Archbishop of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican, during the talk this morning. At that moment, experiences of struggles, grievances and forms of organization were exposed, citing diverse places of Latin America, where the neoliberal politicians and the profit of the global market marginalizes men and woman workers, and entire families, condemning them to poverty and marginalization” (Movimientos Populares, July 8, 2015)

Coming to conclusions

The ‘review’ undertaken here permits a visualization of the ideological thought of the principle militants and integrants of the organizing committees of the first and second World Meeting of Popular Movements. We have observed that the key words that enter into the dynamic dispute of these movements are: Karl Marx, Lenin, Mao, Gramsci, Fidel, Ché Guevara, Hugo Chávez, Socialism, Communism, communitarianism, self-management, class struggle, justice, equality, anti-capitalism, anti-neoliberalism, unjust system, etc.

The official page of the Popular Movements, manifesting a joyful exultation for the results obtained in both events, presented the following article:

“‘This is an unmatched experience…’ ‘I knew it would be beautiful, but never thought it would be like this…’ ‘I was surprised with the color, the voice of the people, their struggles, and now with the support of the Pope, we do no doubt have a path to follow, but better accompanied…’; these were some of the commentaries expressed at the closing plenary of the official opening on the first day at the II Meeting of Popular Movements that counted with the presence of Evo Morales, president of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.” (Movimientos Populares, July 7, 2015)

Faced with this colorful political and ideological background, the words that Francis directed to the participants of the first and second World Meeting of Popular Movements, which we will analyze in the next entry, acquire an unexpected scope. At the same time, they reveal ideologies never seen before in the Pontiff…Analyzing the second decade of the XXI century and specifically this Pontificate, church historians will have a vast field of study. Who was Francis? What epithet will he be known by in future centuries?

Even in the IV century, Arnobius of Sicca, perplexed at the comportment of many of his contemporaries, affirmed: ‘cum quo aliquis iungitur, talis erit’, whose free translation corresponds to our popular expression: ‘Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are’.

Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are: seems to be an infallible rule… Could this be true? Let each one judge for himself…

Addendum to the English DzB: Some links in English:

The Church and President Evo Morales have been at odds on various issues.

Evo Morales: Ten commandments against capitalism, for life and humanity

Keep God in schools, Bolivians tell government

The World Meeting of Popular Movements holds encounter in Rome

Bolivian President Evo Morales calls Pope Francis’ teachings ‘socialism’

The Pope’s message in Bolivia and to the world: Report by a Canadian participant:

The Denzinger-Bergoglio: Pope Francis Asks forgiveness for the ‘Church’s sins’ against the indigenous peoples

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