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ARGENTINA | 28-02-2024 22:49

Contradicting Milei, Pope Francis says that state must guarantee 'social justice'

Two weeks after meeting President Milei at Vatican, pontiff contradicts head of state’s views on markets, the state and social justice in a pointed message to a Catholic NGO in Buenos Aires.

Pope Francis has declared that the state’s calling "is to comply with its role of redistribution and social justice" in a video message sent to a Catholic NGO in Buenos Aires.

"Social rights don’t come free, the wealth to sustain them is available but requires adequate, rational and equitable political decisions," said Francis in a video transmitted at last Wednesday’s inauguration of the offices for a Catholic NGO of judges in this city. 

The pontiff also warned against "the god of the market and the goddess of profit," which he catalogued as "false deities leading to the dehumanisation and the destruction of the planet."

The message, which was later criticised by the government, came just a fortnight after receiving President Javier Milei at the Vatican for a private meeting.

Milei, who defines himself as an "anarcho-capitalist," considers the market should regulate most aspects of a society and has several times dismissed social justice as "an aberration."

Speaking the same day, Milei’s presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni tagged the statements of Pope Francis as "phrases, words or definitions very easy on the ear" but rejected the state having to guarantee social justice since that is "taking away forcefully from some to give to others."

"The blessed 'Estado presente' has taken everything away from millions of Argentines," Adorni said, referring to the slogan used by previous Peronist governments.

"The people don’t want that, they demonstrated it at the ballot-box" while holding such policies responsible for the "50 percent poverty" in this country, he claimed.

The Buenos Aires offices of the COPAJU (Comité Panamericano de Juezas y Jueces por los Derechos Sociales y la Doctrina Franciscana) NGO were inaugurated by judge Andrés Gallardo, who has worked with Catholic priests in poor neighbourhoods.

"I ask [COPAJU] for firmness and decision in the face of dehumanising models. You are the workers of peace," the pontiff told them in his address. 

He remarked that "we live in times of so much injustice, so few rich and more and more powerful, and millions of poor denied and discarded.”

For His Holiness, "the State, today more important than ever, is called to exercise this central role of redistribution and social justice.”

Milei insulted the spiritual leader on repeated occasions during campaigning before coming to office and even called him "the representative of evil on Earth" in statements for which he later apologised to the Pope.

 

– TIMES/AFP/NA

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