“I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” Pope Francis has said in response to the charge that he is a communist. As I’ve reported before but bears repeating in this context, Pope Francis grew up in socialist Argentina, an experience seared in his mind:
He told the Latin American journalists Javier Camara and Sebastian Pfaffen that as a young man he “read books of the Communist Party that my boss in the laboratory gave me” and that “there was a period where I would wait anxiously for the newspaper La Vanguardia, which was not allowed to be sold with the other newspapers and was brought to us by the socialist militants.”
The “boss” to whom Pope Francis referred is Esther Ballestrino de Careaga. He has described her as a “Paraguayan woman” and a “fervent communist.” He regards her as one of his most important mentors. “I owe a huge amount to that great woman,” he has said, saying that she “taught me so much about politics.” (He worked for her as an assistant at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory in Buenos Aires after he got the equivalent of a high school degree in chemistry.)
“She often read Communist Party texts to me and gave them to me to read. So I also got to know that very materialistic conception. I remember that she also gave me the statement from the American Communists in defense of the Rosenbergs, who had been sentenced to death,” he has said. Learning about communism, he said, “through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized a few things, an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church.” ….
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