Pope Francis arrived in Ecuador yesterday, and local media broadcasted live the three-hour ride in the popemobile from the airport to the papal nuncio’s house. La República reports that the government-owned station actually showed the moment when a crowd of several hundred people started chanting “Out, Correa, out” – demanding that pres. Rafael Correa resign – as the pope entered the nuncio’s residence.
You can hear then in the video at this link (2:30 hours into the video, which I cannot embed).
As Archbishop Trávez indicated, the trip has been framed by the Vatican as part of its mission of evangelization. Most South Americans are nominally Roman Catholic but the number who practice is much lower than it once was. “The joy of the church is to go out to seek the sheep that are lost,” Pope Francis said in a homily in Rome in December.
But this pope is very political and his politics, if we take him at his word, favor statist solutions to poverty. In terms of appearances that puts him on the same side of many policy debates as the region’s socialist tyrants.
The populist Mr. Correa smells opportunity. In the lead up to the visit, he posted billboards in Guayaquil and Quito featuring his government’s logo encircling a photo of the pontiff next to what appears to be a Francis quote that reads “one must demand the redistribution of wealth.” State television and radio delivered a similar message.
As O’Grady says (emphasis added), “The Holy Father will have the opportunity to bring moral clarity to the matter if he wishes.”
I’m not optimistic at all.