19 December 2023, The Tablet

‘True freedom’ is not selfish, archbishop tells Argentine president

The social dimension of freedom “enables us to look to the common good and not only our own private welfare”.

‘True freedom’ is not selfish, archbishop tells Argentine president

President Javier Milei speaks at his inauguration ceremony in Buenos Aires on 10 December.
Abaca Press / Alamy

The Archbishop of Buenos Aires attacked the political philosophy of the new Argentine president Javier Milei at his inauguration ceremony.

Archbishop Jorge García Cuerva urged Argentina’s political leaders to “commit to social fraternity”, which he said was “radical” because this required people to refrain from confrontation.

In an apparent reference to Milei’s slogan “Long live freedom, damn it!” Cuerva said: “As Pope Francis has told us, true liberty is fully expressed by charity. There is no freedom without love.”

He continued: “One of the most modern of all ideas is that my freedom ends where yours begins. But the Pope says that relationship and bonds are lacking here. This is an individualist view.”

Speaking at the interfaith ceremony on 10 December in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, Cuerva articulated an alternative idea of freedom: “Anyone who has received the gift of freedom made by God cannot think [it] consists of being distant from other people and seeing them as an annoyance…”

The social dimension of freedom, he added, “enables us to look to the common good and not only our own private welfare”.

The lay theologian Francisco Bosch described the 55-year-old archbishop, who ministered while a priest to deprived parts of Buenos Aires, as “the only person to say to Milei’s face that the market is not the solution for everything and, citing the pope, that the poor must be at the centre”.

Milei won 55 per cent of the vote against the Peronist candidate Sergio Massa in Argentina’s elections on 19 November.  He has previously criticised Pope Francis who dismissed these remarks as rhetoric “used to create a bit of attention”.

Although Catholic, Milei says he is on the verge of converting to Judaism. Wearing a kipah, he recently lit candles at a Hannukah ceremony in a Buenos Aires synagogue, becoming the first Argentine president to mark the Jewish festival.

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