- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
Argentina, home to more than 30 million Catholics (out of a population of over 40 million), is now also home to the first pope from Latin America — or from the Southern Hemisphere, for that matter. How is the Argentine press reacting to the historic election of Pope Francis I?
All outlets, of course, are leading with Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s nationality. Here’s Cronica, which simply lets the headline “the pope is Argentine” sink in before declaring today an “historic moment for our country.”
The popular daily Clarín, which has clashed repeatedly with Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has been highlighting the “acrimonious relationship” between Bergoglio and the country’s leaders in recent years. The paper points out that Kirchner’s husband, Néstor, once called Bergoglio the “true representative of the opposition” when he was president, adding that his wife has had a more “cordial” relationship with the new pope, albeit with “ups and downs” (despite the rancor, Bergoglio still officiated at a mass to mark Néstor’s death). One of those downs came in 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage. Bergoglio denounced the legislation as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
The Argentine newspaper La Nación has also highlighted the “tense relationship” between the Kirchners and Bergoglio, in addition to profiling the “man who made a cult out of keeping a low profile” (in the picture below he’s drinking Argentina’s iconic yerba mate):
Clarín has two other fascinating bits of coverage. It notes that when the papal news broke today, a heated dispute erupted in Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies between the opposition, which wanted to interrupt a ceremony for the late Hugo Chávez to listen to the new pope give his first address, and the ruling party, which wanted to continue the tribute to the Venezuelan leader (the ruling party won out).
The paper is also running a biting article about how Argentina’s president was complaining on Twitter about minutia — specifically how newspapers weren’t paying attention to her local infrastructure projects — while the Vatican was announcing Bergoglio’s momentous appointment.
A su Santidad Francisco I twitter.com/CFKArgentina/s…
— Cristina Kirchner (@CFKArgentina) March 13, 2013