Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio) is a complex thinker whose political and theological views range from the illiberal to the radical, defying easy categorization within the binaries of contemporary politics. In this article, I examine the influence of theological debates in the post-Vatican II Latin American church on his development, especially la teología del pueblo
, which was, ‘to some extent’, an Argentine variant of liberation theology. This article presents a critical analysis of four ‘Bergoglian principles’—which Francis says are derived from the pillars of Catholic social teaching—first developed when he was the leader of the Jesuits in Argentina during the period of the ‘Dirty War’: time is greater than space; unity prevails over conflict; realities are more important than ideas; and the whole is greater than the part. While Francis’ work draws from a variety of theological roots and employs a range of ethical theories and methods of moral reasoning, it is these principles, with their dialectical and constructive approach to political theology, that remain constant in his work and find expression in his papal writings, including Evangelii Gaudium
and Laudato Si’
. They clarify his operative priorities in political conflict, pluralistic dialogue, pastoral practice, and theological analysis.
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