Frankly, if a group of church affairs junkies were to sit down in a bar and try to sketch a ticket on a cocktail napkin that would amount to a rejection tout court of a sitting pope’s agenda, it’s doubtful they could have come up with anything more vivid than what actually happened.
Milei and Villarruel didn’t just squeak by, either. They won 56 percent of the vote, in one of the largest margins of victory in Argentina’s recent political history, despite the fact that many Argentine Catholics, especially the corps of “slum priests” favored by Francis, actively campaigned against them.
Consider the irony: Francis is an avowed populist, who’s repeatedly insisted that leaders should take their cues from the people. In this instance, however, it would seem his own people didn’t take their cues from him.
Have we ever seen a situation before in which a pope’s home country delivered quite such a stinging rebuke in a democratic election?
There are a few scattered examples that come to mind, though none quite on-point.