And, from this Christian American’s Viewpoint, that is not necessarily a good thing.
Yahoo News Canada reports that
Pope Francis’ hard-hitting criticisms of globalization and inequality long ago set him out as a leader unafraid of mixing theology and politics. He is now flexing the Vatican’s diplomatic muscles as well.
Last year, he helped to broker an historic accord between Cuba and the United States after half a century of hostility.
This past week, his office announced the first formal accord between the Vatican and the State of Palestine — a treaty that gives legal weight to the Holy See’s longstanding recognition of de-facto Palestinian statehood despite clear Israeli annoyance.
The pope ruffled even more feathers in Turkey last month by referring to the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th century as a “genocide”, something Ankara denies.
After the inward-looking pontificate of his scholarly predecessor, Pope Benedict, Francis has in some ways returned to the active Vatican diplomacy practiced by the globetrotting Pope John Paul II, widely credited for helping to end the Cold War.
Much of his effort has concentrated on improving relations between different faiths and protecting the embattled Middle East Christians, a clear priority for the Catholic Church.
However in an increasingly fractured geopolitical world, his diplomacy is less obviously aligned to one side in a global standoff between competing blocs than that of John Paul’s 27-year-long papacy.
This is reinforced by his status as the world’s first pope from Latin America, a region whose turbulent history, widespread poverty and love-hate relationship with the United States has given him an entirely different political grounding from any of his European predecessors.
“Under this pope, the Vatican’s foreign policy looks South,” said Massimo Franco, a prominent Italian political commentator and author of several books on the Vatican.
He said the pope has been careful to avoid taking sides on issues like Ukraine, where he has never defined Russia as an aggressor, but has always referred to the conflict between the government and Moscow-backed rebels as a civil war.
That approach is intended to ensure he remains more credible with countries like Syria, Russia or Cuba, all nations where Francis feels he can help local Christians best by steering an independent course.
Francis already has his hands full overhauling the Vatican’s complex internal bureaucracy after a series of financial and sexual scandals involving abuse of children by priests which date back decades.
But clearly deeply interested in how the world outside the walls of the Vatican works, he appears determined to use his position and the huge global audience he commands to challenge entrenched diplomatic positions as well.
The former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a veteran insider whose office formerly controlled both relations with foreign powers and many internal Vatican affairs, has been replaced. His office has been downgraded to resemble a more classical diplomatic service while Francis has set a bolder, more personal stamp on Vatican foreign policy.
“He’s someone who’s capable of praying in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and then talking about the Armenian genocide. He’s not someone who’s bound by political correctness,” said former Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
“It’s the diplomacy of a real leader.”
Whether it is to the taste of all the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, world politicians with priorities of their own or even the many layers of the Church’s own administration is another matter.
With many conservative Catholics unhappy about the pope’s focus on issues like economic injustice and his relatively tolerant tone on sensitive social topics like homosexuality and the status of divorced people, pronounced views on delicate diplomatic issues could cause further division in the Church.
It is a point where he will be particularly tested in September on his upcoming visit to the United States, where some conservative U.S. Catholics are openly hostile.
After helping to foster last year’s agreement reviving diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington, Francis reaped criticism from many U.S. conservatives, including Marco Rubio, a candidate for the Republican nomination for president.
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants and a practicing Catholic, avoided directly admonishing the pope, but said he should “take up the cause of freedom and democracy” in Cuba.
That kind of veiled criticism from a politician who would normally be considered a staunch Church ally reflects the wider unease some Catholics feel at the change Francis has ushered in at one of the world’s most conservative institutions.
“Bishops complain that he becomes popular by attacking the Church,” said Franco.
“He speaks directly to the people and doesn’t respect the usual command structures. He decides on his own or with people who are not those who previously had a central role.”
In other words, he is the first pope who seemingly represents the Far Left Political Viewpoint.
Pope Francis seems more comfortable reaching out to Communist and Socialist countries, then he does to the Vatican’s Traditional allies, those countries who enjoy strong economies, built upon freedom and a competitive marketplace.
I know that I may sound like an old cracker, but my generation was blessed with three very remarkable leaders: United States President Ronald Reagan, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II.
These three stood for everything that was good about freedom.
All three knew the dangers and corruption of the implementation of Marxist Theory through the governments of man.
Here is what the wonderful and gracious Pope John Paul II said about an out-of-control Nanny-State (Socialist) Government:
By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending, In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them who act as neighbors to those in need. It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need.
And, while this present Pontiff is romancing the Palestinians, Pope John Paul II reached out to God’s Chosen People.
In 1994, John Paul II established full diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Israel. He said,
For the Jewish people who live in the State of Israel and who preserve in that land such precious testimonies to their history and their faith, we must ask for the desired security and the due tranquillity that are the prerogative of every nation . . .
Pope John Paul II also said…
The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency.
Why is this present Pope supporting the enemies of Freedom…and of God’s Chosen People?
Being a peacemaker is one thing. Being an enabler of the Enemies of Freedom is quite another.
Until He Comes,