Sunday, May 17, 2015


Let's face it, Pope Benedict was a scholar and academician. He was not a diplomat and not a good administrator. The Church prior to Pope Benedict was a major player as a city-state, a city-nation on the world stage and Pope John Paul II brought this aspect of the Church's universal mission to an apex.

But in Pope Benedict's time even the diplomacy of the Vatican suffered. This was mentioned during his papacy and with some alarm.

Pope Francis is turning this around and thanks be to God. Now if we could only get in the next Pontiff a mix of Pope Benedict, Pope Francis and Pope St. John Paul II--one who isn't afraid of the trappings of the papacy and in humility wears it and one who isn't afraid of what Pope Benedict was truly an expert, the liturgy and the agenda he began that now is being thwarted in some circles.

Pope Francis extends agenda of change to Vatican diplomacy


ROME (Reuters) - 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."

(Editing by Crispian Balmer)


Dialogue said...

Just like Jesus made it a point to befriend dictators and to recognize terrorist states, rather than being inwardly focused on his disciples. Right?

Anonymous said...

I don't want a pope who is loved and adored by the world. A world which rejects Christ and His Church. I think it's important to ask why do people and organizations and countries that HATE Christ and the Catholic Church suddenly adore Pope Francis? Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict kissed babies and where kind to people and were humble, maybe not in the glare of a spotlight, but they were good decent men. Why does a world which has turned it's back on God suddenly love this pope. Why does a dictator who has hated the Church for most of his life suddenly talk of converting because of Pope Francis. Does he auddenly believe everything in the CCC?

Anonymous 2 said...

Giving credit where credit is due assumes a disposition to justice, fair mindedness, and an openness to the operation of divine grace in the world. Good luck with that, as the first two comments demonstrate.

jolly jansenist said...

The only "credit" to be given Pope Francis is the sowing of ambiguity and doubt among the faithful, attempting to separate pastoral practice from doctrine, and the weakening of the Church's armor against the encroachment of secularism, humanism, and false theology. May his Papacy be a brief one.

Dialogue said...


It is puzzling. It seems to me that a pope with an attractive personality is more an asset than a liability, but what disturbs me is that articles like these pit BXVI against Francis.

I appreciate the writings of Benedict far more than the writings of Francis, but I also appreciate Francis' ability to generate friendlier relations with non-believers (i.e. potential converts). Could it be that the pope emeritus and the present pope compliment each other, rather than standing in contrast?

Anonymous said...

Fr Linus Clovis sums up the "Francis Effect" and the damage being caused to the Faith. I agree with everything Fr Clovis says:


John Nolan said...

The Vatican city-state has only existed since the Lateran Treaty of 1929. It enables the Pope to be internationally recognized as a head of state. But for centuries the Holy See has been a major diplomatic player and has successfully arbitrated in international disputes - most recently that between Argentina and Chile over the Beagle Channel.

The Holy See, please note; not the former Papal States, nor the Vatican. It's an important distinction which is often overlooked.

rcg said...

I admit that pope Francis is confusing to some folks, like me. But I also think he is trying to play the role properly. Jesus hung out with some very bad people that were trying to change their ways. He did condemn the powerful, but many rich and powerful followed him. I do think he assumes too much, sometimes, that the faithful will understand what he is doing. I believe he is going the last mile for people that he may well end up leaving behind. But he is obliged to do it and so are we.