The Pope? How many additional Parishes does he want?

Ladies in White arrested at home of Berta Soler

Ladies in White arrested at the home of Berta Soler

Stalin famously mocked the moral authority of the Catholic Church by asking “how many divisions” the Pope had. Perhaps he should have just sarcastically inquired as to how many safeguarded Parishes would be required to have them look the other way?

A Pope whose hagiography emphasizes his humility, aversion to the trappings of power and the need the evangelize directly to the people could not find a moment in his three day trip to Cuba to meet or mention any dissident. But Pope Francis did meet with at least two dictators, one who has no official government role.

If Pope Francis’s heart is as compassionate as we are told, I don’t see how he makes it through his next lost sheep parable without choking on the hypocrisy of it all.

Realpolitik is not a game for the feint of heart, I get it. Those who play it are willing to sacrifice a chunk of their moral authority in the hope of the greater good, or that the ends justify the means, to be more blunt.

But what if moral authority is all you bring to the game? How big a payoff is required to risk it then? Because we are all watching these moral compromises in real time. Do they expect people to forget or ignore?

The Washington Post editorial summarizes it well:

Pope Francis may believe that merely by touring the country he will inspire Cubans to become more active and press the regime for change. But two previous papal visits, in 1998 and 2012, did not have that effect. By now it is clear that the Castros won’t be moved by quiet diplomacy or indirect hints. A direct campaign of words and acts, like that Pope Francis is planning for the United States, would surely have an impact. But then, it takes more fortitude to challenge a dictatorship than a democracy.

The complete editorial is copied at the end of the post.

Pope Francis appeases the Castros in repressive Cuba

By Editorial Board September 21 at 7:18 PM

IN HIS visit to the United States beginning Tuesday, Pope Francis will meet not just President Obama and Congress but also those marginalized by our society: homeless people, immigrants, refugees and even the inmates of a jail. He’s expected to raise topics that many Americans will find challenging, such as his harsh critique of capitalism. His supporters say it’s all part of the role the pope has embraced as an advocate for the powerless, one that has earned him admiration from both Catholics and some outside the church.

How, then, to explain Pope Francis’s behavior in Cuba? The pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.

Pope Francis met with 89-year-old Fidel Castro, who holds no office in Cuba, but not with any members of the dissident community — in or outside of prison. According to the Web site 14ymedio.com, two opposition activists were invited to greet the pope at Havana’s cathedral Sunday but were arrested on the way. Dozens of other dissidents were detained when they attempted to attend an open air Mass. They needn’t have bothered: The pope said nothing in his homily about their cause, or even political freedom more generally. Those hunting for a message had to settle for a cryptic declaration that “service is never ideological.”

Sadly, this appeasement of power is consistent with the Vatican’s approach to Cuba ever since Raúl Castro replaced his brother in 2006. Led by Cuban Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the church committed to a strategy of working with the regime in the hope of encouraging its gradual moderation. The results have been slight. Cardinal Ortega obtained Raúl Castro’s promise to release all political prisoners, but arrests have continued and dissident groups say the number of jailed is now above 70. One leading Christian dissident, Oswaldo Payá, was killed in a suspicious 2012 auto crash.

The Vatican’s greatest success has been the adoption of its strategy by the Obama administration, which has also restored relations with the Castros while excluding the political opposition. Here, too, there have been disappointing results. U.S. exports to Cuba, controlled by Havana, have declined this year, while arrests of opponents have increased, along with refu­gees. Many Cubans are trying to reach the United States ahead of what they fear will be a move by the Obama administration to placate the regime with a tightening of asylum rules.

Pope Francis may believe that merely by touring the country he will inspire Cubans to become more active and press the regime for change. But two previous papal visits, in 1998 and 2012, did not have that effect. By now it is clear that the Castros won’t be moved by quiet diplomacy or indirect hints. A direct campaign of words and acts, like that Pope Francis is planning for the United States, would surely have an impact. But then, it takes more fortitude to challenge a dictatorship than a democracy.

Advertisements

About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
This entry was posted in Catholic Faith & Inspiration. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Pope? How many additional Parishes does he want?

  1. Luis N. Perez says:

    Ok, so what is your theory as to why he, Benedict, and JP II all have refused/ failed/ neglected to pressure the Regime and to give audience to the dissidents?

    Seems odd that all 3 would be afraid or too timid to attack. Is it that they truly think that a passive message is what will work, is that they fear more backlash vs the Cuban Church? Clearly the Holy See is getting advice from the Cuban Bishop( name escapes me …)

    Interested in your thoughts.

    • I assume the obvious tit for tat – Dictators get legitimacy, Church gets more room to operate – with JPII & Benedict – its like Nixon to China – no one could question their anti-communist credentials, we recognized the play, even if we disagreed

      But with Francis, not only is there no anti-communist background – it might go the other way in terms of empathy – combined with behind the scene efforts re US ties – I think it fair to question if meeting dissidents is even something they fought for – Cuban people rebelling, even symbolically, not in the playbook for a trip long ago scripted

      you?

  2. Jorge A. Alvarez says:

    Lets have lunch sooner rather than later. My humble opinion is you are way off on your view of the Pope’s mission.

    Many blessings,

    Jorge A. Alvarez

    >

  3. Congratulations, you’ve passed a rather sneaky test in your preparations, sorry about the intrigue

    But now for the hard part, paying for lunch

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s