PopeWatch: Francis Diplomacy




Pope Francis was full of surprises yesterday during his visit to the Middle East.  John Allen of The Boston Globe mentions the major one:



In a surprise announcement at the conclusion of his Mass in Bethlehem, the pope said he was inviting both President Shimon Peres of Israel and Abbas to the Vatican to take part in a common prayer for peace, saying that “the men and women of these lands, and of the entire world, all of them, ask us to bring before God their fervent hopes for peace.”

Lombardi called it a “creative and courageous” gesture on the part of Francis, adding that the hope is to organize the encounter quickly. Though Lombardi did not say so out loud, the rush is in part because Peres’s term ends on July 27.

Both leaders quickly accepted the invitation, which comes one month after the latest attempt at restating peace negotiations broke down. Though the official motive for the meeting would be the prayer, it might also be an occasion for the two leaders to talk informally about substantive matters.

Go here to read the rest.  The President of Israel of course is merely a figurehead with no power.  Peres has a long history in Israelis politics but that is coming to an end with his announced retirement.  He and  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have diametrically opposed views in regard to peace negotiations with the Palestinians with Peres currently a dove, although he was quite the hawk earlier in his career, and Netanyahu most decidedly, and always, a hawk.  Besides that, they are of different parties and personally despise each other.  As for Abbas, anyone expecting any courage and leadership from that weathervane to bring about a settlement simply has not been paying attention to his career.  Other than symbolism, PopeWatch has a hard time seeing what this will accomplish, especially since the Vatican has a very well-deserved reputation of tilting to the Arab side of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

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  1. SInce 1964, the Holy See has shown a taste for wheel-spinning exercises. The ‘peace process’ is great for occupying aspirant hamsters.

  2. As long as they are spinning their wheels for peace, they are not shooting at each other. Minor children are impressed. Even hamsters get exercise from “spinning wheels”. God alone knows what good will come from these exercises. Perhaps some Italian or Argentinian cuisine will be enjoyed by all. Hmmm

  3. and from someone who enjoys matzoh pizza. I invented it. One matzoh, tomato paste, olive oil, oregano or Italian herbs, mozzarella cheese, onions and peppers, red preferably, skip the pepperoni on Friday. One minute in the microwave. The Poles had an Italian queen, daughter of the Duke of Naples. But that is a love story.

  4. The Pope chooses to request a peace meeting between two weak-kneed leaders, one of whom is a figure head and the other a weathervane, instead of choosing to request a meeting between, for example, Netanyahu the Israeli PM and Khaled Meshaal the Hamas leader. The general public throughout Western Europe, Latin America and North America is totally clueless of the uselessness of the two leaders solicited to be at a peace meeting. All it wishes to perceive is an invitation offered to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, surely a Noble Peace Prize winning moment. If the Pope were serious, then would he not extend the invitation to leaders who were polar opposites and who need to come together face to face to talk? Once again, all these things we are seeing about Pope Francis are appearance. Where is the substance? Yes, we have the appearance of piety, peace-making, concern for the poor, humility, etc. And all these virtues Pope Benedict XVI had in abundance, but lacking their appearance, for none of them was he recognized by the lame stream media with whom the current reigning monarch seems to ingratiate himself however indirectly. I will take substance any day over appearance.

  5. Something about John Allen’s writings almost always irks me. From calling this a “breathtaking gesture” to saying Bethlehem is the place where Christians believe Jesus was born. Are His birth records in doubt?
    The pope’s gesture will not be more than a gesture if the prayer includes Allah as somehow equal or interchangeable with God. There is only one God and He is Trinity. We pray with pagans and heretics as if everything is copacetic.

  6. Mr. McClarey, that video, along with the Great Britain Ukelele orchestra’s rendition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and the Orange County police car chase set to Yakety Sax, are my three fave Youtube vids.

  7. I made the mistake years ago (right after the real 9-11) of attending an interfaith prayer service at our state capitol put together by our Lt Governor at that time. I wondered when I showed up why our Christian elected officials were not present–I thought the word interfaith referenced different Christian faiths who believed that Christ was the Son of God who died to pay the penalty for our sin. Boy was I wrong. The meaning of the word interfaith to our Lt Governor included Muslims. After listening to the extensive, very long, very loud meaningless prayers of the local resident Imam–I determined to NEVER make that mistake again.

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