Questions re Moral Authority of Pope Francis

The NY Times (here) suggests that Pope Francis has damaged his moral authority by declining to comment on “one of the world’s most acute humanitarian disasters” - the persecution of the Rohingya. They called his decision “disappointing,” and said it “cast a pall” over his visit.

Commenting on the unfavorable publicity, Greg Burke, the head of the Vatican’s press office, declared “Nobody ever said Vatican diplomacy is infallible.” Burke added, “People are not expected to solve impossible problems.” Of course, no one expected Pope Francis to solve anything. Pope Francis was condemned for failing to even mention the atrocity by name. Mr. Burke, Pope Francis’ PR guru, tried to place the blame on Myanmar’s bishops. But he also boasted that Pope Francis “is not afraid of minefields,” and predicted “the pope is not going to lose moral authority on this question.”

Greg Burke was formerly employed by Fox News. The fact that Pope Francis put him in charge of PR for the Holy See is tacit recognition that he seeks the same kind of “fact-light” positioning that Fox provides Donald Trump, Roy Moore, and other such moral exemplars.

More Crud from Crux

Inés San Martín once again provided such “fact-light” publicity for Pope Francis (here). Trying to save face in Myanmar, an overwhelmingly Buddhist country which Ms. Martin characterizes as suffering from “seemingly never-ending ethnic and tribal conflicts,” Pope Francis “exalted the cross of Christ, saying that with it comes healing and describing it the best remedy against a temptation to respond to violence with revenge.” Pope Francis said the cross is “a spiritual GPS that unfailingly guides us towards the inner life of God and the heart of our neighbor.” It is hard to imagine that this attempt at conversion will be well-received in Myanmar and most other parts of Asia. Further, it is pious nonsense or worse. It willfully ignores the history of the papacy.

If the cross “unfailingly guides” the papacy and the Church toward God, peace, and love of neighbor, Pope Francis has a lot of explaining to do. Throughout most of papal history, popes have pushed the Church into some type of Holy War. For example, popes called for crusade after crusade against the Muslims - even after temporal rulers refused to sacrifice further blood and treasure. Popes also sided with one royal faction versus another, always representing politics as the will of God. For centuries, popes declared holy war on various Christian sects, claiming divine guidance to root out heresy. Popes spent further centuries warring against Protestantism.

If cross and Christ are “unfailing guides” to God, peace, and love of neighbor, what forces guided all this papal bloodshed and persecution? Why is mainstream media willing to criticize Pope Francis for errors of omission, like failing to mention the Rohingya, but not for errors of commission, like his numerous counterfactual claims about Church history, and his continual flow of pious bullshit?

 

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