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Francis in Cuba
From an editorial in the Washington Post:
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.
Care for a contrast? Just look at this picture of Francis’s predecessor, St. John Paul II, embracing Lech Walesea, the leading dissident in Communist Poland. It is possible to reign as supreme pontiff, remaining, fundamentally, above politics — and yet to stand with those fighting for human liberty.
Photo above: AFP/Getty via the TelegraphPublished in General, Religion & Philosophy
I can only assume this editorial is not online.
Don’t you have to meet with the bad guys? I’ve written about this before – why did it change?
Didn’t Roosevelt meet Stalin? Reagan meet Gorbachev?
Aren’t there times where you have to grab the bad guy by the lapels, look him in the eye and give him the business?
It seemed to turn with that picture of a young Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. The left used that constantly to say, “See we met with the bad guy, we are the bad guy.”
After that it became politically unsavory to be seen with a bad guy, lest the media and the left proclaim meeting the bad guy means giving license and acceptance to all that bad guy is and has done.
Not talking to the bad guys makes war more likely.
No issue talking to the bad guys and giving them the business, but shouldn’t we meet the good guys also?
On every trip?
Isn’t that what Obama is imposing on the Pope this week (not calling transvestites and gay priests the bad guys, but certainly they are detractors of the Pope).
Have you seen the picture of them together? Does that look like lapel grabbing to you??? That was a fellow traveler enjoying a laugh.
You probably would know Peter and I wouldn’t, but did Reagan meet dissenters each time he met Gorbachev?
War?? Between Cuba and the Catholic church, is that your premise? This is the definition of a straw man argument. The pope not glad handing with a communist dictator in no way makes war more likely.
Do we have reason to believe he was “giving them the business”?
General principles translate to all or most scenarios.
I don’t like a policy of not engaging the bad guys.
Diplomacy is owed first to the soldier.
Apparently the few dissidents that tried to make the Pope’s “homily” (not sure on the term) were arrested on the way there….so there’s that too.
Have we conservatives really gone this far off the deep end?
No wonder nobody agrees with us. No wonder we’ve lost everything.
This was announced as an apostolic visit.
He’s preaching. In a pastoral sense, that could very well be giving Castro the business.
I get that I really do. The Pope however has no soldiers and there is zero chance of war with Cuba so I don’t think it does apply in this case. Should we talk to China for those very reasons, yes. Cuba is no threat except to it’s own citizens and the Pope couldn’t be bothered to mention the ones locked in their Gulag. This is the man that is supposed to be standing up for the poor and needy of the world, not to mention the wrongly imprisoned and tortured.
How are we off the deep end?
Pope failure to meet dissidents in Cuba – labeled bad thing.
Pope failure to meet dissidents in White House – labeled as good thing.
I thought Obama is the bad guy.
Is that like looking the other way while Afghan officers rape boys on our military bases because we’ve not gotten to the point in our diplomacy to tackle cultural differences?
Tommy, if I may, you’re missing the point. The Washington Post editorial doesn’t suggest the pope shouldn’t have visited Cuba, or shouldn’t have visited the Castros while he was there. It suggests he should have demonstrated the importance of human liberty.
When Reagan visited Moscow he was gracious to Gorbachev personally, but he held important meetings with dissidents. John Paul II? When he visited Poland he met the Communist leaders–but dressed them down and insisted on demonstrating his support for dissidents again and again.
In Cuba, Francis uttered not a word–not a word–that would have caused the Castros any discomfort or unease whatever. The Washington Post very understandably headlined its editorial, “Pope Francis appeases the Castros in repressive Cuba.”
The appeasement of a brutal regime–that is the point.
It does seem as though everyone who is willing to take a rhetorical punch at the U.S. will refuse to even raise their voices around a dictator. Possible reasons include:
a.) They agree with the dictator and all he/she stands for
b.) They hold the U.S. to a much higher standard, and know we hold ourselves to that same standard
c.) We’re big and strong and can take criticism, even abuse, from unhappy people; Cuba is small and weak and can’t.*
d.) Being nice to small, weak, dysfunctional tyrannies is a way of coaxing them to behave as if they were normal countries. Talking to enemies may make them into friends not because you’ve come to understand them differently, let alone been persuaded to their point of view, but because the engagement itself alters their sense of their own relationship to the world. That’s the hope, anyway; we can all point to cases (with embarrassing photographs) of spectacular failures on this score. But Reagan pulled this off with Gorby; cheerfully assert your values, imply that your enemy, deep down, shares those values, get him to at least appear to agree (the photo of Saddam with Rummy is also a photo of Rummy with Saddam) and then call him on the inconsistencies (“tear down this wall.”).
* (This, incidentally, is my theory as to why police officers doing death notifications occasionally get hit by distraught mourners while I never do; I’m obviously female, unarmed, middle-aged and weak—someone who would hit a big strong cop would never punch a dumpy Mom).
I don’t have any reason to think that, Tommy may have more coherent thoughts on the meeting. I read that Pope Francis gave Castro a book, not sure what it was.
We have political dissidents under the threat of arrest in the White House?! I had no idea.
I don’t remember labeling anything the pope has done as a good thing so I am free of the hypocrisy charge. We are specifically criticizing this Cuba visit, how is that going off the deep end?
Added the link. Thanks for pointing out the omission.
We have no way to know what was said in the private meetings between the Pope and Cuban officials. History can give us a glimpse of why the meetings were private.
When Nancy Pelosi and her family met with Pope Benedict XVI she and her staffers put out the word that the meeting was all sweetness and light. The Vatican had no intention of publicizing what was said until that moment. The Vatican simply reported that there was no official photographer provided to record the event and the discussion concerned abortion.
During WWII the Polish Primate begged the Vatican to stop talking about Nazi atrocities in Poland. Whether it was Vatican Radio or Pope Pius XII in written statements or speeches criticizing Nazi Germany concerning Poland the reprisals were swift and brutal.
When Dutch bishops and the Vatican spoke up about the persecution of Jews in Holland the SS immediately started arresting Jews and Jews that had converted to Catholicism and shipped them to Auschwitz.
I am not going to judge the Pope. I think here on Ricochet we have many highly intelligent Catholic voices who’s opinion I will listen to. However, I would ask a question. When does Detente cross the line and become enabling tyranny? WFB answered that question by accepting Detente but not “moral equivalence”. Ronald Reagan embodied that principle with his “Evil Empire” speech. Without firing a shot the Soviet Union fell. How close are we to seeing the Castro regime collapse if the American President took the WFB principle to heart?
The Pope is coming very close to going over the line to enabling.
You certainly raise valid points, Doug (as you always do). But in the case of Poland and the Netherlands during the Second World War, the pope didn’t visit those countries, meeting smilingly with Nazi leaders as the cameras rolled, and then say nothing as dissidents attempting to attend a papal mass were hauled away. Prudence is one matter, appeasement another.
According to this report, Pope Francis was going to be the first of the 3 Popes to visit Cuba recently to address dissidents, but for reasons unknown, that ended up not being the case.
Who are we to blame for that that? Frank for Fidel?
Should the Pontiff have cancelled the trip, considering how Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II didn’t meet with dissidents either while there (that last part, I say respectfully, really puts the unreasonableness of this OP’s complaint in perspective).
Report on the meeting, which includes the following:
“Francis gave Castro several of his official papal writings, two books on spirituality and a book and CD on the writings of Father Armando Llorente, a priest who taught Castro in Jesuit prep school more than 70 years ago.”