Francis in Cuba

 

From an editorial in the Washington Post:

A Cuban dissident is prevented by securiThe 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.

m.5207_pope-john-paul-krakowCare 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 Telegraph

Published in General, Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    James Gawron: When does Detente cross the line and become enabling tyranny?

    That’s the problem, isn’t it? The line isn’t easy to find. The Pope doesn’t command armies (literal armies, that is) so moral suasion is all he’s got.

    Peter Robinson: You certainly raise valid points, Doug (as you always do). But in the case of Polland 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 attend a papal mass were hauled away. Prudence is one matter, appeasement another.

    Sadly, though, it’s not difficult to imagine the Pope at the time doing just that—not because he was a Nazi, but because he was afraid of what would happen if he objected. (This much he admitted after the war). That is, he was afraid of making things worse.

    Unless Pope Francis believed that he would make things worse for the dissidents themselves by objecting, it’s pretty hard to understand why the same man who beautifully embraced disabled children, lepers and juvenile delinquents wouldn’t stick up for the rights of those —whoever they were—who wished to attend a Mass.

    • #31
  2. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    What protests did Nixon make while in China?

    • #32
  3. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    BTW—I’m giving Francis the benefit of the doubt myself, though I’m not a Catholic. He’s done some really lovely things, and re-energised a lot of my Catholic friends, including one who, excommunicated after divorcing from her first husband at the age of 20, found out that she may now receive communion. Having spent the past thirty years assuring herself that she could care less…she was overjoyed.

    • #33
  4. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Tommy De Seno: Not talking to the bad guys makes war more likely.

    You think the Pope is giving the bad guys a serious talking to?

    • #34
  5. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson
    • #35
  6. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Frank Soto:

    Tommy De Seno: Not talking to the bad guys makes war more likely.

    You think the Pope is giving the bad guys a serious talking to?

    On an apostolic visit?   Is he supposed to do that?

    That’s one of the points of my taking issue with the OP.

    Who knows what took place in private.

    I’m befuddled by Peter holding up JPII as “the way it’s done” when he did not meet with dissidents when he came to Cuba either.

    • #36
  7. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Concretevol:

    Casey:Have we conservatives really gone this far off the deep end?

    No wonder nobody agrees with us. No wonder we’ve lost everything.

    How are we off the deep end?

    Does every non-event have to be a controversy?

    Sometimes when you don’t give your children cookies it’s because you don’t have any cookies to give.

    • #37
  8. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Peter Robinson:

    Why was the comment in #35 redacted?

    There was nothing intemperate about it.

    • #38
  9. Aaron Miller Inactive
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Doug makes good points. But is the responsibility of every Christian, especially shepherds, to boldly speak truth as Jesus did.

    Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. […] you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. […]

    Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. [….]

    What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.

    And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. [….]

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.

    Our instincts tell us to survive at any cost. But that is not the Christian way. We value some things more than life itself. We will suffer for speaking the truth. Others will suffer for our honesty. But more is gained in bold witness than is lost at the executioner’s hand.

    I condemn nobody for choosing survival. But we are called to a difficult path.

    How would y’all define prudence?

    • #39
  10. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Tommy De Seno:

    I’m befuddled by Peter holding up JPII as “the way it’s done” when he did not meet with dissidents when he came to Cuba either.

    a) I didn’t hold up JP II’s visit to Cuba as the way it’s done but his 1979 visit to Poland.

    b) By the time JP II visited Cuba, many years later, his anti-Communism was very well-established. Francis, by contrast, has done nothing to establish himself as anti-Communist. To the contrary. During his Vatican meeting with Raul Castro some months, Francis could hardly have proven warmer, offering the dictator not a word of reproach. Whereas JP II had no need to explain himself, in other words, Francis had every reason to let people know where he stood on human rights in Cuba

    c) Although he didn’t meet dissidents, when JP II visited Cuba he made wider rights for the Catholic church part of the deal, negotiated before he ever set foot in the country. (Others here at Ricochet with better memories than mine may be able to fill in this point.) As far as I am aware, Francis insisted on no such concessions from the regime.

    d) I don’t have time to look them up just now, alas, but I’m virtually certain that, in his public statements in Cuba, JP II made a number of statements that stressed the importance of freedom. (Again, I’m hoping someone here at Ricochet can fill in this point–or, if need be, correct me.) Francis did no such thing.

    • #40
  11. Autistic License Coolidge
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Sometimes it’s necessary for a Pope to meet with a bad guy.  Sometimes it’s necessary for us to do that, too.  The thing to be careful — very careful — about is whether you’re making any progress on your agenda while you’re unavoidably giving the bad guy stature and prestige by meeting with him.

    On that subject, if I were Francis, I’d visit the US and cancel the White House circus.  There’s nothing to be gained there except petty insults.  They’re just not in good faith.

    As for visiting Cuba, it’s unavoidable if you want to give those people the message that the Church hasn’t forgotten them.  Castro has more control over how the event goes than Obama does.

    • #41
  12. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Tommy De Seno:

    Peter Robinson:

    Why was the comment in #35 redacted?

    There was nothing intemperate about it.

    I decided it was too snarky. (I like mixing it up with my friend from New Jersey Tommy, but not before my morning mug of coffee.) Posted the comment, regretted it, tried to delete it–and then ended up with an empty box. (Rob Long is right now shaking his head over my continuing inability to master the elements of blogging around here.)

    • #42
  13. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Peter Robinson:

    Tommy De Seno:

    Peter Robinson:

    Why was the comment in #35 redacted?

    There was nothing intemperate about it.

    I decided it was too snarky. (I like mixing it up with my friend from New Jersey, but doing so before having my morning coffee is asking for trouble.) Posted the comment, regretted it, tried to delete it–and then ended up with an empty box. (Rob Long is now shaking his head over my continuing inability to master the blogging technology around here.)

    • #43
  14. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Unbelievable. I’ve now put up almost the same post twice in a row. Rob must be laughing out loud.

    Tommy, I’m off to grab that cup of coffee. I hereby place this thread under your recognizance.

    • #44
  15. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Peter, I understand why you want to take a swatter to those bastard flies in Cuba.  But Francis putting out a plate of molasses is hardly a Save the Flies campaign.

    • #45
  16. David Williamson Inactive
    David Williamson
    @DavidWilliamson

    It’s pretty simple – Pope John Paul II was not a Marxist or anti-Capitalist.

    Current Pope is – birds of a feather…

    • #46
  17. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Peter, the following is from Katie’s pope thread.  I’d be interested in your thoughts:

    Ryan M

    katievs:Ryan, you, like many, seem to think he proposes socialism as the alternative to capitalism. He doesn’t. He proposes more humanity, more care for the poor, less exploitation, less inequity, less materialism, less indifference toward life and nature.

    I believe Jamie addressed this point, but I added on to it as well.  The problem is not that what you’re saying is not plausible when Francis’ words are taken alone – but the context of what he’s saying suggests that your explanation is not true.

    The key point for me is this.  We are still left with only two explanations:  first, that Francis really is an economic/political illiterate.  He may simply be using the word “capitalism” as a word that means something totally different from what it really is; the Randian sort of selfishness, or, as some here have actually argued, the notion that greed is good.

    I think most of us are actually being charitable to the Pope by assuming his intelligence.  But if the above explanation is correct, that itself is quite dangerous, as he continues to speak on issues where he is hopelessly ignorant.

    The second explanation is that he knows exactly what he’s talking about – but that makes his omissions all that more important.  If his concern is “more humanity, more care for the poor, less exploitation, less inequity, less materialism, less indifference toward life and nature,” then he would have very little reason to mention capitalism at all.  Presumably, he has the power to observe the world around him.  When he visits Cuba or any other communist/tyrannical country, surely he also notices poor, exploitation, inequality, – he certainly notices indifference toward life and nature!  If he cares about these things, then he should have far more to say about them in the context of those political systems that foster all of the things you say he is preaching against.  The fact that he doesn’t do this – keeping in mind that we’re assuming intelligence and good-faith – indicates that these are intentional omissions.  It is not unreasonable to suggest that he might have strong political convictions, as many here have done.  The weight of evidence does support that conclusion, unless your contention really is that the pope simply doesn’t know what the language he uses actually means.  But, if the latter, it’s kind of difficult to explain his other typical-leftist tropes – the polar bears, fracking, etc…. without making him look like a puppet of some left-wing manipulators.

    • #47
  18. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Peter Robinson:

    Peter Robinson:

    Tommy De Seno:

    Peter Robinson:

    Why was the comment in #35 redacted?

    There was nothing intemperate about it.

    I decided it was too snarky. (I like mixing it up with my friend from New Jersey, but doing so before having my morning coffee is asking for trouble.) Posted the comment, regretted it, tried to delete it–and then ended up with an empty box. (Rob Long is now shaking his head over my continuing inability to master the blogging technology around here.)

    I actually hit “Like” on that comment . . . and I’m on my fifth cup of coffee.

    • #48
  19. Tommy De Seno Contributor
    Tommy De Seno
    @TommyDeSeno

    Peter Robinson:Unbelievable. I’ve now put up almost the same post twice in a row. Rob must be laughing out loud.

    Tommy, I’m off to grab that cup of coffee. I hereby place this thread under your recognizance.

    Peter you’re inability to work your way around a keyboard is ingratiating to all of us over 50 who have the same difficulty.

    Your putting up with me before morning coffee is commendable, and in an ironic twist, in keeping with Pope Francis’ message in Cuba to serve others (by putting up with me so the rest of Ricochet doesn’t have to).

    Enjoy your java.

    • #49
  20. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Peter Robinson:Unbelievable. I’ve now put up almost the same post twice in a row. Rob must be laughing out loud.

    Tommy, I’m off to grab that cup of coffee. I hereby place this thread under your recognizance.

    Peter, that is because when you attempted to “edit comment,” you hit “quote” instead.  I’ve done that many times, so don’t feel bad.  :)  You can tell by comparing the comments to each other (well, and the fact that the second one is in a quote box).

    • #50
  21. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Casey:Peter, I understand why you want to take a swatter to those bastard flies in Cuba. But Francis putting out a plate of molasses is hardly a Save the Flies campaign.

    So why is it that Francis is perfectly content to call out the evils of capitalism by name?  Is he such a genius that he understands capitalists to be largely free and largely non-murderous, so he’s exercising “tough love” while winning over the communists with hugs and kisses?

    I think there is a much simpler explanation.

    • #51
  22. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Ryan M: So why is it that Francis is perfectly content to call out the evils of capitalism by name?

    Why shouldn’t he?  Why shouldn’t we?

    • #52
  23. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    V.S. Blackford:

    BrentB67: 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.

    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

    That sounds more like giving him the playbook than the business.

    • #53
  24. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Casey:

    Ryan M: So why is it that Francis is perfectly content to call out the evils of capitalism by name?

    Why shouldn’t he? Why shouldn’t we?

    Because capitalism isn’t the problem.

    • #54
  25. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Casey:Peter, I understand why you want to take a swatter to those bastard flies in Cuba. But Francis putting out a plate of molasses is hardly a Save the Flies campaign.

    Not sure the flies view it that way.

    • #55
  26. Steve in Richmond Member
    Steve in Richmond
    @SteveinRichmond

    Peter Robinson: In Cuba, Francis uttered not a word–not a word–that would have caused the Castros any discomfort or unease whatever.

    Hmmm.  I wonder if he will be as careful not to utter a word which will cause discomfort when he addresses Congress?

    • #56
  27. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    Kate Braestrup:BTW—I’m giving Francis the benefit of the doubt myself, though I’m not a Catholic. He’s done some really lovely things, and re-energised a lot of my Catholic friends, including one who, excommunicated after divorcing from her first husband at the age of 20, found out that she may now receive communion. Having spent the past thirty years assuring herself that she could care less…she was overjoyed.

    [Canon lawyer] Nguyen’s second article has a clear title: We’re heading for ‘Catholic divorces’ (September 18). Nguyen explains briefly and clearly why the new reforms overturn the presumption of validity for marriages and allows many marriages to be pre-judged as null even before any process could begin (our emphases in the following passages):

    • #57
  28. Pseudodionysius Inactive
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    • #58
  29. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Peter Robinson

    BrentB67:No issue talking to the bad guys and giving them the business, but shouldn’t we meet the good guys also?

    Exactly.

    You don’t know if that was in the cards.  It may have been a deal breaker for the Castros, and so what would be the best path foreward, no Cuba visit or a hamstringed one?

    I think Pope Francis felt a hamstringed one still gets the Christian message out to atheist Cuba and in time will undermine the communist government.

    Peter you failed to mention that neither Popes JPII and Benedict XVI met with the Cuban dissidents.  This is nothing new and the Church has made an assessment of the best path forward.

    But I also dispute that the Holy Father has said nothing to promote the opposition.  I don’t have the exact quote but yesterday in his homily he said “that people don’t serve ideas, people serve people” or something to that effect.  I hope someone finds the exact quote.  That’s a swipe at ideology, a swipe at Marxism.

    • #59
  30. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    BrentB67:

    Casey:

    Ryan M: So why is it that Francis is perfectly content to call out the evils of capitalism by name?

    Why shouldn’t he? Why shouldn’t we?

    Because capitalism isn’t the problem.

    The.  Do you see that word?  The.  You used the word the.

    Capitalism isn’t the problem.

    That word in that sentence is the problem.

    • #60
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