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This impossible Pope!

“I don’t understand the Pope,” said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on ARD television. CDU chairman Merz disagreed with Pope Francis, as did Chancellor Scholz and many Western politicians.

Only the AfD and Sahra Wagenknecht’s party still seem to understand the Pope; praise for Francis came from Moscow. That was just what was needed. “What has got into this Pope?” asks the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Ah, this impossible Pope from Argentina or “from the edge of the world” as he himself says. Does he still not understand us, who live in the center of the world?

The view of the Ukraine war from the “margins of the world” is precisely our problem. The Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians or even the Africans often have completely different problems and perspectives to us Europeans. The Pope is right when he urges NATO to reflect on its own mistakes in relation to Russia’s security interests after 1990. Helmut Kohl, Helmut Schmidt, Mikhail Gorbachev and even Henry Kissinger saw and said the same thing. But there is no sign of this anywhere in the Western world today. Hence the excitement over the Pope’s latest statement on Ukraine.

Francis called for peace on Swiss television, as he does for all wars. That is only fitting for a follower of Jesus. But now it is being claimed that he has called on Ukraine to surrender. But he explicitly and demonstrably did not do so. In his controversial interview with Swiss television, the Pope said verbatim. “Negotiation is never surrender. It is the courage not to lead the country to suicide.” The Pope had previously said this: “I believe that the stronger person is the one who understands the situation; the one who thinks of the people; the one who has the courage to raise the white flag, to negotiate.”

With this, Francis has diplomatically placed himself between all the chairs, which is probably the right place for any follower of Jesus. The word “white flag” is certainly misleading and unfortunate in this context. But the Swiss reporter was the first to use this word with his question. And the “man in white” in the Vatican probably misunderstood the “white flag”. This illustrates his explicit warning against capitulation. But his critics simply ignore this warning, even though the Pope made it clear in the same interview. That says a lot about the Pope’s critics, who only hear what they want to hear.

The current wars all have a prehistory. This applies to the war in Ukraine as well as the war in Gaza and the wars in Arabia and Africa. However, anyone who ignores and represses this history is not capable of peace. The Pope’s current interview is also open to criticism for not clearly naming the Russian aggressor. Francis could have avoided many misunderstandings by doing so.

However, Francis is used to shitstorms like this one. He has experienced it after his statements on homosexuality with the hardliners in the Vatican as well as after his statement “Sexuality is a gift from God”, but also with his comments on capitalism (“This economy kills”), but also on communism (“Anyone who talks about the poor is not automatically a communist”).

On March 19, a new autobiography of the Pope will be published (“Life. My story in history”). It also makes it clear that and why Francis is different from most of his predecessors. And why he is less diplomatic, but – as someone who “comes from the margins” – likes to speak plainly.

Harper Collins Publisher 2024

The fact that he also likes to offend is part of his job description, so to speak. His statements against war are as natural to him as his first trip as Pope to the refugees and migrants in Lampedusa. At the time, he described the Mediterranean (Mare Nostra, our sea) as a “mass grave” and a “disgrace” for “Christian Europe”. Wasn’t he right? In the meantime, up to 30,000 refugees from Africa have drowned in the “Mare Nostra” – right on Europe’s doorstep.

Francis’ stance on war is similarly clear. On page 54 of his new book, he writes: “Never again war, never again the noise of weapons. Never again such suffering. Peace for all. A lasting peace without weapons”.

This “impossible pope” is simply following in the tradition of his boss’s Sermon on the Mount.


Franz Alt 2024 | Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

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