George Weigel: Pope Unlikely to Denounce "Great Satan Bush"
(Hat tip: Feddie at Southern Appeal)
George Weigel writes at National Review Online:
... In “Not Eye to Eye: Wholly Different Angles on the World,” a front-page “Outlook” piece on March 30, Winters claimed that, during his forthcoming visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI will “show how much his worldview differs from President Bush’s when he denounces the continuing U.S. occupation of Iraq before the U.N. General Assembly — a denunciation that’s expected to be especially harsh after the recent martyrdom of a Chaldean Catholic archbishop killed by insurgents in Mosul.” In that one sentence, Winters managed to commit several of the capital sins of Vaticanology: He confused the views of low-ranking bureaucrats with the thinking of senior Vatican officials, the pope’s own thinking, and the official position of the Holy See; he assumed that the pope comes into international forums like the U.N. as a policy proponent rather than as a voice of moral reason; and, perhaps worst of all, he somehow imagined that Benedict XVI would cheapen the sacrifice of the slain Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho by using the Chaldean prelate’s death as a way to score a political point.(emphasis added)
In my own conversations with senior Vatican officials over the past 18 months, I have been struck by the fact that the debates of 2002-2003 are over. That there was serious disagreement between the U.S. government and the Holy See prior to the invasion of Iraq is, and was, obvious. Today, however, the page has been turned, and despite what Winters’s Vatican leakers may be telling him, the people who make the decisions tell me, as they have told the Bush administration, that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would be a disaster for both Iraq and the entire Middle East.
Pope Benedict will likely urge President Bush to demand that the Iraqi government be more assertive in defending the Christian minority population of Iraq; but that means more and stronger American involvement in the evolving politics of Iraq, not the end of an “occupation.” As for a papal “denunciation” at the U.N., Winters and his friends among Catholic Democrats are likely to be disappointed; Benedict XVI is far too shrewd to give fall campaign sound-bites to Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (either of whose victory in November would cause nightmares for the Holy See at the U.N. and other international agencies).
Americans interested in hearing what the pope actually has to say about the United States and its role in the world, and about the deeper issues of world politics, should pay particularly close attention to Benedict’s remarks at the White House welcoming ceremony on April 16 and his address to the U.N. General Assembly on April 18. Far from playing Jeremiah against the Great Satan Bush, Benedict XVI is going to teach the world a lesson about moral reason as the “grammar” by which the world can have a conversation about the world’s future. There are truths built into the world and into us, he will remind Americans and the U.N.; thinking together about those truths is one way to change noise into conversation and incomprehension into dialogue. I hope Mr. Winters, his sources, and the editors at “Outlook” are listening.
Of course, this has been written by one of the neocon minions of the "Great Satan Bush", who advocated on behalf of the Iraq War from the get-go, so take it for what it's worth. /sarcasm
I wouldn't be surprised if we hear from Pope Benedict lamenting the initial decision to go into Iraq. And I suspect he'll mention torture at some point. But the Pope doesn't seem likely to launch into a full-scale denunciation along the lines the Washingon Post columnist is indicating.
Nevertheless, I have a feeling that, regardless of the Holy Father's actual words, whatever he says will be reported as a "denunciation" by those interested in scoring political points.