From Chiesa – Sandro Magister
The Strange Silences of a Very Talkative Pope
Not a word for the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, nor for the Pakistani Asia Bibi, sentenced to death on the charge of having offended Islam. And then the audiences denied to former president of the IOR Gotti Tedeschi, driven out for wanting to clean house.
by Sandro Magister
ROME, August 1, 2014 – On the feast of Saint Anne, patron of Caserta, Pope Francis made a visit to this city. Everything normal? No. Because just two days later Jorge Mario Bergoglio returned to Caserta on a private visit, to meet with an Italian friend he got to know in Buenos Aires, Giovanni Traettino, pastor of a local Evangelical church.
Initially Francis’s intention was to go only to visit his friend, with the bishop of Caserta left completely in the dark, and it took some doing to convince the pope to expand his schedule in order not to overlook the sheep of his fold.
In Francis the collegiality of governance is more evoked than practiced. The style is that of a superior general of the Jesuits who in the end decides everything on his own. This can be grasped from his actions, his words, his silences.
For example, Bergoglio has spent weeks behind the scenes cultivating relationships with the heads of the powerful “Evangelical” communities of the United States. He has spent hour after hour in their company at his residence in Santa Marta. He has invited them for lunch. He immortalized one of these convivial moments by giving a high five, amid raucous laughter, to Pastor James Robinson, one of the most successful American televangelists.
When no one knew anything about it yet, it was Francis who alerted them about his intention to go visit their Italian colleague in Caserta, and explained the reason: “To extend the apologies of the Catholic Church for the damage that has been done to them by obstructing the growth of their communities.” [Why should the One True Church help heretical sects to grow?]
As the Argentine he is, Bergoglio has experienced first-hand the overwhelming expansion of the Evangelical and Pentecostal communities in Latin America, which continue to take enormous masses of faithful away from the Catholic Church. And yet he has made this decision: not to fight their leaders, but to make them his friends. [To allow the Catholics to apostatize to his friends' man-made religions]
This is the same approach that he has adopted with the Muslim world: prayer, invocation of peace, general condemnations of the evil that is done, but with careful attention to keep his distance from specific cases concerning precise persons, whether victims or butchers.
Even when the whole world mobilizes in defense of certain victims and everyone is expecting a statement from him, Francis does not abandon this reserve of his.
He did not speak a single word when the young Sudanese mother Meriam was in prison with her little children, sentenced to death only because she is Christian, although he received her once she was liberated thanks to international pressure. [Because that would "offend" Muslims]
He did not say anything on behalf of the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram, in spite of the campaign promoted even by Michelle Obama with the slogan “Bring back our girls.” [Because that would "offend" Muslims]
He is silent on the fate of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani mother who has been in prison for five years awaiting an appeal against the verdict that has sentenced her to death with the accusation of having offended Islam. [Because that would "offend" Muslims]
And yet the campaign for the liberation of Asia Bibi sees the Catholic world everywhere highly engaged on her behalf, and at the beginning of this year a heartfelt letter was made public after she had sent it to the pope. Who did not respond to her. [Because that would "offend" Muslims]
They are silences that are all the more striking in that they are practiced by a pope who is known for his highly generous availability to write, to telephone, to bring aid, to open the doors to anyone who knocks, whether poor or rich, good or bad. [Because that would not help his goal in creating the One World Church]
For example, he had been criticized for being slow to meet with victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy. But last July 7 he made up for this, spending an entire day with six victims brought to Rome from three European countries.
During those same days he took steps forward in the reorganization of the Vatican’s finances, with changes in leadership and the dismissal of the blameless president of the IOR, the German Ernst von Freyberg.
Inexplicably, in sixteen months of pontificate von Freyberg had never been able to obtain an audience with the pope.
But even more inexplicable is the “damnatio” that struck his predecessor Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, driven out in May of 2012 precisely for having pushed forward the work of housecleaning, and by none other than the main culprits of the misconduct.
His requests to Pope Francis to be received and listened to have never received a response.
This commentary was published in “L’Espresso” no. 31 of 2014, on newsstands as of August 1, on the opinion page entitled “Settimo cielo” entrusted to Sandro Magister.
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In the photo, Pope Francis in his private study at the residence of Santa Marta.