Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Pope's Visit - A Wasted Opportunity

Culture & Society ---

Pope Francis, you squandered a golden opportunity. You went into the Dragon's lair with a chance to confront the Dragon and emerge a hero, but all you did was give the Dragon a nice pat on the back, said a few nice things, and instead of coming out the hero, emerged from the lair a coward. We all know about the violence that is currently the plague of our world. We all know of the threats to our environment. We all know about the current refugee crisis. We all know of the arms trade. We know of the crippling effects of the world's dominant "economic system," as well as those of the stranglehold of the financial institutions. Pope Francis, you stood before the U.S. Congress and before the United Nations General Assembly and presented both bodies with well-constructed and masterful overviews of these problems. In effect, you ably identified the problem, and you highlighted that which ought to be the ultimate objective - peace, healing, and hope. 

Unfortunately, Pope Francis, while you identified the problem(s), you failed to call to account those responsible for the problems. You missed that "Thou art the man" moment of John the Baptist. The violence you decried in your speech to Congress was also decried by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He, unlike you, placed the responsibility for most of the violence in the world squarely where it belonged - on the shoulders of U.S. militarism (one of the evils of American society according to Dr. King). And the refugee crisis you bemoaned was a logical corollary of that violence, as well a logical corollary of the arms trade you condemned. I'm sure you know who the world's leading arms dealer is. You had the opportunity to name names but you didn't. Instead, you said a lot of nice things, reiterating some of the cliched words and phrases that stir the sentiments of people here in this country, words and phrases that underline the lie of U.S. exceptionalism. And by the way, Pope Francis, the "economic system" to which you so often refer in your speeches and appear so hesitant to name, is Capitalism (another of the three evils of American society according to Dr. King).

[photo art by Ric Couchman]