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Another Russian Connection: The Pope and Putin

The most powerful man in the Vatican after Pope Francis, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, will make an “historic visit” to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of August “with the aim of improving Holy See relations both with the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.” The trip “will also pave the way for a potential visit by Pope Francis which some believe could happen as early as next year,” according to Vatican reporter Edward Pentin.

Pope Francis has met Putin twice at the Vatican in November 2013 and June 2015.

In February 2016, the pope made a stop at the José Martí airport in Havana on his way to Mexico for a meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill. That meeting would not have happened “without a green light from Putin.”

Pope Francis said that Metropolitan Archbishop Hilarion, foreign minister of the Russian Orthodox Church, “has come many times to speak with me.”

“One of the most skilled and experienced Vatican diplomats,” Archbishop Celestino Migliore, was appointed as the pope’s ambassador to Russia in May 2016 after serving as his ambassador to the United Nations, reported Vatican expert Andrea Gagliarducci.

Migliore’s predecessor in Moscow, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, was then assigned as ambassador to the UN in Geneva. The “widespread saying among Vatican diplomats” is that “Geneva is where the UN headquarters’ decisions are prepared” and Jurkovic “knows very well the Russian world and its sensitivities,” Gagliarducci attested.

Before Jurkovic, Archbishop Antonio Mennini was the papal representative to Moscow from 2002 to 2010. (The Vatican and Russia established full diplomatic relations in 2009.) Mennini was made an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State in January 2017.

Within two months of Pope Francis’ election, Putin appointed Alexander Avdeev as his ambassador to the Vatican. Avdeev was Russia’s deputy Foreign Affairs minister from 1998 to 2002, special ambassador and plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to Paris until 2008 and then the Kremlin Minister of Culture until his appointment to the Vatican.

In view of the above, it would be safe to say that the Vatican is closer to Russia than any other country and the Russian Orthodox Church more than any other religion.

TRADITIONAL VALUES

Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor at Reuters, explained the alliance between Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church. “With strong financial backing from oligarchs, [the Russian Orthodox Church’s] global reach amounts to a network of the new Russian presence around the world, parallel to Moscow’s embassies and trade missions.”

Under Putin, “the Church has developed into a thriving institution that works closely with the Kremlin to promote common interests.”

The Kremlin has “included the Church in its foreign policy strategy,” and Putin “praised the Church as a spiritual bulwark against degenerate foreign influences.”

Nataliya Vasilyeva, reporting for the Associated Press, agrees. “President Vladimir Putin appears eager to harness that resurgent power of faith to promote his own agenda. [He] sees an alliance with Church interests as a way to bolster nationalism with belief [and] to block any inroads by Western liberalism.”

The Russian Orthodox Church’s “proximity to power has not gone unnoticed in Europe, where Moscow has been active encouraging the nationalist far-right, and Germany has already expressed concern about possible Russian cyber meddling in its next general election,” Heneghan wrote.

In November 2016, the European Parliament denounced Moscow in a resolution that read in part: “The Russian Government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments – think tanks and special foundations, special authorities, multilingual TV stations, pseudo-news agencies and multimedia services – as well as cross-border social and religious groups, since the regime wants to present itself as the only defender of traditional Christian values.”

In a May 19 address to the Russian parliament’s Commission for the Protection of Christian Values, Patriarch Kirill’s representative “is again calling upon the nation’s government to make abortion illegal.”

On May 31, Kirill condemned same-sex marriage “at a time when the repression of homosexuals is increasingly severe in Russia, most notably in Chechnya. Chechen authorities have detained hundreds of homosexuals and incited their families to kill them in order to ‘cleanse their honor.’ … The rejection of homosexuality is one of the most recurrent themes in the Russian Orthodox Church’s rhetoric. This is to affirm, in particular, the Orthodox Church’s moral superiority over the West, which it considers ‘decadent.’”

Putin “sides with the Church in opposing gay rights.” In 2013, Putin “signed two bills making so-called ‘gay propaganda’ and actions that ‘insult religious feelings’ both crimes. A crackdown on gay rights protests and online support groups has followed.”

While he was Minister of Culture, Alexander Avdeev “called for the revival of traditional Russian moral values.” “Russian culture will flourish and remain the center of the national idea,” he said, “only if it will be in very close dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church.”

While Pope Francis was cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, he “clashed with the progressive Kirchner administration sharply over issues of abortion, contraception and sex education.” Kirchner called Bergoglio the “spiritual head of the political opposition.”

The progressive Pres. Fernandez’ relationship with Bergoglio was “strained due to her support for same-sex marriage and the leftism of her administration.” A week before the vote on legislation approving same-sex marriage, Bergoglio wrote a pastoral letter “harshly criticizing the initiative.” The legislation was a “’move’ by the father of lies [Satan] meant to confuse and deceive the children of God,” he wrote.

In 2012, when the Fernandez administration “pushed for mandatory sex education in schools, free distribution of contraceptives in public hospitals, and the right for transsexuals to change their official identities on demand,” Bergoglio accused the president of “demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power.”

Putin’s choice of Avdeev as his Vatican ambassador was a good match with the new pope.

CONSERVATIVE INTERNATIONAL

“The Kremlin leader’s full-throated defense of Russia’s ‘traditional values’ and his derision of the West’s ‘genderless and infertile’ liberalism [is an example] of Putin attempting to place himself at the vanguard of a new ‘Conservative International,’” wrote Brian Whitmore of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

In a report titled “Putin: World Conservatism’s New Leader,” a Kremlin-connected think tank wrote “most people yearn for stability and security, favor traditional family values over feminism and gay rights, and prefer nation-based states rather than multicultural melting pots. Putin, the report says, stands for these values…. The world’s traditionalists will now line up behind Putin.”

The European Right

In most cases, “the European populist parties share a common set of priorities” with Putin. They view him “as an ally,” wrote Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic.

“Those close to the Kremlin have been expanding their outreach to members of Europe’s far-right, ranging from directing funding to France’s National Front party to inviting Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party to visit the Crimean peninsula,” according to Casey Michel quoted in Religion Dispatches.

In March, “Putin made his preferences in the French presidential election clear Friday by hosting far-right candidate Marine Le Pen at the Kremlin.” Le Pen’s platform as “defender of conservative national values against Western globalization appeals to the Kremlin.” She has repeatedly visited Russia, reported the Associated Press.

“Especially from the right and far-right,” French politicians “are harking back to a secularized version of France’s traditional Catholic identity as one of several ways to mobilize voters,” Heneghan noted. Marine Le Pen appeared at Mont Saint Michel, the famous medieval monastery off the Normandy coast. “Mont Saint Michel, the eternal symbol of a France that draws strength and grandeur from its Christian roots,” she tweeted.

When asked about the French presidential election, Pope Francis responded, “I don’t know where [Emmanuel Macron] comes from” and “I know there is a candidate from the strong right.” The remarks, which Marine Le Pen “used in a campaign rally to mock her opponent, were nothing short of ‘astonishing,’ as Le Monde pointed out in a front page editorial. “Contrary to the pope’s vague statements, the National Front leader is not from the ‘strong’ right. She is a pure product of the French extreme right, hailing from a political dynasty whose roots stretch all the way back to France’s darkest days of Nazi collaboration,” reported the Washington Post.

Similarly, the French-based, anti-Semitic Society of St. Pius X with whom Pope Francis is seeking to reunite, also has roots stretching back to Vichy Nazi collaborators.

Putin has met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán several times since the Hungarian leader came to power in 2010. Hungary’s 2011 constitution not only claims the country’s Christian roots, but also includes the phrases “the protection of life from the moment of conception” and “the family based on marriage between a man and a woman.”

In May, Orbán hosted the annual conference for the International Organization of the Family (IOF) in Budapest. The Human Rights Campaign describes the group “as a dangerous group of activists spreading anti-LGBT rhetoric and promoting laws and policies that criminalize LGBT people.” The IOF “is also staunchly anti-abortion, and will host a number of international pro-life groups such as the American organization Family Watch International.”

“There are many new groups that have sprouted on the continent in recent years with missions they describe as ‘promoting life,’ ‘traditional family,’ and ‘religious liberty’ in response to the advance of laws to recognize same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Some are technically secular organizations, but their strength, their leaders concede, largely comes from churchgoers.” wrote J. Lester Feder of Buzzfeed.

“As the right-wing parties are on the rise in Europe, one can see a certain turn towards more conservative politics in all spheres of life – including reproductive rights. The rise of conservative politics, complete with traditionalist views on so-called ‘family values,’ means that the anti-abortion movement is having a comeback in Europe. Their zeal is almost religious – and many of them are affiliated with Europe’s Churches. The most influential of them is the Catholic Church,” according to Daria Sukharchuk in Ms. Magazine.

Pope Francis has said that abortion, even to save a woman’s life, is an “horrendous crime,” an “unspeakable crime,”  horrific” and “what the Mafia does – throw someone away to save another.” He has stated that abortion is the product of  “the egoism of a culture that does not love life,”  the “alleged right to one’s own body” and a “widespread mentality of profit.” Pope Francis also denounced international organizations for making economic assistance to developing countries “contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health.’”

The Foreign Office of the Moscow Patriarchate held an international seminar at the end of January, during which the Orthodox and Catholic churches jointly addressed the issue of abortion. When Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill met in Havana one year ago, the protection of life … was one of the most important issues mentioned in their joint declaration. The Moscow seminar was thus a direct result of this historic meeting. [T]he Catholic Church has vast international experience on this front and the Orthodox Church can learn from this.

The joint declaration also included a denouncement of same-sex marriage.

Eastern Europe

Some right-wing parties “ran on explicitly anti-LGBT platforms, particularly in Eastern Europe,” according to Feder of Buzzfeed.

“What makes Eastern Europe important” Cardinal Parolin declared, is its “historical role in civilization, culture and Christian faith.”  The majority of people in most Eastern European nations identify themselves as Catholic or Orthodox according to the Pew Research Center.

In Romania, “where the Orthodox Church holds considerable sway,” the Coalition for the Family collected 3 million signatures in 2016 “in favor of changing the constitutional definition of marriage as a union strictly between a man and a woman from the existing ‘spouses.’ The Coalition also supports canceling subsidies for contraception and elective abortion.”

The ruling Law and Justice Party in Poland “came to power in late 2015 on a ticket of promoting traditional Polish values, family and Catholic traditions.” Poland’s constitution is one of seven in the EU to ban gay marriages and the country has some of the strictest abortion regulations in Europe. “World Politics Review’s editors wrote on July 24 about the ways that the ‘climate for LGBT Poles has deteriorated under the Law and Justice Party.’ It says, ‘Attacks on LGBT individuals and organizations are on the rise’ and the government has ‘increased funding for right-wing and Catholic organizations.’”

In December 2015, Slovenians voted to reject a referendum allowing same-sex marriage and adoption – what “the country’s Catholic Church saw as a crucial referendum for families.” Four days before the vote, Pope Francis “told a group of Slovenian pilgrims that he encouraged ‘everyone, especially those with public responsibility, to support the family.’”  (In February 2017, a Slovenian law was passed allowing same-sex marriage but not adoption.)

Croatia’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was passed by referendum in December 2013. “About 65% of the voters in this country, where a large majority declare themselves as members of the Roman Catholic Church, supported the amendment.”

Pope Francis supported a Slovakia referendum against equal marriage and gay adoption rights in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Pope Francis has referred to same-sex marriage as an “anthropological regression,” “disfiguring God’s plan for creation” that will “destroy the family.”

The pope stated, “We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

Pope Francis wrote, “We reiterate the objective truth … that ‘there is no foundation whatsoever to… establish an even remotely analogous correspondence between homosexual unions and God’s plan for marriage and the family.’” (Synod 2015, Relatio Finalis, n.76).

In December, Pope Francis approved another decree that men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” couldn’t be priests.

On June 29, the pope gave the highest award possible to lay persons to Alan Sears, head of the  Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-gay hate group.  Sears was one of “America’s most active anti-gay activists” invited by Pope Francis to a Vatican conference on “traditional marriage.”

Conservatives Around the World

“Conservatives Around The World Are Peddling A Conspiracy Theory About Sex and Gender” is the title of an article about “gender ideology” by Ana Campoy. This “has been a very effective communication and persuasion tool. It helps its ‘fighters’ to avoid overtly homophobic language – which is prohibited by law in some countries -and to frame their arguments in secular terms,” Campoy wrote.

Pope Francis explained “gender theory” as that “which seeks to cancel out sexual difference.”

On many occasions, Pope Francis has warned against “ideological colonization” by which he means the imposition of secular Western ideas on developing countries about contraception, and human rights for gays and transgender persons.

Pope Francis has used the terms “ideological colonization” and/or “gender theory” in an October 2014 interview, January 2015 in the Philippines, in a February  2015 speech to bishops from Africa and Madagascar, March 2015 in Naples, in an April 2015 General Audience, a May 2015 address to the bishops from the Central African Republic, a June 2015 address to the bishops of Puerto Rico, a June 2015 speech to an Italian judiciary council, a June 2015 talk to the diocese of Rome, a September 2015 Vatican address, a September 2015 address to the UN General Assembly, March 2016 in Mexico, in a May 2016 address to the presidents of the European Commission, European Parliament and the European Council, October 2016 in Georgia. in-flight from Azerbaijan back to Rome and against the French government.

For the pope, “gender theory” is one reason why “the family is under attack.” “The pontiff’s campaign against gender theory, or gender ideology, may be emboldening Catholic bishops in various parts of the world to speak out themselves,” according to Vatican correspondent, Ines San Martin.

Pope Francis compared the threat of transgender people to nuclear weapons. Both “do not recognize the order of creation.” With the acceptance of transgender person “man commits a new sin against God the Creator,” the pope went on to explain.

Last July, Pope Francis spoke about “ideological colonizations. And one of these – I say it clearly with name and surname – is gender! Today children, children are taught this in school that one can choose one’s sex! … God has created man and woman; God created the world thus, and thus, and thus – and we are doing the opposite … It’s the time of the sin against God the Creator!”

Putin “also takes the position held by Pope Francis that ‘tolerance of gender choice results from a Western imperial ideology.’”

POPE AND PUTIN’S POLITICAL ALLIANCE

Pope Francis positioned himself as Putin’s ally early in his pontificate. Although the massacre of civilians had been ongoing since the day he was elected, only after Pres. Obama proposed a limited air strike to deter the further use of chemical weapons against civilians did the pontiff hold a peace rally for Syria. Putin credited Pope Francis “for stopping the military action” and “with being decisive in halting the momentum with the G8 towards supporting the initiative.”

The pope “advanced a resolution that favored the interests of both Assad and Putin …. Putin certainly regarded [Obama’s failure in Syria] as a major victory. He immediately began to flex Moscow’s muscles in Ukraine, directing his ally there to abandon a proposed agreement with the European Union in favor of an alliance with Russia and Belarus,” according to Fr. Raymond J. de Souza, Senior Fellow at Cardus, Canada’s leading Christian think tank.

Between Pope Francis’ first and second meetings with Putin, “some 1.2 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced according to the United Nations humanitarian office [while] Pope Francis is working to build diplomatic relations with Russia … especially to advance some of the Vatican’s other diplomatic interests,” according to Elizabeth Dias in TIME.

The meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in Havana would benefit Putin. In view of Putin’s alignment with the Russian Orthodox Church, “the private meeting is politically charged, especially when Russia is at odds with the West over Ukraine and Syria. Putin clearly sees the value of his relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church’s relationship with the pope,” Reuters’ Philip Pullela and Maria Tsvetkova wrote.

For Putin, “the meeting was important to reduce Russia’s isolation amid western sanctions over Ukraine and criticism for its Syria bombing campaign,” according to Edward Pentin.

The Economist: “Did the Pope just kiss Putin’s ring?”

Russia wants its people to believe that Western republics are not as hostile as their leaders. Pope Francis just helped. [The meeting] is a diplomatic victory for Putin [and] helped to underscore Russia’s renewed standing as a global power…

Francis made clear in his interview before the meeting that on certain issues he agrees with Mr. Putin and disagrees with America and its allies…

The joint declaration issued after the meeting hewed close to the Kremlin’s positions on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine…

The joint declaration deplores “hostility” in Ukraine, but omits any mention of Russia’s role, casting it as an internal struggle…

On April 7, “Pope Francis called the latest attack by chemical weapons on Syrian civilians ‘unacceptable carnage,’ but was careful to avoid anything that might be read as direct criticism of Assad …. Strikingly, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s top diplomat, took part Wednesday in an EU summit in Brussels on Syria, after reports of the chemical attack had already made the rounds, and never mentioned either the attack or Assad.”

As regards Eastern Europe, Pope Francis “has always involved Vladimir Putin in trying to negotiate solutions … since the very first days of the pontificate,” noted Vatican reporter, Andrea Tornielli.

On May 26, Pope Francis held a private meeting with Presidents Rumen Radev of Bulgaria and Gjorge Ivanov of Macedonia. “Broadly speaking, both Radev and Ivanov are perceived as ‘pro-Moscow.’ The three leaders, therefore, had the chance to discuss their common interests in keeping lines of communication with Putin and the Kremlin open,” Vatican reporter John L. Allen Jr. wrote.

THE OTHER RUSSIAN CONNECTION

The U.S. Election

In his testimony before a Senate Intelligence hearing, former FBI director James Comey noted there was “strong evidence” that Russian hackers wanted to interfere with the presidential outcome.

Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called Russia’s hack and theft of emails the “most successful covert influence operation in history.”

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails were released through Wikileaks. “So what effect did Wikileaks have on the election? The drip, drip, drip of the hacked emails – published weekly during October – makes it all but impossible to measure their effect precisely. But we can say two things: (i) Americans were interested in the Wikileaks releases, and (ii) the timeline of Clinton’s fall in the polls roughly matches the emails’ publishing schedule,” according to Harry Enten, a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight, a website focusing on opinion poll analysis.

Podesta’s emails provided the U.S. bishops the opportunity to bash Clinton. Like most Religious Right leaders, Trump had not been their choice in the Republican primaries. Also, like other Christian leaders, they were averse to openly backing the irreligious and vulgar GOP presidential candidate. So Podesta’s correspondence relating to the Catholic Church provided the ammunition they were waiting for, even though the emails were several years old and had nothing to do with Clinton or any political campaign.

In short, the bishops’ attacks against Clinton and Podesta were hyperbolic, dishonest  and highly partisan, including those made by the prelate of Wall Street, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, the elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Now there was a tacit approval for the attacks by prelates against Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, which followed.

Trump won the highest percentage of Catholic voters for a Republican candidate since 2004 with whites Catholics casting more ballots for Trump (60%) than for Romney in 2012. Trump carried the South as expected, but it was his win in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan that decided the election.

Four congressional committees – the Senate intelligence committee, Senate judiciary committee, House intelligence committee and House oversight committee – are investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The New President

Vice President Mike Pence and Trump nominees for Attorney General and Secretaries of Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education and Labor all played leadership roles in the Republican war against women and LGBTQ persons.

Three days after his inauguration, Trump issued a “Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policy.” This reinstated the ban on the use of U.S. foreign aid for abortion-related activities. On May 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved a plan implementing its expansion to also restrict how organizations can use their own non-U.S. government funds.

In April, Trump signed into law a bill granting states the right to defund Planned Parenthood. Cardinal Dolan cheered the loss of benefits to “abortion providers.”

Trump appointed C-Fam  (formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute), the “intensely anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ group” headed by Opus Dei’s Austin Ruse, to the U.S. delegation to the UN Commission on the Status of Women. This is “the most important annual meeting on women’s issues at the United Nations.”

An Opus Dei center has operated in Moscow since 2007. Ruse, writing from Moscow, defended Putin’s anti-gay policies.

Ruse also celebrated Trump’s appointment of “anti-transgender activist,” Bethany Kozma as Senior Adviser in the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment division under the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Kozma had organized a national women’s campaign against the Obama administration’s support of the right of transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. The Trump administration has rescinded the protections for transgender students in public schools.

On May 4, before signing his executive order on “religious freedom,” Trump decried the “attacks against the Little Sisters of the Poor,” the same group Pope Francis had visited while in the U.S., encouraging their lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from having insurance that provides coverage for contraception. Like other religious organizations, the nuns are required to notify the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in writing of their religious objection to having coverage for contraceptive services for their employees. Trump told the nuns who were present, “Your long ordeal will soon be over. … We are ending the attacks on your religious freedom.”

On May 31, an HHS draft rule that would extend the houses-of-worship exemption to all religious organizations was reported.

When Pence addressed the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in May, Metropolitan Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Church’s foreign minister, was present along with D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl and the pope’s U.S. ambassador, Archbishop Christopher Pierre.

In anticipation of Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis, veteran Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli wrote that in addition to anti-abortion policies, “There could be other possible agreements with the Holy See in the less exclusionary approach with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

According to the Vatican press office, on May 24 Trump and Pope Francis had a “cordial” meeting. “The two men discussed the good bilateral relations that exist between the U.S. and the Holy See. They also spoke of their ‘joint commitment in favor of life, religious liberty and freedom of conscience.'”

“Freedom of conscience” to obstruct and deny human rights for LGBTQ persons is another phrase Pope Francis has popularized. After the pope met with Kim Davis, the Kentucky state clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, he stated that “conscientious objection” by “government employees” is a “human right.” Later, the pope repeated the phrase when commenting on the Italian parliament’s approval of civil unions for same-sex couples. Pope Francis said Catholic public officials should be excused from officiating at those marriages if they have a “conscientious objection” to such relationships.  A month earlier, Pope Francis had warned against an “educated persecution” of Christians by those who want to limit their right to “conscientious objection.” According to the pope, there is a “dictatorship” which “takes up stones to stone [the] freedom of conscience” of recipients of financial aid.

The Vatican statement regarding the Trump/Pope meeting “expressed the hope for a ‘serene cooperation between the State and the Catholic Church in the United States,’ which is engaged in service to people ‘in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants,’” meaning continued tax-payer funding of Catholic schools and agencies. The day before the meeting,  Trump released his budget that takes tax-payer funds out of public schools and gives it to private schools.

On July 27 Trump announced his ban on transgender people serving in the military and nominated Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback as the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. Brownback’s conversion to Catholicism under the auspices of Opus Dei had been widely reported. So it’s no surprise Brownback is anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights.

In an interview published the same day, when asked about Trump, Cardinal Parolin replied: “You cannot be in a rush. A new administration that is so different and unique, and not only for political reasons, compared to the previous ones, will need time to find its own balance.” He reiterated that “time is needed to judge” Trump, echoing what Pope Francis had said about Trump’s inauguration: “I think that we must wait and see.”

A CHRISTIAN EUROPE

In March 2017, commenting on the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome that created the European Economic Community, forerunner of the European Union, Cardinal Parolin stated, “The Christian roots of Europe are Europe’s lifeblood” and “Christianity one of its fundamental elements.

Two days later, Pope Francis addressed the heads of state in Rome marking the anniversary and echoed Parolin: “At the origin of European civilization there is Christianity.” The pope said the EU must respect the “consciences and the ideals” of its population.

After the French election in May,  Pope Francis sent a telegram to Emmanuel Macron, “offering his prayers and wishes that in his new role, he will support the rich moral and spiritual traditions of the country, including that of Christianity.

Although Pope Francis has a fawning U.S. media now, a future and more sober historical analysis might conclude his alliance with Putin and (for now) tolerance of Trump did nothing to advance Christianity.

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America.)

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6 Responses

  1. Sorry Betty, you are off the rails on this one.

    • Please quote any parts which you think are untrue.

  2. When I began reading this article I thought it was stretching the imagination to make a link of the Vatican & the Kremlin, and especially when many Americans do not see the Russian meddling in our elections as on their radar. As I read, began to see the plausibility of aligning with Russia & the Orthodox Church in terms of the espousing of traditional Christian values, particularly as they relate to sex and marriage. The Vatican and Kremlin with its symbiotic Orthodox partnership are on the same page with these issues and seek wider collaboration especially among less democratic political countries or parties within democracies who want to preserve their version of Christian culture. Scary! Especially as it affects women, gay and transgender people. BC underscores Francis’ persistent, consistent reaffirming of traditional values & is an activist to swell the ranks. The revelation of his entreaties to national conferences underscores what he sees as RC priorities. What is there for conservatives not to like about Francis. In ways as demonstrated here, he is perhaps more militant or at least consistent with his predecessors!
    At the same time, confusing how Francis would seem to give his blessing to the L’Civilta article which denounced extreme right wing groups within and without the RCC. Certainly, these groups would support the mindset of Francis on these items.
    Only conclusion I can draw is that it is a form of “divide and conquer,” or “if you can’t convince ’em, confuse ’em” strategy. Francis is jesuitical in skillfully manipulating all. BC has unmasked the real Francis relentlessly in pursuit of allies.

  3. As always, you’r analysis and summations are presented better than mine. I agree that the pope is “jesuitical in skillfully manipulating all.” However, I see the point of the L’Civilta article as increasing Bergoglio’s popularity in the US mainstream media (as the authors knew it would). Ad Majorem Francis Gloriam” – But what has the pope and his “close” collaborators done to give the Gospel first priority?

  4. If Frankie and Putin had brains instead of hypocrisy, they would have heard about the 60+ prenatal intersex conditions affecting all of us to some great or small degree. Thanks to prenatal chimerism (absorbed twins) and microchimerism (from older siblings), none of us can brag about being 100% XX or XY in all of our cells. Many transgender people discover their underlying intersex conditions when they undergo medical evaluations. NFP’s inherently cruel fraud sets Catholics up to have the most intersex offspring of all, hence the many boulder-throwing closet intersex nuns and priests. As for Frankie’s condemnation of women defending themselves against killer pregnancies with contraception and abortion, he is guilty of criminal Munchausen by Proxy womb trafficking for spoiled pedophile priests.

    • Thank you very much for this very interesting information about transsexual.

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