Papal diplomacy in Syria has helped Russia and Assad


Crux, 16 March 2017

The anniversary week of Pope Francis has prompted many of us commentators to list the highlights of the pontificate. For my part I highlighted the Jubilee of Mercy and the emphasis on corporal works of mercy, exemplified by the revitalization of the role of papal almoner.

My colleague, John Allen, listed various “clear wins” under which he included the pope’s foreign policy. That struck me as curious, because it seems that what in the Vatican parlance is called “relations with states” is one of the weak points of the Franciscan pontificate.

Pope Francis has devoted particular attention to four countries - Syria, Ukraine, Cuba and Venezuela. It is hard to see how the ordinary people of any of those countries, to say nothing of the Catholic population, is better off for those interventions.

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