The Holy See now looks diplomatically isolated


Catholic Herald , 17 January 2019

Most of Venezuela's neighbours boycotted Maduro's inauguration. So why did the Vatican send a representative?

Pope Francis chose multilateralism as the theme for his annual address to the diplomatic corps, delivered on January 7. Two days before that address a rather unexpected multilateral declaration was aimed at the Holy Father himself, faulting his diplomacy regarding Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Twenty ex-presidents of Latin American countries pointedly criticised, of all things, the papal Urbi et Orbi address, customarily one of the least controversial items in the papal diary. It would be like the Queen being blasted for Her Majesty’s annual Christmas address by former prime ministers.

In the Urbi et Orbi, Pope Francis had prayed for Venezuela that “all the members of society [should] work fraternally for the country’s development and aid the most vulnerable sectors of the population.” In regard to Nicaragua, the Pope asked that the inhabitants of the country “see themselves once more as brothers and sisters, so that divisions and discord will not prevail, but all may work to promote reconciliation and to build together the future of the country.”

It’s boilerplate Pope Francis, that all social problems are to be resolved through dialogue between brothers. But that boilerplate, invoked regardless of whichever situation is being addressed – Syria, Ukraine, China – can grate upon those who are faced not with a dispute among brothers, but ravenous wolves devouring the sheep.

“The call for harmony on the part of Your Holiness, given the current context, can be understood by the victimised nations that they should come to agreement with their victimisers,” wrote the former presidents.

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