Dispatches sent to Washington before Bergoglio settled in. The first evaluations on the Pope: He is a conservative; He will not change the doctrine of the Church
Pubblicato il 27/06/2017
Ultima modifica il 27/06/2017 alle ore 17:00
correspondent from New york
“Despite the disparity in size, governance, and history, we are both global powers, with global interests and influence. From many points of view, the Holy See is unique to the world in its ability to pursue its own agenda. The Vatican, with its diplomatic relations counting 180 countries is second only to the United States.”
The report dated March 14, 2013, sent from American Embassy to the Holy See to Vice President Biden, in view of his participation to Pope Francis’ inaugural ceremony, presents the smallest state and the oldest democracy in the world as equal powers. Along with other documents written a year after, during President Obama’s visit, that La Stampa has obtained in compliance with the law, these dispatches describe straightforwardly the contact points and divergences, ranging from Syria’s strategy to suspicions concerning American funding for evangelical groups.
The “cable” sent immediately after the election quotes “officials of the Curia are curious and nervous” for Bergoglio’s choice. The Obama administration had had problems with Benedict, especially on “the themes of life,” and longed for a new relationship: “Beyond finding himself between the New and the Old World, the Pope could also bridge between the “conservative and moderate wings of the church. On social issues, he is a “true-blue” conservative a determined opponent of abortion, gay marriage and contraception. At the same time, he is deeply committed to social justice in favor of the poor, a priority for the most liberal wing of the Church and for the Jesuits.” The text, then, cites Bergoglio’s interview with La Stampa when he was still cardinal, where he criticized the vanity of some members of the Curia anticipating its reform.
The report sent to Catholic Biden on March 14 enters further into details: “Under the leadership of Francis, the Vatican will work to promote fundamental freedoms, peace, justice and international order and democracy.” It continues, “F acing the growing secularism and what many in the Church see as anti-clerical and anti-Catholicism, Francis will be firmly opposed to such pressures and will faithfully defend the traditional teachings on abortion, euthanasia, death penalty, homosexual marriages and the traditional values of the family. His goal is to ensure orthodoxy but also be sufficiently open to dialogue, according to the idea that adherence to these teachings cannot be imposed but should be the outcome of a true persuasion of the reason.”
Francis will seek to improve relations with Islam and “strengthen those with Jews, as is evident from the welcome he received by Jewish leaders in the world.”
Then diplomats warn Biden of a potential friction with the United States: “A very important issue for the Church in Latin America is the defection of millions of Catholics towards Protestant evangelical groups. Often these groups are funded by the US, “fueling the suspicion that American Protestants are still seeking to undermine Catholicism. The report underlines that the Holy See believes the 2003 Iraq war as the triggering event causing instability in the Middle East, which later continued with the Arab Spring and Isis, finally resulting in the persecution of Christians and their escape from the region. “Overturned dictatorships, which once offered moderate protection to Christian communities, have been now replaced by governments in some cases dominated by Islamists (as in Egypt), while others are unable to secure security (as in Iraq).”
The report doesn’t fail to reference internal problems: “The recent Vatileaks scandal has revealed a Curia tormented by intestinal fights. The Church is accused of having covered sexual abuse of minors and teenagers by priests for decades. Francis will strengthen the commitment to protect young people, and enforce the protocol requiring removal from the ministry of all the priests who have committed abuses. The Pope also inherits an internal power struggle for the management of the Vatican bank, which must continue a process of respecting international standards of transparency, or risks of being excluded from the global banking system. The Curia reform will be Francis’ priority, not just to avoid scandals, but also to provide a government capable of addressing these challenges.”
A year later, on March 6, 2014, the American Embassy to the Vatican sends a new report, this time addressed to President Obama to prepare him for the upcoming meeting with the Pope: “Despite the many revolutionary acts of Francis, he is not trying to change the doctrine of Church. Instead, he is moving the dialogue from the hot social topics to the more practical issues of pastoral nature. He is clarifying that cultural issues have obscured the most fundamental role of the Church in the care of poor, sick and needy.” This is exactly what Obama wants to hear, hoping to reconstruct the bilateral relationship on new foundations, in foreseeable opposition to what will happen next, with Trump’s election.” Francis is also against unbridled capitalism and rampant materialism, focusing on issues such as exclusion and inequality, which have led to the physical suffering of the poor and the underprivileged, while the rich suffer ethically and morally.” He is against a financial system that “commands instead of serving”, while he recognize “the fundamental role played by modern entrepreneurial activity to raise millions of people from poverty”. The curia reform proceeds, albeit with difficulty, as well as the improvement of relations with the Jews. Francis encourages the resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, but has some reservations on the strategy carried out in Syria: “Influenced by the local bishops and patriarchs, the Vatican is often critical of the opposition’s support, which includes Islamic fundamentalists, as it is believed they pose a serious threat for the future of a democratic and multi-religious Syria.” The hope, however, is to build a new, and indispensable alliance between two great reference guides of the global community, “Mr. President: Pope Francis is the second most followed leader on Twitter - after you – but he is the most retweeted”