Diminished authority - Pope fails on the political stage

In 1935 Joseph Stalin is said to have asked contemptuously: “how many divisions has the pope?” The question was answered emphatically by John Paul II long after the Soviet dictator’s death when the Berlin Wall came crashing down and Eastern Europe emerged from behind the Iron Curtain.

John Paul was the most influential pope of the modern era and was not afraid to speak out on secular concerns when the occasion demanded it. At an open-air Mass in Drogheda on September 29, 1979, he made an appeal to the IRA and other paramilitaries: “On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace.”

Because of his easy manner and personal charm, Pope Francis has often been compared to John Paul. There was an expectation, therefore, that he would address the plight of the Rohingya people during his visit to Myanmar.

Instead, he spoke blandly about “respect for each ethnic group” in his keynote speech and failed to mention the brutal ethnic cleansing of the country’s Muslim minority.

That failure diminishes his moral authority as leader of more than 1bn Roman Catholics.

While John Paul II energised the Solidarity movement in Poland, Francis’s failure serves to further isolate the Rohingya people.

As the Irish philosopher Edmund Burke put it: “It is enough for evil to triumph that good men do nothing.”

Pope Francis is a good man who did nothing.


Wondering about wine for the big day? Leslie Williams has all the options, for every taste and budget.Something from the bar: The perfect drink selections this Christmas

Damon Smith faces the might of the First Order on the exhilarating Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance attraction at Walt Disney World in Orlando.Feeling the Force in Florida: Star Wars Rise Of The Resistance attraction opens at Walt Disney World

There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book over the Christmas holidays, says Kya deLongchamps.By the book: Our top home and interiors picks to curl up with over the festive season

More From The Irish Examiner