Last month the head of the worldwide Catholic Church visited America riding on a very public image as a champion of the poor and downtrodden whose calls for various forms of “social justice” have put him at odds with the conservative wing of his church, even as his refusal to capitulate on abortion has angered his more liberal members. That’s all fine and dandy.
But one would hope that the man whose office and reputation very much make him the face of Christianity worldwide would also be willing to take a stand for the seemingly uncontroversial idea that members of the human family should not be abused or imprisoned simply because what they believe happens to disagree with the political class that happens to run their country.
One would hope.
Unfortunately, Pope Francis made a side trip to Cuba while he was here and:
… the Castros were ready for him. The dictatorship arrested between 250 and 300 dissidents, or potential dissidents, who might have caused a disturbance. They arrested them violently, too. Berta Soler, for example, was dragged away by the hair and neck when she tried to attend the papal Mass. Soler is the leader of the Ladies in White, a group of faithful Catholics who campaign for the release of political prisoners. Later, Pope Francis said he was not aware of any arrests. That was a little odd, since state security tackled a man, Zaqueo Baez, right in front of him and dragged him away violently. Baez is a dissident. The pope did not meet with any of them, though he had a happy meeting with Fidel Castro.
As one democracy group on the island put it, “The pope did not utter a phrase of solidarity with the victims of repression.” [Where John Paul II had mentioned “freedom” and “justice” dozens of times during his visit] … Francis did not say “freedom” or “justice” at all.
Jose Daniel Ferrer, another democracy leader, noted that, “The pope discussed ‘the glory of God in heaven’ but said ‘nothing about the hell for us on Earth.'”*
By definition, there are many ways in which the poor and downtrodden cannot care for themselves. Even in an open and free society history has shown that a government’s ability to do so is limited, corrupting, wasteful, and inept. So, if there is any hope to actually be effective in the mission the pope claims to pursue, it resides in the church. When the leader of a huge portion of that church is more enamored with playing politics with tyrannical thugs like the Castros than with proclaiming the fate of the Castro’s political victims, a huge opportunity to achieve his stated goals gets flushed right out into the open sewer that is the Cuban regime’s “vision” for society.
I am not a Catholic. I disagree with several of the Catholic Church’s teachings. But forget the whole Catholic/Protestant thing. In fact, forget the whole Christianity thing. As a human being who is seen as a de facto leader to much of the free world, the fact that the pope intentionally ignored the dissidents and political prisoners of the brutal, barbarian Castro regime is disgusting.
The pope should be ashamed of himself.
* National Review, October 19, 2015, p. 10-11.