Political Animal


March 29, 2012 3:50 PM The Pope Goes Squishy

By Ed Kilgore

In other news that could make heads explode in some conservative circles, veteran Republican foreign policy hand Elliot Abrams verbally spanks Pope Benedict XVI for failing to more forcefully upbraid his Cuban hosts during his trip to the island:

[T]he Pope’s failure to advance the cause of freedom is sad indeed. The photos of him with Fidel and Raul Castro can only have demoralized those struggling and suffering for freedom in Cuba, for the Pope refused to meet with any dissidents at all. Moreover, his remarks were so carefully phrased that, according to press reports, most Cubans did not view them as a call for freedom-whatever the Pope’s intent.
Of course the Pope is not a political figure, but he did rather clearly say he thought the U.S. embargo should end. If it was possible to be clear on that issue, why not on the far more fundamental issue of freedom? I know the Church plays a very long game, in Cuba as in China and everywhere across the globe, and this visit may have gained the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba a bit more freedom for itself to operate. But at what cost? “I’m deeply concerned that the Cuban church has negotiated political space for themselves in exchange for their moral imperative,” Sen. Marco Rubio said this month.

For better or worse, of course, the Vatican’s sense of its primary pastoral duties have always led it to look the other way at human rights abuses in exchange for special protections for the Church and its members, as a certain Concordat in 1933 tragically illustrated. I know it’s an important foundational myth for many American conservatives—a myth, BTW, that Abrams has worked hard to promote—to believe that Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan together defeated Soviet communism and ended the Cold War. But no one should really expect the Holy See to accept talking points dictation from Elliott Abrams about how to behave on a papal visit to another country.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • SecularAnimist on March 29, 2012 3:54 PM:

    Ed Kilgore wrote: "... veteran Republican foreign policy hand Elliot Abrams ..."

    "Foreign policy hand" ?

    Elliot Abrams is a vicious war criminal who actively subverted US foreign policy, lied to the US Congress, and is personally culpable for the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in Central America at the hands of US-backed terrorists.

    He should be serving time in prison for treason and mass murder.

  • paul on March 29, 2012 3:55 PM:

    Cue all the outraged howls about how the republican party hates catholics and religious freedom.

    oh, wait.

  • kevo on March 29, 2012 4:05 PM:

    I agree with SecularA. - Abrams has no business pontificating about anything serious since he's a ruffian fool playing out his fantasies for the rest of us in very inconvenient ways!

    Besides, what would a Jew know about the Pope's visit to a Catholic nation run by an athiest dictator? Especially since Abrams has a very terrible Spanish accent! -Kevo

  • Steve on March 29, 2012 4:17 PM:

    Wait, the Pope wasn't a key figure in the Polish uprising against Communism? I think Ed needs to explain himself a bit better here.

  • Anonymous on March 29, 2012 4:36 PM:

    With SecularAnimist on this.

    Abrams should know all about those "suffering in the struggle for liberty..". He's directly responsible for a lot of that suffering in Central America in the past 30 years.

    Why anyone should give him print space to prattle on about freedom and suffering is beyond me. It's a ghastly mockery of all of his victims in El Salvador, Guatemala, etc.

  • Texas Aggie on March 29, 2012 5:31 PM:

    It's just one dictator talking to another. What does the pope know about personal freedom? He and the rest of the hierarchy have a long history of imposing their own ideas on other people who don't share them. No one ever claimed that the catholic church had even a vague resemblance to a democratic organization.

  • SadOldVet on March 29, 2012 5:35 PM:

    The Nazi Pope should get out of the politics business and back to doing what the papacy does best - protecting pedophile priests.

  • fignaz on March 29, 2012 5:45 PM:

    And lets not forget the Lateran Treaty of 1929 which settled settled the "Roman Question" between the Kingdom of Italy & the Papacy. That treaty also included a concordat, some aspects of which survived the birth of the Italian republic after WW II & persist to this day. The Lateran Treaty also served to tie the Vatican to the fascist state in an economic way by compensating the papacy for the loss of property after unification primarily with government bonds.

  • rrk1 on March 29, 2012 5:56 PM:

    Who gives a fig what Abrams thinks about anything. He's an Israeli neocon agent, was discredited for Iran Contra, served some time, and should be relegated to the outer darkness for eternity.

    That said, Benedict's embrace of a communist regime is a milestone of hypocrisy, but then the church invented hypocrisy long ago. It is one of the finesr practitioners of the art of hypocrisy, and has instructed us all in the nuances of its finer points.

  • TCinLA on March 29, 2012 6:01 PM:

    Let me see if I have this straight. The Pope, a man whose job description is "moral leader," is supposed to take direction from an admitted war criminal, a man who conspired against peace across the planet, supported death squads, and is in fact a traitor? That man has the moral stature to advise anyone about anything.

    Go drop dead, Mr. Abrams, and take the rest of your fellow Reagan Republican traitors with you. In other words, go to hell.

  • Thamaturgist on March 29, 2012 7:39 PM:

    the opiate of the working people?