When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

CLARIN

With Pope Francis, Geopolitics Back Atop Vatican Agenda

While Pope Benedict XVI sought to consolidate Catholic doctrine in a secular world, Pope Francis is devoting more of his papacy to bringing peace to the world's conflict zones.

Pope Francis' first Urbi et Orbi message on Christmas day
Pope Francis' first Urbi et Orbi message on Christmas day
Sergio Rubin

BUENOS AIRESPope Francis appears determined to resurrect the kind of dominant role the papacy played in promoting peace around the world under former Pope John Paul II.

Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI was less focused on world conflicts, preferring instead to use most of his energies to reaffirm traditional Catholicism in a society increasingly indifferent to religion.

The Church’s internal problems and unwelcome tensions with both the Jewish and Muslim communities also complicated Vatican efforts on the international stage during the eight-year papacy of Benedict XVI.

But Jorge Bergoglio — as Pope Francis was born 77 years ago in Buenos Aires — stepped onto the global stage on more solid ground. His call last September for a day of prayers for peace in Syria, when strikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad seemed imminent, had an enormous impact, especially in the Islamic world.

In fact, some believe Francis played a critical role in the U.S. decision to suspend strikes. Days before the day of prayers, Francis wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of a meeting between heads of state, and that communication helped facilitate a change of postures.

During the traditional Christmas message, Pope Francis renewed his call for peace in Syria, where civil war continues with relentless horror, and reiterated his belief in negotiations as the way to end the bloodletting.

Holy Land visit

He also cited the conflicts in Africa, above all in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, where religious factors such as fanaticism with an Islamic label are at play. He also voiced his hope for that ever-elusive agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians and for Iraq’s pacification.

Contrary to what some were expecting, the Pope did not announce a visit to the Middle East, though it is almost certain that he will travel there in May.

That pilgrimmage — which will include Jordan, Israel (Jerusalem) and the Palestinian territories (Bethlehem) — won’t be driven solely by a religious itinerary, but will also be meant to stimulate politicl talks between Israelis and Palestinians, with presidents from both places having formally invited him to the region on recent Vatican visits.

Pope Francis enjoys a particular influence because of the enormous enthusiasm he has generated around the world with his inclusive and unifiying messages. The crowd that braved the cold to witness his Urbi et Orbi address on Christmas Day illustrates that his charisma and popularity have made him a powerful international leader. The close relations he has built with other religions — replicating on a global scale the ecumenical ties he built in the Argentine capital as archbishop of Buenos Aires — are among his many assets.

It’s an understatement, but it would be fair to say it’s been a good start.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

"Welcome To Our Hell..." Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Speaks

In a rare in-depth interview, Ukraine's top diplomat didn't hold back as he discussed NATO, E.U. candidacy, and the future of the war with Russia. He also reserves a special 'thank you' for Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Dmytro Kuleba, Foreign Minister of Ukraine attends the summit of foreign ministers of the G7 group of leading democratic economic powers.

Oleg Bazar

KYIV — This is the first major interview Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has given. He spoke to the Ukrainian publication Livy Bereg about NATO, international assistance and confrontation with Russia — on the frontline and in the offices of the European Parliament.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

At 41, Kuleba is the youngest ever foreign minister of Ukraine. He is the former head of the Commission for Coordination of Euro-Atlantic Integration and initiated Ukraine's accession to the European Green Deal. The young but influential pro-European politician is now playing a complicated political game in order to attract as many foreign partners as possible to support Ukraine not only in the war, but also when the war ends.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ