Russia and the
Holy See: Defenders of the Christian West (Izvestia, Russia)
"It seems that the Roman pontiff is prepared to contribute
to the achievement of peace in Ukraine in exchange for Russian help resolving
the situation in the Middle East, where radical Islamists are destroying not
only their fellow Muslims, but Christians as well. ... There is a well-known historical
anecdote. Stalin is said to have inquired as to how many divisions the pope
had. The answer is less well known. The pope supposedly said, 'My division is
in Heaven, my son.' Now, in this difficult time, this 'division' has become vitally
important. ... As the star of the self-styled 'Caliphate' rises in the Middle
East, it's worth remembering that we are united through belonging to the
Christian tradition. This is something the pope remembers."
Vladimir Putin’s meeting with Pope Francis immediately after
the close of the G7 Summit, where calls were made to maintain sanctions against
Russia, will have come as an unpleasant shock to the West.
The Vatican Press Office's release stated that Pope Francis
and Vladimir Putin primarily discussed the situations in Ukraine and the Middle
East. The two sides exchanged gifts, with the pontiff gaving the Russian president
a medallion engraved with the image of the angel of peace.
U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ken Hackett demanded that the
Pope “hold the line” and sternly criticize Russia with regard to the situation
in Ukraine. However, the pope welcomed Putin cordially and in compliance with
protocol, which included a ceremonial welcome by the Swiss Guard, the
traditional security force for the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The common interests of the Vatican and Moscow are entirely self-evident.
The Catholic world confronts the same problems as Russia.
Attempts have been made to deny the church’s sovereignty and to interfere in
its internal affairs. Demands have been made for the Roman pontiff to allow the
ordination of woman priests and bishops, to renounce the vow of celibacy, and that
the everyday agencies established to render spiritual services to the people be
altered. For the pope, this means surrendering sovereignty and authority over
the Catholic world that the church has held for centuries.
It is thought that the center of global Catholicism is at
the Vatican - the city-state located on a small hill in Rome. The reality is,
however, that the Holy See is subject to international law - and that under international
law it is persona sui generis [unique
in its creation] - the same term applied to foreign embassies and states.
The creation of Vatican City was the result of an agreement
between the Holy See and Italy (the 1929 Lateran Treaty).
According to the terms of the agreement, the Holy See has full sovereignty over
The Holy See is the embodiment of the concept of
sovereignty. World history attests to the fact that the Holy See acted as a
sovereign even when it lacked control over any territory at all, as was the
case between 1879
Russia has recently become actively involved in the discussion
about moral values, which has become a thunderous issue in the West. We take the
more conservative side. Russia has little enthusiasm for the lack of “spiritual
discipline” in modern Europe. Many euro skeptics and conservatives in contemporary
Europe look to Moscow as a force that defends both the sovereignty of nation
states and traditional values.
Putin and Pope: 'Angels of Peace' in the Vatican (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)
In the light of this ideological landscape it is only
logical to build bridges with the principal conservative force in Europe - the
that the Roman pontiff is prepared to contribute to the achievement of peace in
Ukraine in exchange for Russian help resolving the situation in the Middle
East, where radical Islamists are destroying not only their fellow Muslims, but
Christians as well.
There is a
well-known historical anecdote. Stalin is said to have inquired as to how many
divisions the pope had. The answer is less well known. The pope supposedly
said, “My division is in Heaven, my son.” Now, in this difficult time, this "division"
has become vitally important.
Note: The author is either making up the pope's reply or taking poetic licence.
Stalin's question, "The Pope? How many divisions
has he got?" is a quote from The
Second World War by Winston Churchill (1948). According to Churchill, the
question was asked in sarcasm of French politician Pierre Laval, who had sought
Stalin's help influencing Russian Catholics to bring the pope to counter the rising
threat of Nazism.]
The pope's influence
should not be underestimated. The Catholic Church has been traditionally influential
in Poland, where conservative Law and Justice Party leader AndrzejDuda has just defeated President BronislawKomorowski of the Civic Platform. If Law and Justice manages to repeat this success in the upcoming parliamentary
elections, then power will be handed to the conservatives, for whom the phrase
"Holy See" is no empty phrase.
public has already taken note of the fact that the government in Kiev has
lionized members of the Ukrainian Insurgent
Army [UIA] which was responsible for the genocide
of Poles during WWII. BronislawKomorovski,
the outgoing president, tried hard to pretend this wasn't a problem. When he
visited the Ukrainian capital, the VerkhovnaRada [Parliament] passed a law recognizing UIA members as champions of the struggle for independence. Komorowski thought Russophobia would
cloud the memory of Poles. It didn't – and Komorowski's
fawning over the Kiev government cost him the presidency. This indicates the
Vatican will be able to facilitate a dialogue between Poland and Russia, whose
relations significantly worsened because of the Ukraine crisis.
It so happens
that the main proponents of easing the Western position toward Russia are
Catholic countries: Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Of course,
their actions are dictated by economic considerations, but one mustn't lose
sight of the ideological and religious factor. If papal mediation is able to
mitigate Russian-Polish relations, then European Catholics might become, of not
allies, then at least interlocutors with Moscow. Given the current tense
situation, with the United States and Britain trying to draw Europe into wider
conflict with Russia out of which they stand to benefit, having the pope on our
side would count for a lot.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
The pope is
the ex-officio leading conservative of modern Europe. The Roman Catholic Church
continues to hold great influence over the hearts and minds of people around
the world. That is why dialogue with him should not be underestimated. The fact
that the Holy See was not afraid to go against the opinion of the G7 is directly
parallel to events in recent centuries when it wasn't afraid to confront the kings
and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. This reflects the fact that even in the
current critical situation there are powerful forces in the West prepared to enter
"talks of peace" with Moscow.
As the star
of the self-styled "Caliphate" rises in the Middle East, it's worth
remembering that we are united through belonging to the Christian tradition. This
is something the pope remembers.