Iran diplomats plan to bring Pope Benedict into the fray to dial down the tensions between Iran and the US. A very clever, astute and telling move, in my opinion, should they go through with it.
The government of Iran is preparing to ask for Vatican mediation to stave off a possible crisis in relations with the United States, Time magazine reports. According to Time, Iranian diplomats are ready to ask the Holy See to serve as intermediary in talks if relations with the US– already tense– escalate further toward a possible military conflict. The Time report does not say whether or not the Vatican has indicated a willingness to act as a mediator. But Pope Benedict– like his predecessor Pope John Paul II — has consistently raised his voice in opposition to military confrontations. In May the Holy Father received Iran’s former president, Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, in an unusual private audience. (The meeting was unusual in that Khatami, who remains highly influential although he no longer holds a top government post, was accorded the diplomatic courtesies ordinarily reserved for major political leader.) After that meeting the Vatican issued a statement saying that the two had discussed their shared commitment to “overcoming the severe tensions that mark our time.”
Clever because it’s totally unexpected.
Astute for several reasons. As everybody knows, the United States is a “Christian” nation. Therefore, we can presume that US goals will align with the Vatican on many important issues. But here come the Iranians, apparently having nurtured an independent relationship with the Vatican, surprising us no end, appealing to the Pope to prevent an unjust war. What’s the Pope going to do? Say no? He must help if asked. I don’t know what possible grounds he could find to reject this appeal for help. To shirk this responsibility would be beyond scandalous, making a complete mockery of the Catholic Church.
This could be very telling. Conservatives, especially the Catholic variety, gloated when Benedict became Pope because he’s one of them. They were happy he had been given this supreme moral authority to tell people what’s right and wrong. So how are they going to like it if he tries to prevent a war with Iran, which is the only possible moral thing he could do if asked to intercede. I don’t think the Conservatives will like it very much at all, but it will be awfully hard to make lemonade out of them lemons. How very clever for Iran to ask the Pope to walk the walk of the Catholic faith, to defend the culture of life in all it’s fullness, even at the expense of the neocon’s political goals. We’ll see how much Conservatives like the Pope’s moral authority when it’s pushing against them.
Also, if this comes to pass, and I certainly hope it does, what does it say about the Pope’s relationship with George Bush? I think it would be perceived as quite the snub for Pope Benedict to go to bat for Iran, Bush’s mortal enemy du jour. I’d love to hear Bush explain why the Pope is wrong to oppose war. That should touch off some good examples of semantic aphasia.
Like I said, a masterful move by the Iranians, should they make it.