- May 11, 2021
If you’d polled 100 Vatican officials and papal diplomats six months ago, probably 99 would have counseled against a papal trip to Iraq.
Pope Francis told Iraqi Christians that when they suffer discrimination, persecution or war, the Eight Beatitudes are addressed to them.
On Saturday Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced a day of tolerance and coexistence in honor of Pope Francis’s historic meeting with top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani earlier that morning.
Today’s tête-à-tête is the third encounter between Putin and Francis, and, in typical fashion, most global media outlets are giving it short shrift.
Here’s the irony of the present moment: One can assemble a powerful case that the Vatican under Pope Francis actually would stand a better chance of moving the needle with Iran than the U.S. if it wanted to mediate the current conflict.
Lebanon’s a small place, home to just over six million people, but it’s a living laboratory experiment for three of the world’s mega-challenges today: Pluralism, with perhaps the most resilient and certainly most nationally influential Christian population in the Middle East; Christian/Muslim relations, with the good, the bad, and even the surreal; and the refugee crisis, with more new arrivals per capita than any place on earth.
A suicide bomber targeted the deputy leader of Pakistan’s Senate, killing 25 people and wounding dozens more. The deputy survived the attack for which the Islamic State took responsibility. The assassination attempt took place in an area with minority Shiite Muslims.
When Pope Francis makes a brief stop in the small Caucasus nation of Azerbaijan on Sunday, he has a chance not simply to improve Catholic/Muslim relations generally but to exploit the possibility of a natural alliance with Shiite Muslims, the second largest branch of Islam.