| Every time I have seen a new pope
is elected, the Amen corner goes into full swing as if every Pope is
automatically the perfect choice. I can understand that. Catholics are
naturally excited to have a new leader with a bright future, and few are
willing to criticize a new religious leader despite knowing nothing about him.
Just the same, I am not going to criticize the new Pope, but I do have concerns
about the possible direction of the Catholic Church with Pope Francis at the
helm, and the future of the Church's relationship to Israel.
Both Israel's Prime Minister and President praised the new
Pope. President Peres said "The newly elected Pope represents devotion, the
love of God, the love of peace, a holy modesty and a new continent which is now
awakening. We need, more than ever, a spiritual leadership and not just a
political one. Where political leaders may divide, spiritual leaders may unite.
Unite around a vision, unite around values, unite around a faith that we can
make the world a better place to live. May the Lord Bless the new Pope."
The Chief Rabbinate of
Israel said "Over the past twelve years there has been a rich and fruitful
dialogue between the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel on primary
issues such as banning terrorism in God's Name, the sanctity of life, the
sanctity of the family unit, etc."
That of course
is what we should expect from diplomats and religious leaders, but the language
of hope for a brighter future left out concerns about the new Pope.
Schlussel pointed out that he was not successful as a Cardinal because of
the sharply increased number of lapsed Catholics in Argentina under his
Boycott Watch has other concerns.
While the Jesuit community celebrated one of their own becoming pope, I can't
help but remember that Georgetown University, a Jesuit school, hosted a
divest-from-Israel hate festival which I attended undercover. As I detail in my
book Boycotting Peace, Muslim
program presenters told the Jesuit campus students to lie to their own clergy
to bring Israel hate programs into churches, and even incited violence against
Jews in Israel. This all happened while a Georgetown University 'observer' sat
silently and watched without objection. Perhaps this is best explained by the
fact that Georgetown received millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia not only to
host the conference, but also a pro-Arab/anti-Israel Middle-East studies chair.
While I host a radio show on the campus station of
John Carroll University, also a Jesuit school, I recently had concerns when a
student showed me their last edition in December 2012 with an article titled
"The Truth about Palestine." Of course there has never been a nation by the
name of Palestine, but there is a campaign to make people think there was such
an Arab state despite the fact the name is neither Arabic nor is there even a
letter 'P' sound in Arabic. A Carroll News spokesperson said the article was
proper because 'my professor said the media is biased and Israel only gets good
reports' which is blatantly false. After considerable pressure from a Jewish
John Carroll student, the Carroll News posted a counter story titled 'A
" for which the article title was clearly not evenly
The fact is while as a Cardinal in
Argentina, Pope Francis stood with the Jewish community against terrorism. He
is reported to have had close relations with the Jewish community there which
is unabashedly pro-Israel. This makes me think Pope Francis is pro-Israel. More
so, there are reports that for this very reason, the Jesuit leadership has been
unhappy with Pope Francis when he was a Cardinal, setting up a clash among the
Jesuits who take an oath of loyalty directly to the pope and not the Bishops or
Still, we do not have a clear idea if
the Jesuits will follow Pope Francis, or if the pope will look the other way at
the Arab boycott of Israel stance of his fellow Jesuits at places like
Georgetown University. Will Pope Francis demand a stop to such activity, or
will he just be silent for convenience? Even if Pope Francis issues a
pro-Israel directive, will the Jesuits follow it? I expect to see conflict
within the church for months to come.
relations with the Vatican, Israel's President Peres said, "The relations
between the Vatican and the Jewish people are now at their best in the last
2000 years and I hope they will grow in content and depths." I too "hope they
will grow" as President Peres said, Still, I can't help but notice President
Peres did not just say "will grow." Israel's relationship to the Vatican is not
in the hands of Pope Francis or anyone in Israel - it is in the hands of the
Jesuit communities which may undermine their own pope.