Saturday, December 27, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, December 27

Religion and Geopolitics this week includes:

Catholics must wake up in formulating who are our allies and who are our enemies in the Mideast. Catholic World Report explains Syria in a way the generally Republican-leaning neoconservatives are missing. We must get Assad and Christian protection right.

In a stunning rebuke of clerical corruption, Pope Francis listed the 15 sins of the Curia in his Christmas address to the deeply corrupted governing body of the institutional Church. His devastating unexpected speech was mindful of the rebuke of the cowardly priest Don Abbondio by the holy reforming cardinal, Federigo Borromeo, in one of the Pope's favorite novels -- The Betrothed. The initial actions the Pope has taken against "the double lives" of so many high Vatican officials has been cast as a purging of traditionalists because one of the first personalities he deposed was Cardinal Raymond Burke. But the duplicity and self-aggrandizement that the Pope is aiming at comes in the silky lace of the Tridentine as well as the sophisticated high life of "progressives." None of us have ever seen such a rebuke from cleric to cleric since Jesus washed out Judas from the apostles at the Last Supper. May other bishops in their own dioceses begin the purification of the clergy so necessary for the Church to carry out her mission to the world. What the Pope has started with these words is just a beginning but this is why Pope Benedict resigned and another has filled his office.

Pope Francis and the Vatican played an important intermediary role but President Obama can take well deserved credit in the opening of relations between Cuba and the USA. This does not discredit the previous policy as much as recognize we are in a new era, and the categories of the Cold War must no longer straitjacket relations between the nations of North and South America and the Caribbean. This tremendous opportunity will be squandered if American Christians cast this as "an opportunity for free markets." This is really an opportunity to put away the communism vs capitalism paradigm, and work to restore Cuba, the United States, and other southern Catholic nations to a deeper understanding of the spiritual and communal nature of all nations and the possibility for a Christian fraternity of nations throughout the Americas.

In India the question of conversions -- forced and otherwise -- is a fundamental cultural and political dilemma. While the firestorm in the Indian parliament this month was against the "coming home" conversions of Muslims to Hinduism, the real target of many Hindu nationalists is to stop conversions of Hindus to Christianity or Islam. They are daring the critics of the latest mass conversion ceremony to make a law against conversions. This would not be good Muslim or Christian policy.

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