Monday, December 4, 2017 at 7:56 AM

Pope Francis Compounds Moral Cowardice with Contrived Apology to Rohingyas

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

There was considerable disagreement among the Catholic clergy and political commentariat about the wisdom of Francis dignifying Myanmar with a papal visit. But there was consensus that, if he did, he would face a categorical imperative to not only condemn this country’s genocidal sins but dare to speak the name of the victims of those sins: Rohingyas!

This is why it was so shocking to see this pope backslide on both counts. Most notably, he dodged the word Rohingya during his national sermon as artfully as former President Bill Clinton famously dodged the word sex during his criminal deposition.

But, in doing so, Francis impeached his moral authority. And it shall redound to his eternal disgrace that he did so merely to appease the genocidal sense and sensibility of Myanmar’s military regime.

Then came this belated, pathetic display of humble courage:

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness Friday from refugees in Bangladesh for all the hurt and persecution they have endured, demanded their rights be recognized and pronounced the word he had so assiduously avoided only days earlier in Myanmar: ‘Rohingya.’ …

He apologized for the ‘indifference of the world’ to their plight and then pronounced the name of their ethnic group to a gathering of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian leaders.

(Washington Post, December 1, 2017)

This, from the purported champion of the oppressed who himself had just consecrated that indifference. Frankly, this is even more egregious than Trump making a presidential visit to Russia and assiduously avoiding any word about its authoritarian regime undermining US elections and democratic institutions.

When he was elected, Francis seemed determined to emulate Jesus. He inspired faith that he would turn over the tables of dogma, decadence, and deceit that had been dogging the Catholic Church for decades. And, sure enough, he immediately pronounced lifestyle changes and began pastoral practices that augured well.

But I was soon despairing that his papacy was mostly about inspiring faith that he would do things he was showing very little evidence of doing. Here, for example, is what I wrote in “Cardinal Living Like Princes; the Pope Like a Pauper,” March 11, 2016.


I don’t mind admitting that Francis made a liar out of me when he chose to live in a modest communal apartment instead of the Apostolic Palace. I had declared this prospect impracticable, even absurd. But he clearly hoped cardinals and bishops would follow fashion. They have not.

In fact, it appears the pope is the only church leader living the humble life he decreed. Even worse:

Two controversial new books describe a Vatican awash with cash that is woefully mismanaged, where senior officials pour church funds into their already-lavish apartments, and where even the office that researches candidates for sainthood has had its bank accounts frozen out of concerns about financial impropriety.

(London Guardian, November 3, 2015)

Alas, leaders of the Catholic Church have no greater regard for the Code of Canon Law pertaining to poverty than they have for the one pertaining to celibacy. I commented on the pope himself lamenting the former in “Pope Francis Condemns the ‘Cult and Idolatry of Money,’” November 27, 2013, and the latter in “Pope Confesses: There’s a Gay Cabal in the Vatican,” July 13, 2013.

But don’t get me started on the indulgences church leaders grant priests who sexually abuse children. I commented on this betrayal of faith and trust in “Pope Accused of Harboring Pedophile Priests,” March 16, 2010.


Therefore, I am not surprised by the shameful way Francis cowered to the diabolical whims of Myanmar’s military junta.

Incidentally, it spoke volumes when a chorus of Nobel peace laureates and celebrities condemned Myanmar’s titular leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her indifference to the plight of the Rohingyas. This makes their failure to condemn Francis in similar fashion as confusing as it is cowardly.

Catholics believe their religion is predicated on moral absolutes. But, despite their dogma, Catholics – from pope to laity – have practiced a kind of moral relativism that has always made them seem more hypocritical than religious.

Related commentaries:
Princes and pauper
Sex abuse against pope adviser
Condemning Suu Kyi

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