Dangerous yet vital relations

Pope Francis is increasingly determined to promote harmony among churches through dialogue with Moscow, but he can’t forget Middle Eastern counterparts.

The pontificate of a ‘nonaligned’ pope is perhaps the best way to describe the political and ecclesiastical vision of Pope Francis (Jorge Mario Bergoglio). During the second half of the 20th century, non-aligned countries endeavoured to create a space for themselves between Russia and the United States, the two great powers of the East and West, and Bergoglio seems to be adopting a similar stance. Nowadays, there is the added factor of globalization, which has finally come of age. And at a distance of 25 years from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the old superpowers have changed considerably as have their outlooks, and new subjects on various continents are now emerging.

As time passes, the decision by the cardinals at the conclave in March 2013 to elect a non-European pope, or rather, a head of the Roman Catholic Church who originates from the Southern Hemisphere, appears to have been a defining moment that is beginning to outline a new global status for Catholicism.

On a political and diplomatic level (and not without consequences for the teachings and evangelisation promoted by the church), the new approach indicates a break with the Atlantic axis to which the Holy See traditionally belonged and culminated in John Paul II’s commitment to tearing down the Iron Curtain. Nevertheless, that same pope later came to question the Church’s ‘natural’ participation in the destiny of the West, openly opposing the US-led coalition's invasion of Iraq in 2003 and beginning a longterm repositioning of the church within a more complex global scenario. At that time, France, Russia, the UN and the Arab League all recognised the Catholic Church as being capable of uniting a multitude of extremely different forces.

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