Couldn’t one say the same about everything the Pope says and does? In the news we learn that Pope Francis Takes 12 Refugees Back to Vatican After Trip to Greece. Twelve Syrian Muslim refugees, three families with six children, all back to Rome with him on the Papal plane. The Vatican, the Pope said, would care for the three families. The Pope wanted to bring the world’s attention to the “grave humanitarian crisis” and plead himself for a resolution.
This Pope is called the “People’s Pope,” as opposed to his predecessor, Benedict XVI, the German Pope whose very distance from the people is probably what most of all brought about his early retirement.
But is that the very best the Pope could do? Give another life to three Syrian refugee families in Vatican land? Why anyone could have done that. I could have done it, although not in Vatican land but in Tampa, Florida where I live, but my gesture, not backed up by the Vatican’s wealth, would have been an even emptier gesture than the Pope’s.
Isn’t the Pope a powerful man, the leader of some 2 billion members of the Catholic Church? Couldn’t he have asked that his flock follow his lead. And in fact, did anyone follow? Countries , individuals, NGOs already there on the ground, not to mention the wealthy multinational corporations, those that Bernie Sanders tells us are exploiting the wealth of the world for their own ends and purposes, did anyone at all step up to the plate? as a follow-up to the Pope’s trip to Lesbos?
As far as I know no one did. The developed world could have taken in hundreds of thousands of the refugées and paid for it in any number of ways, say by just stopping all of their futile hot war activities for a week or two. The world is rich, the refugées need the world’s help, and the best the world can do is to send the Pope? “Send” because isn’t the Pope only doing what he thinks the world expects of him? Without being assured of the favorable publicity would he have even gone to Lesbos, or on past occasions South America, or Africa, these trips also being at the time empty gestures by the church’s leader, in particular the head of the church of Christ, whose single most important message has to be extending a helping hand to those in need.
So the Pope’s going to Lesbos, and even flying back to the Vatican with the three families, was all an empty gesture? What might the Pope have done instead? Well, for one, organize an air lift. I’m sure the Vatican is rich enough to do that.That would have certainly changed people’s minds as well as their hearts, and perhaps even slowed the decline and deterioration in relevance of the Catholic Church. And the Pope could have done this without putting himself or his reputation at any risk.
But there are any number of things he could have done. By his words, and actions, strengthen the position of Angela Merkel who is in a political life and death struggle in her own country while trying to do the “christian thing” herself, and provide refuge for not just three families but for one million or more refugees, that making what, 300,000 families, and at least as many children? Are the Pope’s means to make a real difference in this situation any less than those of the German Chancellor?
Sure there might have been any number of things, other than his empty gesture. The Vatican is the sole owner of over 100 acres of prime real estate in the heart of Rome, and therefore Europe. And I assume that within the Vatican there are an endless number of priceless treasures, and probably even more wealth in offshore (not in the Vatican) bank accounts.
For there is no lack of means to help the situation on Lesbos and elsewhere. And the Pope must know that during the present situation Europe itself is struggling to remain Europe, and remain together while confronting the arrival on its shores of millions of refugees, from Syria, but also from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pope took three Syrian families onto his own plane. Is that really all, the very the best he could do?