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Pope Francis Needs to Condemn US Warmongering by Finian Cunningham

Pope Francecso I

Image by JeffyBruno via Flickr

by Finian Cunningham
Writer, Dandelion Salad
East Africa
Crossposted from PressTV
January 3, 2014

In his annual New Year’s address, Catholic Pope Francis sounded particularly vexed when he urged an end to wars and conflict.

“What on Earth is happening in the hearts of men? What on Earth is happening in the heart of humanity?” the pontiff decried to tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square, Rome, earlier this week.

“It’s time to stop!” he added in anguished tone and urged the world to “listen to the cry for peace”.

The Pope’s anti-war sentiment and desire for peace is laudable. But he needs to do more than merely issue vague exhortations.

As the figurehead of some one billion Catholics around the world, Pope Francis needs to show real leadership by specifying the cause and source of much of the violence raging in today’s world.

The Argentine-born pontiff, who was elected to the papacy in March last year, has garnered a reputation for humility and being “a man of the people”. Apparently, he has eschewed living in the plush Apostolic Palace, choosing a simple abode instead. Time magazine voted him “Person of the Year”.

He has previously come out criticizing the excesses of capitalism, and the chasm between a global rich elite and the growing masses of poor. But when those comments caused some media controversy, the Pope back-pedaled and declared: “I am not a Marxist”. The latter comment can be seen as the pontiff indicating that he is not fundamentally opposed to capitalism.

This compromising ambiguity was on display again this week in Pope Francis’ call for “an end to wars”.

Reuters reported:

“Pope Francis delivered an impassioned New Year’s peace address on Wednesday, saying the heart of humanity seemed to have gone astray and too many people were still indifferent to war, violence and injustice.”

Perhaps the Pope is spending too much time in solitude – because his assessment of humanity seems way off the mark. For the heart of humanity has certainly not gone astray, and rather than being indifferent to war, violence and injustice, too many people across the globe are increasingly sick and tired of war.

Poll after poll in the US, Europe and elsewhere around the world shows that ordinary citizens are fervently against incitement of further wars. For example, when US President Barack Obama was planning to launch all-out air strikes on Syria last September, the American and European public mobilized swiftly and decisively to face down any attempt by Washington to escalate violence in the Middle East region.

Similarly, polls in the US have consistently shown the American public to be opposed to their government’s belligerence towards Iran – a factor that has undoubtedly led to the White House adopting relatively more reasonable diplomacy in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.

And it’s not just that world public opinion is ardently against war. The world’s people also know where much of this systematic violence is coming from – the United States of America.

This week a worldwide poll conducted by Win/Gallup reported that most people surveyed from 65 countries view the US to be the biggest threat to international peace.

It’s not just Washington of course. The US plutocracy is but the head of a cabal of Western imperialist powers and their regional proxies, such as the Zionist Israeli regime and despotic Saudi Arabia.

Together, this US-led Axis of Evil is the main wellspring of war in the world. These are the names that the Pope needs to mention, and the system that he needs to specify is imperialism in the service of global capitalism.

A brief review of world violence and potential for war over the past year – which apparently has so vexed the Pope – shows the ubiquitous hand of American-led imperialism.

In Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, hundreds of people were massacred in US-led drone and air strikes. This White House sanctioned slaughter has become an endemic perennial war crime.

In Syria and Iraq, thousands of innocents were slaughtered by extremist mercenaries under the guise of al-Qaeda, created and sponsored by Western military intelligence. The lead role adopted recently by Saudi Arabia in fuelling these death squads does not in any way absolve the US and its British and French allies from complicity. These extremist brigades were created by the West going back to late 1970s and supported until the present day – despite Western media obfuscation.

This Western state-sponsored terrorism operating for the objective of regime change in Syria – where some 130,000 have been killed in the past three years – is in the service of Western-based capital and its geopolitics. It has its antecedent in the US-led Iraq War beginning in 2003 – where more than one million were killed – and in the more recent disastrous NATO toppling of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Western imperialism can also be identified in the rising warmongering tensions between the US and Russia, and between the US and China. The relentless expansion of US nuclear missiles on the borders of Russia and the gratuitous provocations towards Beijing over its natural territorial claims are testament to the lust for war inherent in American-led imperialism.

In Africa, violence continues to plague Somalia because of US-led predation in that country which has resulted in a fractious failed state. South Sudan has become beset with tribal strife and civil war largely because its unstable creation in July 2011 was at the behest of Western imperialist meddling.

Killing and a humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic have also increased in recent weeks. That crisis was precipitated by French military invasion of that country last month – under the pretext of humanitarian relief – and with the full support of Washington and other European powers.

This French-subcontracted Western imperialism in Africa with a view to stymieing China’s legitimate commercial gains on the continent is destabilizing several other countries and creating the conditions for a new bloody Scramble for Africa.

In light of all this Western-instigated and fuelled conflict and suffering around the world, Pope Francis’ vague call for peace seems more like a white wash of the culprits.

His call for peace would be more relevant and effective if he condemned specifically and categorically the source of world conflict and war – US-led imperialism. The attribution of this source is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of provable cause and effect.

For the Pope to merely lament “humanity’s indifference and heart going astray” is meaningless to the problem of conflict facing humanity and how it might be challenged. To remedy a disease effectively, one has to diagnose the disease, accurately and precisely. In that context, the Pope’s anti-war ambiguity is only part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Finally, it should be noted that the Pope’s native continent of South America has in the past year, as in other recent years, enjoyed relative peace and cordial relations between neighboring countries. A major reason for this welcome development in international relations is because South American nations have shown admirable solidarity in quarantining the disease of US imperialism from that continent, thanks in large part to the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

Pope Francis should take note of that glaring beneficial result, draw the appropriate conclusion and speak out. Maybe he should read up more on imperialism. Then he might be able to call for world peace with more clarity and credibility.

In doing so, however, Time Magazine would probably revoke his “Person of the Year Award”. But, at least, the Pope would show himself to speak the truth and to be a real man of the people.

Finian Cunningham, is a columnist at Press TV and a Writer on Dandelion Salad. He can be reached at cunninghamfinian@gmail.com.


Pope Francis Labels Capitalism “New Tyranny”, But Is It More Than Rhetoric?

Noam Chomsky: The Gospels Are Radical Pacifist Documents

Progressives Who Become More Progressive After Their Conversion to Christ by Rocket Kirchner

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16 Responses

  1. CONCLUSION : Finian Cunningham has written an inaccurate and irresponsible article on a noble man . If he had written one on Mandela, Tutu, Nader, Chomsky, Hedges, and other Truth warriors i would respond the same way . In the light of my corrections concerning this Pope’s stellar track record , and Finian’s clear cut refusal to retract this article , it is crystal clear that he has joined the far right’s attack on Pope Francis .

    1. ”Vague exhortations ”. correction –this Pope is never vague , and has not been about war and peace issues.

    2. ”Pope Francis needs to show real leadership by specifying the cause and effect of much of the violence raging in the world ”. Correction : This Pope from day one has talked DAILY about poverty and destitution that kills the dignity of humans and causes war. Hence his name –Francis …as in st. francis .

    3. ”Maybe he should read more on Imperialism ”. Correction : He has the highest training in the education in the world on the subject as a Jesuit . this education is called ”Ratio Studiorum ”. He knows more about Imperialism than Finian will ever understand. That is why this Pope hammers away at issues o poverty .

    4. ”The Pope should speak the truth ”. Correction : what do you think he is doing Finian ….Lying ? read his encyclicals and his sermons and his daily comments o the media . Read them all .

    5.” The Pope spends too much time in solitude” . Correction : he spends days with the people , and nights sneaking out of his flat in Rome to hang out and feed the homeless , who he invited to his birthday party . He has also organized Christians and Muslims together to stop the sex slave trade , raise the min wage , and other social justice issues . besides he visits prisons and washes the prisoners feet.

    6. ”The Pope’s vague peace a white wash of the culprits ” Correction : this is a lie , and is pure ad hominum . he is not whitewashing any culprits . …he is exposing them , including the Mafia Dons and their blood money . Telling them to ”Repent of their blood money and violence or they will go to hell ”. That is no white wash . that is Jeremiah and John the Baptist speaking truth to power.

    7. ”The Pope indictating that he is not fundamentally opposed to capitalism ”. Correction : just becuase he is not a Marxist does not mean he is a Capitalist. He was clarifying in that in an interview the difference between the Liberation Theology of the Christian/Marxist matrix verses the liberation theology of st Francis and volunteerism . but by the same token he has made it clear that as the Pope points out , that if markets overstep their bounds , it is a government duty to reign them in .

  2. Yes. Yes. Yes.

  3. First off – a Pope is always Catholic, so no need to say the Catholic Pope. Even Rome wasn’t built in one day, so give the man a chance to reach his goals. We should not forget that he is in charge of the Catholic Church and not of world governments. He would not be the first Pope to be assassinated for meddling…surely we would not want this to happen, or? Patience!

  4. Finian , have you read his 2 encyclicals ? have you read all the interviews he has done on the subject ? he is not operating in the abstract . not at all . naysaying such a gift as Pope Fancis to the world is counterproductive . after years and years of bad Popes , we finally end up with a radical ‘s radical and you are complaining . what gives pal ?

    • Hi Rocket, sorry for delayed reply. No, I haven’t read all those items you cite pertaining to Pope Francis’s views. But from what I have read, I am disappointed that the man does not clearly and unequivocally condemn, repudiate the systematic root of all modern wars, conflict and poverty – the capitalist system. I haven’t seen him rhetorically enter the temple and trash the money changers. That’s what he needs to do, in my view, if he really is serious about challenging the system. I hope I am proved wrong. In critical solidarity.

      • Finian , he is doing it ! welcome to the revolution pal . His message is relentless against destitution and poverty . He lives it too , going out at night in slums . his Birthday party , he invited homeless people . He ired the Bishop in Germany over a shady money deal . Pope Francis is cleaning house big time .

        that is why i was so surprised at your article . we live in a new Era under his Papacy , and its about time .

  5. Mr. Cunningham, Your style is to call a spade a spade and this is wonderfully refreshing and respected in our overwhelmingly corrupt world deprived of human dignity for the majority and indifferent to God.

    Pope Francis, on the other hand, has a quite different source for his statements, his actions and his beliefs.

  6. I agree with Finian’s reading here. Mere words are nothing more than propagandist rhetoric in the face of growing exponential atrocity. Wishful thinking just doesn’t convince. Real change is happening already, it is not being led by this church, only vaguely mimicked.

    Moral leadership demands real action, not posturing and apologetics.

    Let’s see some results.

    It’s extremely improbable anything “up there” will change, because any pope (even Malachy’s last Roman) knows which side his holy bread is buttered on. The establishment is reactionary and deeply conservative, because they “own it,” & you don’t surrender privilege and luxury that easily without a “fight.”

    No, the answer is not from on high, it is from “below.” Take Prince Charles as a classic example. Here is a royal who has introduced some commendable social innovations through his Trust and has been very outspoken about organics & conservation ~ but he is still constrained by the corrupt structures that demand absolute conformity to the exigencies of power and wealth. He must perpetuate “tradition” at all costs, otherwise he will be ridiculed and rendered impotent.

    Institutionalized Roman mysticism is no different, indeed it is the bed-rock of hypocrisy. Its architecture of control is rooted in the secure patronage of the power elites, whether it is amplified by the egregious bleating of the “United Nations” executive or under-written by the piratical cynicism of the Seven (plus 1) Sisters.

    It serves its pious purpose ~ to sanction the atrocities of the strutting parasites, the unholy landlords, flashy war-lords and stylish spivs ~ no matter what it’s “official” purported laments may be.


    • i have to chuckle at this artiticle dave. Finian states that the pope should read more on imperialism . he is a Jesuit for crying out loud !

      i am surprised that you are still holding out on this Bishop of Rome . i volunteeed at an emergency shelter here for the month of dec , and most of my fellow volunteers were big time unbelievers , and they are praising this Pope . one of them used to work for the BBC for 3 years and is a born and bred Londen man who now is on our city council . He is an atheist , and loves this pope .

      get on the ball old buddy …Francis is just getting warmed up ! you are witnessing history in the making to which even you will sit up and marvel . wait until he comes to the States !

      • Buenos dias amigo ~ hola, mi camarada!

        I was wondering what took you so long…like I say, we’ll have to see the results as & when they start shaping up…so never say never.

        I heard the talk about decentralization, & that sounds alright to me. So I await further developments. I reckon there must be some pretty hostile elements circling around this Papa Vesuvius as it’s such an irreversible step, once he opens it all up ~ the real djinn & tonic will never be unmixed. Mind you, if he doesn’t do it, shit’ll happen anyway. Change is inevitable. It’s what the nature of that change is that counts.

        So, as Rome wasn’t built in a day it’s gonna take more than a few well chosen words to unbuild the empire. I’m just a reasonable skeptic, not cynical.

        We shall see. He’s got his work cut out, that’s for certain, so he’d better be a dab hand with that needle Cleo.

        The acid test will be his approach to women ~ ie gender & power, I reckon. Do we really believe the skyscraping Rockefeller junkies will heed this stuff, what are the odds?

        All I can say is I think you should go talk to this guy when he arrives. Actually, why not write to him?

        Maybe you could suggest a visit with Hugh Grant at Monsanto HQ together (…along with Billy you’ve got to be Kid-ding me Gates) ha ha ha

        Y’know what, that’s not a bad idea. What a theological discussion that could turn into…

        • dave , what Finian did not bring up in his article is that poverty and destitution are roots of war. it all comes down to a simple syllogism :

          1. Pope Francis is speaking out heavy against the class system and for the poor of the world ( preferential option for the poor ).
          2. the class distinctions and great divide between the rich and poor cause war .

          3. Therefore , Pope Francis is speaking out against war.

          Jesuit causitry at its best .

          • I agree about poverty, but why are people so impoverished? Who appropriated their rights to self-determination, to livelihood, to an indigenous culture?

            Only one thing missing ~ the inherent opportunism of power in framing the debate! Why not transgress these “received” boundaries completely, really open it up? Challenge the metaphysical pecking order? Is he actually doing this?

            It’ll take a mighty papal sledge-hammer to shatter the illusion of “perpetual priesthood”, and thus redefine the tectonic fault-lines.

            • David , ”Mighty papal sledge hammer” …i love the term ! i am ready for it . My syllogism holds true . Pope Francis is striking at the heart of the problem , which is to bring forth fruits of repentance by starting with first things first ….”preferential option for the poor ”, just as Jesus did when he appeared on the scene and announced that he was here to preach the good news to the poor . To quote Boff, ”the pyramid of the Church must be turned upside down , with the poor on the top ”. Boff was silenced for a year for that , now we have somebody at the top preaching it and living it and enforcing it !

              why are people impoverished ? many reasons . many people just fall thru the cracks . there are despots , bad rulers . greed . misappropriations of funds . etc. we can re-frame debates all day long David , but i prefer the mighty papal sledge hammer approach of what Pope Francis has down already by firing that Bishop in Germany for that shady big biz money deal. Francis just fired his ass ! slam poetry . BANG !

              also , Francis got rid of Bishop Burke here in he States and his stupid culture wars , as the Pope stated ”we are not about moralizing , but must be about mercy ”.

              Also , Francis has surrounded himself with 8 men who think like he does for serious clean up worldwide and starting with the Vatican itself . You are witnessing a revolution in its inception .

              and Finian has not yet responded to my disagreement with this article .

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