Action Alert!

Quick Hits: The Pope, the US, and Ukraine; background on Cardinal Pell’s case

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 06, 2019

Foreign Affairs carries an interesting analysis of Vatican foreign policy under Pope Francis, with a focus on the conflict in Ukraine. Victor Gaetan notes that the Ukrainian Catholic Church, led by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevcuk, has been extremely critical of Russian intervention, while the Vatican has maintained a studious neutrality.

The pope has rejected Shevchuk’s confrontational approach. When the archbishop described the conflict as a Russian “invasion,” Francis responded by condemning it as a “fratricidal war.” In February 2015, the pope politely told his Ukrainian bishops to stay out of politics, explaining that “the sense of justice and truth, before being political, is moral.”

Perhaps this will remind you—as it reminds me—of the Vatican’s stance regarding the Maduro government in Venezuela. The bishops of that country have condemned the regime for it suppression of democratic votes, its corruption, and its violence against its own people. The Vatican has carefully avoided taking sides, merely encouraging the government and the opposition to resolve their differences. The Pope’s preference of decentralized decision-making in the Church evidently does not extend to political issues; he has not followed the guidance of the bishops closest to these conflicts.

The Foreign Affairs piece makes a broader point about papal foreign policy:

For Francis, all conflict can be traced to interests, whether military, economic, or those related to national pride. But he is no more suspicious of Russian imperialism than of what he sees as U.S. imperialism—both Moscow and Washington, in his view, are equally self-interested and destructive. He therefore refuses to prioritize one group of Christians over another.

If you’d like to know more about the conviction of Cardinal Pell—more than the quick rundown I supplied last week—Paul Collits lays out the details, writing in the Australian journal Quadrant.

I hadn’t noticed, for example, that the cardinal’s only accuser waited to make his complaint until after the death of another boy who, according to the accuser, was also victimized by the cardinal. This 2nd alleged victim had denied that any such incident took place. He could have been a knockout witness for the defense: an eyewitness who saw nothing. And that’s just one of the many details in the Quadrant article.

Collits, the author of this exhaustive analysis, shows how the campaign against Cardinal Pell was mounted by a group of public figures—politicians, journalists, and prosecutors—who worked closely together to fan the flames of resentment against the cardinal. At several stages in the process, the timing of events was suggestive of a coordinated effort.

Collits confines his scope to Australia, but watching from the other side of the world, I can’t help remarking (not for the first time) that the campaign against Cardinal Pell escalated quickly when he, as head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, began poking into the questionable financial transactions involving powerful interests in Rome and abroad.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: philtech2465 - Sep. 07, 2019 2:22 PM ET USA

    "Collits confines his scope to Australia, but watching from the other side of the world, I can’t help remarking (not for the first time) that the campaign against Cardinal Pell escalated quickly when he, in head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, began poking into the questionable financial transactions involving powerful interests in Rome and abroad." I couldn't help noticing that either. Coincidence? I think not.