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Ear to the Ground

A Papal Primer on Global Diplomacy

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Posted on Apr 18, 2008
Pope Benedict XVI
AP photo / Jeff Zelevansky, pool

From Vatican to U.N.: Pope Benedict XVI greets well-wishers at the United Nations headquarters in New York City on Friday.

Pope Benedict XVI’s latest major stop on his U.S. tour took him to the United Nations, where he held forth about the need to prioritize human rights for all and pointed out how the majority of power to impact global events still remains in the hands of very few key players.

AP via

While he didn’t identify the countries that have a stranglehold on global power, the German pope—just the third pontiff to address the U.N. General Assembly—addressed long-standing Vatican concerns about the struggle to achieve world peace and the development of the poorest regions.

On the one hand, he said, collective action by the international community is needed to solve the planet’s greatest challenges.

On the other, “we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few.”

The pope made no mention of the United States in his speech, though the Vatican did not support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which occurred despite the Bush administration’s failure to gain Security Council approval for it. At other moments on his trip, Benedict has been overtly critical of the U.S., noting how opportunity and hope have not always been available to minorities.

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Blackspeare's avatar

By Blackspeare, April 21, 2008 at 7:20 am Link to this comment

I have a problem with the current Pope who probably, in most regards, means well.  Everything he says in public he reads either from a script or notes.  You would think that someone with so much experience and education could speak extemporaneously on a subject that is supposedly so near and dear to him.  When someone reads form a prepared script it means that the speech has been word-smithed to the nth degree so you never really know the true feelings of the individual.

The only time the Pope didn’t use notes was during the Mass which by now he would have well committed to memory.

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By Fadel Abdallah, April 20, 2008 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

Dear Cyrena,

Thank you for your partial agreement, partial disagreement with me on the issue of the Pope. I always enjoy the caliber of your intellectualism and common sense. You always write with a touch of class.

I mostly appreciate your depth in trying to see some positive signs in the Pope’s words, and you do that despite of the fact that you’re a declared atheist who normally doesn’t trust people of religion. This is again speaks for your open mind and intellectualism.

As to the late Pope John Paul I did love him and appreciated his courage, common sense and liberalism. In fact, he was one of my modern times heroes. As to the current Pope, he still has to do much more for him to earn my respect or love, or either.

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By cyrena, April 20, 2008 at 6:20 am Link to this comment

Dear Fadel,

I have to agree with you that the Pope is guilty by silence, and I have NOT forgotten that infamous lecture that he delivered, claiming that Islam is inherently violent. It was unconscionable, and there can be no excuse.

What I CAN appreciate from his appearance at the UN, is this very limited acknowledgment from him..

“...On the other, “we experience the obvious paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few.”

and this as it has been interpreted by the author

“...At other moments on his trip, Benedict has been overtly critical of the U.S., noting how opportunity and hope have not always been available to minorities…”

So, beyond the lecture that included unforgivable comments regarding Islam, I don’t honestly believe that he is so much ‘in cahoots’ with the Bush dynasty. Although…who knows. They Bush Dynasty had it’s own hand in both involvement and support of the Nazi organization at the height of it’s brutality. Whether or not the Pope is aware of that is something I wouldn’t know. I actually liked the previous Pope John Paul, and I never liked Benedict from day one. (There were better choices, which is why I have no patience with the hypocritical politics of the Vatican). They refuse to update the ideology of this religion, and acknowledge the sins of it’s past.

Be that as it may, in limited terms of the inbalance of geopolitical powers that are so responsible for so much of the misery and suffering in the world, I can appreciate that he has been critical of the power that is MOST responsible for this, which IS the US, and particulary in the administrations since Carter’s.

Aside from the Carter Administration, the US has been at the forefront of every single global injustice committed against human rights.

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By Fadel Abdallah, April 19, 2008 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

For the Pope to be in the United Nation and ignore the big elephant in the room, namely the criminal and evil Iraqi war, makes him as guilty as those who started this war based on lies and mass weapons of deception. An Arabic maxim speaks to this by saying, “He who keeps silent from saying the truth is indeed a mute devil.”

Yes indeed, the Pope is guilty by silence, though it’s formally reported that the Vatican did not openly support the Iraqi war. It’s obvious from the warm relationship between warmonger Bush and this Pope that these two guys are ideologically connected as to their thinking about a new modern “crusade” against Islam. For a while, almost a year ago, he could not mask his feelings against Islam, when he delivered his infamous lecture in which he said that Islam is inherently violent, forgetting all the while the Inquisition against Muslims and Jews in Spain. An atrocity that rivals the Nazi Holocaust.

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By THE MANGEMEISTER, April 19, 2008 at 8:07 pm Link to this comment

Just another religious clown who use a lot of words to say nothing.

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By billythedik, April 19, 2008 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pray, false prophet, that there is no hell.

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By cyrena, April 19, 2008 at 2:32 pm Link to this comment

Well, in the limited sense of what Pope Benedict is saying here, I actually do agree with him wholeheartedly.

It’s true that the imbalance in the geopolitical structure has caused the crash that has destroyed humanity, and human rights SHOULD be the highest priority.

He just didn’t go far enough. If he was going to acknowledge that this power is in the hands of a few, which it is, he should have called them out by name, beginning with the biggest culprit of all, being the United States.

The international community (including the UN) can never do it’s job in protecting the human rights and dignities of all peoples, if the entire entity has been hijacked/co-opted by the ones with the most power. That would be the West, but the US specfically. In short, the ones with the most military might.

So, he should have just said that. Bishop Desmond Tutu would have, (and has) and Gandhi did, and so did Martin Luther King, Jr. So, whenever the Pope gets enough gumption to start calling them out by name, maybe more will pay attention.

Meantime, the abuse that has rocked the Catholic Church for nearly 4 decades makes it more than a bit difficult for the Pope to be calling any moral shots about much.

ALTHOUGH…it should be noted that this abuse was limited to the US and a very few South American locations. It was never an atrocity that affected the entire global operation of the Catholic Church. That TOO should be a ‘clue’.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, April 19, 2008 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment


You make one “pronouncement/denouncement” after the other… and what happens? NOTHING!
But you just keep on doing it.
And, by the MILLIONS, the “sheeple” line up to kiss your *ss, or ring, or whatever, and tell you how wonderful you are.

If there’s any INTELLIGENT life watching us from “out there” they must be bent double in laughter at the ongoing idiocy of the human races.

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By dick, April 19, 2008 at 9:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

All Popes, present and past, pray ceaselessly to their god, but he pays no attention to them. Very strange? I don’t think so. Their god is one of the 2500 thus far identified, and happens to be one without any of the human senses.

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By bozhidar bob balkas, April 19, 2008 at 7:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hell’s been around for so long, it has cooled down sufficiently to suit everyone.
Thus, when i get there in a few months (i’m 96), i’ll meet many of my planetarians: genghis, truman, hitler, sharon, peres, et al.
After giving people good news i like to reward them by even better news: When two kids do two ‘wrongs’, a butiful baby might come out.
Another good news is the fact that our beloved nature makes out of feces nutrients for our fruit trees and plants.
If this didn’t cheer u up, then don’t blame me. Remember dear earthlings (there’s no more nationalism; actually we’ve never had it) that even a bad joke is better than no joke. thank u. Oh,i forgot, i have finished last in my class; the crooks never got to me.

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By TDoff, April 19, 2008 at 3:55 am Link to this comment

Fortunately, the pope is no longer one of the ‘very few’ who have major influence upon the global events affecting humanity, or at least his influence is fading quickly, due to the absurd policies and practices of his ‘church’.
Popes have been blindly accepted as ‘moral authorities’ for centuries, and that acceptance and adherence to their beliefs is responsible for many of the negative aspects of the human condition and environment in which we now find ourselves.
As soon as the popes fade into the oblivion they so richly deserve, we will all be better off, so long as people do not replace their inanities with identical foolishness under a different name and flag, which seems to be occurring.
If we would learn to be rationally just and fair, so that all people would have opportunities to explore and practice their gifts, their intelligence, their humanity, there would be no need, and no acceptance, of the charlatans who seek to dominate others under the guise of ‘religion’.

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By Patrick Lovell, April 18, 2008 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I cannot help but note that in the Pope’s over-reported visit to the US that he has shown himself to be what I have always thought him and the Catholic Church to be. The word hypocrite comes to mind first. It is reported here that the Pope has been; ”. . .noting how opportunity and hope have not always been available to minorities.” He should know. Not only does he and his church believe that Gays should not be given the full measure of human rights that every one else should have, it follows that they should not have the same opportunities either. As for hope? not a chance at while he is the Pope. The sooner he goes back to Rome then to his maker the better as far as I am concerned.

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By Douglas Chalmers, April 18, 2008 at 8:44 pm Link to this comment

There goeth the religious arm of the NEOCONS!!!

Spirituality is absent in such a world….......

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