Letter from Rome

Even with his pontificate on the ropes, the pope continues to challenge the church and the world
Letter from Rome

Pope Francis takes part in an audience with the Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See for the traditional exchange of New Year greetings in the Sala Regia at the Vatican on Jan. 7. (Photo by Ettore Ferrari /AFP)

In his annual address to more than 180 ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis on Jan. 7 warned world leaders against the "resurgence of nationalistic tendencies" that were based on getting "quick partisan consensus" rather than "the patient pursuit of the common good by providing long-term answers" to today's most vexing issues.

Instead, he called for a return to multinationalism rather than each country going it alone. If nations failed to pull together, he warned, humanity would again find itself on a course similar to that which led to the Second World War.

But just two days after Francis issued his manifesto on multinationalism, which included a call for the strengthening of the United Nations and the European Union, the interior minister and de facto leader of Italy's ruling coalition was in Warsaw to forge an anti-EU alliance with Poland. It was yet another sign that the pope's words continue to fall on deaf ears, even on the Italian peninsula that was once a cornerstone of the papacy's political and moral power.

Iacopo Scaramuzzi, an Italian journalist whose sharp analysis of the church and the Vatican often does not get the attention it deserves, wrote a brief article in Jesus Magazine just before both these events took place. It was titled "La voce di Bergoglio, profezia nel deserto" (The voice of Bergoglio, prophecy in the desert). He noted that, since Francis was elected in 2013, ultranationalist leaders have been elected in a number of countries (including Syria, Egypt, Argentina, the United States, Chile, Austria and Brazil) and have maintained power in places like Russia, Hungary and Turkey.


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