If Francis wants to mediate US/Iran, his best odds may be with Tehran

Crux | 5/23/2019 | Staff
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ROME - News headlines of late have been dominated by rumblings between the United States and Iran, capped by President Donald Trump taking to Twitter to state emphatically, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.”

In such moments of global tension, the Vatican typically aspires to play the role of a reconciler and peacemaker. Should they wish to get involved now, they would find themselves straddling a conflict between a Western, majority-Christian nation on one side, and a Middle Eastern majority-Muslim state on the other.

Abstract - Vatican - Hearing - Western - Christian

In the abstract, one would think the Vatican would get a better hearing from the Western, Christian Great Power. Yet here’s the irony of the present moment: One can assemble a powerful case that the Vatican under Pope Francis actually would stand a better chance of moving the needle with Iran.

The plain fact of the matter is that the Trump White House and Francis’s Vatican are separated by a gulf that’s not only political but also cultural. It’s not just divisions over issues such as immigration and climate change that set the two apart, but also basic cultural diagnoses in the circles around Francis - for instance, a celebrated 2017 essay by Italian Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and Argentinian Presbyterian Marcelo Figueroa, published in a Jesuit journal reviewed by the Vatican, which argued that the United States fosters an “ecumenism of hate” between conservative Evangelicals and Catholics.

Trump - Advisers - Appeal - Francis - Participants

Trump or his advisers might not be particularly moved by an appeal from Francis, even if one should come, given that many of the participants in that alleged “ecumenism of hate” also happen to represent a core part of his electoral base.

On the other hand, Francis has real cachet in the Iranian political establishment. When he met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the Vatican in...
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