They’re giving Pope Francis the same alibi they used so long for Suu Kyi. Since 2012 when she went to pick up her Nobel, she couldn’t speak out against the Rohingya genocide because it would undermine the transition to democracy which she was leading. Gullibility is not a political virtue. They should have known her silence was of the deafening kind. Now the pope’s silence is being justified by claiming he didn’t speak out against the Rohingya genocide to protect Catholics in Burma from persecution. We haven’t all drawn the conclusion from history that the best way to avoid persecution is to lay low when another group is being exterminated. We’ve learned that solidarity is the only way to protect us all. Perhaps one of the many principled Catholic laity should send Pope Francis that famous statement by Martin Niemöller, a Protestant minister & one of the first Germans to speak out against the holocaust (& who spend several years in a concentration camp as a result):
“First they came for the Socialists & I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for trade unionists & I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews & I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me & there was no one left to speak for me.”
Part of running interference for the pope is parsing his sermons for discreet signs of opposition to genocide. In one sermon he called for forgiveness & against taking revenge, saying “revenge is the not the way of Jesus.” Who is he addressing when he speaks of forgiveness & revenge in Burma? Revenge sure as hell isn’t the way of Jesus but neither is compromise with genocide–nor forgiveness without justice. He wasn’t known to speak in euphemisms either but took a horse whip after shysters hanging out in the temple.
Here the pope warmly greets Bhaddanta Kumarabhivasma, head of the supreme council of Buddhist monks, at a meeting with monks in Yangon. Since Buddhist monks play such a central role in the genocide, it would have been so important for the pope to lay them out. But he didn’t.
The pope bombed. Silence is collusion, not discretion. He disgraced himself & brought shame on the Catholic Church. Enough with the combing through evasions & ambiguities in Suu Kyi & the pope’s words to find a shred of human decency. It ain’t there.
(Photo by Max Rossi/CNS/Reuters)