The pope in America

Pope Benedict begins his tour

THREE years ago, in the final weeks of Pope John Paul II's papacy, the Vatican's diplomatic service took great care to distance the Catholic Church from American foreign policy, in order to protect Christians in mainly Muslim lands from being tarred with the same brush as the Bush administration. But as his successor Pope Benedict XVI arrives on Tuesday April 15th for a five-day trip to the United States, the gap between the Vatican and America seems to have narrowed a great deal.

The Vatican fear that Middle Eastern Christians would pay a high price for the perceived misdeeds of American policy seems to have been fully justified. The small Christian minority in Iraq has suffered terribly from that country's internal mayhem; only a few weeks ago a Catholic bishop in northern Iraq, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was kidnapped and killed. But the perceived resurgence of militant Islam in many parts of the world seems to have pushed the Vatican's theological conservatives and America's political conservatives closer together. ...


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