National Review’s Michael Novak clues us in on Cardinal Martino’s stock at the Vatican. In fact, the cardinal is well known for his reflexive anti-Americanism and for shooting from the hip, often when you least want him to, a quality which impairs good judgment in a diplomat.
As we’ve been reporting at Catholic World News, the Vatican has been modifying its position on America vis a vis Iraq, basically taking the realist’s view that what’s done is done and the important thing now is to see the job through to completion. As well, the Vatican has returned to strong support for the war on terror (recall the pope’s qualified support of the action in Afghanistan).
It may be helpful to remember that the Vatican is not like the Us government. In a presidential administration, everyone works off the same page, representing the president’s policy views, whatever their own private views. The Vatican is different. Just because one cardinal speaks, doesn’t mean his thoughts represent those of the Pope or even of his brother cardinals. The only reliable indicator of the Vatican’s views is what comes out of the Pope’s own mouth or from the Secretariat of State (led by Cardinal Angelo Sodano). In other words, don’t assume that Martino’s fringe views represent the views of John Paul II.
Novak also offers strong reasoning why the Pope’s words on the war in Iraq before the war began were appropriate and pragmatic:
For myself, I am glad that in no way could the Vatican at that time have been seen as fomenting a war of “the Christians” against an Arab nation. On the contrary, the pope’s voice was the most audible and constant voice against war. To my mind, that is as it should be. The last thing we would have needed was a pope calling for war against an Arab nation.
Very true. In a way, it was the only thing the pope could say if he wanted to avoid a global religious war.