Pope Francis, who hosted European rabbis in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on Monday, has criticized the spread of antisemitic attacks worldwide and advocated for dialogue to build peace, in a clear reference to the Israel-Hamas war.
The 86-year-old pontiff opted to forego delivering his speech at the start of the week, as he had "a cold" and faced "a long day of audiences." The decision set off a brief scare over his health.
Though the Biden admin. claims to be aligned with Pope Francis in relation to the Israel-Hamas war, they simply couldn't be more at odds. While the US is supporting Israel to perpetuate a humanitarian cataclysm in Gaza, the pontiff has insisted that war is no tool for building peace. Never-ending cycles of violence have long fueled violence in the Middle East, so it's time to address the root causes through dialogue.
As the West diplomatically engages with leaders in the Middle East to prevent an escalation to a wider regional conflict, the Vatican is the best-positioned actor to persuade Tehran to exercise restraint amid growing concerns about the role of Iranian-backed militias in Lebanon and Syria in the war. The international community can only hope that Pope Francis succeeds in his spiritual and diplomatic efforts.
There's a 50% chance that the Catholic Church will elect a new Pope by June 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.