Ailing Pope Francis Meets With European Rabbis

Ailing Pope Francis Meets With European Rabbis
Image copyright: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The Facts

  • 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.

The Spin

Establishment-critical narrative

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.

Pro-establishment narrative

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.

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