Ailing Pope Francis Meets With European Rabbis

    Photo: 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.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the Catholic Church will elect a new Pope by June 2025, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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