Does Pope Francis pray for Zionism?

During his visit to Israel at the end of May 2014 Pope Francis (Jorge Bergoglio in his secular life) placed a small stone on the grave of Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), author of The Jewish State (1896) and founder of the Zionist movement (1897). He stood in silence before that grave with, at his side, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a hawk if ever there was one.

The media have given extensive coverage to various aspects of the visit, particularly the tributes that Francis paid to the Jewish people, whether at the Wailing Wall or Yad Vashem or in kissing the hands of six (a number that owes nothing to chance) “survivors” of or “miraculous escapees” from “The Holocaust”.

However, the same media have been much more discrete with regard to what was, in fact, the Pope’s most extraordinary initiative: the homage he rendered to the founder of a political and not religious movement, Zionism, which decrees that the land of Palestine belongs to the Jews alone. The Zionists behave as if any means were good to preserve and extend the current state of Israel, up to and including an apartheid system, with a “Wall” of protection against the natives, the possession of nuclear weapons and eternal war for eternal peace. This movement is so non-religious that it is even denounced by many Jews or Israelis as being contrary to the Jewish religion.

In Israel or elsewhere Bergoglio gives kisses and hugs aplenty, not without a tickle as well if the occasion is right. Both the Jew Shimon Peres and the Muslim Mahmoud Abbas are entitled to his outpourings of emotion but let it be noted that treatment is not equal in the two cases, and the holy man has not yet been seen performing his devotions at the grave of any Palestinian leader whose convictions were as firm as those of Hamas.

Pope Francis burns with love for Israel (which keeps a watchful eye on him), is taking Abbas for a ride (Abbas knows it but is ready to go along) and hates the too Catholic bishop Williamson (who, good Scotsman that he is, does not give in an inch and keeps him under scrutiny).

June 8, 2014