Confounded by Pope John Paul II

Saturday, January 2, 2010
This may not be the most appropriate post during the Christmas season.

However, the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper recently published an interview with Cardinal Roberto Tucci, who was in charge of Pope John Paul II's numerous (and historic) trips around the world.

Amongst his anecdotes, Tucci recalls a trip to Chile in 1987, where Pope John Paul II became infuriated with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. The Pope had been an ardent critic of Pinochet and did not want to appear in public with him. Yet Pinochet tricked him into appearing together on the balcony of the Presidential Palace in Santiago.

Pope John Paul II's rejection of the Pinochet dictatorship, not to mention his opposition to the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe, is nothing less than admirable.

However, our Cuba-centric focus leads us to ask:

Was Pinochet more of a dictator than Fidel Castro?

No.

Did Pinochet execute more people than Fidel Castro?

No.

Did Pinochet repress religion more than Fidel Castro?

Quite the contrary.

So then, why was the Pope so willing to appear publicly with Fidel Castro during his 1998 visit to Cuba? Was he just older and less confrontational by that time? Or did Fidel trick him also?

Confounding indeed, for a dictator is a dictator.