Many Israelis are or can well be upset about the warm reception that Pope Francis gave to Palestinian leader Abu Abbas. Yet, perhaps we all miss the main point: this pope and all popes after him would go and talk to the leader of Islamic State, to the king Satan of all hells if this could only advance the cause of peace by just one small step.
Peace, against death and war, is what matters to the Pope, nothing else can be more important. Abu Abbas is a trench, thin, weak, against the encroachment of violence with Palestinians and the Arabs. This Pope is religious more than anything, his political agenda is just peace and no war. He does not go into the extremely complicated issues that have been tearing the Middle East apart for many decades.
Can the Jews find peace with him, the Pope, the heir of a religion of decisively Jewish legacy, as Jesus and all his apostles were Jews? Can Muslims do the same, as they recognize the value of the Christian legacy for them?
This is Pope Francis’ bet. He follows Saint Francis, from which he took the name, who in the 13th century tried to speak to the Sultan to end the crusades and the holy wars ripping the Mediterranean apart.
St. Francis failed then, and Pope Francis is almost bound to fail now, against the many people who are rightly scared, rightly wary of gestures without too many geopolitics calculations.
Yet, he may feel if only for his namesake, that he must push, try to find hope where hope cannot be rationally found, for he, more than anyone, is in the job of miracles and his actions are not based on human rationality and reason-based cunning and scheming.
Pope Francis’ job is not that of a political leader, it is of a religious figure, and thus, he may want to try to find peace where peace can’t be reasonably sought.