FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Pope, Iran and the Wall Street Journal

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

The editorial page of the Wall Street Journal has a way of taking the fun out of lots of things. Two events occurred during the week of September 15th that caused me to think that in a world consumed by violence and hatred there might be modest cause for optimism. Thanks to the editorial page, I have learned that my excitement about the advent of one event was premature, if not entirely misplaced and I eagerly await its judgment on the second.

The first event was the news from Tehran that its new president seemed to be a different sort from the clown qua president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who had preceded him.  The new president, Hassan Rouhani, had responded with conciliatory tones to a letter from President Obama in which Mr. Obama suggested relations between Iran and the western world could improve if Tehran were willing to “cooperate with the international community, keep [its] commitments and remove ambiguities.” There appears to be concern among those who know such things that if Mr. Rouhani does not act quickly to inject sense into Iran’s policies vis a vis the rest of the world, he will soon be sidelined by hardliners in the government. Mr. Rouhani’s words were not the only encouraging signs following his election.  The military was given a backseat in governance and there have been domestic liberalizations, including the freeing of 18 political prisoners.  Although after his election he declined to take an opportunity presented to him during a press conference to disavow his predecessor’s assertion that the holocaust was a fiction, in an interview in New York during his visit to the United Nations he told Christiane Amanpour that the holocaust was “reprehensible and condemnable.”  Not all the news was good, however.  In late August the authorities began a crackdown on women deemed inappropriately attired.   That notwithstanding, the news from Tehran was welcomed by many.  Not by the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

In commenting on Mr. Obama’s response to the recent election by writing a friendly letter to the new president, the editorial page observed that Mr. Obama has never “taken no for an answer from Tehran.  Despite being rebuffed for five years, he sent another entreaty after Mr. Rouhani’s election in June.” The writers are of the school that once there have been sufficient rebuffs from a presumed adversary the prudent course is to make no further attempt to achieve a rapprochement but instead continue to inflict pain on the citizens of the country whose leaders seemed intransigent, as if there were some virtue in abandoning the hope of bringing adversaries to the table.  Now that I have learned why I should not be as enthusiastic about Mr. Rouhani’s response as I was, I am waiting for the WSJ to advise me why the other event last week is not as hopeful as it seems.  That event was, of course, Pope Francis’s comments suggesting that the Roman Catholic Church should alter its doctrinaire approach to certain issues.

In an interview with a Jesuit publication the Pope observed that the church had become “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and said the “pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards. . . .” Those words sounded like a chorus of heavenly angels to many who heard them since it suggested that the new Pope was more in tune with the 21st Century than his predecessor and his predecessor’s predecessor had been. The women in the church were also thrilled to hear what the Pope said, more especially because one month following his installation he had endorsed the attack on  the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCRW) that was begun under his predecessor.

News of his interview was accompanied by a couple of sour notes.  The first was sung when the Pope, speaking to a group of gynecologists at the Vatican, said that abortions were a symptom of a throw away culture and Catholic doctors should not perform them, hardly a surprising statement that does not gainsay his opposition to the church’s unremitting focus on abortion and the other issues to which he referred. The enthusiasm of the women had to be further tempered by what he did the day after his interview was published.  In reshuffling some key positions in the church he left in place Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who is in charge of investigating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Nuns who are suspected of opposing the church’s position on the priesthood and homosexuality.

The foregoing notwithstanding, thoughtful people cannot help but be encouraged by what the Pope has said and how he has acted since being elected, notwithstanding the foregoing.  Enthusiasm aside, I will wait for the editors of WSJ editorial page to let me know why I, as in the case of Iran,  am wrong to feel encouraged.  They are a Wise Set of Journalists.

Christopher Brauchli is a lawyer living in Boulder, Colorado. He can be emailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 27, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
Dave Lindorff
Resume Inflation at the NSC: Lt. General McMaster’s Silver Star Was Essentially Earned for Target Practice
Conn Hallinan
Is Trump Moderating US Foreign Policy? Hardly
Norman Pollack
Political Castration of State: Militarization of Government
Kenneth Surin
Inside Dharavi, a Mumbai Slum
Lawrence Davidson
Truth vs. Trump
Binoy Kampmark
The Extradition Saga of Kim Dotcom
Robert Fisk
Why a Victory Over ISIS in Mosul Might Spell Defeat in Deir Ezzor
David Swanson
Open Guantanamo!
Ted Rall
The Republicans May Impeach Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Why Should Trump―or Anyone―Be Able to Launch a Nuclear War?
Andrew Stewart
Down with Obamacare, Up with Single Payer!
Colin Todhunter
Message to John Beddington and the Oxford Martin Commission
David Macaray
UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?
Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail