Pope Francis delivered a Christmas speech that called on the people of the world to soften “stony and self-centered hearts” and help those fleeing conflicts in their countries — to basically drop the border walls and let these people in; to stop all this border first, people second stuff and nonsense. And so forth and so on.
His remarks may have packed more punch if he didn’t deliver them from the heavily fortified St. Peter’s Basilica, while gazing from a secure Vatican City balcony, a couple hundred feet or so above the assembled fray. With armed guards standing and patrolling near by.
It’s not that those fleeing injustice and inhumanity don’t deserve better lives.
It’s just that the pope’s finger-wagging, from inside the bubble of Vatican City, strikes a big ol’ cup of hypocrisy that’s hard to swallow.
He spoke of migrants seeking the “hope of a secure life,” only to find, at the end of their journeys, “inhumane detention camps” and “walls of indifference.”
He spoke of the Syrians “who still see no end to the hostilities,” and of Israel, where Jesus “was born as the savior of mankind” but where “so many” “still await a time of peace, security and prosperity.”
He spoke of the “beloved Venezuelan people, long tried by their political and social tensions.”
He spoke of the people of Niger, Nigeria and Congo, “persecuted for their religious faith” and “torn by continuing conflicts.”
And he said: “May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering members of our human family. May He soften our often stony and self-centered hearts, and make them channels of His love. On this joyful day, may He bring His tenderness to all and brighten the darkness of this world.”
All good; all well and good.
But let’s remember: Vatican City is sovereign, secure and well-protected, surrounded — mostly — by high walls.
From Crux — in a piece, weirdly enough, that was trying to argue the Vatican is “not a walled city” — comes this: “To gain access to St. Peter’s Basilica as well as the Vatican Museums — which includes the Sistine Chapel — requires waiting in a long security line and going through a metal detector. Access to other parts of the Vatican — including the gardens, the Vatican Bank and Casa Santa Marta, where Pope Francis lives — is a bit more difficult. It requires having the proper credentials, such as a press pass or an academic affiliation, and a short conversation with a member of the Swiss Guard, which protects most entrances. Unlike the walls, the Guard are not anachronisms. They carry guns, and their protection is supplemented with assistance from Italian police.”
Papers and credentials.
What’s good for the pope should be good for America. What’s good for the securing of Vatican City should be good for the securing of American citizens. Human injustice is not — nor should it be — the trigger that causes an automatic drop of all border controls.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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