Pope Francis has had to deal with a brutal dictatorship in his home country of Argentina as a background to looking at his past; something that is inevitably done for any world leader, but more so for a Pope to determine how his past reflects on his suitability for this unique office.
If one reads the attached link it is interesting how Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith will in future be compared with the present Kleptocracy in Sri Lanka. After all when the present Pope who is now 77 decides to retire in about 9 or 10 years, a reasonable period for a modern day Pope to reign over his flock, then our Cardinal will become one of the contenders, possibly amongst the top 5, and he will then be 75. He is in the inner circle of Rome and conservative so his credentials at face value are good.
I have taken an extract from this link to highlight the similarities of dictatorships in different countries and different times, so we know what has been and what to expect.
“What is less clear, however, is his record during Argentina’s 1976-83 “Dirty War,” when a right-wing junta unleashed a reign of fear on this country that reached into the ranks of Bergoglio’s clerics. Some here have suggested that Bergoglio may have stood aside as the military government hunted down those it viewed as subversives, with published accounts suggesting he allowed the arrest of two left-leaning priests who were drugged and taken by helicopter to the junta’s most notorious prison in 1976.
This is the side of the new pope “that he doesn’t talk about,” said Horacio Verbitsky, an Argentine journalist and author of “The Silence,” a book chronicling complacency — and worse — during the Dirty War.
Yet Pope Francis, who has strongly denied those allegations, also has defenders who say that he not only resisted the military but also actively helped those seeking sanctuary.”
“There were bishops who were complicit in the dictatorship,” Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Argentine human rights activist, told the BBC’s Spanish-language service on Thursday. “But not Bergoglio.”
So his method of dealing with the regime of today will matter when the pros and cons are weighed and measured. Of course a lot depends in the intervening period, as to how Sri Lanka will eventually grow out of this home grown mess created by its leaders, and how the Church intervenes and balances the real Politik and safeguarding the flock from the pressures from both within and without.
It is therefore a timely reminder for the Cardinal to go back to his faith to find answers to the way the Church must handle the delicate relationship with the Government firstly not to affect the security of the practicing Catholics in Sri Lanka, but at the same time ensure that there is justice, freedom, fair play and basic freedoms for people to practice their faith, their vocations, free from fear and retribution or even threat.
An increasingly intolerable minority of Sri Lankans representing the Sinhala Buddhist majority, has to be neutralized, and how the Church will act in that action will both determine the qualities of this church leader for a possible promotion to the highest office in his Church. The world faces threats of extremism from all sides, and we have to show that common decency and fairness must prevail, when extreme positions are taken, showing them to be untenable despite the huge pressure put on the really eminent people to conform to new realities.
Only history can eventually judge character of people who we appoint today, as to whether they were the right choices and fulfilled their duties they have been entrusted with. People’s character certificate however is created by their past acts, and we know how many of their past baggage is carried forward to the future, as human nature as we know it makes it difficult to completely change our true colors despite the will we may have to do so once we acknowledge our personal faults.
I know I am jumping the gun about a possible SL Pope. However it would not do him justice, if he is seen sleeping with the devil, when he could draw a line in the sand and take a stand on putting the regime on notice where their acts become excessive in their harshness in suppressing the freedoms of their subjects. If the Church is unable, then they lose their moral high ground to be able to distinguish between right and wrong. In a country where he represents a minority religion, the balancing act becomes harder as the accusation of external influence is greater.