I had surgery last week and am away from work on leave for a few days, but I read something today that made me angry. I first saw it in the live feed on The Washington Post's site and later found it here in The Washington Times. The article reads:
"President Biden said Monday that he and Pope Francis agree on the administration’s plan for addressing the ongoing conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, after their conversation over the weekend. 'The Pope and I are on the same page,' Mr. Biden said at an event to talk about his economic agenda. 'I laid out to him what the game plan was, how we thought we should be providing the kind of assistance to Israel they needed and the Pope was across-the-board supportive of what we’re doing.'”
I was incredulous. Gob-smacked. As the executive director of Pax Christi USA, the national CATHOLIC peace movement, I've been paying attention to what Pope Francis has said about war and war-making these past 10 years: his ceaseless calls for an end to the weapons industry and arms dealing; his assertion that there is no such thing as a just war; his pleading for an economy directed to the care of our common home and each other instead of an economy that fuels environmental destruction, oppression and poverty, and foments war; his insistence that "charity and nonviolence govern how we treat each other as individuals, within society and in international life."
So NO President Biden. Your administration and Pope Francis are not on the same page in providing military aid to the Israeli government as it bombs children in Gaza. Not on the same page when you position a U.S. aircraft carrier and extend military support to the Israeli army as they prepare for a ground war that has displaced over a million people. Not on the same page when you obstruct the application of international law to the oppression of Palestinians under the Israeli government's occupation while championing it in reference to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
What the Pope supports is what we asked President Biden in this letter we co-signed with other national Catholic organizations a few days ago. If President Biden wants to be on the same page with Pope Francis, he can start by:
- Publicly calling for de-escalation, humanitarian ceasefire, and restraint by all sides.
- Calling on all parties to prioritize the establishment of more corridors for humanitarian aid to reach the people in Gaza currently in desperate need of food, water, shelter, medical care, and electricity.
- Prioritizing steps to secure immediate release of hostages and ensure international protection for civilians.
- AND stopping any flow of military weapons from the U.S. to the conflict.
As Catholics, we can NEVER stand idly by when leaders, especially Catholic leaders, try to suggest religious justification for their war-making. While I have no doubt that Pope Francis approves of any and all efforts at de-escalation, humanitarian aid, and working for a just peace in the region, President Biden's assertions that the pope agrees on U.S. policy in addressing the conflict and is "across-the-board supportive" of what the Biden administration is doing needs to be challenged and called out. I hope you'll join me TODAY in making that clear to the White House and demanding they work for a cease-fire now. Find that information below.