pope francis

September 8, 2017

News this week focused on religion's role in public diplomacy.

Pope Francis arrived in Colombia on Wednesday with a message of unity for a nation deeply divided by a peace deal that ended a five-decade war with Marxist FARC rebels but left many victims of the bloodshed wary of the fraught healing process. Francis, making his 20th foreign trip since becoming pontiff in 2013 and his fifth to his native Latin America, started his visit in Colombian capital Bogota. He will travel later in the week to the cities of Villavicencio, Medellin and Cartagena.

Pope Francis with Enrique Peña Nieto

An exploration of the Catholic Church's faith diplomacy and its impact on international relations.

The day before President Trump met with Pope Francis, Cardinal Peter Turkson juxtaposed the president’s speech in Saudi Arabia with what the Pope said in Egypt. Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “Pope Francis & Pres Trump reach out to Islam-world to exorcise it of [religious violence]. One offers peace of dialogue, the other security of arms.” [...] Yet the Ghanaian cardinal, Francis’ chief “minister” for matters of peace, suggesting that the “peace of dialogue” is the path to be preferred over the “security of arms.”

This week’s PD News focused on President Trump’s trip overseas, from the importance of Saudi Arabia to Melania Trump’s international debut as First Lady. 

It is a confusing question: Who is responsible for Egypt’s image? The investment conference in Sharm El-Sheikh created an “attractive atmosphere”, however the Egyptian government did not complete it. The same thing happened with Lionel Messi when he came to Cairo to promote the treatment of Hepatitis C in Egypt. Finally, Pope Francis’ visit to Egypt shed light on Egypt’s efforts in religious tolerance. After the visit, we were very happy and exchanged congratulations, but we did not realize, as usual, that the difficult part would be in the next day.

“This visit comes where Egyptians are wounded because of what happens, wounded in their hearts and when a Pope comes is to consolidate and give his solidarity to all the people,” said Rafik Grish, Coptic Catholic church spokesman. [...] Pope Francis will visit Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral to pray for the 28 people killed in a Christmas season blast last year.

Pope Francis Sunday met Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan concluding his trip in the Caucasus region. Describing the visit of the spiritual leader of the globe’s estimated 1 billion Catholics in a Muslim-majority country as “historic”, Aliyev said that it was important, both for bilateral relations between the Vatican and Azerbaijan and dialogue between civilizations. 

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