Pope Presents Church Skillfully

THE [Roman] Catholic Church seems to play two different roles at the moment, if somebody compares the declarations of Pope John Paul II in Zagreb, Croatia, and in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and the dispatches from Cairo.

The first ones give the picture of a great modern institution fighting for peace in the world and always on the side of the weak, the injured, and the victims of hate and violence.

In Cairo, the Catholic Church seems to be an old and gruff institution, ready to sacrifice mankind's future only to rule the consciences with its old principles.

There's no contradiction between these two positions, they're part of the same international project....

The aims are always the same: the right to expound the Scriptures, the apostolate, the defense of dogmas and moral principles, youth's education, protection of believers, religious orders and missions, and extension of Catholic spiritual dominion.

But means and allies - diplomacy - may change from one situation to another.... Peace desired by the Holy See must agree with Catholicism's interests.

In Sarajevo, the pope would have prayed for peace but also ``hoisted the flag'' of Catholicism in a border place where Catholics, Muslims, and Orthodox have lived in precarious balance for centuries.

There are different ways to judge this policy, depending on points of view, but one must recognize its coherence and not get the illusion the Church is becoming more tolerant.

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