Pope Francis Needs to Leave Politics Alone

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The things we say can be interpreted in a multitude of ways, and the importance of communicating effectively grows in proportion to one’s position in the world. Any rando can say there needs to be a Palestinian state, and no one will bat an eye, but when the most influential religious leader in the world says it, people listen.

The New York Times reports:

“The Vatican announced Wednesday that it would soon sign a treaty that includes recognition of the ‘state of Palestine,’ lending significant symbolic weight to an intensifying Palestinian push for international support for sovereignty that bypasses the paralyzed negotiations with Israel.”

Pope Francis is certainly cut from a different cloth than any previous Pope. In many ways, this has been a wonderful thing—even inspiring at times. However, Francis has on several occasions made comments that cause me to tilt my head and furrow my brows. It seems he lacks understanding in certain arenas.

As the single most recognizable religious leader in the world, Francis exerts tremendous influence when he speaks, and he needs to be more careful when wading into waters that may be deeper than his understanding.

Although I’m certain there are Palestinians who would love to coexist peacefully with Israel (such as the ones who have been killed by Hamas, and used as human shields), the fact that Hamas is the leading Palestinian authority means that a peaceful coexistence is not possible at the moment.

One of the main tenets of the Hamas charter is the destruction of Israel:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it…Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people. ‘May the cowards never sleep.'”

As Hamas fundamentally controls the Palestinian people, and Israel has previously offered great portions of land to the Palestinians, and been rejected, I do not believe this is an issue of statehood.

Hamas doesn’t care if they have a state of their own, nor do they care if that state is recognized by western organizations. Hamas wants Israel to be a smoking hole in the ground. Without that, a state means nothing to them.

There has been effort by many—including Israeli leaders—to provide the Palestinian people with a home of their own, but Hamas has decided that they don’t only want a home, they want a home at the direct expense of Israel.

As Pope Francis argues for a Palestinian state, I’m not certain he understands the motives of the leaders of the Palestinian people. If he does, he has a much deeper faith in Hamas than he should. This indicates a certain level of naïveté on Francis’ part, an unwillingness to see the details over the broad strokes.

Francis’ words and actions will give authority to an organization that should have none; they will give Hamas further legitimacy.

Pope Francis’ desire to see a Palestinian state likely comes from a good place; he sees the Palestinians who aren’t connected to Hamas. However, he doesn’t seem to see the larger context. His actions will give legitimacy to Hamas, and that could ultimately do great harm to Israel. The ripple effect of legitimizing a Hamas-controlled Palestinian state could be severe.

Pope Francis needs to stay out of issues in which he is not well-versed. His acumen regarding many political issues is weak, and it shows.

The scripture is a bottomless sea to be explored. Francis should stick to what he knows.