President of the East with the Patriarch of the West
Although the attention of the World focused in the last days at the conversation of Vladimir Putinand Donald Trump, prognosing the global Détente, some kind of a new Concert of Powers, and mocking po-faced Theresa May– this week will bring the summit maybe even more important.
Agenda of President V. Putin – Pope Francis appointment in not officially known. Analytics speculate that it will cover the Middle East question (including the situation of Christians in the Holy Land and Syria), Venezuela, and above all – Ukraine. What is considered to be particularly significant - Pope Francis called the representatives of the Ukrainian Uniates to the Vatican exactly the day after Vladimir Putin's visit. Regardless of the formal subject, it must be agreed that especially these European and Latin American countries, for whom the religious factor remains still one of the most important elements of national consciousness, and even current politics – should pay special attention to the possible Vatican-Moscow agreement and cooperation, which so recently seemed to be less possible than eg. Donald Trump describing the Chairman Kim Jong Un as “a great friend”….
The Catholic Church as a Political Organization
Conservative Roman Catholics always had a problem with objective perception and describing of the ecclesiastical politics. Especially in Poland, we like to repeat that Poland exists between Germany and Russia, and this is the circumstance that determines our history. This is of course true, but incomplete. Poles have always lived between Germany, Russia and the Catholic Church. And it was Poland that for Centuries was the main tool of the Papacy, instrumentally used to carry out the great goal of the bishops of Rome: the destruction or at least the weakening of the Orthodox Church. When Poland fell (also because of the thoughtless following of Jesuit orders) - this task was taken over by Austro-Hungary, fascist Italy, and even... Nazi Germany (of course, unofficially and only in the eyes of some influential representatives of the Roman Curia – but nevertheless stubbornly and consistently). In the second half of the twentieth century, Catholic aggression towards the East found an influential ally in American imperialism (including even the circles in US internal politics extremely hostile to Catholicism or ideologically associated with anti-religious values).
However, the perception of these obvious facts is severely hindered in the Catholic historiography (as well as in contemporary political analysis). While the further into the past – the easier is for us to understand the role of the Catholic Church as a separate political existence, with specific interests and striving to secure them, the closer we are to our times – the more the Church seems to us to be transparent, undefined. Simply, in some opinions the Papacy only carries on some noble ideas, but in the eyes of others it is just a clearly diabolical power, hidden behind its secret diplomacy and false declarations. In fact, Church institutions are perceived mainly by the spectrum of these two contradictory legends: only white, as an element of the Supernatural Body directed exclusively towards the eternal Salvation – or only black, exploiting all real and imagined threads and episodes, from burning witches to "Pedophilia". Tossing between these extreme visions is characteristic for the most of modern analyses as well Catholic, Protestant, and Atheist ones. As a result, probably the only objectively balanced look at the Catholic Church as it is can be found almost exclusively in the Orthodox, Muslim and Chinese political science and historiography.
Papal Drang Nach Osten
No wonder that only diplomacies from these cultural/civilizational circles are able to act unencumbered, not on their knees, but also not hostile to the Holy See, with full understanding that, in particular, its historical goals were at a sharp collision course, e.g. with the strategic interests of Russia. For hundreds of years, one of the most important goals of the Papacy has been the Catholicization of the Ruthenian lands, and when it turned out to be impossible, then at least the Latin influence was to be spread as far as possible in the East. For centuries, Poland has been an instrument of such policy, since the Middle Ages being directly and very strongly dependent on the Popes and compensating through its Catholic mission against the Eastern Slavs the absence of Poles during the crusades against Islam.
Unfortunately, such a subject-treatment of the Polish instrument has not only brought any success to the Church politics, but also has caused serious problems for the Polish state. It is enough to mention the two most characteristic examples: when in the second half of the Sixteenth Century, competing with the Moscow state for influence in the Ruthenian lands, for the last time the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was able to achieve domination by force - it was stopped by papal emissaries, deluded by the possibility of converting the Grand Duchy of Moscow to Catholicism. In turn, in the period of The Russian Time of Troubles when the way to reconciliation and unification under the rule of one dynasty opened among Poland and Moscow, while respecting the Orthodox faith – then the Catholic centre, the Jesuits (the most hated in the East), imposed on both countries and nations years and decades of devastating wars, which in two Centuries weakened Poland, driving that state to collapse.
After Poland fell – the Papal Rome had to find other allies – like Austro-Hungary (using it not only against Russia, but also Southern Orthodox Slavs, especially Serbs, threatened also by Italy and Catholic vision of the Greater Albania) – which apogee was the First World War. Also, during the Second one – not only Wehrmacht intended to conquer Moscow. Although resisting in own conflict with pagan, esoteric Nazism – Catholicism also saw a chance to win its particular Drang Nach Osten. But the same like the Bolshevik Revolution has isolated the Русский Мир from the destructive influences of the West for a long decades – the victory in the Great Patriotic War put an end to the dreams of the would-be conquerors of all sorts, whether from the SS or from the Society of Jesus. But just for some time…
Third Secret of John Paul II
The Church politics has never gave up on its Eastern vision – and at least once more equally spectacularly used the Polish tool. In the infantilized version (presented especially to the Poles), this operation was called "the Overthrow of the Communism”– and is inseparably connected with a delicate (especially in Poland) question – the pontificate of John Paul II.
Of course, although anti-Communism was an important element of his policy – in fact, during his pontificate we could observe Vatican returning to implementation of a strategy much older than all modern ideologies. These were the real sources of the Polish-Pope-Politician’s fixation on supporting the Uniatism as a proven method of influencing the East, carrying out missionary activity throughout the post-Soviet area and attempts to build a Catholic soft power in Russia. All this did not prevent Karol Wojtyla from dreaming about a visit to Moscow, although especially the wide circles of the Orthodox Church rightly recognised his activity as clearly hostile.
Thus, despite the involvement of Wojtylian politics in the Ecumenism (including the improvement of the Vatican-Constantinopolitan relations) – the religious revival in the areas of the former USSR outside the Catholic sphere has been characterized by a far-reaching distrust to the Holy See (such attitudes were also result of Vatican policy in the 90s in the area of the former Yugoslavia, like supporting Croatian nationalism and return to the vision of the Greater Albania, originally invented over 100 years ago by the Franciscans).
It seemed that the work of John Paul II should naturally pass to his successor and closest collaborator, but Benedict XVIclearly changed the priorities. Radically opposing the secularization of the West and even trying to stop the modernization trends inside the Church – Joseph Ratzinger (earlier, the author of the Woltylian interpretation of the Third Secret of Fatima, traditionally regarded as a symbol / manifesto of the Vatican Eastern policy) has attempted to close the battle fronts considered unnecessary.In this sense, the pontificate of the German Pope had the features of Catholic Kissingerism - that is Realpolitik in the Church dimension.
Although J. Ratiznger’s pontificate had a temporary character – but at least he indicated that the Church could limit herself to slightly less ... imperial goals than the Polish Pope had dreamed for.
Pope Francis - the Radical Centre and the Global Conservative Alliance?
Awareness that the very basic moral values (right to life, family, sexual normality) remain last field to defence– sets and limits the policy of the current Pope, in the Vatican realities being a representative of the "Radical Centre". Much smarter than he seems to be in eyes of his fans and critics – Francis tries to balance in the Eastern matters too: from the Havana summit (2016) with PatriarchKirillto a visit to Lithuania, with a whole spectrum of anti-Russian (and anti-Polish by the way) homilies and interviews straight from Wojtyla's school.
Although he likes to pose for a social progressive – he is, however, primarily a representant of the large economical-political organism, permanently fused with conservatism, whose natural tendency is to stop civilizational changes, also through alliances with other conservative centres. In the modern World that includes: the Western industrial complex (different from the Global finance), and in their specific areas, for example, Shia Islam and ... Russia, and even (according to many commentators) Donald Trump too. So, is the Putin-Francis summit a completion and complementation of the Russian-American talks?
Perhaps the attitude of the Vatican is also influenced by the specific spreading of accents within current American policy, no longer so convergent with Church goals as in the times of John Paul II. So, for example, although the Greek Catholic Church for the last Century has remained the traditional instrument of the westernization of Ukraine – after all, we have recently dealt with an alternative attempt of political and civilizational influence by arranging the false autocephaly of the split structure inside the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, realized with the participation of the Constantinopolitan Patriarchate, completely dependent on US policy. This sabotage straight followed Washington strategy, but it did not fully meet the ambitions of the Vatican.
Another disagreement field may be Latin American affairs, for natural reasons Francis is focused on, to a much greater extent than it was in the case of his predecessors. Although the Church traditionally associated itself with Conservative (therefore also necessarily pro-American) forces there (being itself one of the greatest landlords too) – the Pope himself tries to at least diversify the Catholic propaganda message, intending not to lose last references with the South America nation in Venezuela, Brazil, etc.
The transition to the realities of the multipolar World is taking place literally right in front of us - what means a gradual increase in the importance of not only non-US mega-powers (Russia and China), crucial centres (like Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Venezuela and others), but also independent political centres, such as the Catholic Church, not to mention the finance giga-corporations, already more powerful than many states. It is natural, therefore, that responsible leaders - such as Vladimir Putin and Pope Francis – builds new networks of connections, without prejudice, just based on business and interests.
And with all of that we can be hit by the extraordinary diplomatic dynamics of the Russian Federation, which is literally present all over the World – from the Far- to the Middle East, effectively breaking down blockades and sanctions. And now we could even say that it is happening with ... a Papal blessing.