Both Evangelical missionaries in Islamic lands and the Vatican tend to take the same tack toward Foaming Bronze Age Fanatics: try not to piss them off unnecessarily since they tend to kill innocent people with little provocation.
Plump, comfortable suburban people with absolutely nothing to lose and with an itch to pass judgment on others like to fill up comments boxes as they sit at their computers, drinking their lattes and remarking on what a miserable cowardly son of a bitch this Pope is for not summoning a Crusade against Islam. For some reason, they don’t get equally irate at Evangelical missionaries, who also do what they can to avoid sending Bronze Age Fanatics out on Jihad unnecessarily. Me: while I’d like to see somewhat less chumminess with thugs like Arafat (just as I’d like to see a little more critical thought about Israel), I tend to think that people like JPII and the Evangelical missionaries are generally wise not to go around endangering the lives of innocents for whom they are responsible by engaging in the sort of bravado that comes so easily to people in comments boxes, who like to compliment themselves on their courage when the gravest danger they face is obesity. Both Evangelical missionaries and the Catholic Church have no divisions, as Stalin famously said. Thus, they are not in a position to pull Islamic noses and demand that others die so that they can satisfy the demands of a few strident cyber-critics for some really cool political theatre contra Islam. Pissing off a billion people (or at least bravely swearing that you aren’t afraid to do that in a comments box that nobody but a few other plump latte drinkers will read) may seem, to those drunk on their own rectitude, to be the height of courage–like William Shatner singing, “The Impossible Dream”. But, in the real world, the cautious stance of the Vatican, like the cautious stance of Evangelicals on the ground in the Land of Foaming Bronze Age Fanatics, while leaving some things to be desired, is probably saving quite a few lives both now, and in the future. Is it a perfect policy? No. Is it the complete act of prostitution that some plump Pope-hating suburbanites decree it to be? Nope. It is, like most things in this world, a crappy choice among a menu of crappy choices. That’s what you have when you are largely powerless in world of evil powers, many of whom hold hostage souls for which you are responsible. Far better to pray for the Holy Father, than to bitch at him about such matters, I think. Likewise pray for the courageous Evangelical missionaries, who are actually doing something about the gospel and not just sitting there, complaining in comments boxes about how badly somebody else is doing their work for the gospel while contributing not a syllable toward the building up of the Body of Christ.