Hope for the Pope

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Should Pope Francis use his influence as Vatican head of state, and in Argentina, to help broker a deal with the British government over the Falkland Islands? He has only held his papal appointment for a few days and already Argentinian president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wants him to encourage world powers to “participate in dialogue” over the matter (your report, 15 March).

The timing is unfortunate. In the same week as Cardinal Bergoglio was elected in an obscure and secretive process, the islanders in the South Atlantic were expressing, overwhelmingly in a referendum, a desire to remain a British overseas territory. It is time for the Church to show some humility, recognise the importance of the islanders’ preference, and stay out of this aspect of international politics.

It could be the start of a ­concerted effort to show humility over other matters. Joyce McMillan wrote about the new Pope’s social conservatism and his ­immoderate language in the past over the question of equal marriage (Perspective, 15 March).

Most people do not want him to change his private views. But I think they do want the Church, in its current dilemma over child abuse scandals for ­example, to adopt a less strident tone.

They want the Church to convey a message that religious belief is in the main a private matter for individuals allowing individuals to seek comfort, encouragement and inspiration in their own way.

The credibility of the new Pope and the Church in its work on poverty and international understanding, will be enhanced if it can take up a lower profile on the things it should not be involved in (like private sexual morality) and a higher one on things (like easing suffering) that it should be involved in.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court