Should George Bush decide to attack Iran before he leaves office, there's little doubt that Journal Sentinel columnist and Roman Catholic Patrick McIlheran will applaud the move.
It's reasonable to assume that Pope Benedict XVI, or B-16 as dad29 calls him, won't.
Time magazine has an interesting story about how Iran is hoping the Vatican will intercede if the U.S. seeks to get bogged down in another Middle Eastern country.
From the report:
According to several well-placed Rome sources, Iranian officials are quietly laying the groundwork necessary to turn to Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican diplomats for mediation if the showdown with the United States should escalate toward a military intervention. The 80-year-old Pope has thus far steered clear of any strong public comments about either Iran's failure to fully comply with U.N. nuclear weapons inspectors or the drumbeat of war coming from some corners in Washington. But Iran, which has had diplomatic relations with the Holy See for 53 years, may be trying to line up Benedict as an ace in the hole for staving off a potential attack in the coming months. "The Vatican seems to be part of their strategy," a senior Western diplomat in Rome said of the Iranian leadership. "They'll have an idea of when the 11th hour is coming. And they know an intervention of the Vatican is the most open and amenable route to Western public opinion. It could buy them time."
If the situation heats up in the coming months, the question of exactly what role the Vatican would play could become pivotal. Says one high-ranking Vatican official: "The Iranians look to the Holy See with particular attention. It is born from our common religious matrix. This could be utilized to offer ourselves as an intermediary if the crisis worsens." Among the potential moves: a forceful series of public appeals by the Pope, a Vatican emissary sent to Washington and Tehran, or a visit to the Vatican by Iranian President President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Moreover, [Vice Ambassador Fahima] said he doubts that the United States can resolve key regional issues in the Middle East, including Iraq and Lebanon, without the help of Iran. "We don't expect the superpower will attack," Fahima concluded. "But if they do, I am sure the Holy See would not be favorable to such a choice."
And over recent months, the conversations have centered on the looming showdown over Iran's nuclear program. Says one key Catholic Church player involved in these discussions: "The Pope will speak explicitly only when the conditions call for it. One difference this time [compared with Iraq] is that we're hoping the American bishops could speak out [against any attack plans]. That would be of great help."
For now, Benedict is maintaining a low profile. During his September trip to Austria, the Pope chose not to address the Iranian nuclear question in a key speech to world diplomats in Vienna, which is the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Though Vatican officials say they are concerned about Iran's development of nuclear arms, the pontiff is both doctrinally bound and personally inclined to pursue a negotiated settlement at almost any cost. In 2003, then serving as a senior Vatican Cardinal, the current Pope was firmly behind John Paul II's opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Indeed, many in Rome cite parallels between the current push from American hardliners to confront Iran and the walkup to the war in Iraq. "The Holy See hasn't forgotten what happened in Iraq," says one Vatican insider. "Seeing how that situation has developed, there is great, great prudence on the part of the Holy See. The judgment shown on Iraq weighs on the Iran situation."
This was an interesting passage (Brawler bold):
Indeed, while home to a relatively small Christian minority, Iran is seen at the Vatican as a key player in the broader context of inter-faith relations. Religious experts say that Catholicism and Shi'a Islam have a surprisingly similar structure and approach to their different faiths. "What you have in Iran is a strong academic tradition, with both philosophical and mystical aspects — in many ways like Catholicism," says Father Daniel Madigan, a Jesuit scholar of islam, and a member of the Vatican's commission for religious relations with Islam who helped arrange for Khatami's visit. There is also a clerical hierarchy in Shi'ism that is absent in other forms of Islam. Madigan notes that Iranians have long studied other cultures and religions. "They know their Western stuff," he said. "Right now, they're isolated because of sanctions, but they really do want to interact with the world." And Rome is one place the interaction has already begun.
Now, if the dhimmis at the Vatican only read deep thinkers like Texas Hold Em Blogger, or slightly more literate ones like Norman Podhoretz, they'd realize that you can't deal with a country like Iran -- or Muslims really. You can't deal with the religion of piece (of arm, of leg, of torso), period.
But perhaps B-16 sees things a little differently. No doubt he dislikes the Iran regime. And with good reason. But perhaps he sees little good would come of a war with Iran -- beyond that whole deal about killing people. With a sense of history, he knows that Western "regime change" in Iran has never led to anything good. Can Iran moderate on its own? No one can predict the future. But one thing certainly wouldn't create a new Iran: war.
Should it come down to that, to whom will McIlheran listen? Bush or Benedict?
We know whom he chose to follow in the lead up to Iraq.