Tough Roads Ahead for Two Men of Peace

Pope Francis and John Kerry Look To Forge Connections

Difficult Jobs: Pope Francis is looking to bring together the faithful and non-believers. Secretary of State John Kerry is on a mission to restart Mideast peace talks. Neither task is simple.
Getty Images
Difficult Jobs: Pope Francis is looking to bring together the faithful and non-believers. Secretary of State John Kerry is on a mission to restart Mideast peace talks. Neither task is simple.

By Leonard Fein

Published May 25, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Two men who have recently attained very high office now, each in his own domain, search for encounters. The encounters for which they search are quite different from one another, though both are surely commendable. Let us examine their quests.

First we have Pope Francis, who is in various ways proving to be a man of uncommon vision and decency. Here is just one illustration, from a talk this week on Vatican Radio in which the Pope spoke of the need to encounter one another on our common ground.

“The commandment for everyone to do good is, I think, a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will create a culture of encounter. We need that so much. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am atheist!’ But do good; we will meet one another there.” It is in doing good that we will meet, that we will fulfill Creation’s destiny.

The faithful and the atheists, he said just two months ago, can be “precious allies…to defend the dignity of man, to build a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation.” Belonging to the Church turns out, in the Pope’s view, to be less important than belonging to each other.

Our Secretary of State, John Kerry, is also in search of encounter. He is a man of zeal, of passion and of conviction. But the encounter that is foremost on his agenda, the encounter of Israel and the Palestinians, remains elusive, his four recent trips to the region notwithstanding.

Often, he seems to me a lonely conductor, there on the podium on a stage that is empty of instrumentalists. Sometimes, when he leaves the stage for a recess, two clarinetists show up, one entering stage right, the other stage left. They are both virtuoso players, but they are playing different tunes, tunes that clash with each other. That is not the kind of encounter Kerry seeks to foster.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.