Editorials: A truce for Pope Francis?; and King’s dream

Perhaps the police safety uniforms took on an unfortunate and unintended political connotation here, where they accompany a group of young French visitors to a Catholic parish church in Las Tablas. Photo by the Policía Nacional.

Should Panamanians postpone all arguments for the pope’s visit here?

There are calls — for the sakes of politeness, Panama’s reputation, the economy, security against subversives and terrorists and what have you — to put off political disputes while the many thousands of pilgrims and Pope Francis whom they have come to see and hear are in this country. 

We could embarrass ourselves in the eyes of the world in many ways. Panama has a talent for that which surfaces from time to time anyway.

However, retirees say that during the papal visit they will continue their protests for a raise in their benefits. Members of the local Venezuelan community are annoyed at the Vatican’s decision to be represented at Nicolás Maduro’s inauguration — even though the opposition that most of that community here supports decided to boycott the elections. A lot of other people, some due to basic theological differences, others incensed by the child abuse scandals that have been rocking the church for years, are taking this as the season to say nasty things about the Catholic Church or its pontiff.

Nobody should lose his or her freedom of expression on account of a religious event. As a matter of law — if Panama actually does have the rule of law — no such ban could be legally enforced. Righteous criticism of religious authorities is at least as old as Christianity. If you look at world or Panamanian history, it’s something for which many people died.

However, as a matter of persuading people to support a cause, it’s smart politics to tone down any protests as the World Youth Day pilgrimage unfolds. It’s a matter of ordinary politeness to do so.

What’s the biggest danger? We will probably know that in hindsight. But one foreseeable problem would be that one or more of the branches of government would use the distraction of the papal visit to do some infamous thing. Better if the National Assembly and the Supreme Court hold no sessions, and President Varela issue no decrees, while Pope Francis is here.


The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addresses some of his many followers.
Photo from the US National Archives.

They shot the man dead. But not his dream.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of rather ordinary frailties, a mortal who could be and was killed. The spiritual heirs of those who hated him have finally placed one of their champions in the White House.

Lots of damage has been and is being done, but that’s likely to be ephemeral. For every white supremacist there are two Americans who have taken the most salient points of King’s message to heart.

We pay our respects on what would have been the birthday of a man who was slain nearly 51 years ago. But wherever there are Americans, his truth goes marching on. 


Dorothy Day

Bear in mind…

A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache.

Catherine the Great

Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.


It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union… men, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less.

Susan B. Anthony


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