Pope Francis Offers Help for Closing Guantanamo

Pope Francis's Secretary of State met with John Kerry today. He relayed the Pope's offer to use his international contacts to find alternative placement for Guantanamo detainees.

The pope made clear his feelings on the kind of abuses associated with Guantanamo in October, when he railed against the "penal populism" that led to countries facilitating torture, using the death penalty and incarcerating people without trial.

"These abuses will only stop if the international community firmly commits to recognising... the principle of placing human dignity above all else," he said.

Pope Francis is also a harsh critic of life sentences, which he says are a "hidden death penalty," and solitary confinement, calling it "physical and psychological torture". [More...]

The Pope has frequently called for better treatment of inmates and spoken out against torture.

Prison conditions have also been highlighted by Pope Francis, who called on people around the world to respect the dignity of all inmates. He condemned the use of torture and extraordinary rendition, which involves detaining individuals in one country and transferring them to prisons in another.

“These abuses will only stop if the international community firmly commits to recognizing...the principle of placing human dignity above all else,” he said at the time.

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    love this guy (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Slado on Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 10:52:51 PM EST
    The preist that married me and presided over my conversion is a man of similar views to our new Pope.

    It was his preaching and Church leadership that convinced me that instead of just going to Catholic church I should become one.   Not because it would make a difference in how I related to God per say but because it would give me the opportunity to lean more from him about what faith means and what being a good Christian should mean.

    He recently retired and i can tell you for his whole career he fought against the dogma and strict conservative doctrine that all too often comes to define the Church for non Catholics and and more importantly Catholics.

    After one of the big media splashes by the Pope I made a point to ask him what he thought this all meant.   He said the Pope was opening all the windows and doors of our faith to the world and letting all the good stuff out.  

    For those of you who are not Catholic and not religious one thing you must know is our new Pope isn't redoing our faith.  He isn't chan it.  What he's doing is exposing and focusing on the good and powerful message that is essential to it and why I conver in the first place.  

    I hope he gets to keep it up for years to come.

    and therein lies the problem. (4.50 / 4) (#3)
    by cpinva on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 12:20:48 AM EST
    For those of you who are not Catholic and not religious one thing you must know is our new Pope isn't redoing our faith.

    much of what is considered "Dogma", isn't, or only became so relatively recently. neither Christ, god, the holy spirit nor mary had zip to do with it, these were strictly man-made rules, that then required tortured readings of the new or old testament, to come up with "justifications" for them.

    abortion is one issue that quickly comes to mind. this wasn't an issue for the church, at all, until recently, within the past 100 years. the same with those of different than "normal" sexual orientation. nothing's really mentioned about it in the new testament, and only barely in the old testament. it didn't become a serious issue for the church until Reagan took office, and the church felt compelled (for reasons unknown to anyone) to keep up with the rightwingnutjob fundamentalist "Christians". not a bunch that I personally wish to be associated with, for the most part.

    those are the big 2. however, there is the overall treatment of women by the church. you know, those people pretty much responsible for maintaining nearly every catholic church in the world. take them out of the equation, and mother church would be in a world of hurt. this also true of the fundies, they're just too dumb to realize it. I give the catholic church credit for being, on average, a slightly smarter bunch.

    yes, the new pope has definitely made a splash, but until he and the cardinals address these social issues, in a constructive, positive manner, Bill Donahue will be able to continue claiming, with some justification, that he speaks the word of the church. don't we all want him to retire that FAX machine?


    Baby steps (4.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Slado on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 01:33:04 AM EST
    One Pope cannot change hundreds of years of precedent and tradition over night.

    Also no set of ideals or words to live by are perfect and can't possibly exist without clashing in some way with other ideals or ways of life.

    The faith of Catholocism is never going to satisfy everyone but what I'm saying is within it at its core is a powerful moral message that this Pope hopes to bring out for all the world to see.   If you can't get past the things you don't like about its teachings or how it operates to see the things that are universal to everyone then the Pope and the rest of us Catholics will just have to try harder.

    I will say that it's just unrealistic to think a 2000 year old religion is going to shape itself quickly to our modern ways of life.   To me that's not its purpose.  For me and what I think the Pope sees is within the faith is a powerful message of service to the less fortunate and living by the Golden Rule.   This is where he is concentrating his message and this is were it can make a difference in our modern world.


    We had a priest kind of like that (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 07:03:29 AM EST
    I was an altar server - at a time when it was frowned upon for girls to be servers.  Our priest didn't care (especially because if he got rid of the girls, there were only a handful of boys to try and cover 4 masses plus weddings and funerals!)  Father Dave was awesome and way ahead of the Holy See back in the day.

    Like any movement or community (none / 0) (#6)
    by Slado on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 07:40:39 AM EST
    The leaders make a huge difference in how the individual parishioners respond to the message.

    For me the Church lost its way when it focused more on what we shouldn't be doing as Catholics rather the what we should do as Catholics in terms of service.

    Priests like yours and mine and now our new Pope luckily never lost site of this.


    So You Are on Board... (none / 0) (#9)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 09:58:06 AM EST
    ...with bringing Guantanamo prisoners to the US, reducing life sentences, abolishing the death penalty, eliminating torture, and improving the conditions of prison inmates ?

    Keep in mind, some of those directives will cost money, aka raise taxes.


    Yes, I am very much on board (none / 0) (#12)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 10:49:31 AM EST
    with Pope Francis' very vocal exhortations about our obligations to the less fortunate among us.  I agree wholeheartedly with his well-publicized statements that capitalist societies need to share their wealth--noting particularly that "trickle down" does not work as it is nothing more than a penurious trickle--and that we have gotten almost gobbled-up by materialism.

    This Pope is genuine.


    But is Slado... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by ScottW714 on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 02:05:36 PM EST
    ...he might be down with the new Pope because he likes his faith being re-branded after years of bad press.  But from his posts, my feeling is he isn't actually down with the christian policies this pope is pushing, the ones jesus championed, not the ones hatched in the bible belt.

    Actually I know he's not, but I am interested to read his reply.


    Yes, perhaps slado has reconsidered (none / 0) (#16)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 03:58:56 PM EST
    his apparent economic credo, especially in view of the Holy Father's moving words about he obligations of society toward the economically deprived. Pope Francis' consistent teaching amounts to so much more than pretty words during Advent.

    So skeptical (none / 0) (#23)
    by Slado on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:39:25 PM EST
    I do not feel the Pope's teachings mean I am required to support certain policies.   Especially when it comes to some of the policies you might support.

    I do feel called by his message to personally help the poor and would be ready to support candidates putting new proposals out there as opposed to the tired status quo that continues in my view fail at it's intended goal with lots of unintended consequences.

    For all the money we've spent on war surely our government could have come up with something new and better to fight poverty then more of the same.

    As for the death penalty I'm against it and I agree we should not keep people locked up in Cuba when they can be locked up hear.

    I also have repeatedly stated my disgust with our criminal justice system and how it traps the poor.   We Cathilics make it a point to reach out to the incarcerated.

    So I guess I don't meet your definition of a Catholic but remember he is sending out a message.  Not telling us all exactly how to think.


    You can do it christine (none / 0) (#15)
    by sj on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 03:52:40 PM EST
    I'm sure you can focus your response around reforms to imprisonment and prisoners rights (as Scott very specifically did) without milquetoasting it to "the less fortunate".

    If you can vocally support prisoners rights in a specific and outspoken way then that is meaningful. Without specifics, the rest of your comment can be addressed by the Salvation Army Santa Claus. And I say that having respect for the Salvation Army.

    Come on ... you can say it... "prisoners rights"...


    I chose the broader response initially (none / 0) (#17)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 04:14:06 PM EST
    But, I agree with reform in each of those areas.  Beginning with the death penalty which I have always strongly opposed; and, specifically, as to prisoners' rights I very much agree that ongoing reform is needed.

     A few personal background examples: My first involvement with prisoners' rights cases occurred when I started working ... as a staff attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals where prisoners' letters and petitions seeking Federal habeas-equivalent relief were assigned to myself and another attorney, initially.  I learned fast.  It would be inappropriate for me to indicate those areas where I might have made a difference in recommended disposition, but I assure you that your concern about my lack of specifics has been misplaced. Subsequently, I taught, pro bono, prisoners' remedies for a local community school from time to time.

    I hope that this response provides a spicier response for you ... since I'm not a fan of milquetoast in action myself :)


    What about yourself, now, sj? (none / 0) (#18)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 04:22:45 PM EST
    You did seem eager to question my credentials, beliefs, money-where-my-mouth-is, and all that.  Unless I'm mistaken, don't you think that you should tell us a bit about your specific actions toward any such specific reforms as well?

    OTOH, I will understand if your questions to me--as well as the clear tone of the inquiry--were meant only for me.  That's ok.


    I am, (none / 0) (#21)
    by sj on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:13:33 PM EST
    as I have said several times, strongly in the prisoners' rights corner -- for a number of reasons.

    From restoration of voting rights (frankly I think inmates should be allowed to vote from prison), to abolition of the death penalty. It is a very difficult corner to hold; even when I was an officer in the Democratic Party it was not a corner that garnered many sympathizers. The "tough on crime" crowd has a much larger voice.

    That's why it bothered me that you took Scott's questions sideways and watered them down.

    Nobody wants to talk about it, or even look at it, but the way we treat our prisoners and take advantage of their families is a sin. And the word "sin" was carefully chosen. I was glad to have you speak specifically to the issue.

    Which reminds me -- have you started "Grandmother and the Priests"?


    Father Sutherland was a good priest (none / 0) (#22)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:25:53 PM EST
    who devoted so much ministry to the imprisoned in Colorado.  
    We do find it hard to talk about as a society ... the old push-what-you-don't-want-to-deal-with out of sight. The biblical discourse about how we treat the least of our brothers (sisters too) defines us really ... we spurn or overlook or mistreat or disregard those imprisoned and hurting, then we sin.  

    Peace be with you, sj.


    Not Catholic (none / 0) (#11)
    by Ga6thDem on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 10:44:39 AM EST
    but I have seen that people and I'm really just speaking anecdotally here with friends who are self described secular humanists, atheists and agnostics will actually listen to what Francis has to say whereas they would have never listened to Paul. A lot of it I think is the hard line authoritarian message that came from Paul whereas the message Francis sends seems to come more out of love and caring.

    Exactly (none / 0) (#24)
    by Slado on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:41:17 PM EST
    The basics

    Has Vatican City have an immigration (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by oculus on Mon Dec 15, 2014 at 10:57:36 PM EST

    Not sure oculus, (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by fishcamp on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 07:48:49 AM EST
    but they do have a tiny little post office, downstairs next to the gemstones of the Vatican.  That display has the worlds largest garnet, which was the first type of gemstone to be facet cut.  I heard monks or others cackling with laughter behind the leather walls down there.

    In the U.S., the Bishops (none / 0) (#10)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 10:44:05 AM EST
    have a specific "office" (can't recall the official title) specifically assigned to matters of increasing acceptance of, incorporation of, and general compassion for immigrants.  Last I heard, the Bishop responsible for this charge is a key Archbishop in the U.S. from the important Church See of Los Angeles ... it is Archbishop Gomez. Archbishop Gomez is uniquely positioned to grasp special concerns of immigrants from south-bordering countries; he was born in Mexico; served as an Auxiliary Bishop in Denver (coincidentally, in my parish, where I found him to be extremely compassionate and down-to-earth); and, first became Bishop in San Antonio.  

    Archbishop Gomez chaired the Church commission that issued the Church paper congratulating President Obama, a few years ago, for moving forward positively for the Dreamers and urging more and greater inclusion.

    In conjunction with the Vatican, the Church has openly, consistently, and forthrightly called for compassionate inclusion of immigrants and aliens within society.  Biblical references are often cited as directing this approach.  

    Yes, oculus, I'm guessing that you would be pleasantly surprised at the efforts of Catholic clergy in this regard.  Sometimes, even the most conservative clergy can be quite strong in urging inclusion as well.  (Plus: See how even the fundamentalist groups have moved in this direction.)


    lol; you missed the joke. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:02:51 PM EST
    Except (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 05:11:57 PM EST
    Not to see the "joke" gave me delicious opportunity to describe the actual and quite purposive measures that this Pope is pursuing in further aid of immigrants and displaced persons in these times of global changes. It gave me an opening to spell out that even the conservative US Bishops Conference has a pattern and practice of being progressive in word and deed in the matter of immigration.  (And, I wanted to say it.  Thanks.)

    Response #2 (w/more specifics), oculus (none / 0) (#13)
    by christinep on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 11:42:23 AM EST
    Addendum:  The name of the office in the U.S. Conference is the Office of Migration Policy and Public Affairs.

    At the Vatican, two recent noteworthy items regarding immigrants: (1) A 3-day meeting in November of the Seventh World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Migrants at which the Pope spoke and said "Migrants are people on a journey of hope." The Church considers that immigration stems from a number of situations such as inequality, poverty, need for employment, environmental disasters, etc. and that it is the obligation of receiving nations to be welcoming (especially so for wealthier receiving nations.)
    AND (2) Steps are reported to be taken this month for the relevant "Council" in the Vatican--The Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants--to be included in a higher level, more prominent "Congregation."  The report indicates that the newly emerging Congregation for the Laity may be the first very visible step in reforming the Roman Curia.  The Congregation for Laity would include Offices for the Family, for HealthCare Workers, for Migrants ... and, the high-level Congregation would be headed by a Cardinal, with the individual Offices headed by laypeople.

    These structural moves are important ... very important in the huge bureaucracy surrounding the Vatican.  These moves may also be an undeniable  reality that Pope Francis is taking action in a way that will alter the rigidity & ossification of the usually impenetrable Curia.  If that is so, then Pope Francis is not only a good and holy man with lovingly beautiful intent, but he may also be demonstrating the effectiveness of a Pope who knows what steps of change to take and when & how to take them.  (Bless Pope Francis.)


    If He Wants Me Back in the Fold (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by RickyJim on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 08:31:37 AM EST
    Sainthood for Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei; married priests.  That would be a really good start.

    the real deal (none / 0) (#25)
    by thomas rogan on Tue Dec 16, 2014 at 07:39:57 PM EST
    It's kind of easy to make moral pronouncements from the center of Europe about people in Guantanamo who never were a threat to Italy or Argentina.  If the pope were the Bishop of Antioch, Syria and living there and he had such mercy on alleged terrorists including those who might be killing large numbers of Catholics (as opposed to the occasional Eastern Orthodox Christian) then I could give him credit for turning the other cheek.  He isn't saying what to do about captured ISIS soldiers, people who are likely tortured by whatever government (Syrian, Turkish, Iraqi, or Kurdish) captures them with nary a peep from the rest of us.  Do captured ISIS soldiers get visits from the Red Crescent and are they subject to the Geneva Convention?