The Vatican Should Rethink Its Diplomatic Approach Toward Moscow and Beijing

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The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes once observed of the papacy that it is not much more than “the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire, sitting crowned upon the grave thereof.” It has already survived that empire by centuries and will for many more because it negotiates with the larger powers in the interests of its constituents and mission. That skill of surviving, even flourishing, sometimes comes at a great cost. The Vatican’s current approach to Beijing and to Moscow provides a stark illustration of the limitations of diplomacy when it threatens to compromise mission.