Will Trump and Pope Francis Heed the Call for 'Men of the Same Moment?'

by LT. COLONEL JAMES G. ZUMWALT, USMC (RET) June 11, 2017

When Donald Trump and Pope Francis met at the Vatican on May 24th, the former became the thirteenth serving U.S. president to officially meet with a serving pontiff.

While the meeting was cordial, unfortunately, it lacked the same sense of urgency and purpose of another meeting that took place almost thirty years earlier, involving occupants of these same two offices. That meeting's outcome resulted in two dynamic leaders joining forces to defeat a global evil enslaving millions of people.

The evil back then was communism. Today's evil comes in a different form: radical Islam. If only history could repeat itself!

The Cold War, primarily between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. - lasting four decades plus and, at one point, bringing the two powers to the brink of nuclear war over Cuba - ended quietly in 1991. Not a shot was fired.

The blueprint for the Soviet Union's demise was the work of two architects on a mission to achieve its collapse. President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II recognized a threat to the Free World existed and that they, by virtue of their very special leadership positions, had the unique opportunity to jointly influence a favorable outcome.

Reagan knew he had only four, and at most eight, years to affect this end; Pope John Paul II knew, while he had his remaining life to do so, his success turned on partnering with a similarly minded American president. Two earlier meetings with President Jimmy Carter had undoubtedly left Pope John Paul II unimpressed the former peanut farmer was the right partner for such a mission. One meeting with America's new president proved otherwise.

As an observer noted, Reagan and John Paul II "set the standard for presidential-papal collaboration," proving themselves to be "men of the same moment" in history. It was fortunate timing for the West that they were.

The two men were like-minded in how they viewed the world and the threat the Soviet Union posed to its stability. 

Ironically, they also bonded as world leaders having undergone similarly unique experiences-both wounded by would-be assassins acting less than two months apart.

Recovering from their attacks, the two met for the first time at the Vatican in June 1982. They would meet three additional times before Reagan left office-more times than any previous Pope and U.S. president.

The John Paul II/Reagan alliance to fight "Godless Communism" was augmented as well by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Their alliance's linchpin for undermining Moscow was to target the Pope's native country of Poland, where unrest against the U.S.S.R. was active. It was inevitable this triad would prove effective, laying bare the communist system's shortcomings and playing off the sentiments of an ideologically enslaved people.

Today, while the Soviet Union no longer poses a threat to world stability (although Russia does), its ideology has been replaced by one even more committed to our destruction. Ironically, as Trump and Pope Francis met, a similar united perception of the threat-unlike that appreciated by their predecessors decades earlier-did not evolve.

While speaking earlier in Saudi Arabia, Trump had identified the ideological source of terrorism as one residing in "your places of worship... your communities... your holy land and this earth." He unhesitatingly and rightly linked terrorism to Islam while, sadly, Francis turns a blind eye to it.

While Francis has been a champion of Christian persecutions around the world, he has failed to identify the primary persecutor. His naivete in this regard was obvious as he traveled to Egypt's oldest Islamic university, al-Azhar, to denounce the violence of terrorism. Interestingly, while the university's Grand Imam joined him in criticizing the use of violence in the name of God, al-Azhar has endorsed such violence by embracing the "Conditions of Omar"-one of which specifically demands using violence in Allah's name.

Memorialized in the seventh century, the Conditions were forced upon the Christian communities conquered by invading Muslims. They demanded Christians submit to one of three conditions: convert to Islam, not convert but pay a tax to Muslim authority to continue practicing their religion, or be put to the sword.

A review of the Quran reveals 109 verses exist therein that are calls to violence against non-believers in order to establish Islamic rule. Some are very graphic in nature, mandating non-believers' heads or fingers be cut off and infidels killed wherever they may be hiding. To encourage faint-hearted Muslims to participate, the Quran also warns Allah will send believers to Hell for failing to join in the slaughter.

Why then would al-Azhar's Grand Imam have joined Pope Francis in rebuking violence in the name of Allah? He did so out of his duty-also sanctioned by Islam-to deceive non-believers in order to further the religion's advance. It is the concept of "taqiyya." Meanwhile, the proof of the Grand Imam's true mindset lies in al-Azhar's, as the leading Sunni educational center on Islamic laws, un-renounced embrace of the Conditions of Omar.

The incredible historical journey that Pope John Paul II and Reagan jointly undertook to de-claw the Soviet bear is told in a new book by Paul Kengor. Their partnership was clearly one that as the 20thcentury came to a close, enabled them to literally move mountains, freeing millions of people oppressed by the yoke of communism through their efforts.

Sadly, however, the beginning of the 21st century has borne witness to the spread of another dark shadow of evil seeking to enslave millions.

Once again, the call goes out for "men of the same moment" to take action to arrest the evil's spread. We need worry whether this time the call will be answered.

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A version of this piece also appeared on http://www.breitbart.com/

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.


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