Do we want Pope Francis to win the Nobel Prize tomorrow? A new first in the annals of the Nobel Peace Prize was reached last week when for the first time one winner (Barack Obama, 2009) bombed another winner (Médicins Sans Frontieres, 1999).
So we can at least be reasonably sure that if Pope Francis does win the award tomorrow, he will avoid bombing any other recipient or, we must hope, being bombed by one.
Pope Francis is among the favourites, at 6/1. He would be the first pope to gain the prize. A new memoir by the committee’s former secretary claims that St Pope John Paul II was blocked by a Lutheran bishop, Gunnar Staalseth of Oslo, who vowed that no pope would win until the Catholic Church changed its view on contraception, which he claimed “favours life rather than death”.
More generally the Nobel represents a shade of opinion that views the Church as inherently beyond acceptable opinion; Francis, however, is seen by the secular liberal media as one of them, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and would probably win a popularity contest of current world leaders (against some pretty thin competition).
So he could win; the only question is whether Catholics would want the Pope to win such a stained prize; it was famously said that satire died when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel but in recent years the prize has been given to Al Gore (???) and Barack Obama, before he’d barely had time to move into the White House. Perhaps strangest of all was the 2012 award to the European Union, just as the euro was causing huge misery and social unrest across southern Europe, based on the scant idea that the EU was the cause of European peace, rather than a symptom (Europe has not had a major war because 1. Nuclear weapons 2. The US military 3. An ageing population and 4. We’ve learned our lesson. When faced with real conflicts, in Yugoslavia and the Ukraine, the EU has proved hopeless.)
So if Angela Merkel wins the prize this year it will be appropriate, for by inviting world to Europe she has done more than anyone on the continent to undermine peace; except Putin, maybe.
Ironically Francis is perhaps the least pacifist of recent popes, having come out in favour of military action against ISIS, something that seems unthinkable under John Paul or Benedict XVI. Let’s hope he wins it and the next day orders the Swiss Guards to storm Raqqa.