The Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI, met on Friday with Amr Moussa, a diplomatic hooligan whom Hosni Mubarak put out to pasture, this pasture being the Arab League, without power, without influence, without even any cachet. The news, brought to us by the A.P.'s Frances d'Emilio, tells us something about the lack of reality in the foreign policy of the Holy See. The Holy Father is trotted out to utter vapid pronouncements on matters over which he has no influence at all.

According to the A.P., for example, the Vatican said after the meeting with the league's secretary-general that the pope and the emissary had "agreed to work together to promote peace and justice in the world." Whoopee!

Just how they will do so no one said and no one knew.  The meetings allowed for an "exchange of views on the international situations, especially in the Middle East, and on the need to find a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to the other conflicts that affect the region." Blah, blah, blah.

"Particular importance was given to the role of intercultural and interreligious dialogue," the Vatican intoned.

Now, for heaven's sake, the Church can't even protect its communicants in the holy city of Bethlehem where the Saviour was born and less so in other places in proto-Palestine. This pope is really quite shrewd about the Islamic animus towards Roman Catholicism. (See, for example, his lecture at the University of Regensburg in September 2006.) It is not something that should be cherished. But it makes no sense to pretend that it is not there.