Francis And His Enemies
I never understood the motto “keep your friends close and your enemy closer”, and I always thought that it does not make sense. I always had the impression it is the favourite excuse of those who do not have the guts to keep their enemies away from positions of power and influence, and want to let necessity appear virtue.
Of course it may make sense, in a democracy, for a President or Prime Minister to have people he dislikes in his cabinet. In this way, they are invested in his government, and will find it more difficult to attack him from a position of “allies”. But even in this case, such a policy is born of the necessity of limiting their ability to disrupt the work of the Government, and is invariably linked with a delegation of power and influence to them. All this is, in a word, not the fruit of brilliant thinking, but the unavoidable consequence of the atomisation of power in every modern Democracy.
Not so for a Pope. A Pope does not need to be elected. If he is orthodox, he will always float above every accusation of being “harsh” or “merciless”. His prestige and grasp on power will be, in time, greatly enhanced. Pope Pius X, Pius XI and Pius XII are great examples of this strong, but in the end winning attitude.
Francis is in a different boat. He is also Pope, but he has put himself in such a mess that his papacy can now be very seriously damaged; because of this, even as a Pope Francis must pay much attention to thread carefully, lest he should one day lose not only his face, but possibly his very job. In October, Francis got a first glimpse of what trouble might be in store for him if he were to be really stupid. Since October, the criticism has not really abated. He can't completely isolate himself from his enemies, because all of his enemies are Catholic, and none of his friends are. An orthodox Pope can afford to be uncaring of tactics (Pius X was famously undiplomatic), but a Pope like Francis cannot.
Francis would, like everyone else, keep the Sarahs away and surround himself exclusively with the likes of Ricca, Forte, and Baldisseri. If he does not do it it's not because he is a superior mind or a refined strategist, but because at this point the rare Sarah is, to him, the better evil.
Keep your enemies as far as you can, and smile at those you are forced to keep near. This, I think, pretty much sums it up.