- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2013

Pope Francis had a closed-door meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, the latest example of the pontiff’s deeper wade into politics than his Catholic Church predecessors.

“During John Paul II’s declining years, and throughout Benedict XVI’s papacy, the Vatican was more quiet,” said James Walston, a political scientist with the American University of Rome, in USA Today. “Francis is starting to show he’s willing to be a lot feistier.”

The meeting last 25 minutes and comes on the heels of the pope’s get-together at the Vatican with Russia President Vladimir Putin last week — another closed door affair.

The details of the pope’s talk with Mr. Netanyahu weren’t released. But spokesmen with the Israeli government said the two in general discussed Iran’s nuclear development program and the future of Christians living in the Middle East, USA Today reported. The two also reportedly talked about the progression of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Pope Francis has held the top church reins for about nine months. During that time, he’s shown a welcome embrace of most matters political. He’s raised the matter of abortion and gay marriage, called on diplomacy to guide the end of Syria’s conflict, and slammed the world’s ongoing “culture of prosperity” and worship of money, USA Today said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, presents Pope Francis with a Menorah during their meeting at the Vatican, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013. Netanyahu is on a visit to Italy, which include a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, Pool)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, presents Pope Francis with a Menorah ... more >

Not all are enamored with the pope’s deviance from traditional church leadership.

“He is a good man, a holy man, but I believe the church would be better off if he kept his focus on religious and church issues where he is desperately needed,” said Lorenza Sensi, a retired history teacher from a Roman Catholic Church, in the USA Today report.