Will Venezuela be Pope Francis's downfall?

The world's first Latin American pope isn't exactly covering himself with glory as the hellfire of Venezuela immolates that God-forsaken nation.

Fact is, he's been remarkably silent about the socialist communist disaster engulfing that country, not using the sharp language he is known for whenever he expresses displeasure about the United States, as William McGurn notes in this first-class essay, which is probably his best.

After all, Venezuela's bishops are tweeting prayers in their country's darkest hour with pleas such as "free our homeland from the claws of communism and socialism."

They know the deal.  The bishops are also openly asking whether protests and civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance are valid anymore, given their uselessness against hardcore communists determined to hold power forever.

Yet Francis remains incredibly unenthusiastic, probably because Venezuela does not fit into his narrative, as McGurn notes, citing an expert from the Acton Institute:

The Acton Institute's Samuel Gregg was probably closer to the mark when he recently put it this way: "Venezuela's crisis doesn't fit into Pope Francis's standard way of explaining contemporary political and economic problems. It's very hard for the pope to blame Venezuela's problems on the tyranny of Mammon, financial speculation, free trade agreements, arms-dealers, nefarious 'neoliberals,' or any of his usual list of suspects."

The pope's been in bed with liberation theology for years and has made some showy showings of hanging out with some of its Marxist dinosaurs, notably its founder, Fr. Gustavo Gutiérrez, from Peru, as well as "rehabilitating" him.  Liberation theology can stand up and take a bow in Venezuela – the late, unlamented dictator, Hugo Chávez, consistently cited the hellhole he was creating as a product of liberation theology.  As if that were not bad enough, the pope has also had several cordial meetings with Venezuela's current brutal dictator, Nicolás Maduro.

What it all points to is that the pope needs to either blast the nightmare in Venezuela or watch his own credibility go down the drain as civil war engulfs that country – and it can't stay off the news for long.  Either he slays the Venezuelan dragon or the Venezuelan dragon will slay him.