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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Pope Francis Faces Backlash Over Ukraine Comments


Sun 10 Mar 2024 | 05:57 PM
Israa Farhan

Pope Francis has drawn sharp criticism for his recent comments suggesting Ukraine should display the "courage of the white flag" and seek negotiations to end the conflict with Russia.

The pontiff's remarks, made during an interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI last month and partially released on Saturday, have stirred controversy among Ukraine and its supporters, who perceive this as an implication of surrender.

In the interview, Pope Francis stated that the most powerful one is the one who evaluates the situation, considers the people, and possesses the bravery to raise the white flag and engage in negotiations.

He noted that numerous entities, including Turkey, have shown interest in mediating the Ukrainian conflict.

"Negotiation should not be seen as an act of shame," the Pope urged. Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni later clarified that the term "white flag" was initially used by the journalist, and the Pope echoed it in his response, underscoring his advocacy for a "diplomatic solution for a just and enduring peace," which he insists is "never synonymous with surrender."

Ukraine has firmly rejected Pope Francis's suggestion to negotiate with Russia amidst the ongoing invasion, pledging a steadfast refusal to capitulate.

This sentiment was echoed by Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who affirmed that capitulation is not an option for Ukrainians, portraying the nation as "wounded but undefeated" and resolute in its endurance.

International voices have also responded to the Pope's comments. Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Vice President of Germany's Bundestag from the Green Party, emphasized Ukraine's desire for peace and attributed the power to end the conflict to Vladimir Putin.

Similarly, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the German parliament's defense committee, expressed disappointment in the Pope's stance, suggesting that the call for a white flag should be directed at the "brutal Russian aggressors" instead.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski proposed that the Pope encourage Putin to withdraw his forces from Ukraine, asserting that such a move would pave the way for peace without the necessity of negotiations.