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Pope Francis holds a flag from Bucha, Ukraine, at his general audience at the Vatican in April 2022 (CNS/Vatican Media)

The director of the Holy See Press Office has intervened to clarify the Pope’s controversial remarks on Ukraine after he was strongly criticised for suggesting Ukraine should raise the “white flag” and negotiate with Russia. Source: The Tablet.

 In a transcript of an interview with Swiss TV, Radio Télévision Suisse, to be broadcast on March 20, Pope Francis responded to a question from interviewer Lorenzo Buccella who asked: “In Ukraine, some call for the courage of surrender, of the white flag. But others say that this would legitimise the stronger party. What do you think?”

Pope Francis replied: “That is one interpretation. But I believe that the stronger one is the one who sees the situation, who thinks of the people, who has the courage of the white flag, to negotiate. And today, negotiations are possible with the help of international powers.

“The word ‘negotiate’ is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, it is necessary to have the courage to negotiate. You may feel ashamed, but with how many deaths will it end? Negotiate in time; look for some country that can mediate. Today, for example in the war in Ukraine, there are many who want to mediate. Turkey has offered itself for this. And others. Do not be ashamed to negotiate before things get worse.”

His words were met with widespread anger. Latvian president Edgars Rinkevics said on social media: “My Sunday morning take; one must not capitulate in the face of evil, one must fight it and defeat it, so that the evil raises the white flag and capitulates.”

Matteo Bruni of the Holy See press office said last night: “The Pope picked up the image of the white flag, proposed by the interviewer, to indicate a cessation of hostilities, a truce reached with the courage of negotiation. His hope is for a diplomatic solution for a just and lasting peace.”


Ukraine should have ‘the courage of the white flag’ to negotiate with Russia, says Pope (By Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet)


Zelenskyy and Ukrainian church leaders reject Pope’s call for negotiations (OSV News)