Pope Criticised by Ukraine for “White Flag” Comments

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OFFICIALS from Ukraine and its allies are expressing disappointment after Pope Francis suggested that Kyiv should have the “courage” to negotiate an end to the ongoing conflict with Russia. Many interpreted the pontiff’s remarks as a call for Ukraine to surrender.

On Sunday, foreign ministers of Ukraine and Poland, a staunch ally of Kyiv, were among the first to condemn Pope Francis’s comments. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took to X, formerly known as Twitter, stating, “Our flag is blue and yellow. We live, die and win under it. We will not raise other flags.”


Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski echoed the sentiment, urging balance in the pope’s statements. He suggested that the Holy See should encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin to have the courage to withdraw his army from Ukraine, asserting that peace would follow without the need for negotiations.

In a recorded interview with Swiss broadcaster RSI, partially released on Saturday, Pope Francis used the phrase “the courage of the white flag” while advocating for Ukraine’s openness to peace talks facilitated by international powers. The pontiff’s words sparked controversy as they were perceived by many as advocating for surrender in the face of a possible defeat.


Ukrainian officials, however, were quick to respond. In his tweet, Foreign Minister Kuleba cautioned the Holy See against repeating historical mistakes and accused the Vatican of not doing enough to resist Nazi Germany. Despite this criticism, Kuleba extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit Ukraine, emphasizing the symbolic support such a visit would offer to the millions of Ukrainian Catholics and Christians.

Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church, echoed the sentiments of defiance, stating that surrender is not on the minds of Ukrainians. Addressing a gathering of Ukrainians in New York City, Shevchuk highlighted the resilience of the Ukrainian people in the face of heavy Russian artillery and drone attacks in regions such as Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Odesa, Kharkiv, and Sumy.

As tensions continue to escalate in the region, the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’s remarks adds another layer to the complex dynamics of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.



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