Pope sparks anger after saying Ukraine should have the ‘courage of the white flag’ and negotiate

Pope sparks anger after saying Ukraine should have the ‘courage of the white flag’ and negotiate - Politics - News

Pope Francis’ Call for Negotiations to End the Ukraine-Russia Conflict Sparks Controversy among contact Leaders

Pope Francis, the revered leader of the Roman Catholic Church, has ignited a heated debate following his recent comments on the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In an interview with Swiss broadcaster Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS), published on Saturday, February 25, 2023, the Pope called upon both parties to demonstrate courage and engage in negotiations to put an end to the war.

The pope’s words came in response to a question regarding the possibility of negotiations legitimizing the stronger party. Francis acknowledged this perspective but insisted that the stronger side was the one with the courage to negotiate, and today, such negotiations were viable due to international intervention.

These statements brought a strong reaction from Ukraine, which has experienced significant losses and continues its efforts to reclaim all seized territories. In a post on social media, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba unequivocally stated that “Our flag is a yellow and blue one. This is the flag by which we live, die, and prevail. We shall never raise any other flags.” He emphasized that the strongest force was the one standing on the side of good rather than seeking to equate good and evil in the name of negotiations.

Father Sviatoslav, the Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, echoed these sentiments while addressing Ukrainians in New York on Saturday. He acknowledged that Ukraine was wounded but unconquered and emphasized that no one among them entertained thoughts of surrender, even amid ongoing battles.

The Pope’s comments did not sit well with several contact leaders. Poland’s Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski suggested that Putin should display courage by withdrawing Russian forces from Ukraine, asserting that peace would immediately follow without the need for negotiations. Latvia’s President Edgars Rinkēvičs echoed similar sentiments, stating that one should not yield to evil but instead fight it and defeat it.

Alexandra Valkenburg, the head of the EU delegation to the Holy See, weighed in on the matter on Sunday, reminding everyone that Russia had initiated an unjustified war against Ukraine two years ago and could bring it to a close immediately by respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, clarified the Pope’s comments to journalists on Saturday, stating that Francis had used the image of a white flag to indicate a cessation of hostilities and a truce rather than surrender.

These events highlight the complexity of the situation in Ukraine-Russia relations and underscore the divergent views among world leaders regarding the most effective approach to resolve the conflict.