Pope Raps NATO for ‘Barking at Russia’s Door’

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  May 3, 2022   

Francis faults the military-industrial complex for using wars to test arms

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's "barking at Russia's door" may have triggered President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine, Pope Francis told an Italian newspaper Tuesday. 

Pope Francis with Patriarch Kirill

"I have no way of telling whether his rage has been provoked," Francis mused, "but I suspect it was perhaps facilitated by the West's attitude," Francis told Fiorenza Sarzanini, journalist and deputy editor of Corriere della Sera.

"In Ukraine, it was other states that created the conflict," the pontiff noted. "What's clear is that, in this land, arms are being tested. Wars are fought for this — to test the arms we have made."

"The production and the sale of armaments is a disgrace, but few are bold enough to stand up against it," he lamented. 

Francis, however, evaded the issue of the West's escalating the conflict by supplying arms to Ukraine: "I don't know how to answer — I am too far away — whether it is right to supply the Ukrainians." 

The pope acknowledged that "the Ukrainians were outraged" at his attempt to bring together "a Russian [woman] and a Ukrainian [woman] to read the prayers" — at the 13th station during the Good Friday "Way of the Cross" at the Colosseum in Rome.  

A patriarch can't lower himself to become Putin's altar boy.

"I spoke with [Cdl. Konrad] Krajewski, who was there with me, and he told me, 'Stop them; don't let them read the prayer together.' He was right, of course. We can't really understand them. So the two ladies remained silent," Francis said.  

"They are very touchy, the Ukrainians, maybe because they were defeated and demeaned after the Second World War, and they paid a very heavy price. So many lives lost: They are a martyred people," he added. 

International relations expert Prof. John J. Mearsheimer explains why Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the West's fault 

Ukraine's major archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk had blasted the pontiff's symbolic gesture of reconciliation as "incoherent and even offensive," noting that "such an idea is untimely, ambiguous" and "does not take into account Russia's military aggression against Ukraine."

The pope revealed he was prepared to fly to Moscow to meet Putin to appeal for peace, but the Kremlin hadn't responded. But he was not yet ready to travel to Kiev, even though he had sent Cdl. Michael Czerny and Cdl. Konrad Krajewski as his envoys to Ukraine. 

Wars are fought for this — to test the arms we have made.

"First, I must go to Moscow; I want to meet Putin first of all," Francis emphasized, praising Vatican secretary of state Cdl. Pietro Parolin as a diplomat par excellence "in the tradition of Agostino Casaroli" (who served as the Vatican foreign minister under five popes, from 1967 to 1990). 

Nicknamed "Kissinger in a Cassock" by Vatican watchers, Cdl. Casaroli is said to have worked secretly in collaboration with Pope John Paul II and the United States to weaken the Soviet Union. Parolin, on the other hand, has both signed and renewed a secret Vatican concord with the Chinese Communist Party, leading to increased persecution of Catholics in China. 

Pope John Paul II with Cdl. Agostino Casaroli

Speaking of a possible end to the war, the pontiff revealed that Hungarian president Viktor Orbán had told him that "the Russians have a precise plan, and that the war will end on May 9," which, he said, "would explain the speed of the military operations in the last few days."

"Now the Russians have taken not just the Donbass region, but Crimea, Odessa, the ports on the Black Sea — everything. I have a bad feeling about it all, I'll admit; I'm very pessimistic. However, it is our duty to do all we can to stop the war," Francis stressed. 

The pontiff said he had spoken to Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church for "for 40 minutes on Zoom" but "for the first 20 minutes, he read from a piece of paper he was holding in his hand all the reasons that justify the Russian invasion." 

Regarding the conversation, Francis reported:

I listened to him and then replied: "I don't understand any of this. Brother, we are not state clerics; we shouldn't speak the language of politics, but rather the language of Jesus. We are shepherds of the same holy flock of God. For this reason, we must look for a path to peace; we must stop the fighting."   

"A patriarch can't lower himself to become Putin's altar boy. I had a meeting with him, scheduled for June 14, in Jerusalem. It would have been our second face-to-face, nothing to do with the war. But we called it off; we agreed that it could send the wrong message," the pope added.

Criticizing the hierarchy of Italian church for "an old-fashioned mentality that pretends to be open and modern," the pope said he was looking for a bishop "who is willing to introduce significant changes" as the new head of the Italian Episcopal Conference when the current CEI president Cdl. Gualtiero Bassetti retires in May.

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