Pope Says Ukraine Should Have the ‘Courage’ of the White Flag to Negotiate

Whoever is advising Pope Francis on what’s happening in the world should sit down and shut up. 

Francis stuck his nose into the Ukraine war and got it bitten off. His Holiness, fancying himself some kind of peacemaker, advised Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. to surrender to the Russians after a few minor setbacks


In an interview with Swiss public TV, Francis was asked if he “believed that in Ukraine there was the need to ‘surrender, the white flag in this case,'” according to the New York Times.

Francis responded by saying the fear of encouraging aggression was “one interpretation, it’s true. But I believe that the strongest is the one who sees the situation, thinks of the people, and has the courage of the white flag, and to negotiate.”

“The word negotiate is a courageous word. When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate,” Francis said.

Francis sure has a funny idea of what “courage” is.

The Vatican went into immediate damage control. The interview, recorded last month, won’t be aired until later this month.

Vatican spokesman, Matteo Bruni, immediately clarified that the pope meant “cease-fire and negotiation,” not surrender, when he said white flag, a universal symbol for giving up.

But the pope’s words and others he used during the interview have underscored how the Vatican has often bewildered Ukraine’s officials and supporters struggling to understand its position.

Early in the war, many Ukrainians expressed frustration with Francis for his refusal to specifically call out Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin, as the aggressor in the conflict.

“One may feel shame, but how many dead will it (the war) end up with? (One should) negotiate in time, find a country that can be a mediator,” Francis said, mentioning Turkey among the countries that had offered.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered to host a peace summit between Ukraine and Russia. Zelenskiy turned him down flat, knowing that Putin is still demanding Ukraine territory as part of any peace deal.

“Do not be ashamed of negotiating, before things get worse,” said Francis, He has referred to “martyred Ukraine” in the past but has also never directly chastised Russia for the invasion.

Zelenskiy may, indeed. negotiate an end to the conflict at some point. But it will be from a position of strength, not weakness. Right now, Russia has won a couple of small, tactical victories at a gruesome cost in lives. Ukraine has hunkered down, hoping that American aid arrives soon. 

Meanwhile, the pope is not helping the cause of peace. Advising surrender only makes the pope irrelevant in the conversation and perhaps even an impediment to peace.

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