Pope Francis blames the victim in Russia-Ukraine war

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Pope Francis recently shocked many by positing parity between Vladimir Putin and Russia on one hand, and Ukraine and NATO on the other. The Holy Father insisted both are to blame for the raging war. 

In stark contrast to the “Holy Alliance” of Saint John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher who deployed a brilliant strategy to defeat Soviet communism, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been channeling his youthful leftism again in a bumbling effort to relate to Russia.

POPE FRANCIS SUGGESTS THE ‘BARKING OF NATO AT RUSSIA’S DOOR’ MAY HAVE FORCED PUTIN TO INVADE UKRAINE

Pope Francis blames the victim in Russia-Ukraine war

Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair to attend an audience with nuns and religious superiors in the Paul VI Hall at The Vatican, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Francis, 85, has been suffering from strained ligaments in his right knee for several months. He revealed he recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain, but he has continued to struggle to walk and stand. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

I get it. A pope is supposed to love peace and loath war—except just war. Francis certainly has a point appealing for a cessation of hostilities. But he strains to prove the fault for violence rests on both sides of the conflict.

In the papal telling, egged on by the United States, “NATO [was] barking at Russia’s gate” in Ukraine for so long that Moscow finally reacted. Thus, needlessly provoked, the Kremlin invaded.

What struck me immediately was the onomatopoeic rhetorical device the Pope deployed: “barking.” Dogs bark. Presumably the Ukrainian dog was barking along with the U.S. and NATO canine choir. It was not just an American show, and not even primarily.

What a frightful image! What an unfortunate choice of words by Pope Francis. Did he understand their implication? Or, perhaps, was it another Bergoglio foot-in-the-mouth moment?

Pope Francis blames the victim in Russia-Ukraine war

Pope Francis attends an audience with nuns and religious superiors after arriving in a wheelchair in the Paul VI Hall at The Vatican, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Francis, 85, has been suffering from strained ligaments in his right knee for several months. He revealed he recently received some injections to try to relieve the pain, but he has continued to struggle to walk and stand. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis has it absolutely backwards: the big, bad Putin wolf was circling around Ukraine, growling, and lashing out at it since at least 2014. It was the Ukrainian dog, if you will, and not NATO, barking at the intruder by its own fence and inside the property as the mighty eastern neighbor continued trespassing on Ukrainian territory, illegally occupying Crimea and chunks of the Donbas. 

The U.S. and some of our NATO allies did help Ukraine some discreetly. But when the Russians pounced, we left the Ukrainians largely to their own devices—at least initially. 

The U.S. and NATO assisted because the Ukrainian government requested so to fend off a Russian invasion. It is foolish to hope that absolute inertia would have saved the Ukrainians from being reabsorbed by the Russian empire. 

Thus, Kiyv resolved to prepare itself to fight. Ukraine wants to preserve its sovereignty like other nations in the Intermarium. If Russia attacks Poland and the Poles oppose them arms in hand, will that be too much “barking” for Bergoglio’s liking? Will Francis blame the victim again?

Pope Francis blames the victim in Russia-Ukraine war

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis (R) and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill meet in Havana February 12, 2016. Pope Francis arrived in Havana on Friday to meet the head of the Russian Orthodox Church nearly 1,000 years after Eastern Orthodoxy split with Rome, marking the first encounter in history between a Roman Catholic pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch. REUTERS/Adalberto Roque/Pool/File Photo/File Photo

Why does the pope posit parity between the U.S. and the post-Evil Empire? His narrative of parity between Russia and NATO (and Ukraine) is a pontifical dog whistle. Francis’s relativistic remark stems from the old leftist revolutionary arsenal of the latter part of the Cold War. 

It is telling that Brazil’s leftist presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva immediately echoed the pontiff in the relativist choir. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is “as responsible as Putin” for the war, da Silva said. 

After 1956 and Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” denouncing “the cult of personality” Stalin ceased to be sexy among Western leftists. So, they turned to worshipping Mao and lionizing Pol Pot.

Later, when those bloody idols lost their luster, the progressives turned from pro-Communist absolutism to moral relativism. In this new context, both the United States and the Soviet Union were proclaimed equally evil. 

Only Western leftists were righteous and just. To enhance their own image and to salvage the progressive project so tainted by its socialist pedigree, they had to argue about an alleged parity between the U.S. and the USSR.

Pope Francis blames the victim in Russia-Ukraine war

Pope Francis waves to faithful from his studio window overlooking St. Peter’s Square to recite the Regina Coeli prayer at the Vatican on Sunday, May 1.
(AP/Gregorio Borgia)

It took John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher to set things right. The trio showed that Western progressives were either dupes of the communists and useful idiots, or they were agents of influence and appanages of the Evil Empire. 
Unfortunately, Bergoglio was too busy romancing Latin American leftist urban guerrillas and heeding the siren song of liberation theology to notice that his relativism led him to reject the anti-totalitarian teachings of his Church and the saintly example of John Paul II.

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Now, given his leftist pedigree, a penchant for equivocation, a whiff of moral relativism, and a foot-in-the-mouth affliction, it is increasingly obvious that Pope Francis is ill-equipped to fill the shoes of his predecessors. 

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No one I know expected either a call for a crusade or a Regensburg address à la Benedict XVI from Francis on Russia. It is enough for him to talk about love and pray for peace. Instead of positing false parity between freedom and unfreedom, let Pope Francis embrace silence which is golden sometimes.

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