Anne-Marie Pelletier: The Pope in Hungary: The Perils of Pacifism

2023-06-01 | Expert publications

During his recent trip to Hungary, Pope Francis was undoubtedly bold to remind Viktor Orban, to his face, that his immigration policy could not be reconciled with his supposed defence of Christian values. But unfortunately, it seems that there was compensation for this frankness: a clear assertion of shared views with the Hungarian government over Ukraine. The Pope’s comments on this issue were surprisingly crude. Not only did Francis speak of a “senseless war”, he also castigated the “bellicose infantilism of the West”, before pleading the cause of peace by negotiations and a renouncement of arms. In absolute terms, who would not dream of peace? However, the word “peace” should be taken with a pinch of salt: such language is a staple of Putin’s propaganda. It should inspire no more confidence than Xi Jinping’s recently proposed mediation.

Since the beginning of the Ukrainian tragedy, the Vatican has struggled to name things correctly and take a clear position. It talks casually about reconciliation to Ukrainians who are living under Russian terror. The Pope’s repeated refusal to go to Kyiv unless he can also go to Moscow is similarly disconcerting. It is as if we were dealing with a war in which two opposing camps are symmetrically facing each other in a conflict that should end in a compromise around a negotiating table. Francis likes to appeal to basic principles. Indeed, it would be a good idea to look there. There is no shortage of clues to help us see things a little more clearly.

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