Warm Southern Breeze

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Pope Francis: I don’t name Putin because everyone knows I’m talking about him.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Pope Francis was interviewed recently for “America: The Jesuit Review,” a Catholic magazine published by the Jesuits. Francis is the first ever Jesuit pope, which is properly the “Society of Jesus,” hence the name “Jesuit,” though it was founded by Saint Ignatius of Loyola.

Jesuits have a history as reformers, and are considered the “brains” of the Catholic church, insofar as academics, particularly higher education, medicine, law, and science, is important to them. In fact, it was a Jesuit priest, Father Georges Lemaître, a Belgian Catholic priest, theoretical physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain, in Belgium — the Université Catholique de Louvain, from where he earned Docteur en Sciences in 1920, and in 1927, earned the Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology — who first came up with the expanding universe theory, years ahead of Edwin Hubble, who later confirmed Lemaître’s work, rather than originating it, as some mistakenly believe. Another magnificent scientific achievement, now considered the scientific standard, is the “Big Bang” theory of the origin of the universe, was also originally proposed by Fr. Lemaître. Additionally, he also served as an artillery officer in WWI. When afterward he began academic pursuits, he studied at the renown University of Cambridge, where he later became a researcher, and an associate researcher at Harvard, and MIT. So, he was definitely no slouch in numerous ways.

But Pope Francis…

The interview was wide-ranging, and covered numerous topics of concern to all, not just to the religious, or to Catholics, which included bishops accused of sexual abuse of children, and adults, and their complicity in those criminal activities, as well as public perception of the church’s lack of concern about spousal/domestic partner abuse.

Toward the conclusion of the interview, Pope Francis was asked about his thoughts on the Russia/Ukraine matter, and made the following remarks.

Editor’s Note: On Nov. 22, 2022, five representatives of America Media interviewed Pope Francis at his residence at Santa Marta at the Vatican. Matt Malone, S.J., the departing editor in chief of America, was joined by Sam Sawyer, S.J., the incoming editor in chief; executive editor Kerry Weber; Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent; and Gloria Purvis, host of “The Gloria Purvis Podcast.” They discussed a wide range of topics with the pope, including polarization in the U.S. church, racism, the war in Ukraine, the Vatican’s relations with China and church teaching on the ordination of women. The interview was conducted in Spanish with the assistance of a translator, Elisabetta Piqué. A transcript of the Spanish text can be found here.

Here is the full transcript of that portion of the interview.


Gerard O’Connell: Holy Father, about Ukraine: Many in the United States have been confused by your seeming unwillingness to directly criticize Russia for its aggression against Ukraine, preferring instead to speak more generally of the need for an end to war, an end to mercenary activity rather than Russian attacks, and to the traffic in arms. How would you explain your position on this war to Ukrainians, or Americans and others who support Ukraine?

Pope Francis: When I speak about Ukraine, I speak of a people who are martyred. If you have a martyred people, you have someone who martyrs them. When I speak about Ukraine, I speak about the cruelty because I have much information about the cruelty of the troops that come in. Generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryati and so on. Certainly, the one who invades is the Russian state. This is very clear. Sometimes I try not to specify so as not to offend and rather, condemn in general, although it is well known whom I am condemning. It is not necessary that I put a name and surname.

On the second day of the war, I went to the Russian embassy [to the Holy See], an unusual gesture because the pope never goes to an embassy. And there I said to the ambassador to tell [Vladimir] Putin that I was willing to travel on condition that he allowed me a tiny window to negotiate. [Sergey] Lavrov, the foreign minister at a high level, replied with a very nice letter from which I understood that for the time being it was not necessary.

Pope Francis speaks with editors and staff of America. (America Media/Antonello Nusca)

I spoke to President Zelensky three times by phone. And I work in general with receiving lists of prisoners, both civilian prisoners and military prisoners, and I have these sent to the Russian government, and the response has always been very positive.

I also thought of traveling, but I made the decision: If I travel, I go to Moscow and to Kyiv, to both, not to one place only. And I never gave the impression that I was covering up the aggression. I received here in this hall, three or four times, a delegation from the Ukrainian government. And we work together.

Why do I not name Putin? Because it is not necessary; it is already known. However, sometimes people latch onto a detail. Everyone knows my stance, with Putin or without Putin, without naming him.

Some cardinals went to Ukraine: Cardinal Czerny went twice; [Archbishop] Gallagher, who is responsible for [relations with] states, spent four days in Ukraine, and I received a report of what he saw; and Cardinal Krajewski went four times. He goes with his van loaded with things and spent last Holy Week in Ukraine. I mean the presence of the Holy See with the cardinals is very strong, and I am in continual contact with people in positions of responsibility.

And I should like to mention that there is in these days the anniversary of the Holodomor¹, the genocide that Stalin committed against the Ukrainians [in 1932-33]. I believe it is appropriate to mention it as a historical antecedent of the [present] conflict.

The position of the Holy See is to seek peace and to seek an understanding. The diplomacy of the Holy See is moving in this direction and, of course, is always willing to mediate.


“Sometimes I try not to specify so as not to offend and rather, condemn in general, although it is well known whom I am condemning. It is not necessary that I put a name and surname. Why do I not name Putin? Because it is not necessary; it is already known. However, sometimes people latch onto a detail. Everyone knows my stance, with Putin or without Putin, without naming him.”

You gotta’ love that guy. He’s the only one, practically, who could say “I’m not going to call you a son of a bitch, even though your mother is a dog, because it’s just not appropriate to call you a son of a bitch, even though your mother is a dog.”


¹ Holodomor comes from the combination of the Ukrainian words holod (hunger) and mor (to exterminate or eliminate).
See: https://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisit/holodor.htm

See also: https://www.britannica.com/event/Holodomor

See also: https://www.britannica.com/place/Ukraine/The-famine-of-1932-33-Holodomor

See also: National Museum of the Holodomor-Genocide in Kyiv, Ukraine
https://holoddomoruseum.org.ua/en/archive-type/archive-photo-documents

See also: 26 Horrifying Photos Of Holodomor — The Ukrainian Famine That Killed Millions
https://alltitsinteresting.com/holodor-ukrainian-famine

See also: https://duckduckgo.com/?tjffcm&qHolodomor&atbjv94-1&iajweb

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