"Saint Francis is probably devastated that the Pope has taken his name," Donald Tusk, the former prime minister of Poland and ex-president of the European Council, responded to the recent statements of the Roman pontiff.
It is not the first time that the Pope has sent mixed messages regarding the Russian-Ukrainian war.
However, his new statements turned out even more scandalous.
On August 24, at the conclusion of the General Audience, he decided to pray for Ukraine, but he blamed the war on both sides.
"The innocent pay for war, the innocent! Let us think about this reality and say to each other: war is madness," the Pope said. "Nobody who is in a war can say, 'No, I'm not crazy,'" he added.
Moreover, according to the Pope, the innocent daughter of the Russian "philosopher" Alexander Dugin, who hates Ukraine, Daria, who was herself a propagandist of the war against Ukraine, is innocent.
"I think of that poor girl blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for war, the innocent!" he said.
Ukraine's embassy to the Holy See criticized Pope Francis.
"Today's speech of Pope was disappointing and made me think about many things: can't speak in same categories about aggressor and victim, rapist and raped; how possible to mention one of the ideologists of Imperialism as innocent victim? She was killed by Russians as sacred victim and is now on shield of war," wrote Ambassador of Ukraine to the Holy See Andrii Yurash.
Subsequently, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry announced they had taken an unprecedented step, summoning the apostolic nuncio to the ministry for explanations.
However, the question remains open: will this reaction be enough?
The Holy See traditionally has high authority and trust in Ukraine, which was achieved by the efforts of Pope Francis' predecessors, first of all, Pope John Paul II.
It is no coincidence that the Vatican was considered one of the most optimal places for negotiations with Russia in February. Relatives of soldiers from the Azov Regiment even appealed to the pontiff...
The unfriendly statements of the Pope were initially perceived as a consequence of the pontiff's lack of knowledge about the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. So Ukrainian Catholics traveled to the Vatican, and some even managed to get an audience with the Pope.
Francis was curious, asked questions, thanked for the information, but then again made new and new provocative statements.
Pope Francis had enough knowledge but was unwilling (or unable) to change his position.
It leads us to the question: Is Pope Francis's visit to Ukraine appropriate under such conditions?
Especially since his visit may take place in the upcoming months.
There are surely some pros: the voice of the Pope is significant for more than a billion Catholics on the planet, primarily in Latin America, where he comes from. This region is very affected by Russian propaganda. Francis' support would be very useful to Ukraine.
Are these expectations justified? The Pope's latest statements show that he is not going to change his rhetoric.
Fortunately, Ukraine and most Western countries understand this. However, such statements, especially right after his visit to Ukraine, will be gratefully spread by numerous Russian agents.
Should Kyiv refuse the Pope a visit? Probably so.
Without his willingness to change his mind about Ukraine, this visit will have no point and will be even more harmful to Ukraine.
Kyiv should clearly inform the Vatican: a precondition for the Pope's visit is a public change of position, a confutation of his most provocative statements.
Perhaps such a sharp reaction from Kyiv will make the Vatican think about what has gone wrong. It seems there is no other way to overcome the Pope's stereotypes and prejudice.
The "Expert opinion" section is not an editorial article and exclusively reflects the author's point of view