Pope blows up Russia’s ‘infantile’ war, EU-Libya deal on Malta

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) – Pope Francis said Saturday he is studying a possible visit to Kiev, and he blown up Russian President Vladimir Putin for launching a “wild” war. After his arrival in Malta, he delivered his most poignant and personal condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to date.

Francis did not quote Russian President Vladimir Putin by name, but the reference was clear when he said that “some potentate” had triggered the threat of nuclear war against the world in an “infantile and destructive aggression” under the guise of “anachronistic claims” of nationalist interests. “

“We had thought that invasions of other countries, wild street fights and nuclear threats were gloomy memories of a distant past,” Francis told Maltese officials and diplomats on the Mediterranean island nation at the start of a weekend visit.

Francis has so far avoided referring to Russia or Putin by name. But Saturday’s personalization of the powerful responsible figure marked a new level of outrage for the pope.

“Again, evokes and evokes a potentate that is unfortunately trapped in anachronistic claims about nationalist interests, conflicts, while ordinary people feel the need to build a future that will either be divided or not be at all,” he said.

The Vatican tends not to shout aggressors in hopes of keeping open opportunities for dialogue. The Vatican, which in recent years has forged unprecedented new ties with Putin’s allied Russian Orthodox Church, had offered itself as a potential mediator, but to date has largely been left on the diplomatic sidelines.

Francis told reporters on his way to Malta that a possible visit to Kiev was “on the table”, but no dates have been set or confirmed. The mayor of the Ukrainian capital had invited Francis to come as a messenger of peace with other religious figures.

Francis also said the war had hurt his heart so much that he sometimes forgets the pain in his knees. Francis has for several months suffered from a strained ligament in his right knee. The inflammation got so bad that the Vatican provided an asphalt elevator to get him in and out of the plane for Saturday’s flight to Malta.

The visit, originally scheduled for May 2020, should always focus on migration given Malta’s role at the heart of Europe’s migration debate.

Speaking with the President of Malta by his side, Francis condemned the “difficult agreements” that the EU has made with Libya to return to migrants, and said that Europe must show compassion in welcoming them. He called for the Mediterranean to be a “theater of solidarity, not a warning of the tragic shipwreck of civilization.”

Francis referred to the seven-year-old EU program to train Libya’s coast guard, which patrols the North African country’s Mediterranean coast for migrant smuggling and brings future refugees back to the coast. The program was adopted and strongly backed by Italy and other frontier Mediterranean countries to try to stem the flow of hundreds of thousands of desperate migrants who pay Libyan-based smugglers to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Human rights groups have condemned the EU-funded program as a violation of migrants’ rights and documented gross abuses in detention camps, where returning migrants are subsequently detained. Last week, German said its military would no longer provide training to the Libyan coast guard because of its “unacceptable” and in some cases illegal treatment of migrants.

Francis has condemned the Libyan detention facilities as concentration camps, but he went further on Saturday ashamed of the EU for its complicity in the abuses committed.

“Civilized countries cannot, for their own interest, approve bad deals with criminals who enslave other people,” he said. “It’s happening unfortunately.”

“Today, when those who cross the Mediterranean in search of salvation are met with fear and the tale of ‘invasion’, and protecting their own security at all costs seems to be the primary goal, let’s help each other not to see the migrant as a threat and not to give in to the temptation of building drawbridges and building walls, ”he said.

“Other people are not a virus that we need to be protected from, but people that need to be accepted,” he said.

Malta, the EU’s smallest country with half a million people, has long been at the forefront of the flow of migrants and refugees across the Mediterranean. It has often called on its larger European neighbors to take on more of the burden of receiving potential refugees.

Francis has often repeated this call and linked it on Saturday to the welcome the Maltese once gave the apostle Paul, who according to the biblical account was shipwrecked off Malta around the year 60 AD, while on his way to Rome and was shown unusually kindness of the islanders. .


The Associated Press’s religious coverage receives support through the AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.

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