Pope Inadvertently Uses Putin's Words to Chide West

He was talking about Afghanistan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 1, 2021 8:20 AM CDT
Pope, Talking Afghanistan, Inadvertently Quotes Putin
Pope Francis arrives for his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

(Newser) – Pope Francis has criticized the West's two-decade-long involvement in Afghanistan as an outsider's attempt to impose democracy—although he did it by citing Russia's Vladimir Putin while thinking he was quoting Germany's Angela Merkel. Asked during a radio interview aired Wednesday about the new political map taking shape in Afghanistan after the United States and its allies withdrew from the Taliban-controlled country after 20 years of war, the pope said he would answer with a quote that he attributed to the German chancellor, whom he described as "one of the world's greatest political figures."

Using his own translation into Spanish, he said, "It is necessary to put an end to the irresponsible policy of intervening from outside and building democracy in other countries, ignoring the traditions of the peoples," reports the AP. But the words were spoken last month by the Russian president in the presence of Merkel, during her visit to Moscow. During the meeting on Aug. 20, Putin scathingly criticized the West over Afghanistan, saying that the Taliban’s rapid sweep over the country has shown the futility of Western attempts to enforce its own vision of democracy.

In the interview, Francis called for Christians across the world to engage in “prayer, penance, and fasting” in the face of events in Afghanistan. The pope also addressed direct questions about his health for the first time since he underwent bowel surgery in early July. He said his body is adjusting well to the removal of part of his colon and that he can now eat whatever he wants and leads “a totally normal life.”

(Read more Pope Francis stories.)

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