Pope Francis accidentally quotes Putin instead of Merkel when criticising western involvement in Afghanistan

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File. Pope Francis inadvertently quoted Vladimir Putin to chide West’s involvement in Afghanistan (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
File. Pope Francis inadvertently quoted Vladimir Putin to chide West’s involvement in Afghanistan (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Pope Francis made an unfortunate gaffe when he mistakenly quoted Vladimir Putin during a radio interview thinking he was quoting Angela Merkel. The Pontiff was criticising the west’s involvement in Afghanistan.

He referred to Ms Merkel as “one of the world’s greatest political figures” and 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.” He used his own translation into Spanish.

He was responding to a question about the changing geopolitics of the region with the rise of the Taliban and the pope had said that he would like to answer the question using a quote from Ms Merkel.

However, those words were not spoken by Ms Merkel but by the Russian president in her presence during a meeting in Moscow last month.

On 20 August, Mr Putin had heavily criticised the West’s involvement in Afghanistan and said that the “Taliban’s rapid sweep over the country has shown the futility of Western attempts to enforce its own vision of democracy.”

Pope Francis’ interview with Spain’s Cadena COPE took place at the Vatican late last week, reports said. And the radio — owned by Spain’s Catholic bishops’ conference — aired the interview on Wednesday.

The station also said that the interview was vetted by the pope himself.

The pope also said that “not all eventualities were taken into account” in the departure of Western allies from Afghanistan. He said: “I don’t know whether there will be a review or not [about what happened during the withdrawal], but certainly, there was a lot of deception perhaps on the part of the new [Afghan] authorities.”

He also believed the Vatican’s top diplomat was offering to engage in Afghanistan and called for Christians across the world to engage in “prayer, penance and fasting” in the face of events in Afghanistan.

During the interview, Pope Francis also talked about his health since his bowel surgery in July and said that he was still under medication but was able to eat “everything.”

The pope also said he was expecting to speak at the UN-sponsored COP26 climate talks in November in Glasgow.

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