War in Ukraine: Vatican Diplomacy Under Fire From Critics

June 28, 2022
Source: fsspx.news
Giovanni Maria Vian, former director of the Osservatore Romano

The Ukrainian conflict is an opportunity for certain voices critical of the current pontificate to speak out in Europe or in the United States: the latest, the former director of Osservatore Romano, considers the communication from the Argentine pontiff as confusing. The reaction was not long in coming.

Giovanni Maria Vian presided over the destiny of Osservatore Romano for 11 years. Before falling victim, in 2018, to Pope Francis’s major restructuring of Vatican media.

Suffice to say that excessive benevolence should not be expected from the director emeritus of the prestigious Roman daily when it comes to commenting on certain aspects of the current pontificate, as evidenced by the interview granted to Il Foglio, June 17, 2022.

The man of letters engages in a severe analysis of the management of the Ukrainian file, when he uses terms such as “confusing” to describe the communication of the Holy See whose international reputation has been, in his words, “tarnished” by a series of official declarations “ranging in all directions.”

“Initially,” explains Giovanni Maria Vian, “the Vatican media insisted that NATO bears a certain responsibility, based on its propensity to expand too much to the East. Subsequently, the Secretary of State referred to the Ukrainian people’s right to self-defense, and then in the end, the Pope again speculated 'fault' attributable to NATO’s 'barking.’”

To the question of whether he knew of any past incidents when the diplomacy of the Holy See was expressed, as he put it, in such a “contradictory” way, the former boss of Osservatore Romano, answered: “To my knowledge, no.”

And he added: “The confusion is considerable, it goes beyond the framework of communication alone, and the judgment by history will be far from positive.”

There is one thing to take into consideration for Giovanni Maria Vian: “The Argentinian origin of the Sovereign Pontiff, his character, his personal decisions and his direct and immediate way of deciding and communicating, all this helps to contextualize often surprising choices. In this time of war, one cannot fail to observe that the pope's positions resemble those of the states that were once defined as 'non-aligned'.”

Echoing this harsh criticism, the conservative American media Fox News used the same words, when accusing, on June 20, the Argentine pontiff of having “created confusion”: “The Vatican missed the opportunity to bring clarity to ethics in Russia's war against Ukraine,” opined Francis Rooney.

The defense of Pope Francis did not take long, it came from the newspaper Il Foglio. A few days later, the writer and journalist Marco Politi dismantled – without naming their authors – one by one the criticisms made against the pope.

“The Pope broke the spell of political correctness that surrounded the Ukrainian conflict from the first moment,” he explains, referring to a speech by Pope Francis for whom “the war in Ukraine should not be judged according to the diagram which assumes that there is a good Little Red Riding Hood, and a very bad wolf.”

According to the journalist, the papal communication aims to “dismantle the simplistic fable of the conflict in Ukraine,” the statements emanating from the Vatican are “relevant” and “anything but improvised.… Francis is shining the spotlight on the logic of escalation by inertia” currently at work in the conflict, he believes.

Finally, the Pope himself seems to have answered his opponents during the Angelus on June 19: “Faced with the suffering of a martyred people, we are not faced with two lines of political action (in opposition) it is rather human responsibility that is at stake.”