(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) Much to the chagrin of his leftist cheerleaders, Pope Francis has argued that it is necessary to see “the whole drama” of the Russian war with Ukraine, including the likelihood that Russia was “provoked” in part by NATO “barking at the gates of Russia,” according to a transcript posted by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, a close friend of the pope.
In remarks made during a May 19 meeting with the assembled directors of the European culture magazines of the Jesuit order, the pontiff relayed a conversation he had with a “head of state” months prior to Russia’s invasion.
“A couple of months before the start of the war I met a head of state . . . he was very worried about how NATO was moving,” Pope Francis said.
“I asked him why, and he replied: ‘They are barking at the gates of Russia . . . the situation could lead to war.'”
The pope agreed with the analysis, and added that, although he condemned the “brutality and ferocity” with which the Russians have prosecuted the war, he believed the Western focus on blaming Russia obscured the fact that “something global is emerging.”
“[T]he danger is that . . . we do not see the whole drama that is unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented,” the pope said.
The Argentinian pope went on to suggest that World War III has already begun.
“A few years ago it occurred to me to say that we are experiencing World War III in bits and pieces,” he said. “Here, for me today the third world war has been declared.”
This was not the first time Pope Francis has criticized NATO’s role in fomenting the Russia-Ukraine war.
In an interview in early May with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Francis suggested that “maybe it was NATO barking at Russia’s gate that compelled Putin to unleash the invasion of Ukraine.”
Francis’s comments have inspired furious reactions from usual supporters.
An opinion piece, published in the leftist National Catholic Reporter, and signed by a gaggle of progressive “theologians,” argued that the pope had allowed himself to be manipulated by the Russian Orthodox Church into supporting the Russian narrative of events.
“[T]he Russian Orthodox Church deliberately and strategically manipulates the statements and the actions that come out of the Vatican to convey the message that Francis is on the side of Kirill in the war in Ukraine,” the scholars wrote.