Pope Francis Waves a White Flag at Vladimir Putin


Published March 13, 2024

Wall Street Journal

The leaders of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church visited Washington this month to make the case for continued U.S. aid to their beleaguered but unbroken country. The bishops used rational arguments for national self-defense that drew on just-war theory, the ancient tradition of Christian moral realism that first took systematic form with St. Augustine in the fifth century. Major-Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halyč and Archbishop Borys Gudziak—the head of the Ukrainian church and its senior U.S. prelate, respectively—also explained why Russia’s defeat in Ukraine is essential to peace in Europe and vital to the American interest.

Shortly after these serious adult conversations took place, Pope Francis erupted in another off-the-cuff interview, instructing Ukraine to have the “courage” to seize the “white flag” and negotiate with Russia: “When you see that you are defeated, that things are not going well, you have to have the courage to negotiate.”

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George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, is a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals. He holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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