In his recent comment on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Pope Francis branded Russian propagandist Darya Dugina as an innocent war victim. The pontiff addressed thousands of people gathered in Rome for his weekly Wednesday audience.
“I’m thinking about the poor girl who was blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow,” he said, referring to the weekend’s targeted attack. “The innocent pay for the war. The innocent! Let’s reflect on this reality and say to each other: War is madness.”
The adjective “innocent” drove Ukraine crazy. Dugina’s father, Alexander Dugin, is a prominent Russian ideologue who supports Russia’s aspiration to become a great power and the invasion of Ukraine. Likewise, as a journalist, his daughter has backed the “denazification” in Ukraine and justified the invasion, which has now lasted six months. At a memorial service, she was praised as a “fighter for Russian sovereignty.”
Francis’ statements were greeted with angry reactions. Ukrainian Ambassador to the Holy See Andrii Yurasch tweeted his dismay. “Today’s speech by the Pope was disappointing and got me thinking: one cannot talk about aggressor and victim, rapist and raped in the same categories,” he wrote, adding that Dugina was reportedly killed by Russians and that it was impossible was to call one of the “ideologues of imperialism innocent.”