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May 18, 2015 12:57 pm

Did Pope Francis Actually Call Abbas ‘Angel of Peace?’ — Not Really

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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Pope Francis raised eyebrows with an "angel of peace" comment directed at PA President Mahmoud Abbas when the latter visited the Vatican on Saturday. Photo: Casa Rosada via Wikimedia Commons.

As Pope Francis moved to canonize two 19th-century Arab nuns from Jerusalem and the Galilee, the pontiff created quite the stir when he appeared to call Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace.”

But there appears to be a disagreement over whether the pope actually called Abbas — who recently said he saw “no Israeli partner for peace” —  an “angel of peace,” or exhorted him to become one.

The issue would appear to boil down to translation.

A report in the BBC claimed that the pope “made the remark as he presented the Palestinian leader with a medallion,” which was ultimately repeated by the Associated Press and then widely repeated on news sites across the world.

The Agence France-Presse ran a headline that read “Pope meets ‘angel of peace’ Abbas after treaty announcement,” referring to an agreement last week before Abbas’ visit calling the Palestinian entity, the state of Palestine. The New York Times: “In Vatican, Abbas is praised as ‘angel of peace.'”

But a separate translation of the pope’s remarks, from an Italian English-language newspaper, indicates another papal sentiment altogether.

As he presented the Palestinian leader with a gift from the Vatican, the Pope reportedly exhorted Abbas: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.”

The conflicting reports came shortly after the Holy See raised eyebrows over the treaty it signed with the PA calling the Palestinian entity the “state of Palestine,” in a move which drew criticism from Israeli and Jewish leaders around the globe.

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