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