(JNS.org) Vatican spokesman Father Frederico Lombardi said that Pope Francis meant no offense in his purported description of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as an “angel of peace.”
Pope Francis, who canonized two 19th-century nuns from what was then Ottoman-ruled Palestine, met with Abbas on Saturday at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, where he presented the Palestinian leader with a bronze medallion.
There have been different accounts of what exactly Pope Francis said in Italian during an exchange with Abbas, with initial reports suggesting the pontiff called Abbas an “angel of peace.” Other reporters present said the statement could be translated as “you are a bit an angel of peace.”
The pope’s comments angered many pro-Israel observers who have questioned Abbas’s commitment to peace and his links to terrorism. Last week, the Vatican also came under fire for referring to the “State of Palestine” in a bilateral treaty between the Vatican and the Palestinians.