During his regular general audience on August 24, Pope Francis condemned the car bomb murder of Daria Dugina. She was the daughter of Alexander Dugin, a Russian philosopher and associate of Putin with extreme nationalist positions and ties to extremist movements in Europe.
And specifically, the Pope said: “I think of all the cruelty – of so many innocents who pay the price of this madness. The madness is on all sides, because war is madness and no one who is at war can say: ” No, I’m not crazy”. War is madness. I think of a poor girl who was blown up by a bomb under her car seat in Moscow. The innocent pay for the war. The innocent”.
Among the first to protest were Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, and Andrii Yuras, the Ukrainian ambassador to the Holy See. In a tweet, the ambassador said that the pope’s speech was “disappointing” and that one cannot put “the aggressor and the victim” in the same category.
Among the sharp reactions was that of the former Polish ambassador to the Vatican (2013-2016) Peter Nowina-Konopka, who wrote an open letter to Pope Francis. In it he writes:
“I share with all my heart, Your Holiness, your words about the folly of war, about resisting the atrocities committed (by all sides) against children, prisoners, and civilians who do not take part in the war. However, I believe that “guilt” is distributed unevenly, just as Abel’s cross is not synonymous with Cain’s cross.
First of all, I do not understand the designation of the victim of the terrorist act in Moscow, Ms. Daria Dugina, as an “innocent victim”. This young man – and not only her father – was precisely one of the leaders who insisted on war and the deprivation of Ukrainians’ national identity, independence and freedom, using the sick ideology of the “Russian world” and the threat of destructive weapons. It is true that a terrorist attack cannot be an appropriate response to this. But, in my opinion, it is not an appropriate response to call active ideologues and propagandists “innocent victims”.
Moreover, the perpetrators of the attack have not yet been identified. An important feature of the current pontificate is that the Pope avoids acting as a judge – unfortunately, the words spoken in the Vatican were felt to be just that. And that is why they caused such pain to our Ukrainian brothers and to many people of good will. The aggressor does not deserve the name “innocent victim”.
With highest respect, Peter Nowina-Konopka, Ambassador of Poland to the Holy See 2013-2016.”