Amid claims that Pope Francis' unscheduled stop at an Israeli memorial for terrorist victims was made under pressure to appease government officials, the Holy See has said that the rumors are false.
Stating that he “was not surprised” by the negative reactions some have had toward the Pope’s stop, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained to journalists May 26 that the visit “was against terrorism and nothing else.”
“The Pope is free to do what he has to do,” he said, emphasizing that he is not the “analyst of every thought” or action of the Pope, and that if the pontiff wishes to commemorate the innocent victims it is has nothing to do with any other individual.
Pope Francis made the detour today during his visit with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of his three day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
According to the U.K. newspaper the Guardian, the stop was done at the prime minister’s request, and has been seen by some as an attempt to appease Israeli authorities following the Pope’s impromptu visit to the separation wall diving Israel and Palestine yesterday ahead of his Mass in Bethlehem.
Despite the fact that some suggest the Pope was pressured into making the stop, Fr. Lombardi assured that he has “no political agenda.”
The spokesman also referred to a tweet sent by Netanyahu following the memorial visit stating that he explained to the Pope that “building the security fence prevented many more victims that Palestinian terror planned to harm.”
When asked by journalists what the Pope’s reaction was, Fr. Lombardi simply stated that he did not know, and that when you are given an explanation one listens patiently with interest and a desire to hear the person out.