Fueled by wire stories from AP and AFP, the mainstream media have been running with a headline that Pope Francis, during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday 16 May, called Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas “an angel of peace.”
The problem: the pope did not call Abbas — aka the terrorist Abu Mazen — an “angel of peace.”
He did utter the words “angel of peace,” and he suggested that Abbas could or might be one. In the context of the pope’s complete statement about the meeting, the implication was that Abbas could be an angel of peace if he resumed direct negotiations with Israel.
Why did Francis say the words “angel of peace” at all? Because he was making a gift to Abbas of a medallion engraved with an image of the Angel of Peace. The Vatican Insider feature of Italy’s La Stampa has this summary in its English version:
As is tradition with heads of State or of government, Francis presented presented a gift to the Palestinian leader, commenting: “May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace.” Pope Francis had called Abu Mazen a “man of peace” when he visited Bethlehem in May 2014, just as he called the then Israeli Prime Minister, Shimon Peres, a “man of peace” during his subsequent visit to Jerusalem.