Pope Francis blunder: Pontiff mistakenly quotes Vladimir Putin when praising Angela Merkel

Pope Francis addresses Vatican crowds prior to colon surgery

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Pope Francis, 84, said he had been “touched” by a quote on the Afghanistan crisis which he attributed to the German Chancellor. The pontiff read out the quote which criticised the “irresponsible” West.

Francis also praised Ms Merkel as a “great figure in world politics”.

The pope said: “I felt a certain wisdom in light of what this woman said.”

But the quote the Catholic leader inadvertently attributed to Ms Merkel was in fact from Mr Putin.

The Russian President made the comment during a visit by the German Chancellor to Moscow in August.

The pope quoted: “It is necessary to stop irresponsible politics of imposing one’s own values on others, as well as attempts to build democracy in other countries based on external models without considering historical, ethnic and religious issues, and completely ignoring other people’s traditions.”

Francis made the blunder during an interview with Spanish broadcaster Cope which was recorded last week and broadcast on Wednesday.

During Ms Merkel’s visit to Moscow last month, Mr Putin demanded the West stop interfering in Afghanistan.

The German Chancellor said: “I must say that, in our development cooperation efforts, we did not want to force any system on Afghanistan.

“But we saw that millions of girls were glad to go to school and that women could participate.

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“There are many in Afghanistan who are very, very unhappy about developments now.”

During his interview with Cope, Pope Francis also said “all eventualities” were not taken into account when the West withdrew from Afghanistan.

He said: “I don’t know if there will be any review [of what happened], but certainly there was a lot of deception perhaps on the part of the new authorities [of Afghanistan].

“I say deceit or a lot of naiveté, I don’t understand.”

The Taliban rapidly took control of Afghanistan following the announcement that the US and its allies would pull out of the country.

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.

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