Pope Francis Says 'not All Eventualities' Were Considered in Afghanistan Exit

Pope Francis weighed in on the controversial exit of allied forces from Afghanistan, saying that "not all eventualities were taken into account."

The pontiff criticized the way Western countries tried to impose democracy that didn't take into account local traditions and suggested that the Vatican was working diplomatically to help Afghans reeling from the takeover of the Taliban.

The 20-year mission in Afghanistan ended on Monday night, with the last flight carrying U.S. soldiers back home. As thousands of U.S. citizens, Green Card holders, and Afghans eligible for an airlift were left behind, President Joe Biden has been condemned for how he handled the exit.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the handling of the evacuation was: "Probably the biggest failure in American government on a military stage in my lifetime."

With Biden defending the circumstances of the U.S. withdrawal, Pope Francis was asked by Spanish broadcaster Cadena COPE, which is aligned with the Catholic Church, whether the exit was conducted correctly.

The Pope said that while he thought it was "legal" to depart from Afghanistan after two decades, "the echo it has in me is something else," and that the key factor was "how to negotiate a way out."

"As far as I can see here, it seems that not all eventualities were taken into account," the Argentine-born pontiff told the broadcaster, according to a translation, adding: "I do not want to judge."

"I do not know if there will be a review or not, but certainly there was a lot of deception, perhaps on the part of the new authorities," he said, referring to the Taliban. "I say deceit, or a lot of naivety. I don't understand."

"It is necessary to put an end to the irresponsible policy of intervening from the outside and building democracy in other countries, ignoring the traditions of the people."

Diplomatic Help for Afghans

The Pope told Cadena COPE that the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Parolin, and his team, were working diplomatically to help Afghans.

"He is a diplomat of agreements and I am sure he is helping, or at least offering to help. It is a difficult situation.

"I am going to try to invoke what the Church always asks for in times of greatest difficulty and crisis—prayer, penance and fasting, which is what is required in times of crisis."

Newsweek has contacted the Vatican press office for further comment.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis speaks overlooking St.Peter's Square at the Vatican on August 15, 2021. He said in an interview "not all eventualities” were considered in the exit by allied forces from Afghanistan. Andreas SOLARO/Getty