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'As empty gestures go, impressive': WaPo's Jennifer Rubin mocks Pope Francis' visit to Russian embassy over Ukraine invasion — and gets torched for it

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Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC Newswire/NBCUniversal via Getty Images (left); Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis visited the Russian embassy to the Holy See on Friday to express concern over Russia's invasion of Ukraine — a move that Reuters characterized as an "unprecedented departure from diplomatic protocol."

The outlet said Moscow's ambassador, Aleksandr Avdeyev, told the RIA Novosti news agency that during the 40-minute meeting, Francis expressed "great concern" about Ukraine's humanitarian situation and quoted the pontiff as calling "for the protection of children, the protection of the sick and suffering, and the protection of people."

But formerly conservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin wasn't impressed.

What did she say?

Replying to a tweet from NBC News' chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel on the pope's appeal, Rubin remarked, "As empty gestures go, impressive."

How are folks reacting?

As you might imagine, a number of Twitter users who caught wind of Rubin's five-word dismissal of Pope Francis' rare act were equally dismissive of Rubin and her words:

  • "Yeah Jen, there definitely aren’t over a billion Catholics to be spoken for, and the Holy Father has never played a role in liberating Eastern Europe, definitely not a thing that happened 30-40 years ago," one commenter noted.
  • "Like changing your Twitter name to 'I stand with Ukraine.' What does that even mean?" another user wondered. "Did you fly to the Ukraine, take up arms, and are right now helping them defend their country?"
  • "She's literally saved 40 billion lives by changing her Twitter name to include 'I stand with Ukraine,'" another user mocked in reference to Rubin.
  • "God you are an awful human being," another commenter declared. "What has your god, Joe Biden, done for the people of Ukraine other than get them killed? Burn in hell, witch."
  • "Really Jennifer?!! An empty gesture!! Pope Francis and his words, thoughts, and actions, have significant influence around the world!" another user said. "His words have way more significance than yours! So why don’t you take your empty gesture words and go to Kyiv and stand with Ukraine and fight!"

Anything else?

Reuters noted that a pope visiting an embassy to talk to an ambassador in a time of conflict "is unprecedented in living memory," adding that the Vatican's secretary of state usually summons foreign envoys to meet with the pope in the Apostolic Palace.

The outlet also said that prior to Russia's invasion, Andriy Yurash — Ukraine's ambassador to the Vatican — told Reuters that Kyiv would be open to a Vatican mediation of the conflict.

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