Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis
Mahmoud Abbas, Pope FrancisAtta Jaber/Flash 90

Following a meeting with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, major English-language media outlets - including Associated Press and AFP - reported that Pope Francis called the PA leader  an "Angel of Peace".

The purported comments were received as something of a coup by PA officials and their supporters - but it appears they were the result of a mis-translation. 

Francis's original remarks appeared in the Italian-language newspaper La Stampa, which the English-language outlets in question translated as the pontiff calling Abbas outright an "angel of peace." 

But doubts were first cast on the accuracy of the translation by the Israellycool blog, which pointed out that the Italian was written in the exhortative (using the word "sia").

Several Italian-language experts have confirmed that to Arutz Sheva, saying that Francis actually told Abbas that he "may" or "could" be an "angel of peace," in an attempt to persuade him to return to peace talks with Israel.

As leader of the Catholic world, the Pope's stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict is closely scrutinized, leading to several high-pofile controversies. 

Most recently, last week Pope Francis declared he would recognize "Palestine," sparking an uproar - just days after he declared that the Vatican would canonize "Palestinian saints."

In May 2014, he called the Palestinian Authority (PA) the "state of Palestine," and  made an unexpected stop at the security barrier between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Judea to pray at a section with "Pope we need to see someone to speak about justice. Bethlehem look (sic) like Warsaw ghetto. Free Palestine" spray-painted on it.