ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE: Pope Francis said on Sunday that he will not label Islam as “terrorist” because that will be unfair and not true, the international media traveling with him reported. But the Pope’s unorthodox, liberal and accommodative view has been slammed by a Catholic priest who says that he has turned a blind eye to stark realities and is barking up the wrong tree.
Reporters aboard the papal plane flying the Pope home after a pilgrimage to Poland that began the day after extremists slit the throat of an elderly priest celebrating Mass in a French church, asked him why he never uses the world “Islam” to describe terrorism or other violence.
“It’s not right to identify Islam with violence. It’s not right and it’s not true,” the Pope replied.
“I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group,” he added.
“I don’t like to talk of Islamic violence because every day, when I go through the newspapers, I see violence, this man who kills his girlfriend, another who kills his mother-in-law,” Francis said, in apparent reference to crime news in the predominantly Catholic country of Italy.
“And these are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence,” he said.
Noting that he has spoken with Imams, the Pope said: “I know how they think, they are looking for peace.”
As for the militant Islamic State (IS) group, he said it “presents itself with a violent identity card, but that’s not Islam.”
Violence is Rooted In Economy Not Religion
Wall Street Journal reported that the Pope said in Krakow on Wednesday, that the current violence is over economic and political interests rather than religion.
“There is war for money,” he said on Wednesday. “There is war for natural resources. There is war for the domination of peoples. Some might think I am speaking of religious war. No. All religions want peace; it is other people who want war,” he said.
About a year ago he said in Rome that the Koran, and the spiritual teachings contained therein, are just as valid as the Holy Bible.
“Jesus Christ, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths. This, however, should be the very concept which unites us as people, as nations, and as a world bound by faith. Together, we can bring about an unprecedented age of peace, all we need to achieve such a state is respect each other’s beliefs, for we are all children of God regardless of the name we choose to address him by,” Pope Francis said.
“We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now. No longer shall we slaughter our neighbors over differences in reference to their God,” the Pope added.
The pontiff drew harsh criticisms in December after photos of the Catholic leader was released depicting Pope Francis kissing a Koran. The Muslim Holy Book was given to Francis during a meeting with Muslim leaders after a lengthy Muslim prayer held at the Vatican.
Francis has gone on record to say that homosexuals are not to be judged, Proselytism is nonsense and has endorsed the usage of contraceptive by Catholics.
In March 2013, the Pope received a group of world religious leaders, his first ecumenical and inter-religious event. Addressing them he said Muslims “worship the one living and merciful God, and call upon him in prayer.”
Catholic Herald Slams Francis
But the Pope’s accommodative views have not gone down well with at least a section of the Catholic clergy.
Writing in Catholic Herald on July 29, Fr.Alexander Lucie-Smith says: “ I’m still trying to work out what it was the Pope meant to say when he spoke on the plane to Poland, saying that “It’s war, we don’t have to be afraid to say this … a war of interests, for money, resources. I am not speaking of a war of religions. Religions don’t want war. The others want war.”
And who are the “others” who want war? asks Fr. Lucie-Smith.
“It is war, one supposes, because there is fighting, but even this is misleading: there is not fighting in the usual sense of the term. Rather, there is naked aggression against harmless and defenseless people.”
“It is really important that we remember that people like Fr Jacques Hamel, or the Christians celebrating Easter in Pakistan, or the nun shot dead in Somalia, or the many Christians murdered in churches in Kenya, are not posing any danger to anyone. They are not provoking anyone either.’
“If this is war, it is a war being fought be one side only. And indeed, even in words, the war is one sided. The threats uttered by Muslims towards Christians are blood curdling; there is no Christian equivalent to ISIS and its propaganda machine. Christianity is not at war with anyone: it is the victim of warmongers,” Fr.Lucie-Smith says.
In fact, this interpretation of terrorism is very common, and predates the current situation, he points out.
“In Northern Ireland, in the 1970s, it was commonly averred that the Troubles were only coincidentally a religious conflict, but were in fact a conflict that sprang from entrenched social inequalities. This was up to a point true, but to see it as a complete explanation is to ignore the roles played by culture, history, community structures and beliefs.”
‘It must be true that social and economic inequalities do not help, and that in a country like France the Muslim community feels itself to be somehow excluded from national life. This seems to be beyond question. The sort of young men who are drawn to terrorism are clearly not integrated into society; if they were, they might have found better things to do with themselves.”
“But this raises the major question: are they not integrated because their religion prevents them from integrating into the French mainstream? This is the question that needs to be confronted: is the link between terrorism and Islam merely extrinsic or is it intrinsic?
“At present, in Europe, one undoubted truth is evident, and that is that almost all our terrorists are Muslim young men. The majority seem to be born Muslim, but a significant number are converts. The only non-Muslim terrorist I can think of is Abders Breivik.”
“But are these disaffected Muslim young men somehow being used by “interests”, as the Pope suggests? This seems unlikely, simply because the sort of actions that these terrorists carry out are not coherent, and do not seem to have any intelligible aim in view. Like the founder of modern terrorism, Osama Bin Laden, but unlike previous movements, such as the IRA, they have no set of demands, no negotiating position, and cannot be brought into a peace process, as peace is not their aim.”
“The Pope’s words on the plane seem to indicate that there is something “behind” ISIS, and seem to be at one with the usual Italian idea of dietrologia or “the facts behind the facts”: in other words, someone or something is “behind” ISIS, and ISIS is a front for some other movement.
“But there is no evidence that this is the case. Perhaps we should face up to the alternative, namely, that ISIS is serious about its stated aims, and it is what it says it is: the caliphate in arms, an attempt to resurrect the supposed state of affairs that existed in the 7th century. In other words, its inspiration comes from inside Islam (albeit a rather recondite current in Islam) and not from outside it,” Fr.Lucie-Smith proposes.