On Sunday, Pope Francis offered his thoughts on the relationship between Islam and terrorism, and the individuals who equate the two. Put simply, Francis said, you’re wrong.
“It’s not true and it’s not correct (to say) Islam is terrorism,” Francis told journalists while in a plane returning from a trip to Poland. “I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence.”
Francis delivered these remarks following the murder of a Catholic priest in France, for which the Islamic State took credit. The Pope decided not to name Islam when he condemned the murder, a position he defended when speaking to reporters on Sunday.
“In almost every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists,” Francis said. “We have them too.”
The Pope expounded, “If I have to talk about Islamic violence I have to talk about Christian violence. Every day in the newspapers I see violence in Italy, someone kills his girlfriend, another kills his mother-in-law, and these are baptized Catholics.”
He added that when trying to understand the source of this violence, one should look beyond religion alone — and perhaps at toxic political rhetoric. “You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife,” Francis said.
Europe, he said, should look within its own borders — and economic systems — when attempting to understand the influx of violence in the region. “Terrorism…grows where the God of money is put first,” and “where there are no other options.”
Unless we address this “God of money” — which Francis described as the “first form of terrorism” as it attacks all “humanity” — we will not come any closer to understanding, let alone reducing, the incidence of domestic violence and international terror.
“How many of our European young have we left empty of ideals, with no work, so they turn to drugs, to alcohol, and sign up with fundamentalist groups?”