Pope Francis speaking yesterday said it is wrong to identify Islam with terrorism and warned that Europe was pushing its young into the hands of extremists. According to him, social injustice and idolatry of money were among the prime causes of terrorism.
The Pope said:
“It’s not true and it’s not correct (to say) Islam is terrorism. I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence”
The Pope was responding to a question about the killing on July 26 of an 85-year-old Roman Catholic priest by knife-wielding attackers who burst into a church service in western France, forced the priest to his knees and slit his throat.
Pope Francis further defended his decision not to name Islam when condemning the brutal jihadist murder of the priest which was claimed by Isis saying:
“In almost every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. We have them too (referring to Catholicism).
“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 baptised Catholics.”
“If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent.”
The pontiff was speaking after Muslims attended Catholic mass in churches around France on Sunday in solidarity and sorrow following the murder of the priest, whose throat was slit at the altar of his church.
In an echo of remarks made during his five-day trip to Poland for a Catholic youth festival, Francis said religion was not the driving force behind the violence. Explaining that there were various causes of terrorism, the Pontiff advised Europe to look closer to home, saying:
“I know it dangerous to say this but terrorism grows when there is no other option and when money is made and it, instead of the person, is put at the centre of the world economy.
“That is the first form of terrorism. That is a basic terrorism against all humanity. Let’s talk about that.”
“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?” he asked.
When he started the trip last week, Francis said the killing of the priest and a string of other attacks were proof the “world is at war” but that it was not caused by religion.
He told reporters on the plane that lack of economic opportunities for young people in Europe was also to blame for terrorism.