During an early-morning Mass (Sept. 14) in memory of Fr. Jacques Hamel, the 85-year-old French priest who was murdered in cold blood by Muslims at the altar of his church this July, Pope Francis said, This cruelty that asks for apostasy, lets say the word, is satanic . Today in the Church there are more Christian martyrs than in the first times. Today there are Christians who are assassinated, tortured, jailed, their throats are cut because they dont deny Jesus Christ . To the first Christians, apostasy was proposed that is, say that our god is the true one, not yours. Make a sacrifice to our god, or our gods. And when they didnt do this, when they refused apostasy, they were killed. This is repeated today. How much we would like that all of the religions would say that killing in the name of God is satanic.
Francis concluded by saying that we should pray to have the courage to say the truth: To kill in the name of God is satanic. The Pope is to be lauded for these statements, for they are certainly true. As we write this, for example, weve received news that Muslims have killed more than eight hundred Christians and destroyed one hundred churches in Nigeria. And we receive similar reports almost every day.
But theres one problem with what Pope Francis has said: He again studiously avoided identifying Muslims as the perpetrators of this cruelty. The fact is that it is Muslims who are coercing Christians (and others) to accept their god. It is Muslims who are routinely killing in the name of God. It is Muslims who are assassinating, torturing, jailing, and cutting the throats of Christians who dont deny Jesus Christ. It is Muslims who, in accordance with Allahs commandments, use religion to justify violence against non-Muslims.
This papal verbiage, at once strong and vague, is Franciss diplomatic way of safeguarding his desired dialogue with other religions, especially dialogue with Islam and its influential leaders. When the Pope met with grieving family members of the victims of Frances Bastille Day attack, in which a Muslim terrorist killed eighty-six and injured hundreds more, he told them, We need to start a sincere dialogue and have fraternal relations between [sic] everyone, especially those who believe in a sole God who is merciful (Sept. 24).
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