This pope’s inclination to advance an ideological stance over rational judgment does not bode well for Catholicism or the future of the West. Willful blindness endangers both.
On the papal flight back to Rome from Fatima, Francis held his customary en passant interview with hand-picked members of the press. Protective of their access, reporters on board are habitually reluctant to question aggressively or press for frankness. The aptly named Fátima Campos Ferreira, of Portuguese Radio and Television, asked the pontiff:
From this historical standpoint, what remains now for the Church and for the whole world? Also, Fatima has a message of peace, and the Holy Father is going to receive in the Vatican in coming days – on 24 May – the American President Donald Trump. What can the world hope for from this meeting, and what does the Holy Father hope for from this meeting? Following the pattern of Marian apparitions at La Salette, France, in 1846, the experiences of the three shepherd children at Fatima, Portugal, in 1917 were apocalyptic in tone. Their visions carried warning of grave peril and called the faithful to heed the urgency of penance. Repentance and reparation were the keynotes that made Fatima a fulcrum of opposition against communism during the Cold War era. Ferreira’s reference to a vaporous “message of peace” was the signal for Francis to deliver a trademark feint. He seized his cue:
That Fatima has a message of peace, certainly. . . . And I would like to say something which touched my heart. Before leaving, I received some scientists of various religions who were doing research at the Vatican Observatory at Castel Gandolfo. Some were agnostic or atheists. An atheist said to me: ‘I am an atheist’; he didn’t say what nationality he was or where he came from. He spoke in English, so I couldn’t tell and I didn’t ask him. ‘I ask you a favour: tell Christians that they must love Muslims more’. That is a message of peace.
The Vatican transcript continues:
Fátima Campos Ferreira
Is that what you are going to say to Trump?
Pope Francis [smiles]
Ten days later, a Muslim suicide bomber murdered 22 people and mangled scores more at Manchester Arena. The Vatican released a telegram signed by its secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin: “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the barbaric attack in Manchester, and he expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this senseless act of violence.”
But the violence was not senseless. It was purposeful, a calculated act of Islamic orthodoxy. After the Gaza War in 2009, Yusuf al-Qaradawi summarized the deadly core of Islam with an endorsement of jihad: “Oh, Allah, count their numbers, and kill them down to the very last one.” Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian, is one of the Muslim world’s most eminent theologians and head of the International Union of Islamic Scholars.
This Directive Only Seems to Apply One Way
The pope visited Egypt shortly after the Palm Sunday bombing of two Coptic churches that killed 45 Christians. No record exists of him having told the Egyptians to love Christians more. No one heard him ask them to love Jews more or hold Israel closer. Instead, he asserted “the incompatibility of violence and faith.” It was an affirmation made against all historic evidence and in denial of the nature of Islam.
Papal condolences, delivered indirectly by telegram to the victims of the Manchester nail bomb, omitted any reference to Islam. The statement took pains to avoid it. Absent any recognition of the true cause of the attack, Francis’ “solidarity” is meaningless. Note that he was “deeply saddened”—not angered, outraged, or even offended. We are saddened when kittens die, or a sick spaniel is put down. But when innocent persons are massacred something more muscular is required. The fatuity of sadness in the face of murder invites the next atrocity.
If ever there were a time to call down judgment on acolytes of annihilation, this is it. Refusal to name the motive for slaughter comes unnervingly close to the old legal maxim: Silence equals assent. Certainly, Francis does not sanction the violence. Not at all. What he assents to is the multicultural dogma of religious equivalency—the Same God myth—and the lethal fairytale that Islam is not inherently violent.
These Religious Equivalents Are False and Dangerous
Since it burst out of the Arabian desert in the seventh century, Islam swept across the known world by terror. It was the blitzkrieg of its age. As Islam reasserts itself (as Hilaire Belloc predicted it would) after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, terror is once again its gospel and its weapon. To take the violence out of Islam, Muslims would have to abandon all belief in the Quran as the word of Allah. It would have to reject the warlord Mohammed as his prophet and a model of conduct. In short, Islam would be required to denature itself—something unlikely to happen on the interfaith circuit.
If ever there were a time for judgment to be called down on acolytes of annihilation, this is it. The Chair of Peter is a high rostrum from which to proclaim the primacy of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jesus over the Islamic worldview. Allah, of course, would be displeased. And Francis is hostile to anything that might resemble missionary activity. In a 2014 interview with journalist Pablo Calvo for the Argentine weekly Viva, he said: “The worst thing you can do is religious proselytizing, which paralyzes. No. Each one must dialogue from his own identity.”
Francis cherishes the fallacy that Western affluence—the unspecified “economy that excludes”—is the incendiary, not Islamic identity: Terrorism grows when there are no other options, and when the center of the global economy is the god of money and not the person — men and women — this is already the first terrorism!
Last July, arriving in France just after a pious Muslim had slit the throat of an elderly priest, the pope intoned: “All religions want peace.” A month later, on the flight home from World Youth Day, he delivered this to the court press:
I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy. This one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law. And these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence. . . . [Religion] is like a fruit salad; there’s everything. I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists.
A logical shambles, the remarks embarrass the Christian church. An Italian who murders his girlfriend—his mother-in-law, his bookie, his dentist—is not under standing orders from God to rid the entire world of their kind. Catholicism did not make him do it. This pope’s inclination to advance an ideological stance over rational judgment does not bode well for Catholicism or the future of the West. Willful blindness endangers both.
The unspoken name—Islam—withheld from the papal telegram to Manchester parallels Francis’ wordless smile in response to the Portuguese reporter’s in-flight question. It is the smile of oblivion on the face of one of Thomas Ligotti’s demonic clowns.
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