Calls for ‘integration’ of Europeans with Muslims
Pope Francis, in an interview with the French newspaper La Croix, suggested a likeness between ISIS and Jesus by explaining that while “the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam,” it was quite possible to interpret certain passages of the Gospels, particularly in Matthews, as a call for Christians to go forth with this “same idea of conquest” in their discipleship.
He also faulted the free market for driving poverty, saying economies need “a state to monitor and balance them;” gun manufactures for fueling wars; and the failures of Christians in Europe to properly assimilate with Muslims as causing much of the tensions of recent times – ostensibly, to include acts of terror.
His specific words, according to an English interpretation of his comments: “Today, I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”
He also said “co-existence between Christians and Muslims is still possible,” citing his own growing years in a country “where they co-habit on good terms.”
And he pointed to the many instances he’s personally experienced when Muslims have formed long lines just to attend Christian events.
“[I’ve seen] Muslims come to venerate the Virgin Mary and St. George,” he said. “Similarly, they tell me that for the Jubilee Year, Muslims in one African country formed a long queue at the cathedral to enter through the holy door and pray to the Virgin Mary. In Central Africa, before the war, Christians and Muslims used to live together and must learn to do so again. Lebanon also shows that this is possible.”
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He then underscored his belief that all are equal in God’s eyes, and that all seek the same dignities – and because of this, religion and politics must be kept separate.
“States must be secular,” he said. “Confessional states end badly. That goes against the grain of history. I believe that a version of laicity accompanied by a solid law guaranteeing religious freedom offers a framework for going forward. We are all equal as sons (and daughters) of God and with our personal dignity. However, everyone must have the freedom to externalize his or her own faith. If a Muslim woman wishes to wear a veil, she must be able to do so. Similarly, if a Catholic wishes to wear a cross. People must be free to profess their faith at the heart of their own culture, not merely at its margins.”
Francis, who’s been a vocal supporter of the rights of refugees to resettle in Europe and America – and who has outright called on the United States to open doors to more immigrants and refugees – also said “integration” was a key component of ensuring Muslims and Christians peaceably co-exist.
“We need to speak of [national] roots in the plural because there are so many,” he said. “In this sense, when I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful. It then takes on colonialist overtones. … Yes, Europe has Christian roots and it is Christianity’s responsibility to water those roots. But this must be done in a spirit of service, as in the washing of the feet. Christianity’s duty to Europe is one of service. … Christianity’s contribution to a culture is that of Christ in the washing of the feet. In other words, service and the gift of life. It must not become a colonial enterprise.”
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He then drifted into a denunciation of capitalism, before returning to “the migrant issue,” and speaking of the need to integrate.
“Coming back to the migrant issue, the worst form of welcome is to ‘ghettoize’ them,” he said. “On the contrary, it’s necessary to integrate them. … I am thinking here of Pope Gregory the Great, who negotiated with the people known as barbarians, who were subsequently integrated. This integration is all the more necessary today since, as a result of a selfish search for well-being, Europe is experiencing the grave problem of a declining birth rate. A demographic emptiness is developing. In France, at least, this trend is less marked because of family-oriented policies.”
But on capitalism and the notion of free markets?
First, he called wars the work of “arms manufacturers,” and suggested if that industry did not exist, peace would prevail.
“The deeper question is why there are so many migrants now,” he said. “The initial problems are the wars in the Middle East and in Africa as well as the underdevelopment of the African continent, which causes hunger. If there are wars, it is because there exist arms manufacturers, which can be justified for defensive purposes, and above all, arms traffickers.”
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Francis then faulted unemployment, particularly in Africa, on the failure of those with the means to invest and provide jobs. And that, he went on, is due to the failures of governments to intercede.
Bluntly, he denounced capitalism, calling into question a “world economic system” he claimed had “descended into the idolatry of money,” the newspaper reported.
Francis then said this, to La Croix: “The great majority of humanity’s wealth has fallen into the hands of a minority of the population. A completely free market does not work. Markets in themselves are good, but they also require a fulcrum, a third party or a state to monitor and balance them. In other words, a social market economy.”
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