Pope Francis commented Monday that “religion” throughout the world had been used in the past year as a pretext for “rejection, marginalization, and violence.” The comments were meant to address the motivation behind attacks which occurred in the US, France, Germany, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq in 2016 — attacks which were perpetrated primarily by adherents (or at least claimed adherents) of religious affiliation.
Many different religious affiliations you might ask? Randomly affiliated? No. Virtually all of these attacks were perpetrated by self-avowed Muslims. Do all Muslims engage in heinous barbarism? Do most? No. The great majority do no such thing, but … there appears to be some sort of serious problem going on in the Islamic world. Something in its core is producing this violent behavior en mass and even the most liberal Pope in recent memory believes it true enough to (at least passive aggressively) call it out.
“We are dealing with a homicidal madness which misuses God’s name in order to disseminate death, in a play for domination and power … Fundamentalist terrorism is the fruit of a profound spiritual poverty and is often linked to significant social poverty. It can only be fully defeated with the joint contribution of religious and political leaders … These are vile acts that use children to kill, as in Nigeria, or target people at prayer, as in the Coptic Cathedral of Cairo, or travelers or workers, as in Brussels, or passers-by in the streets of cities like Nice and Berlin or simply people celebrating the arrival of the new year, as in Istanbul,” Francis said.
The Pope’s comments arrive on the coat-tails of a year filled with terrorism around the world either claimed directly by ISIS (The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) or done “in their name.” What do you think? Is the Pope right to just generally condemn the use of “religion” as a pretext for terror? Or is his generalization overtly labeling all religion negatively? Is it religion that is to blame; or a particular brand of religion (Islamic extremism)? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.