Pope Francis says the world is at war. His blunt statement came one day after a Catholic priest was murdered on the altar of his church in France by so-called Islamic State terrorists.
The Pope was beginning his official visit to Poland to celebrate World Youth Day. Clearly shaken by the attack on 86-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel and his congregation, Francis called on the governments of central and eastern Europe to soften their resistance to migrants seeking refuge.
Rev. Hamel had been celebrating morning mass in the Catholic Chruch in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, south of Rouen in Normandy, when two men with knives entered the church. They forced the 86-year-old to his knees and slit his throat. The men also took several people hostage one who remains in serious condition. The two attackers were shot by police.
Francis began his remarks by saying “A word that…is often repeated is 'insecurity.' But the real word is “war.” For some time we have been saying: 'the world is fighting a war piecemeal.' This is war. There was the war of ‘14, with its methods; then that of ‘39-‘45, another great war in the world; and now there is this one."
"Be considerate of others, whoever they are;" The words of Father Jacques Hamel in last month's parish newsletter. pic.twitter.com/d0WvzqcjFi— Darshna Soni (@darshnasoni) July 26, 2016
Despite the growing anti-Muslim sentiment following the recent brutal so-called Islamic State attacks in France and Germany, the Pope emphasized that he did not see the recent events as a religious conflict.
Francis told the press that “the complex phenomenon of migration…calls for great wisdom and compassion, in order to overcome fear and to achieve the greater good.”
“Also needed,” Francis said, “is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”
In Ireland, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said that he fears the murder of Rev. Hamel will spur copycat killings. He said he had been stunned by the brutality of the elderly priest’s murder in front of his congregation.
“There is always a danger of copycat attempts and those copycat attempts will only be heightened the more you attract attention,” he told RTE.
However, Martin said he had been pleased by the messages he had received from leading Islamic figures in Ireland and said the attack was something that “horrifies” all religions.
Martin said, “We can thank God the relations between Muslims and Christians in Ireland are good. There is an understanding and that is actually improving day by day. I was pleased by some of the [contact] I got from some of the Islamic sources in Dublin, already some messages of sympathy. This is something no religion would stand over. It horrifies everyone.”
He said the only way of “combating this evil is by bringing a similar force of goodness into our society.”
He told the Irish Examiner, “I think everyone is stunned by the absolute brutality of this.
“It’s very frightening to see the number of cases which go way outside the normal picture of terrorism, of individuals, in some cases known, in other cases not known, who carry out random, but very brutal, terrorist attempts.”
Martin also described the comments made by US Cardinal Raymond Burke as “not helpful.” Burke, who is based in Rome, had said that Islam wanted to rule the world and the United States should reassert its Christian roots.
The Archbishop responded saying, “Does Islam want to rule the world?
“There may be some people of the Islamic faith who do, but Islam itself has another side within it, a caring and tolerant side.”
He added, “Longer-term solutions will come from education. Education is the basis for real tolerance, and knowledge and respect for other religions, which is an extremely important thing.”
Shaykh Umar Al-Qadri of the Islamic Centre Ireland called on all the faithful to unite against terror. Previously, he had spoken about the persecution of Christians by “pseudo-Muslims.”
Al-Qadri said “Radical Islam is an enemy to not just non-Muslims, but also to the Islam which was propagated by Prophet Muhammad.”