During his visit to Poland for World Youth Day last week, Pope Francis promoted his vision of peace and impartiality in the world by visiting the former Nazi death camp at Auschwitz and contending it’s wrong to equate Islam with violence.
During his third day in Poland, His Holiness visited Auschwitz and chose to pay tribute to the 1.5 million people killed there through silent reflection and prayer. He remained quiet throughout the visit, speaking only to survivors of the concentration camp.
Later, at World Youth Day events in Poland, the Pope cautioned that, “Cruelty did not end at Auschwitz -Birkeneau. Also today, people are tortured.” He highlighted the plight of modern-day refugees.
While condemning the terrorist attack on the Catholic Church in France last week, the Holy Father also confirmed his refusal to use the term “Islamic terrorism” is intentional, explaining, “It is not right and not true.”
“I do not believe it is right to identify Islam with violence. This is a small fundamentalist group called ISIS,” Pope Francis explained. “I do not believe it is true or correct that Islam is terrorist.”
Responding to questions from reporters on the flight home from World Youth Day, the Holy Father noted that terrorism can be found in all religions.
“There are violent Catholics!” he said, citing news stories of baptized Catholics who commit violent acts. “If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence,” Pope Francis told journalists during the July 31 flight to Rome.
The Pope’s remarks shifted the blame and responsibility of the world’s violent attacks from religious roots instead to competing economic interests, using the violence as evidence of the corruption resulting from the relentless pursuit of wealth and power. To combat this, Pope Francis asked that the world embrace others with openness, regardless of religion, race or country of origin.
The Pope urged the world’s Catholics to experience multiculturalism “not as a threat but as an opportunity.”