Pope Denounces Jihad as ‘Deviant Forms of Religion’


In his yearly address to the Vatican Diplomatic Corps on Monday, Pope Francis decried the breakdown of society “spawning violence and death.” Referencing the “tragic slayings which took place in Paris,” Francis blamed enslavement to “deviant forms of religion.” This fundamentalism, Francis said, which uses religion as a pretext for evil, is “born of a corrupt heart, a heart incapable of recognizing and doing good, of pursuing peace.”

One sees the “tragic consequences” of this mentality “in the never-ending spread of conflicts,” Francis said. “Like a true world war fought piecemeal, they affect, albeit in different forms and degrees of intensity, a number of areas in our world.”

Francis said that his thoughts “turn above all to the Middle East, beginning with the beloved land of Jesus which I had the joy of visiting last May, and for whose peace we constantly pray.”

“The Middle East,” the Pope said, is tragically embroiled in “conflicts which have lasted far too long, with chilling repercussions, due also to the spread of fundamentalist terrorism in Syria and in Iraq.”

He said that this form of terrorism is based on a throwaway culture that starts by eliminating God. “Religious fundamentalism,” he said “even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext.”

Francis said that in the face of this unjust aggression, which strikes Christians and other groups in the region, “a unanimous response is needed.”

“Here, in your presence,” Francis continued, “I appeal to the entire international community, as I do to the respective governments involved, to take concrete steps to bring about peace and to protect all those who are victims of war and persecution, driven from their homes and their homeland.”

The Pope once again spoke of the importance of the Christian communities of the Middle East, praising their “precious testimony of faith and courage,” and declaring that a “Middle East without Christians would be a marred and mutilated Middle East!” The Pope also expressed his hope that “religious, political and intellectual leaders, especially those of the Muslim community, will condemn all fundamentalist and extremist interpretations of religion which attempt to justify such acts of violence.”

The Pope expressed his concern for the situation in Nigeria as well, “where acts of violence continue to strike indiscriminately and there is a constant increase in the tragic phenomenon of kidnappings, often of young girls carried off to be made objects of trafficking.” Francis called this “an abominable trade which must not continue!” and also “a scourge which needs to be eradicated.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome



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