On his in-flight press conference returning from a three-day trip to Turkey, Pope Francis said that Muslim leaders around the world must speak out against violence and terrorism carried out in the name of Islam.
“I believe sincerely that it can’t be said that all Muslims are terrorists. You can’t say that. Just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists because we have them too, eh. In all religions, there are these little groups,” he said Nov. 30.
“I told the (Turkish) president that it would be nice if all the Muslim leaders, whether political leaders or religious leaders or academic leaders, say that clearly and condemn it, no?” he continued, explaining that “all of us need a worldwide condemnation, also from Muslims who have the identity who say ‘We aren’t that. The Quran isn’t that’.”
The Pope also offered a firm warning on the situation of Middle East Christians.
“Truly, I don’t want to use sweetened words. Christians are being chased out of the Middle East. Sometimes, as we have seen in Iraq, the area of Mosul, they have to go away and leave everything, or pay the tax which doesn’t do any good.”
Speaking of broader violence throughout the world, Pope Francis said he believes “that we are living through a third world war, a war in pieces, in chapters, everywhere.”
In addition, Pope Francis spoke about a particularly intense moment of prayer he had during the papal trip.
He explained that he came to Turkey “as a pilgrim, not as a tourist,” and “the main reason was the feast today to share it with Patriarch Bartholomew, a religious reason.”
“But then, when I went into the mosque, I couldn’t say, ‘No, now I’m a tourist.’ No, it was all religious,” he said. “I saw those marvels, also the Mufti explained the things well to me with so much meekness, with the Quran where it spoke of Mary and John the Baptist. And he explained it all to me and in that moment I felt the need to pray. And, I said to him, ‘Shall we pray?’ And he said, ‘Yes, yes.’ I prayed for Turkey, for peace, for the Mufti, for everyone, for myself because I need it. And, we truly prayed. And, I prayed especially for peace. Lord, let’s end wars. It was like that. It was a moment of sincere prayer.”
He also spoke about his visit with refugee children and said that he would like to go to Iraq.
“For the moment it isn’t possible. It’s not that I don’t want to go, but if I went right now it would cause a quite serious problem for the authorities, for security. But, I would really like to and I want to,” he said.
I'm seeing some Catholics bash the Pope's trip and of course, the Pope himself, whether it be over his meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew but particularly over his trip to the Blue Mosque and of course, certain fundamentalists are claiming that this is THE evidence to end all evidence proving the Pope is the anti-Christ.
Never mind that Pope Benedict spent time in the same mosque.
In the meantime, I'm sticking to the most Catholic notion that God's Holy Spirit has brought us this Pope, for this time, for sound reason(s) and sounder purpose(s) and I'm going to trust in His providence and not in what amounts to gossip fueled by ego and ignorance.