It's not right to equate Islam with violence, pope says

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

economy that focuses on the God of money, not human beings, is the foundation
of terrorism, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to journalists aboard his return flight from
Krakow, Poland, July 31, the pope also stressed that violence exists in all
religions, including Catholicism, and it cannot be pinned to one single

“I do not like to speak of Islamic violence because
everyday when I look through the papers, I see violence here in Italy,”
the pope told reporters. “And they are baptized Catholics. There are
violent Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, I also have to speak of
Catholic violence,” he added.

Spending about 30 minutes with reporters and responding to six
questions, Pope Francis was asked to elaborate on comments he had made flying
to Poland July 27 when he told the journalists that religions are not at war
and want peace.

The pope’s initial comment came in speaking about the murder
July 26 of an elderly priest during Mass in a Catholic church in
Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. Two men, armed with knives, entered the
church during Mass. The attackers murdered 84-year-old Father Jacques Hamel,
slitting his throat. The Islamic State group later claimed responsibility for
the murder.

Although the death of the French priest was committed in the
name of Islam, the pope said that it is unfair to label an entire religion
violent because of the actions of a few fundamentalists.

“One thing is true. I believe that in almost all
religions, there is always a small fundamentalist group. We have them,
too,” the pope said. “When fundamentalism goes to the point of
killing — you can even kill with the tongue. This is what St. James says, but
(you can kill) also with a knife. “

“I do not think it is right to identify Islam with
violence. This is not right and it is not true,” he said.

Instead, the pope said, that those who choose to enter
fundamentalists groups, such as the Islamic State, do so because “they
have been left empty” of ideals, work and values.

The pope was also asked about accusations of sexual abuse
made against Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for
the Economy.

Pope Francis said the accusations are unclear, but are in
the hands of investigators. He also warned against deeming alleged accusations
true or false before they are investigated thoroughly.

“If I would give a verdict for or against Cardinal
Pell, it would not be good because I would judge prematurely,” he
said. “We should wait for
justice and not judge beforehand (or) a verdict by the press, a verdict based
on gossip.”

Pope Francis was also asked if he was all right after he stumbled and fell during Mass outside the
Marian shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa July 28. He missed a step as he was blessing the altar and an image of Mary with

“I was looking at the
Madonna and I forgot about the step,” he recalled. “I had the
thurible in my hand and I just let myself fall. If I had tried to resist, then
there would have been consequences.”

Regarding his ability to speak and relate to young people,
the pope told journalists that he likes to talking them “because they tell
me things that I never thought about before or that I never thought

He also emphasized the importance of a “dialogue
between past and future” and said older and younger generations must learn
to speak to and learn from each other.

“Listen to them, speak to them because they must learn
from us and we must learn from them. That is how history is made, that is how
we grow. Without closing them off,
without censuring them,” Pope Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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