I absolutely agree with Pope Francesco who said, during his last visit to Turkey, that “it is crucial that Muslims, Jews and Christians citizens – both in the law, as in their effective implementation -, enjoy the same rights and comply with the same obligations”. Talking about people, the equality of rights and duties is the undeniable truth at the base of every civil coexistences, but not talking about religions.
Embodying the principles coming from the name he adopted at the election to the papacy, that of St. Francesco of Assisi, the saint of the poor and boded well for unifying all humans as equal, with fellowship, with love, with justice and equity. Pope Francesco is fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges among religions.
Pope Francesco has several times underlined the profound connection between Christians and Jews. He has condemned anti-Semitism as a sin. He has reminded that the Christian world has its roots in Judaism, “In every Christian, there is a Jew and you can’t be a true Christian if you don’t recognize your Jewish roots”. So, he is facilitating the interfaith dialogue, putting an emphasis on the inseparable connection between the two religions, on the fact that Christianity grew from within Judaism.
Pope Francesco, as is his custom, likes to tell a tale about a group of anti-Semitic priests who were sitting together in a room and badmouthing the Jews, with a picture of Jesus and Mary hanging on the wall above their heads. “And then, suddenly,” Pope Francesco says, “Jesus steps out of the picture and says, ‘Mom, let’s go, they don’t like us here either.” Jesus was born Jew and he died as a Jew.
The persecution of Christians is more severe today than during the first centuries of the Church. More Christians are tortured today than they were in the horrible past. Unimaginable barbaric and criminal acts are taking place, in Iraq, in Syria, in Africa, in the Middle East against Christians, Yazidis and other minorities. Thousands of people are being brutally expelled from their homes. Children are dying of thirst and hunger. Women are being abducted and people are being brutally murdered. In certain places, the faithful aren’t allowed to be in possession of the Holy Scriptures, teach the principles of Christianity or wear a cross. This persecution is perpetrated by fanatic Muslim terrorists, and it seems a sort of Shoah…
There is only one country in the Middle East where Christians are safe, and that country is Israel. There is only one country in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing, and that country is Israel. Today the world does not have the luxury of remaining silent or putting together religions that are deeply different.
When the Pope has rightly said “violence seeking a religious justification deserves the strongest condemnation, because the Almighty is the God of life and peace”, that concept is very hard to match with Allah, that views men as his submissive servants, legitimizing the killing of Jews, Christians, apostates, infidels, adulterers and homosexuals.
Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears which foster misunderstanding and discrimination, must be banned by our societies and has nothing in common with Judaism and Christianity.
He ended his visit saying that “The Islamic say that the Koran is a book of peace” … If so. The political and religious leaders must condemn the Islamic violence openly and strongly, but they do not.
So, please Pope Francesco be clear.
Recognizing and developing the spiritual community through interreligious dialogue also helps us to promote and defend in society moral values, peace and freedom, but can be very dangerous, and must be contextualized in time and space. The Islamic militants engaged in the Islamisation of the whole humanity, recognizes neither the founding values of our common humanity, nor the goal of peaceful coexistence between people of faiths other than Islam.
So who are you talking to?