Pope Francis is reaching Donald Trump levels with some of his “back of the plane” media commentary. On his return flight to the Vatican from Poland last week, just days after extremists slit the throat of an elderly priest celebrating Mass in a French church, he was asked why he doesn’t identify such violence with Islamic terrorism. His quoted response was, “I don’t like to talk of Islamic violence because every day when I go through the newspapers, I see violence”, in reference to crime news in Italy. “And these are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence”. Later, he said, “I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group”.
There is no evidence of any Catholic fundamentalist group of which I am aware, or Protestants for that matter, who are involved in sponsoring organized violence. He is just wrong not to differentiate between random acts of violent crime committed by people of all faiths or none and the organized terrorist violence committed in the name of political Islam, often under state sponsorship.
No doubt Pope Francis is a good shepherd, but I miss the intellectual depth of Pope Benedict XVI, who was deeply insightful and instructive on the issues surrounding the crisis of Islam and the West, as evidenced by his Regensburg Lecture in 2006, which set a high standard that Francis doesn’t seem equipped to reach.