Pope Francis’ insistence in his new apostolic exhortation that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence” is drawing negative reviews from some analysts of the religion who point to the Islamic holy book’s calls to wage war against nonbelievers.
“How does he know that? When did he become an imam?” wonders columnist Pamela Geller.
She notes as an example the Quranic passage that states: “So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks.”
“At a time when Christianity worldwide is under siege by Islamic jihadists, the leader of the Catholic Church claims that the Quran teaches nonviolence,” Geller writes.
The pope addresses the issue in a new “Evangelii Gaudium,” an apostolic exhortation.
It’s on nearly the last page of the many thousands of words he writes.
“Our relationship with the followers of Islam has taken on great importance, since they are now significantly present in many traditionally Christian countries, where they can freely worship and become fully a part of society,” he says. “We must never forget that they ‘profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day.’”
Francis says the “sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services.”
“Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God,” he says.
Francis says Christians “should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries.”
He acknowledges, however, that countries with “Islamic tradition” are problematic.
“I ask and I humbly entreat those countries to grant Christians freedom to worship and to practice their faith, in light of the freedom which followers of Islam enjoy in Western countries,” he writes.
“Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Quran are opposed to every form of violence.”
Geller comments that “as Christians across the Muslim world live in abject terror and fear kidnapping, rape and slaughter to the bloodcurdling cries of ‘Allahu Akbar,’ the pope gives papal sanction to the savage.”
She says Allah “has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have paradise.”
“They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed,” she writes.
The pope also addresses the issue of unbelievers.
“Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live ‘justified by the grace of God,’ and thus be ‘associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ.’”
He says that because of the “sacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying toward God.”
Those expressions, he said, “can be channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism or from purely individual religious experiences.”
He also calls for outreach to non-Christians and strongly suggests a move toward socialism.
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
Inequality, he said, “spawns violence.”
“It is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves double damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve.”
He also advocates global management.
“Each meaningful economic decision made in one part of the world has repercussions everywhere else; consequently, no government can act without regard for shared responsibility,” he says.
“Indeed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find local solutions for enormous global problems which overwhelm local politics with difficulties to resolve. If we really want to achieve a healthy world economy, what is needed at this juncture of history is a more efficient way of interacting which, with due regard for the sovereignty of each nation, ensures the economic well-being of all countries, not just of a few.”