On the heels of Pope Francis’ comments that while the world is at war, it really has nothing to do with Islam and Islamists’ many deadly attacks on innocent people, another Christian church leader has challenged that conclusion.
In fact, Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan of the Syriac Catholic Church told a meeting of the Knights of Columbus that the future of Christians in Iraq and Syria, now being overrun by Islamic State terrorists and their affiliates, is at risk.
“The very existence of Eastern Churches, those churches that come from the apostles’ time, is at stake, in danger,” he said. And they will disappear unless the West demands that the “fundamental human right” of religious freedom is defended, according to a report from the Assyrian International News Agency.
CNN reported recently Francis said the world “is at war because it has lost peace.”
“There is a war of interest, there is a war for money, a war for natural resources, a war to dominate people. Some might think it is a war of religion. It is not,” he said.
“All religions want peace. Others want war,” the pope claimed.
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Younan, however, told AINA the future of Christians in the Middle East is “not going to be assured [by the] hypocritical and Machiavellian agenda of the powerful countries and politicians of the West.”
The report said he was referring to deals made with Middle Eastern nations for oil, business and more. And he challenged perceptions that there’s nothing inherently violent about Islam.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, for example, has as its slogan, “Allah is our objective. The prophet is our leader. The Quran is our law. Jihad is our way and dying for God is our ultimate desire.”
He pointed to the recent violent attack by Islamists in France, where a priest was beheaded.
“Who taught these two young men who slaughtered the priest?” Younan asked the conference, AINA reported. “Their iman alienated them as children and as youth, and told them to memorize all the verses of the Quran.”
Those very verses, he explained, inspire tolerance. But he said they also instigate violence.
“If you tell these kids that those verses are literally coming from God, you’ll be able to turn that young man into a beast: since they don’t have exegesis, and they have to memorize those verses, it won’t be easy to prevent them from becoming terrorists or killers,” he said.
Many places in the Middle East, including some of those with close relations to the West, like Saudi Arabia’s links to the U.S., do not allow Christians to practice their faith and restrict Bibles and other items of faith.
He warned, the report said, that the window of action to save the Christian minorities in the region is closing. He said Iraq’s population is less than 1 percent Christian, even though when Saddam Hussein was in power it was more than 5 percent.
WND also reported when Franklin Graham, who heads up the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and the Samaritan’s Purse relief charity, sounded off on the pope’s comments.
“It most certainly is a war of religion,” Graham said in a posting on Facebook.
Graham said: “I agree that the world is at war – but I disagree that it’s not a war of religion. It is most certainly a war of religion.”
He said religion “is behind the violence and jihad we’re seeing in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and here in this country.”
“It’s a religion that calls for the extermination of ‘infidels’ outside their faith, specifically Jews and Christians. It’s a religion that calls on its soldiers to shout ‘Allahu akbar’ [“Allah is supreme” in Arabic] as they behead, rape, and murder in the name of Islam. Radical Islamists are following the teachings of the Quran,” he wrote.
“We should call it what it is.”
The report then said some other Catholics didn’t agree with their leader.
Religion News Service reported U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, a former Vatican official who is based in Rome, said last month that Islam “wants to govern the world” and Americans must decide if they are going to reassert “the Christian origin of our own nation” to avoid submission to Muslim rule.