In his prayer during the Good Friday, Via Crucis ("Way of the Cross"), at the Colosseum in Rome, Pope Francis said that for many reasons, Christians ought to express shame for choosing power and money over God, and for the actions of those who are leaving future generations "a world shattered by divisions and wars, a world devoured by selfishness."
The Pope's statement follows a pattern that consists of a steady, firm defense of Islam and Muslims, and accusations against Western civilization and Christians. Pope Francis persistently confuses his audience by claiming that violent people belong to all religions and that all religions are religions of peace. He fails to differentiate between violence motivated by religious faith and violence committed by followers of all religions, but motivated by reasons having nothing to do with religion. His goal in this intricate confusion appears to be to negate any connection between Islamic teachings and violence committed by Muslims who themselves proclaim that they had been motivated by their Islamic faith to kill and terrorize. "Islam is a religion of peace, one which is compatible with respect for human rights and favours peaceful coexistence," wrote Francis in his letter to the Christians in the Middle East in 2014. "Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence" said Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (2013).
Pope Francis attends the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum on March 30, 2018 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis seems determined to disseminate a blatant misunderstanding -- even possibly a denial of what is often clearly emphasized in Islam. One wishes that he understood that his belief in God (Jesus), expressed in his prayer -- that can save us from evil, from our "hatred, selfishness, pride, greed, revenge, idolatry" -- is absolutely denied by Islam and Muslims.
In Islam, Jesus Christ was a Prophet or Messenger and has no influence over our lives or existence as Muslims. Moreover, the Quran clearly says, "They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary," (5:24) "Indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam," (3:19) "And [you believers] fight against the disbelievers collectively" (9:36). Pope Francis himself is considered a disbeliever, polytheist, or infidel whom righteous Muslims should fight (Qur'an 9:111; 3:151;8:60 and Hadith: Muslim 4294; 30) -- or even kill (Qur'an 9:5; Qur'an 8:12).
Pope Francis might care to know that Muslims believe that Christians are following a distorted religious faith and therefore have only two final options: convert to Islam, the religion of truth; or be "good," submissive dhimmis, treated as tolerated, second-class citizens (Qur'an 9:29).
Ironically, Pope Francis rejects any efforts that are justified by Westerners or Christians to defend themselves, their religion, or their civilization. A few weeks ago, the Pope criticized Italian voters who had supported anti-immigration parties in the recent election, insisting that "fear" of Muslim migrants was not a good basis for policy. The Pope's rebuke of Italian voters goes against historical evidence indicating that justified fear can -- and should -- be an effective basis for policy. Modern history is full of examples of the necessity of anticipating danger for one's survival: The Third Reich; Stalin's Russia, and the catastrophic consequences of appeasement.
The Pope seems not to know or understand that Westerns, Christians and others may have many real, justifiable, reasons to "fear" Islamists and the influx of Muslims to their countries. One needs only to look at the once-great Christian Byzantine Empire (now an increasingly Islamizing Turkey), all of the Middle East, all of North Africa, most of Southeast Asia, Ottoman-occupied Eastern Europe, Northern Cyprus and Southern Spain.
Often the fears are a rational -- not imaginary or "phobic" -- response to the ideology of Islam that is not only committed to global expansion, but that also leads Muslim immigrants to reject the idea of integrating into European societies and also encourages them to feel morally superior to Westerns, whom many regard as corrupt. Muslim migrants are potentially dangerous not because they are "foreign, different, poor" as Pope Francis says , but because the Quran orders:
"Let not believers take disbelievers as allies rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination." -- Quran 3:28 Sahih International.
The Quran also describes non-Muslims as "unclean and untouchable" (9:28; 7:179)
Even more revealing are the dozens of Quranic commandments about waging violent jihad against infidels. At the top of the list is the Quranic verse written on Muslim Brotherhood flag:
"And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged." -- Quran 8:60; Sahih International.
The definitive role played by the ideology of Islam in thousands of terrorist attacks and trials by Muslims around the world, especially since the beginning of this century, is outspoken and undeniable.
Among the main duties of the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church is to protect the Church's followers, be empathic and understanding of their needs, and not deceive them into a condition of subjugation.
A.Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.