Such is Pope Francis’s view, mercifully communicated only to a gathering of California clergy.
Had he spoken ex cathedra, rather than to a conference on inequality (whatever that means), every thinking Catholic might experience grave doubts.
When all is said and done, Christian doctrine is infinitely more complex than quotidian affairs. Hence when the pontiff talks bumptious nonsense on the latter, one may be tempted to question his competence on the former.
Here’s what His Holiness said in his wisdom: “Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist… [It’s just that there are] violent individuals in all peoples and religions.”
The tail end of the statement is God’s own truth – so much so that a less reverential person than me might describe it as a truism. Ever since Eve bit a piece out of that fruit, man has been sinful. And it can’t be gainsaid that some people are prone to express their sinfulness violently.
Can’t fault His Holiness there. Where he leaves himself open to derisory criticism is in the little bit of moral equivalence preceding the truism. What the Pope is actually suggesting is that people’s actions aren’t affected by their beliefs, which is an odd thing for a priest to say.
No religion is more likely to inspire terroristic violence than any other. None of them matters; people act of their own accord and, say, a Buddhist is as likely as a Muslim to spray a crowd of children with AK rounds. After all, there are violent individuals in all religions. A creed that commands to kill enemies is, in any practical sense, no different from one that enjoins to love them.
If that’s what the Pope thinks, isn’t he admitting, among other things, that Christianity in general and his life’s mission in particular have failed? That people only pay lip service to religion without letting it interfere with their behaviour?
His Holiness should bring Aristotelian logic to the problem at hand. After all, this intellectual tool has been highly productive in Catholicism ever since the 13th century, when Aquinas baptised the Greek philosopher and co-opted him into Christianity. The essence of Aristotelian logic is a posteriori induction, reaching general conclusions on the basis of empirically observable facts.
Essentially the Pope is implying that Christians and Jews are as likely as Muslims to blow up innocent bystanders. If so, then the relative number and frequency of such acts have to fall within the same statistical band.
But they don’t, not even close. In 2015 there were 452 suicide attacks in the world, 450 of them by Muslims. Between 1979 and 2017, 19,840 people were killed by Islamic terrorism worldwide. (Typically, the ratio of the wounded to the dead is 3:1. Do your own maths.) The number of those killed by even nominal practitioners of other religions is lower by two orders of magnitude.
Moreover, just before pulling the cord of the explosive vest or the AK trigger, the suicide killers invariably scream “Allahu akbar!, not “Next year in Jerusalem”, nor “I love Jesus”, nor even a secular slogan, such as “Freedom to so and so” or “Hands off such and such”.
Then, extrapolating from sensory observation, one looks at those 300 Koran verses that specifically call for the killing of infidels, compares them to the scripture of other religions, and realises that the Pope isn’t so much thinking as feeling.
His ideology trumps his faith and his emotions supersede his thought, which is most unfortunate for a Catholic prelate – especially since his ideology is wrong and his feelings are in no way informed by anything other than his ideology, not even by his faith.
Then on to the second part of the papal exhortation: indisputable global warming and its “denial”, which the pontiff anathematised, in a manner of speaking. “Time is running out,” thundered His Holiness. “Let us act”.
He didn’t specify what ecclesiastical actions he had in mind. Fiery homilies against aerosol sprays? The excommunication or perhaps auto–da–fé of global warming deniers? Banning the clergy from using any polluting transport?
No, just more meaningless generalities: “I ask all of you, people of all backgrounds including native people, pastors, political leaders – to defend Creation.”
One wonders how intimately His Holiness is familiar with the scientific disciplines tangentially touching upon anthropogenic global warming, such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, astrophysics, palaeontology, geology and so forth. I suspect not very.
Those scientists who do specialise in such disciplines aren’t in agreement on this issue, which isn’t surprising. After all, the initial discovery of mankind endangering Creation with aerosol sprays came not from scientists but from the UN, which explains its heavy slant into politics.
I’m no expert in those branches of science myself, but, casting my layman’s eye over the two sides, I think that ‘deniers’ make more sense, their arguments are more solidly scientific and less garrulously ideological. The Pope may feel differently, but surely even he must see that there’s much room for doubt – enough to refrain from apocalyptic pronouncements.
One craves confident, inspiring papal statements on doctrine. Instead one gets ill-advised and ill-founded entreaties on secular matters that His Holiness doesn’t really understand in sufficient depth. Pity, that.