As the prototypical progressive Jesuit, Pope Francis prides himself on his “ecumenism.” He oozes enthusiasm for every religion except his own. At the top of his list of favorite religions is the Church’s fiercest adversary — Islam.
He often sounds more like a spokesman for CAIR than a Catholic pope. After jihadists cut off the head of a French priest in July 2016 — yelling “Allahu Akbar” over the priest’s slit throat — Pope Francis rushed to the defense of Islam. “I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence, because every day, when I read the newspaper, I see violence,” he said, before ludicrously blaming the rise of terrorism on the “idolatry” of free-market economics: “As long as the god of money is at the center of the global economy and not the human person, man and woman, this is the first terrorism.”
As Europe turns into Eurabia, Pope Francis is picking up honors and awards from progressives, including, hilariously, the 2016 “Charlemagne Prize” for his Islamic apologetics. It is hard to imagine a Christian leader less like Charlemagne. Pope Francis is energized not depressed by the disappearance of Christian Europe. “States must be secular,” he told La Croix. Christian states, he said, “end badly” and go “against the grain of history.” He added that “when I hear talk of the Christian roots of Europe, I sometimes dread the tone, which can seem triumphalist or even vengeful.” It also takes on “colonialist overtones,” he complained.
The most liberal pope ever, of course, sees no irony in shilling for the most illiberal religion on Earth. On his anti-colonialist scorecard, Islam wears the white hats and Christian Europe, the black ones. After jihadists gunned down ten journalists at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, Pope Francis rushed to Islam’s defense again, in effect rebuking the dead journalists for incitement: “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.” Those who do, he continued, should “expect a punch.”
This week Pope Francis takes his pro-Islamic apology tour to Egypt. Previewing the trip, which starts on Friday, he said he seeks to “offer a valid contribution to inter-religious dialogue with the Islamic world.” Francis’s fawning media courtiers are already rolling out the propaganda for it, predicting that it will “build bridges to moderate Islam.”
“A main reason for the trip is to try to strengthen relations with the 1,000-year-old Azhar center that were cut by the Muslim side in 2011 over what it said were repeated insults of Islam by Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict,” according to Reuters. “Ties with the center were restored last year after [Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb] visited the Vatican. Tayeb, widely seen as one of the most moderate senior clerics in Egypt, has repeatedly condemned Islamic State and its practice of declaring others as apostates and infidels as a pretext for waging violent jihad.”
Being “one of the most moderate senior clerics in Egypt” is about as meaningful a distinction as being one of the most chaste Kardashian sisters. Useful idiots in the West call Tayeb moderate, but anyone paying attention knows that he is not, unless calling for the killing of apostates now counts as “moderate.”
As Raymond Ibrahim has written, “There’s nothing like knowing Arabic — that is, being privy to the Muslim world’s internal conversations on a daily basis — to disabuse oneself of the supposed differences between so-called ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ Muslims.”
Ibrahim has listened to Tayeb’s speeches and comes away from them with the conclusion that Tayeb is a double-dealing phony. He trots off to the West to tell the gullible what “they want to hear” then returns to his mosque and Egyptian television studios to reaffirm traditional jihadist theology, writes Ibrahim:
[A]ll throughout the month of Ramadan last June, Tayeb appeared on Egyptian TV explaining all things Islamic — often in ways that do not suggest that Islam seeks “peace, encounter.”
… That this is the case was made clear during another of Tayeb’s recent episodes. On the question of apostasy in Islam — whether a Muslim has the right to abandon Islam for another or no religion — the “radical” position is well known: unrepentant apostates are to be punished with death.
Yet Tayeb made the same pronouncement. During another Ramadan episode he said that “Contemporary apostasy presents itself in the guise of crimes, assaults, and grand treason, so we deal with it now as a crime that must be opposed and punished.”
It has never been easier for orthodox Islamic clerics to take liberals for a ride. Salman Rushdie once bitterly remarked that the “face of moderate Islam” in Great Britain had called for his death.
Past popes regarded Islam as a font of poisonous heresies. Dante placed Muhammad in hell. St. Thomas Aquinas said Muhammad peddled “fables and doctrines of the greatest falsity” and sardonically remarked upon the perverse basis for his claim of divine favor: “Muhammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms — which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants.”
What has changed? Nothing. Islam remains as violent as it started. But one thing is new: The Catholic Church, under the death-wish progressivism of Francis, has become one of Islam’s loudest boosters.
George Neumayr is author of the forthcoming book The Political Pope.