Pope Francis seemingly sent mixed messages to 1.2 billion Catholics Tuesday while talking about Europe’s refugee crisis.
A reporter for France’s La Croix told the pope that Europeans were “partly” reticent of accepting refugees from the Middle East and North Africa due to fear, and he then asked if such feelings were justified.
“I don’t think that there is a fear of Islam as such but of [the Islamic State group] and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam. It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam,” the pope said Tuesday, the Catholic newspaper reported. “However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”
The pontiff then said western nations should primarily focus on how their own policies contributed to the refugee crisis instead of “ghettoizing” new arrivals.
“We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account. As a Libyan said recently, ‘We used to have one Gadhafi, now we have 50,’” the pope said. “Ultimately, co-existence between Christians and Muslims is still possible. I come from a country where they co-habit on good terms. Muslims come to venerate the Virgin Mary and St George. Similarly, they tell me that for the Jubilee Year Muslims in one African country formed a long queue at the cathedral to enter through the holy door and pray to the Virgin Mary.