Critics add fuel to Pope Francis’ Islamic controversy

Critics add fuel to Pope Francis’ Islamic controversy

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Pope Francis caused a stir last week by defending Islam and holding that religion blameless for terrorism.

President Obama and Pope Francis - From Vatican Facebook
President Obama and Pope Francis - From Vatican Facebook

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 22, 2016 – Whether he knew it or not, Pope Francis set off a firestorm during a television interview last week. So much so that Middle East analyst Raymond Ibrahim wrote that “many people think he (the pope) is the anti-Christ.” Strong words for anybody. But they are particularly powerful when used to describe the pope.

Pope Francis angered Ibrahim to the extent that he refrained from calling him by his papal title, choosing instead to make references to the pope by using his real name, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Pope Francis claimed that Christians were equally as culpable as Muslims when it came to winning converts to their respective faiths by using a verse from the Gospel of Matthew to make his point.

Ibrahim quickly responded saying, “Jesus’s call to his disciples to ‘go forth and make disciples of all nations’ in Matthew’s Gospel was understood and practiced peacefully (emphasis added). Disciples preached; people converted. No violence, no coercion. In fact, it was Christians – chief among them disciples and evangelists – who were persecuted and killed simply for preaching Christ, first by the pagan Roman empire and later (and still) by Islam.”

“Unlike the spread of Christianity, Islam spread through the sword,” added Ibrahim. “This is a simple, historic fact, acknowledged by more sober European leaders: the overwhelming majority of territory that today constitutes the ‘Muslim world’ was seized from non-Muslims by great violence and bloodshed. Two thirds of Christendom – the Mideast and North Africa – was to be swallowed up by Islam a century after its founding. Even Rome was sacked and the Vatican defiled by Arab raiders in the name of Islam in the year 846.”

The comment that raised Ibrahim’s hackles most however, came when the pope sided with Barack Obama to “apologize” for the sins of Islamic jihad by making excuses for them. “Like a true apologist for Islam, he went on to cite anything and everything – arms manufacturers, hunger, and, parroting the Obama administration, unemployment – as causes for upheavals in the Middle East, while ignoring the elephant in the room: Islamic culture, which engenders dysfunctional, intolerant, violent, authoritarian, and tribal societies.”

It is here that Ibrahim hits Pope Francis directly between the eyes with a simple, direct statement and a one word answer, “Simply look to the birthplace of Islam, where Islamic law is strictly upheld: Saudi Arabia is wealthier than most Western nations and has none of the problems cited by Jorge, yet it too is barbaric, corrupt, backwards, and hostile to all who do not profess Islam. Why?”

On the heels of Ibrahim’s article, Austin Ruse reported for Breitbart News that highly respected Vatican journalist John Allen quoted Swiss-born Bishop Bernard Fellay as saying Pope Francis has a strong dislike of America and Americans.

For reinforcement, Ruse noted that until Francis came to the United States last September, he was the only modern Pope other than John XXIII to never have set foot in the U.S. before being elected to the Papacy.

According to Allen, as presented by Ruse, “it’s clear that one defining feature both of Francis’ personality and his approach to governance – which shouldn’t be at all surprising, when you think about it – is a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans.”

Some critics, including Ibrahim, now question the Pope’s efforts at shifting many traditional Catholic teachings. On that score, Pope Francis and Barack Obama are birds of a feather.

Writes Ibrahim, “If ever there was a person whom this admonition seems to pertain to – a man who holds the authoritative office of ‘representative of Christ,’ but who empowers the historic (and ongoing) enemy of Christianity, while urging Europeans to suppress their Christian heritage and express their faith exclusively by the ‘washing of feet,’ that is, by meekly lying down before Muslims – surely Jorge Mario Bergoglio fits the bill.”

The reference to the “washing of feet” is purely a symbolic gesture according to Ibrahim who opines that Pope Francis is either ignorant of or hostile to Christianity.

Certainly defenders of the pope, of which there are many, can explain away his actions and justify them.
That said, however you look at it, this world just gets stranger and stranger.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

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Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.