Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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Pope raps religious fundamentalists during in-flight press conference

April 01, 2019

Pope Francis argued that Christianity as well as Islam is troubled by fundamentalists, during an exchange with reporters on his return flight from Morocco.

Asked about the trip to Morocco that he had just concluded, the Pope said that it was part of an effort to encourage dialogue between Christianity and Islam: “a beautiful flower of coexistence that promises to bear fruit.” The Pontiff went on to compliment his hosts for their open attitude toward religious dialogue, saying that “in Morocco there is freedom of worship, there is religious liberty, there’s liberty of belonging to a religious creed.”

Morocco’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and the Christians who constitute less than 1% of the country’s population—nearly all of them foreigners—are allowed to worship freely. But native Christian face heavy social pressure and some government harassment, and the country’s law forbid efforts to convert Muslims. During his stay Pope Francis implicitly acknowledged that policy, saying: “The Church grows not through proselytism but by attraction.”

The Pontiff recognized that some Islamic countries place greater restrictions on religious freedom, but suggested that further dialogue could alleviate tensions. The said that Islamic attitudes could change, and remarked that in Christianity, too, there are some people who resist an open attitude. “In every religion there is always a fundamentalist group that does not want to go ahead and lives on bitter memories, on the struggles of the past, looking for more war and also sowing fear,” he said. Pope Francis said that Muslims will “grow in conscience” to accept religious freedom, and argued that, by a similar process, the Catholic Church has come to condemn capital punishment:

So, we understand, for example, that today we in the Church have removed the death penalty from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Three hundred years ago, heretics were burned alive. Because the Church has grown in moral conscience, respect for the person, and freedom of worship. We too must continue to grow. There are people, Catholics, who do not accept what the Second Vatican Council said about freedom of worship, freedom of conscience. There are people who don’t accept it. Catholics. Also we have this problem. But, the Muslim brothers also grow in conscience.

During the in-flight interview the Pope repeated his call for acceptance of migrants, saying that “the builders of walls, whether made of barbed wire that cuts with knives or bricks, will become prisoners of the walls they make.”


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  • Posted by: Kansas Girl - Apr. 05, 2019 5:03 PM ET USA

    Please Pope Francis, give us clear moral guidance. We want the Church to impact society, not for society to impact the Church. Tell me, is the death penalty for someone guilty of a heinous crime on par with the abortion of an innocent child? We get more instruction from you on climate change than on the 10 Commandments. If we don't get sound theology from the Church we may as well just join a Rotary Club and do our good works there.

  • Posted by: jeanneg117438 - Apr. 02, 2019 5:49 PM ET USA

    Yeah. But not all "fundamentalists" are created equal. As Ann Coulter said, "The Amish have been pretty quiet lately." While Islamic fundamentalists have decapitated Christians, Christian "fundamentalists" have tried to preserve the right to bake cakes without gay slogans, save babies born alive after abortions, and put nativity scenes on town squares. Thanks, Francis, for obscuring the difference.

  • Posted by: nix898049 - Apr. 02, 2019 4:28 PM ET USA

    We in the Church have removed the death penalty from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. So have 'we' removed the 5th Commandment along with it? I guess I missed that.

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Apr. 01, 2019 8:37 PM ET USA

    I would not expect a man who frequently demonstrates his absence of moral wisdom to make any sort of sound judgment of social reality, especially when he can puff up his ego yet again by gleefully insulting Catholics.

  • Posted by: mhains8491 - Apr. 01, 2019 6:15 PM ET USA

    Muslins fundamentalists, like ISIS, run around slaughtering the innocent. Holy Father where exactly are your alleged “Christian Fundamentalists” doing any such thing? Stop telling fibs, you need to pay more attention to cleaning up the filth in the Church, instead of story telling.