|Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight en route to South Korea, August 14, 2014. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.|
“I believe sincerely that it can’t be said that all Muslims are terrorists. You can’t say that. Just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists because we have them too, eh. In all religions, there are these little groups,” he said Nov. 30.
“I told the (Turkish) president that it would be nice if all the Muslim leaders, whether political leaders or religious leaders or academic leaders, say that clearly and condemn it, no?” he continued, explaining that “all of us need a worldwide condemnation, also from Muslims who have the identity who say ‘We aren’t that. The Quran isn’t that’.”
The Pope also offered a firm warning on the situation of Middle East Christians.
“Truly, I don’t want to use sweetened words. Christians are being chased out of the Middle East. Sometimes, as we have seen in Iraq, the area of Mosul, they have to go away and leave everything, or pay the tax which doesn’t do any good.”
Speaking of broader violence throughout the world, Pope Francis said he believes “that we are living through a third world war, a war in pieces, in chapters, everywhere.”
“Behind this, there are rivalries, political problems and economic problems, to save this system where the god of money and not the human person is at the center. And behind this, there are also commercial interests: arms trafficking is terrible; it is one of the strongest businesses of this time.”
He cautioned that while humanity has discovered the positive good of nuclear energy, it has also used this energy for destructive means.
Asked about his trip to Turkey, Pope Francis emphasized ecumenism. He spoke about the importance of dialogue based on shared experience.
The Holy Father voiced his conviction that Catholics are moving forward in their relationship with the Orthodox, who have both the sacraments and apostolic succession.
“Unity is a journey we must undertake together,” praying and working together, he said, also noting “ecumenism of the blood,” as both Catholic and Orthodox martyrs shed their blood for the Christian faith.
Division exists when the Church becomes self-referential rather than focusing outward, the Pope stated. But while there are still difficulties, “we must be respectful and not tire of engaging in dialogue, without insulting others, without dirtying ourselves, without gossiping.”
In addition, Pope Francis spoke about a particularly intense moment of prayer he had during the papal trip.
He explained that he came to Turkey “as a pilgrim, not as a tourist,” and “the main reason was the feast today to share it with Patriarch Bartholomew, a religious reason.”
“But then, when I went into the mosque, I couldn’t say, ‘No, now I’m a tourist.’ No, it was all religious,” he said. “I saw those marvels, also the Mufti explained the things well to me with so much meekness, with the Quran where it spoke of Mary and John the Baptist. And he explained it all to me and in that moment I felt the need to pray. And, I said to him, ‘Shall we pray?’ And he said, ‘Yes, yes.’ I prayed for Turkey, for peace, for the Mufti, for everyone, for myself because I need it. And, we truly prayed. And, I prayed especially for peace. Lord, let’s end wars. It was like that. It was a moment of sincere prayer.”
He also spoke about his visit with refugee children and said that he would like to go to Iraq.
“For the moment it isn’t possible. It’s not that I don’t want to go, but if I went right now it would cause a quite serious problem for the authorities, for security. But, I would really like to and I want to,” he said.