Pope Francis said on Sunday that labeling Islam as “terrorist” is completely unfair and untrue.
“It’s not true and it’s not correct (to say) Islam is terrorism,” he told journalists aboard the papal plane during the return journey from a trip to Poland.
“I don’t think it is right to equate Islam with violence”.
Reporters aboard the papal plane flying him home after a pilgrimage to Poland that began the day after extremists slit the throat of an elderly priest celebrating Mass in a French church, asked him why he never uses the world “Islam” to describe terrorism or other violence.
While in Poland, Francis made an unscheduled stop at a church in Krakow to implore God to protect people from the “devastating wave” of terrorism in many part of the world.
He added: “I believe that in every religion there is always a little fundamentalist group.”
Francis said religion was not the driving force behind the violence.
“You can kill with the tongue as well as the knife,” he said, in an apparent reference to a rise in populist parties fuelling racism and xenophobia.
He warned Europe was pushing its young into the hands of extremists, saying “terrorism… grows where the God of money is put first” and “where there are no other options”.
“I don’t like to talk of Islamic violence because every day, when I go through the newspapers, I see violence, this man who kills his girlfriend, another who kills his mother-in-law,” Francis said, in apparent reference to crime news in the predominantly Catholic country of Italy. “And these are baptized Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence.”
Noting he has spoken with imams, he concluded: “I know how they think, they are looking for peace.”
As for the ISIS terrorist group, he said it “presents itself with a violent identity card, but that’s not Islam.”