The string of terror attacks witnessed in Belgium, Germany, France and Turkey is proof that “the world is at war,” Pope Francis warned on Wednesday.
Speaking on a plane en route to Poland, Pope Francis addressed the brutal murder of a Catholic priest by French jihadists on Tuesday. Father Jacques Hamel was killed at a morning mass in his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, northern France, by a teenager claiming allegiance to Islamic State.
In total, 170 people have died in 2016 at the hands of Islamist attackers spurred on by calls from Islamic State to wage jihad in the West. In the first of this year’s attacks, 32 people were killed in twin suicide attacks in the city of Brussels. A further 41 were killed as a result of three explosions hit Istanbul’s main Ataturk International Airport. Last month, 84 people were mown down at the Bastille Day massacre. Finally, 10 people were killed in a string of attacks in Germany.
“The word we hear a lot is insecurity, but the real word is war,” the pontiff said.
“We must not be afraid to say the truth, the world is at war because it has lost peace.
“[This is] Not a war of religion. There is a war of interests. There is a war for money. There is a war for natural resources. There is a war for domination of peoples. This is the war,” Francis said. “All religions want peace. Others want war. Do you understand?” Pope Francis added.
Shortly after, whilst holding a speech at Krakow’s historic Wawel Castle, Francis addressed Polish President Andrzej Duda and the government, urging them “to overcome fear” and welcome migrants fleeing from “wars and hunger.”
He said: “Also needed is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”
Poland’s right-wing government has recently refused to participate in the EU migrant quota deal. According to reports, security reasons are said to have prompted the decision.
In response to Polish politicians’ stance of migrants, a Polish bishops’ spokesman blamed “inappropriate” political discourse for creating an “artificial fear of Muslims” in the country, according to a report in La Stampa newspaper.
“Unfortunately these fears are fuelled by some political parties, and inappropriate statements made by politicians. There is an artificially created fear of Muslims, understandable indeed in some ways (because of terrorist attacks),” La Stampa reported him as saying in remarks that have since been removed.
“Poland borders Germany, which has a large Muslim population, and on the border they do not run some regular checks,” he added.
However, it appears the remarks were later removed from the Vatican website, suggesting that the Vatican has decided to tone down its criticism of Polish politicians’ views of migrants.
Pope Francis is expected to visit former Nazi Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and pray at Poland’s holiest shrine in Czestochowa during his five-day visit of the country. More than 40,000 law enforcement and security personnel have been deployed by the Polish government in order to ensure the pontiff’s safety during his visit.
Image: Flickr, Long Thiên
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