Pope Francis likes to … er, pontificate on a number of subjects that are outside of his area of expertise. For example, he seems to think that climate change is the number one issue facing the Church. As I recall, he believes that climate control can be achieved by eliminating fossil fuels — a step that would plunge much of the Third World even deeper into poverty.

Another subject about which he has pontificated is Islam, though he seems to know next to nothing about the topic. Of course, it’s not the main business of a pope to have a thorough understanding of Islam; but given the 1,400 years of conflict between Islam and Christianity, one would hope that he had more than a passing acquaintance with the theology and history of Islam.

Prayers for the Victims. Silence on the Victimizers

This seems especially the case today. Not since the Armenian genocide of a century ago have so many Christians lived in fear of Islam. Christian villages and Christian churches are regularly burned to the ground in Nigeria by Muslim terrorists and tribesmen. Bombings and burnings of churches at the hands of Muslims have become a common occurrence in Egypt, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Uganda and even in France, where thousands of churches have been desecrated or damaged by fire. And last week four students were killed and 50 injured in an explosion during Mass at the University of Mindanao in the Philippines.

According to police, the bombing was carried out by an Islamic terrorist group with ties to ISIS. Pope Francis assured his prayers for the victims of the attack, but as is his custom in such circumstances, he said nothing about the victimizers. This may be because Sheik Ahmed al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, made it known to Francis early in his pontificate that dialogue between the Vatican and Al-Azhar could be resumed only as long as a “red line” was not crossed. The red line was any criticism of Islam. The dialogue was terminated in the first place because Pope Benedict had crossed the line by criticizing Egypt for not protecting Christians from attacks.

Pope Francis Encourages Tolerance and Fraternity

Don’t imagine, however, that Francis agreed to the terms grudgingly. He had already convinced himself that Islam is a religion of peace. Shortly after his election, in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Francis wrote, “Authentic Islam and a proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.”

But if Islam is a religion of peace, how does one explain Muslim terrorists? Francis’ answer is that they are not “true” Muslims. In his recent book, You are Not Alone (Non Sei Solo) he says that “either you are a terrorist or you are a Muslim.”

This is what is known in logic as the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. In the classic example of the fallacy, a Scottish woman calls her husband’s attention to a newspaper story about a terrible crime in London. The husband observes that “no Scotsman would ever do such a thing.” When informed that the killer was indeed a Scotsman, he replies, “No true Scotsman would ever do such a thing.”

In place of the “true Scotsman” Francis substitutes the true believer. Don’t bother to ask “what beliefs does the true believer hold?” For Francis, all religions are pretty much the same and all are equally good. Thus, in the Document on Human Fraternity, co-signed by Francis and by Grand Imam Al-Tayeb, we are told that “the values of tolerance and fraternity…are promoted and encouraged by religions.” Therefore, “These tragic realities [hatred and violence] are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings.” Thus, violence has nothing to do with Islam because Islam is a religion and religions don’t teach violence. In short, the terrorists are misunderstanders of Islam.

Muhammad Was Not Ambiguous

But if they are, then Muhammad himself would have been the first misunderstander of Islam. That’s because the terrorists quote him copiously in order to justify their beliefs and actions. Muhammad was not given to ambiguous pronouncements. Instead, he said things like “Slay them [the infidels] wherever you find them” (Koran 2: 191) and “I have been made victorious through terror.” (Bukhari 4: 52: 220)

In addition, Ibn Ishaq’s The Life of Muhammad, which is considered one of the three most important sources of Islamic truth, shows us that Muhammad was a long-time practitioner of terror. Two-thirds of the 800-page book are taken up with accounts of Muhammad’s jihad raids, his beheading of captured prisoners, his slave trading, his endorsement of rape, and his use of torture.

Yet, Francis tells us in his latest book that “Islam, in truth, is a religion of peace.”

Perhaps he really believes this. In that case he would have to rank as one of the most naïve and intellectually lazy popes in history. It’s more likely, however, that Francis is somewhat aware of the dark side of Islam, but simply chooses not to talk about it. In that case, he is deliberately misleading the faithful about an issue of vital importance to them.

Damaging the Faithful 

Just as Francis and other Church leaders are guilty of covering up numerous sex-abuse scandals, they are guilty of covering up the truth about Islam.

We know that Francis has covered-up for notorious sex-abusers such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Fr. Marko Rupnik, Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, Monsignor Battista Ricca, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio and numerous others both in Europe and Latin America.

Of course, many know little or nothing about the sex scandals and cover-ups that have occurred during the Francis papacy. Realizing that Francis is a fellow progressive, the media has been all too willing to cover-up his cover-ups.

But everyone knows about the priestly sex-abuse scandals that broke in 2002 during the papacy of Pope John Paul II. The revelation of that decades-long cover-up had a profoundly negative effect on the Church. Many Catholics lost their faith, Church attendance plummeted, and the Church’s moral authority was widely discredited.

But the Church’s cover-up of the large gap that separates Islam and Christianity is likely to have an even more damaging effect on the faithful.

Why? Because many more lives will be affected. The number of direct victims of sex abuse by priests is difficult to estimate. It could amount to tens of thousands worldwide or even more, but a resurgence of Islamic aggression could result in tens of millions of deaths.

That may seem like an exaggeration, but recall that the Armenian Genocide carried out by Muslim Turks between 1915-1923 resulted in 1.2 million deaths and an even larger number of deportations. And today many observers are describing the slaughter of Nigerian Christians by Muslims as a genocide. Meanwhile, Hamas has made it quite clear that they seek to exterminate all the Jews in Israel. “From the river to the sea” is not just a chant. It’s a battle plan.

The Church is Enabling Islamic Expansion

But what does the Catholic Church have to do with any of this? Just this: The Church, which once stood as a bulwark against the spread of Islam, has become an enabler of Islamic expansion. By presenting a whitewashed picture of Islam to the world, the Church has guaranteed that many if not most Catholics will be totally unprepared for Islamic aggression. For decades, the Church has emphasized the “common ground” shared by Christians and Muslims, while downplaying the deep differences between the two faiths. Under Francis, however, this highly misleading portrait of Islam has been promoted with even more enthusiasm while silence about the crimes of Islam has become more pervasive.

Meanwhile, Francis has become one of the world’s leading cheerleaders for Muslim migration. Polls show that the majority of Europeans are now dead-set against further Muslim migration into their countries. They have had enough of anti-blasphemy laws, child marriage, female genital mutilation, and soaring rates of rape and other violent crimes.

By contrast, Francis, with dreams of harmony dancing in his head, sees only more opportunities for dialogue. He gets to signal his tolerance and inclusiveness while others pay the price for his starry-eyed naiveté.

As the gap widens between what the hierarchy says about Islam and what ordinary Catholics can see with their own eyes, disaffection with the Church leadership will grow. What is now being taught about Islam is not just a white lie; it’s a deep and dangerous deception.

The time for the Church leadership to stop lying about Islam is growing short. It’s time for them to stop talking about the threat of “Islamophobia” and time to start talking about the dangers of Islamization — a danger that Christians in Africa, the Philippines and the Mid-East are now experiencing first hand.

This article originally appeared in the December 14, 2023 edition of The Stream.

Pictured above: Pope Francis greets the crowd

Picture credit: Pixabay