Pope Francis defended Islam even as he denounced Islamic terrorism, as he returned to Rome following a trip to Turkey.
The Pope spent three days visiting Turkey where he met with a variety of leaders, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christianity.
The Daily Mail reported the Pope issued comments defending Islam as he spoke with reporters on a flight returning to Rome.
“Francis, the leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, insisted that it was wrong for anyone to react to terrorism by being ‘enraged’ against Islam.
“He said: ‘You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists).”
Fox News Latino reported the Pope also does not agree with calling all Muslims terrorists.
“If that is said, it gets me very angry,” said Francis, who was asked on his return flight from Turkey to Rome about the relationship between Islam and terrorism, as well as how to combat Islamophobia.
However, the Pope also made strong statements against Islamic terrorism during and after his visit to Turkey. He spoke on behalf of those in Iraq, Syria, and surrounding Middle Eastern nations as well. The Pope and Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a common declaration that included the following excerpted statement.
We express our common concern for the current situation in Iraq, Syria and the whole Middle East. We are united in the desire for peace and stability and in the will to promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and reconciliation. While recognizing the efforts already being made to offer assistance to the region, at the same time, we call on all those who bear responsibility for the destiny of peoples to deepen their commitment to suffering communities, and to enable them, including the Christian ones, to remain in their native land. We cannot resign ourselves to a Middle East without Christians, who have professed the name of Jesus there for two thousand years.
Voice of America reported that the Pope also denounced Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS) terrorism while meeting with Turkish President Erdogan.
“During a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Friday, Pope Francis said the Middle East has for too long been a theater of fratricidal wars. He stressed the importance of dialogue in working toward building a peace based on fundamental rights.”
Pope Francis’s visit to Turkey was the first papal visit since 2006, when Pope Benedict XVI visited the nation.
[Image via AP/Turkish Presidential Press Service]