After the brutal killing of scores of innocents in Europe over the last couple of weeks, Pope Francis has finally conceded that the world is at war.
However, the Pontiff was at pains to add:
“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,” he said. “All religions want peace. Others want war. Do you understand?”
While this war does include many of the factors the Pope outlines, it most certainly is a war of religion, and a war of ‘interests’. At the fundamental level it is a war of ideology and of civilisations. Further, while it is true that many religions want peace, clearly not all do. And even those religions that want peace seek it in different, and sometimes diametrically opposed ways.
While Islam is commonly ridiculed in the West as the so called “Religion of Peace”, because of the endless flow of violence committed in its name, it is true that the ideology of Islam ultimately seeks peace. The problem is that as far as Islam is concerned, peace can only be achieved once the whole world has been defeated (through war if people refuse to willingly submit) and brought under Islamic control. This ‘peace’ is achieved by waging ‘jihad’, or holy war. It has been so with Islam since Mohammed and his mates began slaughtering and subjugating neighbouring tribes, or anyone who would stand is his way. This is not a ‘live and let live’ kind of peace, nor is it a peace that most people in the West, indeed most people around the world are willing to accept.
So thank you, Pope Francis. Your statement acknowledging we are at war has brought us one step forward. But your following remarks, denying the religious and ideological elements which motivate and underpin this conflict, take us two steps back.