Pope Francis has said that the world is at war, but the leader of the Catholic Church stressed that he doesn’t believe it is religious in nature. “The word insecurity is often repeated, but the real word is war,” the pope said July 27 as per the above video from The Wall Street Journal.
“There was the 1914 war with its methods, then the 1939-45 one, and now this,” said the 79-year-old pontiff while on a plane flight to the World Youth Day celebrations in Poland. “It is maybe not organic; it is organized, yes, but not organic. But it is war,” he said.
The tired looking pope said his comments a day after the brutal killing of an 84-year-old Catholic priest in a church in northern France by two teenage supporters of the so-called Islamic State. Father Jacques Hamel had just celebrated morning mass when he was attacked by the terrorists, who cut his throat at the altar. The two terrorists were later shot dead by police.
For more on the church attack, see this report from ABC News:
“This holy priest died at the moment he was offering prayer for the whole church,” said Pope Francis.
“He is just one, but how many Christians, how many innocent people, how many children (have died)?”
In reference to this atrocity and other recent acts of terrorist violence, such as the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice that killed more than 80 people, the pope told reporters the world is at war.
“We should not be afraid to say this truth. The world is at war because it has lost peace,” said the pope.
According to ABC Australia, the pope clarified his comments to reporters 15 minutes later.
When I speak of war, I talk about real war. Not a religious war, no, he said.
“There is a war of interests, a war for money, a war for resources of nature, and war to control people; this is war,” he explained.
“Anyone who thinks I am talking of a religious war, no. All the religions want peace; it is others who want war.”
But the pope’s remarks have been criticized for being alarmist by some.
Dr. Robert Imre, an expert in terrorism and radicalization from the University of Newcastle, said he understood what the pope was trying to say, but that the comments were “well and truly over the top.”
“The so-called IS [Islamic State] is a minor player, and they are on the decline, but they have managed to obtain the focus of the media by being willing to go to the far reaches of human brutality,” Dr. Imre told news.com.au.
“But they are not an existential threat in that they do not offer an alternative world view that large numbers of people are willing to follow,” he said.
“By that I mean that even in places that seem to be hot-spots, like France, the amount of violence is still low in comparison to many other parts of the world, including the developed world as well.”
During his visit to the week-long World Youth Day celebrations for young Catholics, the pope also took time to visit the remains of the Auschwitz death camp where the Nazis killed over a million people during World War II. See this Wall Street Journal report about his July 29 visit to the former death camp below: