Pope Francis said that “no people is criminal and no religion is terrorist,” in a message to a California conference of popular movements.
“Christian terrorism does not exist, Jewish terrorism does not exist, and Muslim terrorism does not exist,” the Pope said. He explained his point: “There are fundamentalist and violent individuals in all peoples and religions—and with intolerant generalizations they become stronger because they feed on hate and xenophobia.”
In his address the Pope strongly endorsed the efforts by grassroots organizations to bring fundamental change to the world’s political and economic systems. He said that the global system today is “brutal” in its single-minded question for financial gain, and leaves many people by the wayside. The injustices of this system cannot continue, he said; “the system’s gangrene cannot be whitewashed forever because sooner or later the stench becomes too strong.”
The Pontiff charged that powerful interests preserve their status by encouraging fear of foreigners. Commenting on the parable of the Good Samaritan, he suggested that entrenched powers today are anxious to classify people as “neighbor” and “non-neighbor,” absolving themselves of their moral obligations toward those who are in need. He also said that corruption is widespread, and “the gutting of democracies is real.”
Pope Francis made these comments to a conference organizes by the Vatican’s dicastery for Integral Human Development and by the US bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development, in association with an activist group, the National Network of People Improving Communities through Organizing (PICO).