No, Pope Francis Did Not Call the Koran a “Prophetic Book of Peace”

kNQTCaJThe Moonie-owned Washington Times has a story headlined Pope Francis: Koran ‘is a prophetic book of peace’. That would indeed be a shocking thing for a pope to say, not so much for the “peace” part as the “prophetic” part, so let’s look at the quote from the story:

Pope Francis, in Rome after a three-day trip to Turkey, told reporters that Islam was a religion of peace and that those of different faiths shouldn’t be “enraged” at the Muslim community as a whole when acts of terrorism are committed.

“The Koran is a book of peace. It is a prophetic book of peace,” the pope said, United Press International reported.

Pope Francis, in Rome after a three-day trip to Turkey, told reporters that Islam was a religion of peace and that those of different faiths shouldn’t be “enraged” at the Muslim community as a whole when acts of terrorism are committed.

“The Koran is a book of peace. It is a prophetic book of peace,” the pope said, United Press International reported.

Indeed, the UPI story does include that wording.

But that’s not the full quote. Let’s look at what he really said, emphasis added:

“You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups,” he said.

They (Muslims) say: ‘No, we are not this, the Koran is a book of peace, it is a prophetic book of peace’.”

Not at all the same thing. He’s not saying the Koran is a prophetic book or that it is a book of peace, just that Muslims say it is.

I would not be at all surprised if Francis thinks the Koran is a “book of peace,” because there are elements of peace in Islam. It’s simply foolish and reductionist to measure an entire faith by its worst elements, even when the worst elements are pretty bad. That’s what our enemies do to us. We shouldn’t then turn around and do it to others. A critique must be both honest and generous. With Islam, violence is baked right in the cake, but so is charity and devotion to God as well. Whatever we think of it, we have to consider the real thing, not a caricature.

More problematic is the, Hey we all have our nuts, amIright? comment from Francis. Christian fundamentalists are tacky and stupid and annoying, but only very rarely violent.

When a Christian goes fundie, you get Jack Chick and bad music and, sometimes, Eric Robert Rudolph.

When a Muslim goes fundie, you get the armies of ISIS, 9/11, jihad, beheadings, Jew-hate, and the destruction of civilizations.

Of the two faiths, one has tendency to violence and extremism that is rooted in elements of the faith itself, while the other does not. It’s a false equivalence.

But I get what he was trying to do. He was encouraging Muslims to speak out against violence and appealing to the better angels of their nature. That’s what a pope should do. We’re not going to get anywhere by saying, “Gee, you’re kind of a bunch of violent idiots with a rotten holy book.” We have to share this planet with 1.6 billion Muslims, and the majority of them are peace-loving people, or the world would be far more violent than it is.

Remember that “pontiff” comes from “pontifex,” which means “bridge-builder.” Extending a hand of peace, even to our enemies, is not just the job of Peter: it’s the job of us all.

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