According to Pope Francis, in a recent speech about the Charlie Hebdo events in Paris, “Violence is always the product of a falsification of religion, its use a pretext for ideological schemes whose only goal is power over others.”
The media have reported the Pope’s speech as yet another instance of a world leader speaking out against Islamic extremism. While it was that, it was also something rather more interesting, namely an implied repudiation of large chunks of the history of the Catholic Church. After all, the institution has an infamous record of visiting violence on people in the name of God. Didn’t the hostility of Islam toward the West start as a response to the Crusades? And how about the Holy Inquisition? How about the Church’s sorry “human rights” record in dealing with the natives in Central America and elsewhere?
Pope Francis strikes me as too smart a man to be oblivious to the implications of his speech in relation to the institution of which he is a part. If I am right about that, we may be seeing a radically different and arguably more attractive Catholic Church in the making under his leadership.