It took a man like Pope Francis to rally the world’s multi-faith communities about the impunity by which the ISIS militants have been causing horrible havoc in Iraq and Syria during his visit to predominantly Muslim Albania a few days ago.
“Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression,” the pontiff said in speech at the presidential palace in Tirana in front of Albania’s leaders.
“May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all, the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom,” he said.
The world knows now that the Islamist militant group ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is seeking to establish a caliphate in the Middle East and anybody who stands on the way is destroyed, especially those that do not belong to their Sunni religion upbringing.
There is no better and fitting country to go in the pope’s first European trip and issue this timely warning than Albania which, all these years, is seen as a model for harmony between the various religions by establishing a national government that includes Muslims, Orthodox (Christians) and Catholics.
Other religious communities include the Bektashi, Jewish and Protestant.
Note that the revival of Catholicism (15% of the population) is due in part to the popularity of Mother Teresa, an ethnic Albanian born in neighbouring Macedonia.
Francis emphasized that such admirable coexistence was especially important “in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted and where religious differences are being distorted and instrumentalized”.
The visit to Albania came on the heels of Pope Francis’ meeting with a number of Jewish leaders at the Vatican where he told them, “first it was your turn and now it is our turn” in a discussion about the persecution and murder of Christians in the Middle East.
Francis was drawing a comparison between the Jewish Holocaust and ISIS’s current persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq.
“In other words, first Jews suffered savage attacks that were met with the world’s silence and now it is Christians who are being annihilated and the world is silent,” he said.
Pope Francis has previously encouraged efforts to stop ISIS, saying: “In cases like this, where there is an unjust aggression, then it is licit to halt the aggressor.”
The pope is just being realistic in condoning the killings of the ISIS militants for their inhuman behavior.