On board the papal plane traveling from Poland to Rome Sunday night, Pope Francis said that Islam should not be equated with violence.
He instead pointed to geopolitical capitalist influences and a growing global economy as the driving force behind terror attacks, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“I think it is not right to identity Islam with violence,” the pope told reporters traveling with him. “This is not right and this is not true,” he concluded, noting that ISIS is a fundamentalist faction that does not represent Islam as a whole.
“Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person,” the pope said, “This is fundamental terrorism, against all humanity.”
He suggested that the emphasis placed on material wealth has left many members of the international community feeling disenfranchised, especially Muslim youth.
“How many youths have we Europeans left empty of ideals?” Pope Francis said. “They don’t have work, and they turn to drugs and alcohol. They go [abroad] and enroll in fundamentalist groups.”
The pope’s message was consistent throughout his five day trip in Poland. In earlier statements he alluded to the fact that terrorism stems from the idolization of money.
He indicated that once “money is made a god,” the pursuit of wealth overshadows the pursuit of human flourishing.
“There is war for money. There is war for natural resources. There is war for the domination of peoples,” he said on Wednesday.
“Some might think I am speaking of religious war. No. All religions want peace; it is other people who want war.”
The pope’s statement Sunday came as a response to a question about the murder of a French priest last week and the link between recent terror attacks and the Islamic State. Pope Francis defended his stance condemning correspondence between Islam and violence, citing other instances where extremist factions of religious groups resort to such malicious methods.
“If I speak of Islamic violence, I should speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent,” Pope Francis said.
“I do not like to talk about Islamic violence because every day when I skim the papers…I read about violence in Italy: this one who killed the girlfriend, another killed the mother-in-law… and they are all baptized Catholics,” he said.
In his personal interactions, the Pope claimed that Muslims tend to seek “peace and encounter,” further noting that almost every religious group has some form of fundamentalist or militant factions.
Pope Francis warned that Europe will continue to push youth into the hands of extremists if economic and political forces continue to dominate and disenfranchise. He called for continued support of immigration policy and acceptance of refugees in European countries.
“People may judge you to be dreamers, because you believe in a new humanity, one that rejects hatred between peoples, one that refuses to see borders as barriers and can cherish its own traditions without being self-centered or small-minded,” the pope implored a large crowd on Sunday.