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ISIS Fears The Pope’s ‘Subtle’ Conquest Of Islam

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Islamic radicals quoting papal documents makes for staggering reading.

Islamic State’s propaganda magazine, Dabiq, dedicated its latest issues to polemics against Christianity, railing against Pope Francis in a long essay of surprising breadth.

Dabiq begins by juxtaposing Francis to his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Though predictably critical of Benedict, ISIS credits some of his public comments on Islam with honesty and foresight. The pope emeritus had occasion to be critical of Islam’s fundamentalist practitioners during his tenure, suggesting that some variants of Islam were incompatible with modern liberal democracy, as it lacks the separation of church and state maintained in the Christian gospels.

“Despite being a liar, he certainly spoke the truth on this issue – democracy undoubtedly contradicts the essence of Islam,” Dabiq writes.

But the ISIS propagandists do not accuse Francis of being naive.

“Despite the clarity of past and perished popes regarding their enmity for Islam and its teachings, the current pope, Francis, has struggled against reality to advertise the apostate’s perversion of Islamic teachings as the actual religion of Muslims,” ISIS claims. “So while Benedict and many before him emphasized the enmity between the pagan Christians and monotheistic Muslims, Francis’ work is notably more subtle, steering clear of confrontational words that would offend those who falsely claim Islam, those apostates whom the Crusaders found played the perfect role for their infiltration into Muslim lands.”

ISIS accuses Francis of waging a far more insidious crusade — a conquest by ecumenism whose goal is “pacifying the Muslim nation” by interfaith dialogue. In this effort, ISIS claims, the pontiff makes vassals of those across the Islamic world who urge an accommodation with Christianity, branding all those who share his hopes as apostate pawns of the Vatican, collaborators in Francis’ modern “holy war.”

“This is all part of a plan to demilitarize Islam,” ISIS says “or, to put it more correctly, to remove the clearly Quran- and Sunnah-based duty of waging jihad against pagans until all the world is ruled by the Shari’ah.”

Perhaps most surprising is ISIS’s survey of the body of writing Francis has produced during his pontificate, specifically “Evangelii gaudium,” an exhortation written by the pope in 2013. The exhortation, and other papal documents of this nature, are essentially alien to most lay Catholics, of interest primarily to the clergy and theologians in the Catholic academy. ISIS’s commentary on the document indicates a surprising, if erroneous, theological engagement.

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