Despite warnings that the brutal terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) is targeting Pope Francis for assassination, the pope on Tuesday came out in favor of “dialogue” with the group that has committed countless atrocities while conquering large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Such dialogue is “almost impossible,” conceded the pope, although he said “I never say ‘all is lost,’ never. Maybe there can’t be a dialogue but you can never shut a door,” reports Reuters.
The Italian Gazzetta del Sud gave a different version of the pope’s comments that suggest he himself was considering holding the dialogue, saying “I don’t know if you can (have a) dialogue with the Islamic State, but I never close the door. My door is always open.”
Iraq’s ambassador to the Vatican Habeeb Al Sadr warned back in September that “what has been declared by the self-declared Islamic State is clear – they want to kill the Pope. The threats against the Pope are credible.”
“I believe they could try to kill him during one of his overseas trips or even in Rome. There are members of ISIS who are not Arabs but Canadian, American, French, British, also Italians,” said Al Sadr. “ISIS could engage any of these to commit a terrorist attack in Europe.”
ISIS has made clear that it is waging a war on Christianity, noting that Rome is a key target for conquest as the home of the Vatican and a core symbol of Christianity.
Francis made the remarks while on his plane returning from Strasbourg, France, where he made a short visit to speak at the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
In his address, the pope called for a more tolerant position on migration and better work opportunities.
He also noted on a lack of ideology in the West, saying “a Europe that is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals that we are witnessing in the West.”