Pope Francis has refused to describe Islam as “terrorist”, because it is “not fair and not true”.
Francis was asked by reporters on the papal plane returning to Rome from Poland why he never used the word “Islam” when condemning killings by extremists like that of an elderly priest in France last week.
The Pope said “it’s not right to identify Islam with violence”, adding that every religion had its “little group of fundamentalists”.
He said that if he spoke of violent Islam, he would have to speak of violent Catholicism, since Catholics kill too.
Referring to the Islamic State group, Francis, 79, said it “presents itself with its violent identity card, but it’s not Islam”.
During his five-day pilgrimage in southern Poland he prayed privately in a church that God protect people from the “devastating wave” of terrorism in many parts of the world.
Francis told young people who flocked by the hundreds of thousands that they needed to “believe in a new humanity” stronger than evil and warned against concluding that one religion was more violent than others.