The Pope Calls for 'Muslim-Christian' Dialogue to Free ISIS Hostages. So Why Won't He Go to Syria?
Let’s put the pope's Muslim-Christian “dialogue” policy to the test. Here’s the perfect destination for the next papal trip: Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State’s caliphate.
Last Sunday, Pope Francis called for the release of Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim (the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Aleppo), Boulos Yazigi (the Greek Orthodox bishop of Aleppo), and Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio, who -- if they are still alive -- have all been held captive for two years now by Islamic jihadists in Syria. Said the pope:
I hope for a renewed commitment by the competent local and international authorities, so that these, our brothers, will soon be restored to freedom.
He must know that the “competent local and international authorities,” if there are any, aren’t going to do a thing to free these clerics.
If the pope wants it done right, he is going to have to do it himself -- and in doing so, he can prove the value of the Church’s insistence and dependence upon “Muslim-Christian dialogue.”
The pope should go to Raqqa and appeal personally to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s Caliph Ibrahim, for the release of Ibrahim, Yazigi, and Dall’Oglio. Pope Francis has said that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence,” and he has assiduously called for “dialogue” and denounced violence in virtually every situation. So he should go there, and display the correctness of his recommendations by initiating an in-person “dialogue” with the caliph or other appropriate Islamic State representatives, during which he can explain to them how they are misunderstanding the Qur’an and Islam.
This will fix everything: not only will the Islamic State forthwith release the bishops and the priest, but they will lay down their arms, and distribute flowers to all the children. The power of “dialogue” over all forms of violence will be abundantly established before the eyes of a world struck with awe, yet again, at the wisdom of this pope and the compelling power of his humble, saintly personality.
As he prepares for this “dialogue” trip, however, the pope may face resistance from his own bishops.
Robert McManus, the bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, two years ago (ironically not long before Ibrahim, Yazigi, and Dall’Oglio were abducted) summed up the prevailing view of the U.S. Catholic bishops:
Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.
So what is Pope Francis doing even talking about these abducted clerics? He should keep quiet about such matters, so as to preserve the “dialogue.” Will Bishop McManus and the other American bishops, recognizing the dignity but also the limitations of his positions, humbly but unmistakably call him on the carpet and “oppose him to his face, because he stood condemned,” as St. Paul did to Francis’ first predecessor, St. Peter (Galatians 2:11)?
Of course they will say nothing, and Pope Francis will not go to Raqqa, because in both cases the concerned parties probably know full well that the sham of the “dialogue” policy would be exposed to the world.