Pope Francis has hailed the election of London’s first Muslim mayor in a wide-ranging interview with a French newspaper.
Discussing the migrant crisis with French daily La Croix, Pope Francis said “the worst form of welcome” for migrants is “to ‘ghettoise’ them”.
“On the contrary, it’s necessary to integrate them,” the Pope said.
“In Brussels, the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they grew up in a ghetto. In London, the new mayor (Sadiq Khan) took his oath of office in a cathedral and will undoubtedly meet the Queen. This illustrates the need for Europe to rediscover its capacity to integrate.”
Francis gave the one-hour interview to two of La Croix’s journalists at his residence in the Vatican on May 9. The Pope was speaking in Italian. The daily said the Vatican read the piece before it was published.
Asked whether he thought a fear of Islam fuelled “the fear of accepting migrants”, the Pope said he didn’t think that “there is a fear of Islam as such but of ISIS and its war of conquest, which is partly drawn from Islam.”
“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest,” the Pope said.
In reference to the Pope’s meeting with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior-general of the SSPX, in April, Francis was asked whether the re-integration of the SSPX into the Church was being considered.
The Pope told La Croix that the SSPX “love the Church” and “Bishop Fellay is a man with whom one can dialogue”.
“That is not the case for other elements who are a little strange, such as Bishop Williamson or others who have been radicalised. Leaving this aside, I believe, as I said in Argentina, that they are Catholics on the way to full communion,” he said.
When asked how the extraordinary synod on the family that took place in October 2014 and last October’s ordinary synod had changed the Church, the Pope said, “I think that we all came out of the various processes different from the way that we entered, including me.”
In the interview, Francis also voiced support for a French cardinal who has faced allegations of covering up cases of paedophile priests in his Lyon parish, saying he shouldn’t resign.
The Pope said that a resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin “would be a mistake, an imprudence.”
La Croix’s full interview is available here.
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