What did Pope Francis say about military intervention against ISIS?
The Vatican released a statement that said:
“His Holiness also sends an urgent appeal to the international community, in order that they may work towards ending the humanitarian crisis and protecting those who are affected or threatened by violence, and to ensure necessary aid, especially that which is most urgently needed by so many homeless, whose fate is solely dependent on the solidarity of others.”
Asked if he approved of the American airstrikes against ISIS, Pope Francis withheld his moral permission, refusing to fully support or denounce the military campaign.
“I can only say this: It is licit to stop the unjust aggressor,” the pontiff said during a press conference back to Rome from South Korea. “I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means.”
So the pope did not say bomb or make war.
He also said “one nation alone cannot judge” the best means of stopping groups like ISIS.
Those decisions should be made collectively by the United Nations, the pontiff said.
“It is there that this should be discussed. Is there an unjust aggressor? It would seem there is. How do we stop him?” the Pope asked, without answering his own question.
Pope Francis has not explicitly endorsed U.S. airstrikes. In his Aug. 18 press conference, and in his letter to the secretary general of the United Nations, the Pope called for collective action, under the auspices of the United Nations.
The Pope said, “One single nation cannot judge how you stop … an unjust aggressor,” and he said the United Nations was the proper forum for such deliberations.
That remark underscored the message of the Pope’s letter from August 13th to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that called for the international body to intervene in Iraq.
“In renewing my urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now under way, I encourage all the competent organs of the United Nations, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the preamble and relevant articles of the United Nations Charter,” read the Pope’s letter to the U.N. secretary general.
The pope’s words seem difficult to interpret. However, it seems clear that the pope wants the subject to be discussed at the UN.
Last September, Francis called for a day of fasting to persuade the United States and other nations not to use force in Syria. “Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake,” he said at the time. “War begets war, violence begets violence.”