Did Pope Francis Call For A Merger Between Christianity And Islam?

Pope Francis has been widely reported to have called for a merger of religions in the interests of world-wide peace and harmony. Among other things, he is said to have said: "Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Jehovah, Allah. These are all names employed to describe an entity that is distinctly the same across the world. For centuries, blood has been needlessly shed because of the desire to segregate our faiths." He is also said to have said: "We can accomplish miraculous things in the world by merging our faiths, and the time for such a movement is now."

Unfounded rumours spread that Pope Francis had called for a merger of major religions.Reuters

The man is clearly a damned heretic.

You didn't read carefully enough. "Said to have said", I said.

Ah, you mean he didn't say them?

Precisely. These are internet myths that started circulating, by all accounts, some time in 2015. A Vatican spokesman has gone to the trouble of rebutting them in an interview with Associated Press.

It doesn't seem like a very likely thing for a Pope to say.

No. The Pope has been diligent in cultivating better relations with Muslims in particular (his predecessor never quite recovered from a bit of a PR disaster) but that doesn't mean he wants to merge with them or anyone else.

It's becoming more improbable the more I think about it. Catholics still haven't really made up with Lutherans, after all.

No, and it's interesting that people should have fallen for it. One reason is probably that many Protestants are still a bit suspicious of Catholics and willing to believe very weird things about them. It's not so long ago that John F Kennedy's Catholic faith was a serious bar to his becoming US President because people thought the Pope would be giving him orders.

Many Christians are suspicious of Muslims, too.

Yes, they too are supposed to want to take over the world. So you have two super-villainous powers – what's more likely than that they'd want to join forces?

OK, you've convinced me it's not true. But te Pope did say Christians and Muslims worship the same God, didn't he?

Indeed – that's the saying that got Wheaton College's Professor Larycia Hawkins into such trouble when she quoted it approvingly. But while in a sense that's quite true (there's only one God, after all) it doesn't mean we believe the same things about God, certainly not to the extent of imagining we can just ignore our differences. For a start, Christians believe God was incarnate in Jesus, which Muslims don't; that's pretty fundamental.

And the Pope believes that?

Trust me on this.

No worries, then.

No. But it is very worrying that people are so willing to believe such improbable things just because someone shared them on Facebook. "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on," someone wrote. And in spite of what the internet thinks, it wasn't Mark Twain. Or Benjamin Franklin, either. 

Follow Mark Woods on Twitter: @RevMarkWoods

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