Is Italy leaving the door open for the rise of Islam? Will there come a time when Rome, the Italian capital where lies the sovereign enclave of the Vatican—the seat of the Roman Catholic Church and the home of the Pope—could find itself surrounded by Muslims?
That might not be farfetched if the fears expressed by a Roman Catholic archbishop could come true.
Monsignor Carlo Liberati, bishop emeritus of Pompeii, warned that the rise of atheism in Europe, along with the acceptance of moral decadence that "goes against God," is triggering the rise of Islam in Italy and other places, the Daily Mail reported.
"In 10 years we will all be Muslims because of our stupidity. Italy and Europe live in a pagan and atheist way, they make laws that go against God and they have traditions that are proper of paganism," Liberati said.
"All of this moral and religious decadence favours Islam," he added.
Statistics seems to bear out the Catholic leader's statements. According to the Daily Mail, there were only around 2,000 Muslims residing in Italy in 1970. Four decades later, the number has grown to two million, partly due to the increased migration of Muslims from the Middle East and Africa over the past few years.
Liberati cited more proof of Christianity's decline in Italy, including diminishing number of seminary students, his assertion that the Church "does not work well" and the fact that Muslim couples "have children and we do not."
"We are in full decline," the archbishop lamented. "Parishes are the only thing still standing. We need a true Christian life. All this paves the way to Islam."
Liberati's statements could dovetail with the ultimate objective of the Islamic State (ISIS) to conquer Rome to fulfill the prophecy of the Islamic prophet Muhammed and to prepare for the return of the Muslim messiah, the Mahdi.
"ISIS thinks that Rome is one of its primary goals and is in its timetable," Robert Spencer, author of The Complete Infidel's Guide to ISIS, told CBN News in 2015.
"It has a timetable where in the 10 years, by the year 2025, it hopes to bring about Armageddon, the final struggle between good and evil or between the Muslims and the non-Muslims," he explained. "And that one of the chief stepping stones to that Armageddon battle is the conquest of Rome, which they think they're going to be able to do with the next five years, by 2020."