DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A group of ex-Muslim converts to Catholicism are criticizing Pope Francis' approach to Islam. In an open letter to the Holy Father recently published online, the former Muslims say the pope's teaching on Islam as it appears in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (EG) implies that Islam is a good religion in itself.
"If Islam is in itself a good religion, as you seem to teach, why did we become Catholic?" they ask. "Do not your words question the goodness of the choice we made … at the risk of our lives?"
Paragraph 252 of EG declares: "The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services."
The Holy Father continues in the next paragraph, "Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalizations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence."
Robert Spencer, an Islamic expert and editor of Jihad Watch, told Church Militant, "These converts are respectfully calling upon the Pope to acknowledge truths that he has repeatedly denied and misstated."
The ex-Muslims quote Abp. Nona Amel, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul in Iraq: "Our present sufferings are the prelude to those that you, Europeans and Western Christians, will suffer in the near future. I lost my diocese. The headquarters of my archdiocese and my apostolate have been occupied by radical Islamists who want us to convert or die."
The ex-Muslims don't have the impression Pope Francis is taking Amel's warnings seriously.
They further criticized the Pope's encouragement of Western countries to accept Muslim refugees without regard to religion. His most recent public speech on the subject came on New Year's Day, at the 51st World Day of Peace celebration, whose theme was "Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in Search of Peace."
The Holy Father also drew a comparison between the exodus of the Holy Family and modern-day refugees during his Christmas Eve homily on December 25:
So many other footsteps are hidden in the footsteps of Joseph and Mary. We see the tracks of entire families forced to set out in our own day. We see the tracks of millions of persons who do not choose to go away but, driven from their land, leave behind their dear ones.
In June, Breitbart published a round-up of violence associated with the Islamic month of Ramadan in 2017 alone, calling it one of the deadliest Ramadans in recent history, with a body count of more than 1,600. In the United States, the first ever federal prosecution of female genital mutilation in the United States came out of the heavily Muslim city of Dearborn, Michigan.
In November 2017, Church Militant reported that ISIS published a poster featuring a beheaded Pope Francis, along with various propaganda posters hinting at Christmas attacks on various large cities around the world.
The Holy Father has acknowledged that countries have good reasons to limit migrants. On his return flight last November from Sweden — a country dealing with a crisis of Muslim integration — he said that countries need not accept more refugees than they can handle.
"I believe that, in theory, one cannot shut their heart to a refugee," the Holy Father commented. "However, political leaders need to be prudent; they should be very open to receiving them, but they also need to be prudent when it comes to working out how to settle them because it is not just about receiving a refugee; they also need to be integrated."
Robert Spencer hopes the Holy Father heeds the warning from this recent open letter.
"We can only hope that he will deign to respond, and not give these courageous people cause to echo St. Paul's question, 'Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?'" Spencer told Church Militant.