VATICAN CITY, July 27 (UPI) — Pope Francis said “the world is at war” after jihadist attacks have killed dozens and shaken Europe.
As he spoke on the plane from Rome to Krakow, Poland, the 79-year-old pontiff reacted to the murder of a Catholic priest by jihadists Tuesday, saying he did not think it was a religious war, but a war over “interests, money, resources.”
Father Jacques Hamel was killed as he led mass in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France. Two armed men entered the church and slit his throat.
The attack, which the Islamic State claimed responsibility for, is the latest in a wave that has increased tensions across Europe and hardened anti-Muslim views as refugees from Syria and other parts of the Middle East continue to reach European shores.
“The world is at war,” he said. “We don’t need to be afraid to say this.”
“I am not speaking of a war of religions,” he continued. “Religions don’t want war. The others want war.”
The Pope later spoke to an audience in Poland, which has sealed its borders to the migrants, called on Poles for greater “wisdom and compassion, in order to overcome fear and to achieve the greater good.”
“Also needed,” he said, “is a spirit of readiness to welcome those fleeing from wars and hunger, and solidarity with those deprived of their fundamental rights, including the right to profess one’s faith in freedom and safety.”
Earlier Wednesday, French President Francois Hollande gathered leaders of various religions in his Paris office to try to mitigate the situation.
Though both attackers were killed by police, a video of the two men pledging allegiance to the Islamic State was posted by the militant group’s media wing, the Amaq news agency. An alleged video of the attack was also posted by Amaq, but its authenticity can’t be verified.