No, U.S. News, Francis Did Not Echo Obama


Gary Emerling at U.S. News & World Report thinks he spotted something.

“Toward the beginning of his address,” to the U.S. Congress Sept. 24 “Francis alluded to religious extremism, noting that ‘no religion is immune from it’.”

The Pope Francis Quote:

“Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.”

Emerling says “The remarks echo those delivered – albeit with more explicit historical references – by President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.”

The Obama quote:

“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ … So this is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith.”

Emerling complains that Obama’s comments were sharply criticized by Christians but the Pope’s won’t be.

But he fails to see that the remarks are utterly different.

Pope Francis’ words acknowledge that there is extremism in every religion. Only someone with no knowledge of the facts would deny that.

But Obama said that the Crusades and the Inquisition were like Isis. Only someone with no knowledge of the facts would say that.

The Spanish Inquisition is the centuries-old urban legend stoked by people who hate the Church. The BBC discovered this in 1994. They decided to expose the dark deeds of the Church in a documentary and found that most of it was legend.  But history books still share these so-called facts which amount to feverish conspiracy theories from anti-Catholic literature.

The President should not have smeared Catholics in that way.

He also should also have realized that, in mentioning the Crusades, he was disproving his own point. To mention the Crusades is to point to a history in which the abuses by Islamic armies have been much more systematic, cruel and widespread than Christians’. Cambridge professor Jonathan Riley Smith has clearly documented that the Crusades were defensive wars against that onslaught.

The abuses of the Crusades such as the sacking of Constantinople are a stain on Christendom, no doubt about it. But they are nothing like the history of Islamic extremism.

And while we are at it, why look at historical religious extremists for bloody deeds? Another difference between Francis and Obama: Francis called for Congress to respect the right to life at all stages. Obama professes Christianity but his administration has shown unremitting promotion of abortion and financial support of Planned Parenthood, which kills unborn children and sells off their body parts.

That is no legend. It is horrifying. And Obama is doing that right now.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Tom Hoopes, author of What Pope Francis Really Said, is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and edits The Gregorian, a Catholic identity speech digest. He was previously editor of the National Catholic Register for 10 years and with his wife, April, of Faith & Family magazine for five. A frequent contributor to Catholic publications, he began his career as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area and as press secretary for U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer. He lives in Atchison with his wife and those of his nine children still at home. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

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