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Pope Francis Becomes Honorary Member of Krakow’s JCC

During a dedicated trip to Poland to mark the Church’s World Youth Day, Pope Francis also visited and prayed at Auschwitz

Jesse Bernstein
August 01, 2016
Bartosz Siedlik/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis arrives Tauron Arena in Kraków, Poland, July 31, 2016. Bartosz Siedlik/AFP/Getty Images
Bartosz Siedlik/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis arrives Tauron Arena in Kraków, Poland, July 31, 2016. Bartosz Siedlik/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis weighed in on a central issue of the American general election on Monday. During his answer to a question regarding his omission of the term “Islamic terrorism” from his statement on the recent murder of a French priest—for which ISIS has taken credit—the pope had this to say:

If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence … and no, not all Muslims are violent, not all Catholics are violent. It is like a fruit salad; there’s everything. There are violent persons of this religion … this is true: I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. … When fundamentalism comes to kill, it can kill with the language—the Apostle James says this, not me—and even with a knife, no? I do not believe it is right to identify Islam with violence.

Pastor Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, who has spoken in support of Donald Trump, wrote on his Facebook page that he disagreed with the pope: “Radical Islamists are following the teachings of the Quran. We should call it what it is.”

The pope’s comments were made aboard a flight back to Italy from Poland, where the pontiff had spent nearly a week marking the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Day. Last Friday, Francis, 79, became the third pope to visit Auschwitz, where he spent the day touring the remnants of the former concentration camp, speaking with survivors, and praying with all who had gathered. “Lord, have mercy on your people! Lord, forgiveness for so much cruelty!” he wrote in the guestbook. According to CNN:

The pope also met briefly with Holocaust survivors and their families.

Among those in attendance was survivor and Jewish activist Marian Turski, who was held at the concentration camp.

Turski said he felt the pope was “like my friend,” commending his ability to relate to people.

He said he was tattooed at Auschwitz to signify he had been “purchased” by the camp.

“I was in this camp until almost the last day and then put in the death march to another camp,” he told journalists.

On a lighter note, the pope also stopped at the Krakow JCC, where he was conferred a JCC membership. Reported JTA:

Francis’ JCC membership card features the number V007 – V for VIP. The number 007, with the 00 meaning “license to kill,” is the ID number of the fictional British secret agent James Bond. Asked on Facebook whom the pontiff had the license to kill, Ornstein [the executive director of the Krakow JCC] replied: “A license to kill intolerance.”
Pierwsza taka wizyta. @Pontifex_pl słucha, milczy, wzrusza.
“Panie miej litość" @KolendaK:

— Fakty TVN (@FaktyTVN) July 29, 2016

Jesse Bernstein is a former Intern at Tablet.