The Pope has taken three refugee Syrian Muslim families back to Rome from Greece, and many commentators have accused him of tokenism for doing so.
Guess what? They’re right. It is tokenism.
Guess what? The Pope is right, because his tokenism beats my tokenism any old day of the week. I agree with the Pope. Some people might think we have no basis for agreement on anything, but of course they’d be wrong, since we share the same values of human decency and the Pope seems to be just as appalled as anyone else at the treatment of the people trying to escape the slaughter in Syria.
There is much that I would disagree with the Pope about, which is hardly surprising since he is, after all, the head of the Roman Catholic church while I on the other hand am an atheist. I don’t accept that his god exists and I don’t accept that he has any moral authority in society at large simply for being the Pope. What’s more, I found some of his recent utterances repugnant to my sense of fairness, but in this instance, the Pope has done a thing that might resonate across the world and might perhaps achieve some good.
It’s easy to see how his symbolic rescue of a dozen Muslims could be troubling, but the Pope has at least confronted the bigots in a way they can’t avoid and by doing so, he has laid down a challenge to those people who call themselves Christian.
Perhaps one of the most shocking things about the refugee crisis has been the vitriol directed towards the refugees. If this is Christianity, then I’m glad to be an atheist but I suspect it is not. I suspect the likes of Pegida and our own pathetic home-grown Identity Ireland are no more Christians than the deranged killers of ISIS/Daesh are true Muslims. I suspect that the Pope knows it.
I have yet to hear an atheist demand that refugees be sent back to the place where ISIS/Daesh will murder them but I have heard many Christians doing so and here we have Pope Francis confronting such intolerance in a hugely symbolic act.
If the Pope, of all people, is embracing Muslims as his brothers and sisters, how can bigots continue their ignorant tirades against a full quarter of the world’s people? There is much I disagree with the Pope about, but I can find no grounds to quibble with him on this. He has given the decent people of the world something to hold out in front of self-described Christians.
Something to point at.
Look at this.
Your most prominent holy man is comfortable with Muslims.
What’s your problem?