Does Pope Francis Have a Double Standard for Africa?

Pope Francis condemns Europeans for not taking in more African Muslim immigrants, but says little about the plight of persecuted African Christians at the hands of Muslims.

For years, sub-Saharan Africans—in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, and numerous other nations—have been victims of sustained persecution and frequent massacres.

And for years, Pope Francis has, on numerous occasions, chastised Europeans for their “indifference” to Africans. Is he concerned about the African Christians who are being slaughtered on a daily basis by Muslims in the name of Allah?

Er, no. Francis has been relatively silent about their plight. One gets the impression that he is—what’s the word?—“indifferent” to their fate.

On the other hand, he seems deeply concerned about the fate of North African Muslims who migrate across the Mediterranean to Europe. He describes their treatment by Europeans as “disgusting, sinful, and criminal.”

What are Europeans doing to merit such a strong condemnation from the pope? Are they hunting down Muslims in France just as Muslims hunt Christians in Nigeria? Are they burning down their villages? Murdering them with machetes? Raping their women? Forcing their children to convert to Christianity?

Well, no. Basically, Pope Francis is angry because the Europeans aren’t taking in enough immigrants fast enough. In addition, he seems to think that the immigrants aren’t offered sufficient social services. Yet, European leaders protest that they are doing all they can.

In France, for example, the state provides immigrants with free or highly subsidized housing, free medical care, free education, unemployment benefits, and so on. The Netherlands provides a similar array of benefits to immigrants but can’t build housing fast enough to keep up with the flow of new immigrants. As a result, immigrants are now being housed in four-star hotels and on luxurious cruise ships. For example, the city of Rotterdam has chartered the MS Silja Europa, the 10th-largest cruise liner in the world, to accommodate 1500 immigrants.

It’s difficult to square this generous treatment with Pope Francis’ assertion that the treatment of the immigrants is “disgusting, sinful, and criminal”—especially when one considers that immigrants are often given priority over poor and needy Europeans when it comes to housing and welfare benefits.

However, one can sympathize with the pope’s concern over the many immigrants who drown during the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe’s Southern coast. “They are left to die in front of us,” he says, “making the Mediterranean the largest cemetery in the world.” But European governments do not control the weather in the Mediterranean. Nor do they supply the unseaworthy and overcrowded boats that depart from North Africa. Moreover, European coast guard ships have rescued hundreds if not thousands of immigrants over the years. In addition, cruise ships, merchant ships, and fishing ships have taken part in rescue efforts.

In light of this, Pope Francis’ assertion that “they are left to die in front of us” is more than a little misleading.

And what of Francis himself? Doesn’t he bear some responsibility for the deaths? After all, he is one of the world’s chief proponents of immigration and one of the chief scolds of those who are unwilling to accept a steady stream of immigrants into their countries. He knows that the crossing is dangerous, yet he continues to insist that the crossings must continue and that it is the duty of European countries to somehow guarantee the safety of the immigrants.

Yet, the disembarkation points are located for the most part in Muslim countries. Aren’t Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt in a better position to see to it that only seaworthy ships set sail? Why doesn’t Francis scold them? Well, to put it mildly, it’s not advisable to scold Muslims, or hold them to account. And, as far as I can tell, Francis never has.

Although he criticizes Europeans for their supposed indifference to immigrants, he has nothing to say about the responsibility of the immigrants to obey the laws of their adopted countries.

Let’s stop here for a minute and note that although immigrants come to Western Europe from many places—Poland, Romania, Ukraine, China, Vietnam, India—the single largest bloc of immigrants are Muslims coming from Islamic nations. The former tend to work hard, rely less on welfare, and integrate well into the culture and customs of their new nation. By contrast, the latter (the Muslims) rely heavily on welfare, don’t integrate well, and are disproportionately involved in crime. In France, for instance Muslims make up 70 percent of the prison population. Moreover, the 2015-2016 mass immigration of Muslims into Europe coincided with a massive crime spike, including a number of large-scale massacres.

Pope Francis is surely aware of the connection between Muslim immigration and crime waves in Europe, yet he never speaks of it. Likewise, he has little to say about the persecutions in the sub-Saharan regions of Africa and virtually nothing to say about who is doing the persecuting.

What’s happening in large parts of Africa is difficult to ignore. In July, Muslims killed 37 Christians in Benue State in Nigeria. In June, the AP reported that authorities in Uganda “recovered the bodies of 41 people, including 38 students who were burned, shot, or hacked to death” after an Islamic group with ties to ISIS attacked a secondary school. Francis may think that the Mediterranean is the world’s largest graveyard, but in recent decades far more people have been murdered in Nigeria alone than have perished in the Mediterranean.

Many have referred to the slaughter in Africa as a genocide. Yet Francis manages to avoid the subject of Muslim persecution of Christians both in Africa and elsewhere. The question that arises is “Why?” How can one explain his seeming indifference?

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