The Islamic State (ISIS) last Friday released a poster depicting Pope Francis beheaded, following quickly after its threat to attack the Vatican and draw "Christmas blood." If the Pope has been apprised of this, he must feel piqued at their ingratitude: after all he has done for Islam, this is the thanks he gets?
After all, last September, Pope Francis met in the Vatican with Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League (MWL), a group that has been linked to the financing of jihad terror. During the meeting, al-Issa thanked the Pope for his "fair positions" on what he called the "false claims that link extremism and violence to Islam."
Nor was that the first time a Muslim leader has thanked the Pope for being so very useful. Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo's al-Azhar, thanked him for his "defense of Islam against the accusation of violence and terrorism." AP reported that the Pope "embraced the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the prestigious Sunni Muslim center of learning, reopening an important channel for Catholic-Muslim dialogue after a five-year lull and at a time of increased Islamic extremist attacks on Christians."
Why had there been this "five-year lull"? Because "the Cairo-based Al-Azhar froze talks with the Vatican to protest comments by then-Pope Benedict XVI." What did Benedict say? Andrea Gagliarducci of the Catholic News Agency explains that after a jihad terrorist murdered 23 Christians in a church in Alexandria 2011, Benedict decried "terrorism" and the "strategy of violence" against Christians, and called for the Christians of the Middle East to be protected.
Al-Tayeb was furious. He railed Benedict for his "interference" in Egypt's affairs and warned of a "negative political reaction" to the Pope's remarks. In a statement, Al-Azhar denounced the Pope's "repeated negative references to Islam and his claims that Muslims persecute those living among them in the Middle East."
Benedict stood his ground, and that was that. But in September 2013, al-Azhar announced that Pope Francis had sent a personal message to al-Tayeb. In it, according to al-Azhar, Francis declared his respect for Islam and his desire to achieve "mutual understanding between the world's Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice." At the same time, Al Tayyeb met with the Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt, Mgr. Jean-Paul Gobel, and told him in no uncertain terms that speaking about Islam in a negative manner was a "red line" that must not be crossed.