In this age, when religious bigotry targeting Muslims is a growing problem in both the United States and Europe, I was delighted to see that Pope Francis visited a mosque, the Koudoukou mosque, in the Central African Republic on his recent trip to Africa. That mosque is located in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in that country. But Francis went anyway ... to seek peace.
Such a visit was more than symbolic. First, it was fraught with security concerns. The Central African Republic has been the site of bitter and violent clashes between Muslims and Christians for several years. It required a real act of courage to go there.
Yet, Francis, in his now typical way, walked into a war zone to preach a message of peace. U.N. Peacekeepers were everywhere. And at the mosque, he said:
"Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters! … Together, we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, particularly that violence which is perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself -- God is peace, salam."
Francis knows full well the violence perpetrated by ISIS in the name of Islam, but he knows full well that that is not true Islam any more than the crusaders represented true Christianity. He does not equate a violent minority with a whole faith community or faith tradition.
I can't help but wonder if any of our presidential candidates took note of this.