Why does the Pope kiss migrants’ feet?

Pope Francis washing migrants’ feet, 2016. Photo: EPA / UPG

Italian Vice Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who is the most popular politician in the country, has been compared to Hitler.

This comparison was made by the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and the reason for such an unflattering statement was the words of Salvini about migrants. Nobody disputes that migrants have become one of the main (if not the key) problems of Europe over recent years. But how to deal with them? How to solve this problem? Who is right in conceptual terms: Salvini, defending the Christian identity of Europe or Pope Francis, demonstratively washing the feet of Muslim migrants? And what should we, Orthodox Christians, be prepared for?

Matteo Salvini is the leader of the “League of the North” party, which is rapidly gaining popularity in Italy. In the elections to the European Parliament in May 2019, this party won 34.26% of the vote, securing an unconditional victory in Italy and increasing its representation in the European Parliament from 5 to 29 seats. Salvini’s popularity is largely fueled by his rhetoric, which urges all forces to uphold Christian values and counter the immigrant threat. It would seem that the head of the Catholic Church should only welcome such a policy, but Pope Francis took the exact opposite position: he strongly welcomes migrants and criticizes those politicians who are trying to protect their countries from invasion from the east. 
In an interview with “La Stampa” on August 9, which was reprinted by many Italian and foreign editions, the Pope compared Salvini’s rhetoric with Hitler’s: “I’m concerned that I hear speeches that resemble those made by Hitler in 1934. “We... we ... we ... first” (a slogan of the Italian “League of the North” party: “Italians first”).

Matteo Salvini. A screenshot of churchmilitant.com 

Similar statements have sounded from the lips of the Pope before. For example, in October 2018, speaking in the Vatican, the Pope criticized the governments of European countries that resist the migrant flow. He called them populist, comparing them to the regime of the Third Reich. Once again, the Pope called for the reception of migrants and recalled that the Bible teaches us to receive refugees.

In 2016, before Easter, Pope Francis washed and kissed the legs of 11 migrants and one employee of the refugee reception center. Among these people were three Muslims.

The Pope openly compares his deed with the way the Lord Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples: “Jesus serves, washes feet, he, the ruler, washes the feet of his people, the most insignificant; and Judas goes to the enemies of Jesus, to those who do not want peace with Jesus to take money from them, 30 coins, for which he betrayed him. Two deeds. And nowadays two things are done. One of them is here. We are all together – Muslims, Indians, Catholics, Copts, Evangelists ... but we are brothers, children of the same God, we want to live in peace and unity.”

Francis, by the way, washes feet quite often to different people: migrants, prisoners, leaders of the Sudanese opposition, and so on. These actions cause a delight with many people: “This is true Christianity!” However, this already looks like a fashionable ritual ...

But let's open the Gospel and read what is written there about foot washing.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” For He knew who would betray Him; therefore, He said, “You are not all clean.” So, when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13: 1-17)

The Savior washed his disciples’ feet, not Muslims’. Muslims, as you know, deny the Deity of Jesus Christ, considering him an ordinary man, albeit a prophet.

Would the Lord Jesus Christ wash the feet of Muslim migrants, let alone kiss them, like Pope Francis?

Regarding the denial of the divine nature of Christ, St. John the Evangelist wrote the following: “Who is a liar, if not the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? It is the antichrist who rejects the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). Rev. Justin (Popovich), repeating briefly the interpretations of the Holy Fathers on this verse, writes: “Christians are Christians because they know the truth. And what is the truth? Godman Christ. And what is a lie? The Devil, who is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). What is his lie? The denial of the Godman Christ. The statement that Jesus is not God, that Christ is not the Messiah, is not the Savior. This is also the work of the Antichrist. The great liar in the world is the devil that the Antichrist expresses.”

Would the Lord Jesus Christ wash the feet of Muslim migrants, let alone kiss them like Pope Francis? The Gospel does not give us a direct answer to this question. We will not answer it either. However, we note again: Christ washed his disciples’ feet, and not their opponents’. And would Christ wash his disciples’ feet not in the closed Zion chamber but in front of the cameras of dozens of television channels that broadcast live if He had such an opportunity? Also, let everyone answer this question for themselves.

Who is the neighbour for the Pope?

Isn’t the call of the head of the Vatican to love migrants a cunning distortion of the commandment: “Love your neighbour as yourself”? Who is the neighbour for the Pope? A foreigner arriving in Europe or a native? In this regard, it is worth remembering one Gospel parable.

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’ But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’ In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ ‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’” (Luke 10: 25-37)

Pope calls for the reception of migrants and refers to the Holy Scriptures. Indeed, hospitality in many places in the Bible is extolled as a virtue. However, nowhere is it said about the hospitality of those who seek to seize the owner’s house and his property.

The book of Deuteronomy says: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” (Deut. 10: 17-18)

It is interesting what the holy prophet Moses, the author of Deuteronomy, would have said if he had been offered to give the Ark of the Covenant to the stranger along with food and clothing. The Bible also does not provide a direct answer to this question. But we know that in Europe more and more often Christian churches are handed over to Muslims and are turning into mosques. For example, the Alif TV channel reports on the Presbyterian Church converted into the new central mosque in Swansea (the UK).

A screenshot of the Alif TV channel

In Britain alone, more than 500 Christian churches and 423 mosques have been closed in recent years, according to the analytic center of the Gatestone Institute. In many cases, these buildings simply “changed their religion”. Today in France there are about 2200 mosques, in Germany – about 2750, in the UK – more than 1500 mosques.

A few decades ago, when Europeans were just starting to discuss the problem of migrants, the public opinion was dominated by the view that “enlightened” Europe would be able to assimilate migrants, to introduce them to their value system, to make them real Europeans. But today, all analysts involved in this issue unanimously say: no assimilation occurs. On the contrary, immigrants from Muslim countries who arrived in Europe are trying to impose their worldview, their culture, religion and customs on Europeans.

The article “Where the Rejection of Christian Values Will Lead Europe” describes in detail how Muslim migrants look at Europeans. Let us briefly repeat the main idea of the article.

“In order to understand how Islamic migrants look at indigenous Europeans, it is necessary to remember that from the point of view of the Muslim religion, all people are divided into three categories: the faithful (Muslim), infidels (Kuffaar) and people of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab), that is Jews and Christians who worship the Holy Scriptures (Old Testament).

Islam forbids Muslims to insult or attempt to encroach on the life, property, honor and dignity of the people of the Book. If Christians or Jews live in an Islamic state, they have the right to freely practice their religion (but not convert Muslims to it). In return, they must pay a special tax (jizyah).

As for the infidels, their fate is unenviable. This is evidenced by both the sacred texts of Islam and the shocking practice. Briefly, this can be expressed by the phrase: they should not be. So, from this point of view, the ‘enlightened’ Europeans, having abandoned the Christian basis of their civilization, transferred themselves in the eyes of Muslims from the category of people of the Book to the category of infidels, kuffaar, with all the ensuing consequences."

The case that occurred in Germany at the end of August 2018 is indicative in this regard. In the small town of Burgwedel, Lower Saxony, a young couple of Germans went to a supermarket. Just at that time, two Arab teenagers 13 and 14 years old were hooliganizing there. The Germans tried to call them to order, after which the teenagers retired. However, as it turned out, they considered themselves offended, and after a few minutes they returned with the 17-year-old brother of one of them, named Abdullah. Together, they attacked the German couple and stabbed the girl in the stomach, as a result of which she lost the spleen and partially the pancreas. The ribs, liver, stomach, and intestines were also damaged. The girl survived by miracle. But the most striking is not this. At the trial, Abdullah, not at all embarrassed, declared that he was innocent, because he acted in full accordance with the code of honor of his people. He said that he had the right to use a knife and even kill his opponent because he considered himself insulted.

In German cities, you can already meet the so-called Shariah police, which is trying to independently take on the function of maintaining order in the streets.

Shariah police in German streets. Photo: TVC

In 2018, the German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) published a report on crime statistics. It follows that, compared to 2016, the number of serious crimes committed by migrants, including murders and rapes, increased in 2017 by 30%. Every day 106 Germans become the objects of crimes of migrants. In general, statistics across European countries indicate that the crime rate among migrants is about ten times higher than among native Europeans.

In 2017, the research organization Pew Research Center (USA) released a report entitled "The growth of the Muslim population in Europe."

A Twitter post by Pew Research Center

The report examines three scenarios for the growth of the Muslim population of Europe, but many experts call even the most unfavorable scenario too optimistic. According to the analysts of the Pew Research Center, by 2050, Muslims will have made up from 17% to 30% of the population of many Western European countries, and their number will increase two or threefold against today. Moreover, the resettlement of migrants from the East will be very uneven. Somewhere they will be in a very small number, and somewhere they will dominate. This may result in the appearance of cities with very few native Europeans. Now, Muslims make up 60% of the population under the age of 20 in Amsterdam, the Hague and Rotterdam.

Analysts are already discussing not whether Europe will become Muslim or not, but how soon this will happen. Most often, the thirty-five to forty-year period is called. And the matter is not only in the number of Muslim population but more in its political, social and religious activity. If now, when migrants from the Middle East make up only 4.9% of the population of Europe, they are forcing the European authorities to pass laws restricting the use of Christian symbols in public life, then what will happen when the number of migrants is 15-20%?

As you know, an active minority always dictates its will to a passive majority. This is what will happen in Europe in the coming decades if the current trends in the demographic and migration policies of Europe continue.

“One day Europe will become an Islamic continent.”

Shortly before his death, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said, “Today, there are tens of millions of Muslims on the European continent and their number is growing. This clearly indicates that the European continent will be defeated and converted to Islam. One day, Europe will become an Islamic continent.”

And in 2009, a member of the House of Commons of the British Parliament, Muslim Labor Shahid Malik proclaimed: "Over the next 30 years, a preaching Islam Prime Minister will appear in Britain, and the Parliament will very likely become completely Muslim." As you know today, the mayor of London is Sadiq Aman Khan, a Muslim, a native of Pakistan.

In 2015, the International Journal of Applied and Basic Research published an article entitled “The Number of Muslims in Europe: Expert Forecasts”, which admitted the possibility of a full-scale civil war in Europe between migrants and radical sections of the local population: “An even tougher forecast is Muslims' direct conquest of Europe. Relying on their numerical superiority and passionary potential, multiplied by religious fanaticism, Muslims will conquer European countries by force, brutally suppress all attempts to resist. They will convert part of the indigenous population to their faith, and the rest will be reduced to the position of semi-slaves, doomed to rightless existence and life by the grace of Muslim gentlemen. All that remains for non-Muslim Europeans is to humbly pay a poll tax – jizyah. No less terrible is the forecast for the outbreak of civil war on the continent. In the face of the final death of their civilization, the most viable part of Europeans, having mobilized around activists of right-wing parties, will rise to fight for survival. It will be opposed by an army of young Muslims born in the diaspora but armed, physically well-trained in the spirit of Islamic fundamentalism. As a result, Europe will roll back several centuries ago, in the era of the gloomy Middle Ages. The events of Bartholomew’s Night will be of nothing compared to the war of two civilizations.”

In the light of such gloomy predictions, even if they are fulfilled only in some small part of it, the washing of the feet of Muslim migrants by Pope Francis looks quite different. Take a look at this photo again.

Pope Francis washing migrants’ feet, 2016. Photo: martinis09.livejournal.com

Look how this man is looking at the Pope. Doesn’t he feel like a winner in the confrontation of two civilizations? Doesn’t the pontiff’s act look like a symbolic begging for mercy from the future owners of Europe? Let readers answer these questions themselves. But in fact, the answers may be completely different than we think.

But much more important for us is the question: What should we, the Orthodox, do in Ukraine? Yes, this problem has not yet touched us as much as European countries. Ironically, Ukraine is saved from the waves of migrants by a low standard of living and social security. But everything can change.

Firstly, one must realize that in the long run, Europe will not be an atheistic / non-religious / secularized / super-tolerant (whatever you like) continent. Europe will either return to its Christian roots or become Muslim. So far, the second option has been viewed more clearly.

Secondly, it is necessary to understand that in the clash of religious and non-religious (post-religious) communities, the religious always wins. No so-called universal values, no human rights, no democracy, and so on can counteract the categorical: "Such is the will of Allah."

Thirdly, only a religious community can effectively confront another religious community, which will also uncompromisingly defend its religious values and operate with the same categories and concepts.

Fourthly, by and large, Europe is in danger of becoming a caliphate not because of migration. Migration is a consequence rather than a cause. The real reason for this is the rejection by Europe of its Christian roots and Christian values. In other words, the expulsion of Christ from all spheres of life, both personal and social.

In "enlightened" Europe, man has been replaced by God. Man, not God in Europe, is recognized as the highest value. But let us recall the words of the prophet: “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you then say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a mortal, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you.” (Ezek. 28: 6-9)

And the most important thing is that we must understand that our salvation is in Christ. The salvation of man, people, state, civilization. Salvation not only in eternity but also in earthly history.

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