Safely ensconced behind the Vatican’s walls, he calls on others to “tear down their walls.”
He reiterated his first point earlier this month when he said, “I appeal not to create walls but to build bridges.” Francis has made this appeal frequently, both figuratively (when imploring Western nations not to close their doors against more incoming Muslim migrants), and literally—including by characterizing Donald Trump’s proposal to build a U.S.-Mexico wall as “not Christian.”
Francis reiterated his second point a few days ago when he said, “Muslim terrorism does not exist.” His logic is that, because there are Christians who engage in criminal and violent activities—and yet no one blames Christianity for their behavior—so too should Islam not be blamed when Muslims engage in criminal and violent activities.
It was in this context that, in 846, Muslim fleets from North Africa landed near Rome. Unable to breach the walls of the Eternal City, they sacked and despoiled the surrounding countryside, including—to the consternation of Christendom—the venerated and centuries-old basilicas of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Muslim invaders intentionally desecrated the tombs of the revered apostles and stripped them of their treasures, including a large golden cross. Pope Leo IV (847-855) responded by building large walls and fortifications along the right bank of the Tiber to protect the sacred sites from further Muslim raids. Completed by 852, the walls were in most places 40 feet high and 12 feet thick.
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